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Starting a Digital Magazine Company – A Complete Guide

Do you want to start a digital magazine company? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a digital magazine business with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample digital magazine business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample digital magazine marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for digital magazine companies. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a digital magazine business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Why Start a Digital Magazine Company?

If you live in the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom or in any part of the world, and are old enough to read, and in addition, you own an internet enabled device, then you may have come across several digital magazines in the world wide web. Magazines are periodic publications that contain articles, pictures and stories of interest to those who purchase or subscribe to it; they are electronically published and made available online hence the name digital magazines or online magazines.

There are several niches and loads of well – known digital magazines that are being sold all over the world. Digital magazines are generally published on a regular schedule; it can be weekly or monthly or even quarterly and they usually contain a variety of contents based on the market the digital magazine is designed for.

When it comes to generating income, digital magazine companies generate income from advertisement from stakeholders and of course from those who sign-up to prepaid subscriptions. When it comes to distributing digital magazines, most digital magazine publishers make use of the e-mailing system or signup to gain access to readers.

On the average, only one out of ten new digital magazines will ever become successful. The truth is that it may take a longer time than envisaged before you can start making profits from your digital magazine publication business which is why you must be financially ready to undertake the task. Experts consider the digital magazine publishing industry to be both a speculative and risky business venture.

So, if you have undertaken the required feasibility studies and market research, then you might want to venture into this business. If you have been tinkering with how to start your own digital magazine business, but do not know how to go about it, then you should consider going through this article; it will sure give you the needed guide and direction.

Starting a Digital Magazine Company – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

A digital magazine is any magazine that is basically published electronically instead of being printed on paper. A digital magazine refers to a magazine that can be read using a digital device such as a computer, laptop or mobile phones et al.

The Digital Magazine Publishing industry produces and distributes digital magazines and periodicals online. However, publishers that exclusively sell hard copy magazines or periodicals are excluded from this industry; digital magazines are published exclusively in digital formats.

The Digital Magazine Publishing industry has grown moderately over the past five years. Digital magazine sales surged on the heels of new mobile device introductions in the early years of the period. However, industry-relevant revenue has slowed in recent time as digital magazine sales have matured as a product category.

In addition, there are signs that readers may be tiring of digital media, and may continue to consume printed materials, either entirely or in tandem with digital magazine. Following the initial surge, online magazine adoption is expected to slow and the industry will grow mostly in line with overall publisher sales.

The Digital Magazine Publishing industry is in the mature stage of its life cycle. The industry is relatively new, and prior to 2011, online magazine publishers surged into the market. Buoyed by the release of new electronic reading devices, the revenue generated in the industry grew exponentially in the early years.

Though consumer acceptance of digital magazine was swift, and growth has already begun to slow as industry products have transitioned from novel technology to a relatively stable media category. Going forward, the industry value added is expected to increase at an annualized rate of 3.1 percent. Although this is slightly faster than the 2.1 percent growth in GDP projected over the same period, it is inflated by the initial adoption of online magazines.

The high cost of print publication, cheaper internet access and of course large online readership has encouraged these online publishers to embrace the World Wide Web as a marketing and content delivery system.

So, if you have the intention of starting your own digital magazine company, then you should ensure that you select a niche idea that can easily gain huge readership base. You should also ensure that you conduct thorough feasibility studies and market survey before launching your digital magazine company.

If you are skilled and passionate about publishing and you don’t have the money to launch a hard copy magazine company; you can actually start your own digital magazine publishing business from the comfort of your house. All you need to do is to create an office somewhere in your house, get a computer, internet device, put together and start distributing your digital magazine to your friends and invite them to sign up to your distribution list.

Over and above, the digital magazine publishing business has become one of the best options for aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in the publishing industry but do not have the financial capacity to launch a hard copy magazine publication. This is so because it is far cheaper, and less stressful to start.

Starting a Digital Magazine Company – Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who subscribe or read digital magazines are all encompassing; everyone who have access to the world wide web or who have digital devices are potential customers for a digital magazine publishing company. As regards advertising, you can reach out to corporate organizations, businesses, clubs, government agencies, political parties and any organization that has need to reach out their target audience via online medium. 

List of Niche ideas Within the Digital Magazine Industry That You Can Specialize in

If you are tinkering with starting a digital magazine publishing outfit, then you must by all means look for a niche area that you are gifted in, and one that you can afford to continue to supply robust contents without stress and on a regular basis.

These are some of the areas of specialization that a startup digital magazine publishing company can concentrate on;

  • Entertainment
  • Academic and professional
  • Home and living
  • Sports
  • Football
  • Romance
  • Fashion
  • Real Estate
  • Business and Investment
  • General interest
  • Other periodicals
  • Political, social and business

The Level of Competition in the Digital Magazine Publishing Industry

Surviving in the business world as a digital magazine publishing company requires more than your expertise and knowing how to churn out quality content for your magazine, but also how to network with key people that matters; people with influence that can help you get advertising deals.

