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How to Start an Online Magazine in 7 Simple Steps [2023 Update]

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Are you struggling to start your online magazine business?

Don’t worry, many people could feel lost at the beginning.

The good news is that you can build a thriving digital magazine from scratch with the right set of skills and proper planning.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to start an online magazine in seven steps.

We’ll also provide the associated costs, digital magazine ideas, and similar businesses.

How Profitable Is Owning an Online Magazine?

It’s difficult to predict the amount of money one can make from running an online magazine.

Generally, you can make a few hundred or thousands per month. Some can even generate millions in profit each year!

For instance, The New York Times generated total revenue of $555.7 million in 2022.

Digital subscriptions alone accounted for 25.5% of that profit. Sure, the former is a newsletter.

However, famous print magazines such as Instyle, Teen Vogue, and more have transferred to exclusively digital formats to cut down costs.

Having said that, the profitability of a digital magazine varies depending on several factors.

Those include the niche, content quality, number of readers, monetization strategy, and competition.

Suppose your online magazine caters to a popular topic, and you use solid strategies to generate money, such as premium content, affiliate marketing, and display ads.

In that case, you can earn a significant amount of revenue.

However, chances are it’ll be challenging to make a profit if your online magazine is in a highly competitive market.

That’s especially true if it lacks a unique value since the magazine will probably fail to get traffic.

What You’ll Need to Start an Online Magazine [& Associated Costs]

Here are some of the skills and knowledge you need to build an online magazine and the estimated costs:

1. Courses

Those include content and project management, digital marketing, web design, and data analysis.

You can find free resources on different online course platforms, blogs, and YouTube tutorials.

However, if you decide to pay for a certification, it can cost you between $100 and $500.

Web design and data analysis usually cost around $500-$5000 or more.

2. Website

To host an online magazine, you need a website. The cost varies depending on the method used to build the page.

Using a website builder like WordPress can cost around $50-$500 per year. Hiring professionals will cost between $30-$100 per hour.

3. Domain Name

The cost of a domain name depends on a few factors, such as the type of domain extension and registrar.

Typically, a domain name can cost around $10-$50 yearly.

4. URL and Hosting

Hosting costs vary depending on the type of service you require and the provider.

On average, shared hosting plans can charge between $3 and $15 per month. Dedicated hosting starts at around $100 per month.

5. Social Media Marketing

DIY social media marketing costs you $0. However, using automated social media tools can charge a monthly subscription fee between $20 and $100.

Using management agencies ranges from $500 to several thousand dollars.

6. Ancillary Costs

Ancillary costs include the creative elements needed for a digital magazine, such as logo design and stock imagery.

You can expect to pay between $100 and $2500 for the former and an average of $1-$15 for the latter.

7. Content Creation

Content creation will only cost you your time and the price of the tools used if you plan to write it yourself.

Hiring an agency or a freelance writer can cost several thousand dollars yearly, depending on the amount of content you request.

Do I Need a License or Certificates to Start an Online Magazine?

Generally, there isn’t a specific license required to start an online magazine.

However, you’ll need to obtain an SSL certificate, especially if your digital magazine collects sensitive information from the target audience.

Not only does that ensure the security of your readers, but it also improves your website’s SEO and visibility since Google prioritizes secure sites in its search results.

Why You Should Consider Starting an Online Magazine as a Side Hustle

 Starting an online magazine as a side hustle can have several benefits, including:

  • Relatively low start-up costs: Producing a digital magazine can be cost-effective. With self-publishing and free programs, you can start an online magazine with a few hundred dollars.
  • Passive income potential: You can use numerous revenue strategies to make a profit through your online magazine. Affiliate marketing, display ads, and more are effective ways of getting passive income.
  • Creative outlet: Starting an online magazine is a great way to tap into your creativity and nurture your passion. It allows you to express yourself through content creation and connect with like-minded people.
  • Professional development: You can gain valuable skills from running a digital magazine, such as digital marketing, content creation, and project management. These skills can be useful for your career advancement or even future business endeavors.

How to Start an Online Magazine in 7 Simple Steps

vector graphic showing an illustration of how to start a food business from home

Sure, starting an online magazine can be exciting and rewarding.

However, you need to form a plan to ensure a seamless launch and build a thriving business. Here are some steps to help you start an online magazine:

Step 1: Define Your Goals and Niche

Before you start, determine what type of online magazine you want. Ask yourself: what are your goals?

Is it to sell products or gain subscribers?

What do you expect to achieve in the future?

Make sure to define SMART goals to ensure productivity.

After having a vision, you need to choose your niche. It’s best to experiment with something you’re comfortable with and already knowledgeable about.

Doing market research can also help you with the former. Look for a market gap to fill. Then, target the niche by specializing in a particular aspect.

For instance, you can create DIY articles, video content, or interactive elements to attract the target audience.

Step 2: Choose a Name and Domain

The digital magazine’s name is one of the most important elements for your business because it reflects your brand’s identity.

Here are some tips to help you brainstorm your online magazine’s name:

  • Pick a name that’s short and simple. Say it out loud to know if it’s difficult to pronounce.
  • Choose unique, catchy names to stand out and ensure it’s relevant to your product.
  • Check if your magazine’s name doesn’t have weird meanings in other languages.
  • Try to include keywords that boost SEO.
  • Avoid names that might hinder future expansion, such as location names.
  • Use an online magazine name generator for inspiration.

Once you’ve settled on a name that reflects your magazine’s niche well, check if the domain name is available and purchase it.

Step 3: Decide on the Design

While you can get creative with the design, try to keep the layout simple. That ensures the magazine is more presentable and readable.

Make sure your magazine’s structure is easy to navigate.

Print magazines typically consist of a cover page and the front of the book, which includes a table of contents, the masthead, and a letter from the editor as well as the readers.

They also contain two other sections: the feature well and the back of the book.

You can follow the same structural format as a traditional magazine or use it to guide the design of your online magazine.

Step 4: Create a Content Plan

Decide on the number of articles you’ll include in the magazine.

Plus, determine how often you’ll publish an upcoming issue. Most magazines typically publish either weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Next, develop a project calendar to ensure productivity. It should include article topics, delivery deadlines, and publication dates.

Depending on the number of content batches you produce, you might need to hire an editor for the magazine to make it more readable and ensure high quality.

Step 5: Determine a Publishing Format

Digital magazines come in numerous formats, such as PDF, flipbook, native apps, and HTML 5.

Here’s a brief explanation of each type:

  • PDF magazine: PDFs are an easy and affordable solution for publishing. However, because of their fixed layout, PDFs are hard to read on mobile devices. Plus, you need to download them, which can be inconvenient for some people.
  • Flipbook: Flipbooks are digital replicas of printed magazines. Typically, flipbook magazines are embedded in a website, and you can read them online. However, they’re not suitable for mobile use.
  • Native apps: As the name suggests, you can launch your magazine as a native app that people can purchase on Google Play. This publishing format is time-consuming. However, it offers an optimal reading experience.
  • HTML 5: These magazines use the same technology as online websites. They use responsive web design approaches to cater to different screen sizes. That makes them appropriate for desktops and mobile devices.

Step 6: Build a Revenue Model

With a digital magazine, you have several methods to monetize your content. Those include:

  • Subscription fee: You can charge your audience a monthly or an annual subscription fee to access your content. You can also create different plans that include an all-access option as the highest tier.
  • Advertising: Free magazines can attract a large audience base. You can use that to make a profit through paid advertising.
  • Sell a product: Magazines can be an excellent way to generate leads and sell products from other businesses you own.
  • Analytical tools: Website traffic tools, like Google Analytics, provide insights about your site’s performance. You can use those reports to identify your most profitable content and apply the same strategy to future articles to increase revenue.

Step 7: Launch and Promote

Once you have your articles ready, it’s time to launch your magazine and promote it!

You can use several tactics to generate traffic and earn a reasonable ROI. Those include social media, email advertising, guest blogging, and more.

Things to Consider When Building an Online Magazine

Here are other things to consider before venturing into the online magazine business:

Can You Run an Online Magazine Yourself?

Running an online magazine isn’t an easy task. You need the right skills, experience, and time to operate the business smoothly.

If you don’t have the means to operate the magazine yourself or are looking to expand your business, consider hiring a management agency.

Of course, those services come at an additional cost.

Complying With Legal And Ethical Codes

Like other online content, your digital magazine must comply with the same legal and ethical codes.

That includes privacy and surveillance, copyright infringement, and plagiarism.

Violating those laws, such as selling personal information to third parties, can subject you to a hefty fine and other unpleasant consequences.

Online Magazine Ideas

Looking for some inspiration to start your online magazine? Here are three different niches to consider:

  • New construction painting business: You can talk about DIY projects to paint new construction. Provide tips and techniques about painting a new home and picking the right shade. Review the best paint brands on the market.
  • Travel guide: If your passion is traveling, why not share your adventures online? You can include beautiful images and share the stories behind them. You can also review different places, make a list of your top picks, and host real-time webinars to advise people following in your footsteps.
  • Food connoisseur: Food is a universal language that people use to express their culture. A food connoisseur magazine could provide delicious recipes, cooking tips, and restaurant reviews and host exclusive cooking lessons for subscribers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Online Magazines Make Money?

Yes! Online magazines can make money through various revenue strategies.

Those include subscription fees, sponsored content, hosting events, and e-commerce.

Digital magazines can also earn revenue by selling advertising space to other businesses.

They do so through banner ads, display ads, affiliate marketing, and more.

Do Magazines Pay for Photos?

Yes, digital magazines pay for photos. Aside from paying for stock imagery, magazines can pay for professional photos.

They usually cost between $50 and $200 per image.

Similar Businesses to Consider Starting

Here are other similar businesses if you’re still not sure about starting an online magazine:

  • How to Start a Marketing Business: You’ll need to gain experience and find a unique value that separates you from other agencies. Plus, you’ll need to build a team that shares your vision and identify your target customers.
  • How to Start an E-Commerce Business: Aside from the product type you’ll sell, you need web design, marketing, and customer service knowledge. You’ll also have to determine your shipping strategy.
  • How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Before starting the business, you need to research your local regulations and find a supplier. You’ll also need technical knowledge to create an online store and marketing skills to promote the business.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, starting an online magazine makes for a great side hustle that can help you gain handy skills for your professional career too!

The best part is that it doesn’t cost much to start that business if you do it yourself.

Make sure to let us know about your ideas for an online magazine in the comment section. And if you found this guide helpful, please help us spread the word and share it with your friends.

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