The level of competition in the digital magazine publishing industry to some extent depends on the niche area of your publication and of course your target audience. If you can successfully create a unique niche for your digital magazine, you are likely going to experience little or no competition. For instance, if you are one of the very few digital magazine publishing companies that publish outer space and geographic related contents, then you are likely going to face minimal competition.

When it comes to digital magazine publishing, distance is never a barrier when competing for customers (advertisers and subscribers). Your digital magazine company can be based in the United States and you may have some of the largest group of subscribers in Lagos – Nigeria and huge advertisers from Dubai – United Arab Emirates.

The bottom line is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you deliver useful and creative contents and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.

There are several digital magazine publishing companies scattered all around the United States and in the cyber space. So, if you choose to start your own digital magazine publishing company in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competitions not only amongst digital magazine publishing companies in the United States, but also all over the globe. Besides, there are larger digital magazine publishing companies like Ebony, The Economics, New York Magazine and Yale Global Online magazine that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for subscribers and of course for advert placement.

List of Well – Known Brands in the Digital Magazine Industry

In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than the others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading digital magazine publishing companies in the United States of America and also in the globe;

  • New York Magazine
  • The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
  • Cincinnati Magazine
  • Consumer Reports
  • Access Magazine
  • Atlanta Magazine
  • Atlantic Monthly
  • Ebony
  • The Economist
  • Harper’s Magazine
  • House to House Heart to Heart
  • Indianapolis Monthly
  • Men’s Health
  • Weekly World News
  • Windows Vista: The Official Magazine
  • Women’s Health
  • YaleGlobal Online
  • S. News & World Report
  • Vegetarian Times
  • Sports Illustrated

Economic Analysis

If you are looking for a business that requires relatively less stress and perhaps minimal startup capital to start, you can consider starting a digital magazine publishing business. The cost of running a digital magazine publishing company when you are working from a small office or from your home when compared to the turnover you get can be poles apart (this is applicable when you have been able to build a robust readership base and advertisement slots.)

People that venture into the digital magazine publishing business can as a matter of fact start the business from their homes and still make headway in the business. This is why there are loads of online publishers who have digital magazines that are read all across the United States and in the globe.

The digital magazine publishing business is not entirely a green business. As a matter of fact, you will come across several digital magazines and online publications if you search online.

Starting Your Digital Magazine Publishing Company from Scratch vs Buying a Franchise

The digital magazine publishing business makes it possible for anyone to become a digital magazine publisher without purchasing the franchise of any existing digital magazine publishing company. So, if you are interested in starting a digital magazine publishing company, then you have to start from the very scratch.

Starting a digital magazine publishing company from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small – scale businesses that usually require detailed groundwork before launching the business. With a digital magazine, you should just choose the ideal niche area, get robust contents, get the right employees, build business relationships with key stakeholders and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet to market your digital magazine to subscribers.

Please note that most of the big and successful digital magazine publishing companies around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Digital Magazine Publishing Business

If you decide to start your own digital magazine publishing business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established digital magazine publishing companies and also online publishers who are offering similar contents like you. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on a unique niche idea, one that can win massive subscriber base for you within record time.

Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face are high cost of internet data (subscription cost), online distraction especially from social media platforms, availability of affordable hardcopy magazines, economic downturn and unfavorable government policies (especially if you are publishing contents that the government considers offensive and inappropriate for the general public). There is nothing you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.

Starting a Digital Magazine Company – Legal Matters

  • Best legal entity to use for this type of business

You have the option of either choosing a general partnership or limited liability company for a digital magazine publishing company. Ordinarily, general partnership should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale digital magazine publishing company especially if you are just starting out with moderate start – up capital and you want to concentrate on a small group of people in the online community.

But if your intention is to grow the business and have subscribers from all across the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing general partnership is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholders meetings and other managerial formalities.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your digital magazine publishing company; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and of course taxes.

If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your business, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.

Catchy Business Name Ideas Suitable for a Digital Magazine Publishing Company

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

If you are considering starting your own digital magazine publishing company, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Family Life Digital Magazine, LLC
  • Sports Extra Digital Magazine, Inc.
  • Investment Perspectives Digital Magazine, Inc.
  • Football Lovers Digital Magazine Publishing Company, LLC
  • Auto Watcher Digital Magazine, Inc.
  • Fashion Buster Digital Magazine, LLC
  • Married & Single Digital Magazine, Inc.
  • Health & Food Digital Magazine, Inc.
  • ICT HUB Digital Magazine, Inc.
  • Clarion Call Digital Magazine Publishing Company
  • Galaxies & I Digital Magazine Publishing Company

Insurance Policies

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your digital magazine publishing business.

Here are some of the basic insurance policy covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own digital magazine publishing business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark

Online publishers and related professionals know that handing contents and data over to a third-party is always risky. Protecting your intellectual properties (online contents) can be stressful but in the modern world where ideas and patents are being stolen on daily basis, you need to consider protecting your hard-earned intellectual property rights (online contents).

If you want to protect your intellectual properties (online contents), company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by the USPTO.

Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Digital Magazine Company?

Aside from the robust contents that you publish, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some digital magazine publishers stand out. If you want to make an impact in the digital publishing industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in the competitive market.

These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own digital magazine publishing business;

  • Digital Publishing Certificate – NAIT
  • Desktop Publishing Certificate
  • Certification in Journalism and related Programs

Please note that the higher your qualifications and experience (expertise), the easier it is for you to make impact as the owner of a digital magazine publishing company. In the real sense, you can successfully run a digital magazine publishing company on a small scale in the United States and in most countries of the world without necessarily acquiring professional certifications and business license as long as you have adequate experience cum background in the digital magazine publishing services industry.

List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Digital Magazine Publishing Company

These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own digital magazine publishing company in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Tax Payer’s ID/Tax Identification Number
  • Business Plan
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Employee Handbook
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
  • VAT registration
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Building License
  • Franchise or Trademark License (optional)

Financing Your Digital Magazine Publishing Company

Starting a digital magazine publishing business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale and run the business from your home, share office space with a friend or make use of a virtual office. Securing a standard office facility, equipping and furnishing the office are part of what will consume a large chunk of your start – up capital, but if you choose to start the business on a small scale by working as a one man show and perhaps with freelancers, you may not have the need to go source for fund to finance the business.

But if you choose to start a standard digital magazine publishing outfit with a handful of full – time workers, then you would need to go source for funds.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your digital magazine publishing company;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell of shares to interested investors
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends

Choosing a Suitable Location for your Digital Magazine Company

The digital magazine publishing business and most internet based type of businesses does not require that you see physically with your clients hence the location you chose does not necessarily matter.

But it is important to state that the fact that you can operate your digital magazine publishing business from your home does not mean that location has little influence on the success of your digital magazine publishing company. If you have taken your time to study the digital magazine and other internet based businesses, you will realize that they are willing to pay expensive rents in order to stay in an ICT hub; a place with pretty strong internet network and of course a place where ICT activities are at its peak.

If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your digital magazine publishing business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to observe loads of internet downtime, and spend more in sourcing for digital magazine publishing software apps.

Starting a Digital Magazine Company – Technical and Manpower Details

There are no special technologies or equipment needed to run this type of business except for customized digital magazine publishing software apps, accounting and social media management software applications. You will also need computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables and shelves) and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the digital magazine publishing company you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard digital magazine publishing company, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your office.

As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or Editor in Chief (you can occupy this role), an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Editors, Freelance Journalists and Writers, Business Development Executive/Marketing Executive, Customer Service Officer or Front Desk Officer, and Accountant.

You would need a minimum of 8 key staff members to effectively run a medium scale but standard digital magazine publishing company.

The Service Delivery Process of a Digital Magazine Publishing Company

The service delivery process as it relates to digital magazine publishing depends on the organization. Basically, a digital magazine outfit clearly defines their niche, creates a template for their magazine and then generate contents as it relates to the information they want their readers to know.

After the contents are generated, they are submitted to the editor who ensures that all the necessary corrections are done and the content is free from any form of error before publishing. After publishing, the digital magazine publishing outfit ensures that they attract subscribers (readers). This is necessary because the higher the subscriber base of a digital magazine, the easier for them to attract companies and organizations that will place adverts in their magazine.

The truth is that if the content of a digital magazine is robust and of good quality, it will be easier for them to attract readers (subscribers) and of course advert placement; the more the subscribers and advertisers, the more money the digital magazine publishing outfit will make.

It is important to state that a digital magazine publishing company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them good return on investment (ROI), efficiency and flexibility; the above stated business cum services process is not cast on stone.

Starting a Digital Magazine Company – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and strategies

Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a digital magazine publishing business, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract readers (subscribers) and advertisers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands determining the market direction for the digital magazine publishing industry.

Your marketing strategy will revolve around quality and robust contents, no downtime, pricing, secured payment platform, and above all excellent customer service. You should ensure that whenever people subscribe for your digital magazine, they will get excellent service and of course useful and robust contents. The truth is that if you are able to put the above stated in place, you won’t struggle to retain your old customers (subscribers and advertisers as well) and at the same time win over new customers.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your digital magazine publishing company;

  • Introduce your products or services by sending introductory letters alongside sample of your digital magazine to everyone on your emailing list
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Directly sourcing for subscribers and advertisers
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industry for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount days for your customers (subscribers and advertisers)
  • Advertise your digital magazine in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)

Strategies to Boost Your Digital Magazine Brand Awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity

If your intention of starting a digital magazine publishing company is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on the promotion and advertisement of your brand.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your digital magazine publishing company;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community based events/programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your digital magazine
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to attract subscribers
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • Contact everyone on your emailing list informing them about your digital magazine
  • Advertise your digital magazine publishing company in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Ensure that all your staff members, freelance writers and journalists wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo.
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