The Mint Cover HR 1000pxA few years ago, I was approached by Henry Leveson-Gower who wanted advice on starting a new magazine.

Inspired by the campaigning genesis of The Economist, Henry was an expert in his subject but had little knowledge of magazine publishing. He was determined to launch a magazine, and after scraping together a shoestring budget, asked for my help to develop a blueprint for the title.

Extensive market analysis prompted me to recommend a membership strategy for this concept. Fast forward four years and The Mint is on the way to making a global impact.

Henry shares his publishing journey – it is an uplifting story.

The Mint evolved because I wanted to raise awareness and develop a deeper understanding of economic systems and how they interact with political, social and physical systems.  A digital magazine seemed the perfect platform to share knowledge and ideas. Start-up costs were minimal, around £5,000 to produce and launch the magazine with £1,000 spent on the launch party. Funding came from a personal business loan and The Cambridge Trust for New Thinking in Economics, which helped finance initial research into the viability of the concept.

Although the magazine has yet to become profitable, I’ve realised that promoting the magazine to those more ‘converted’ to economic reform and pluralism for non-profit organisations is potentially a more successful approach.

Overall my experience has been a steep learning curve, with one of the biggest lessons being not to forget about the user interface.

In the long term? I want to make The Mint a monthly title, but it’s got to pay for itself. Production costs are kept low, working out around £4,000 an issue. While the editor and designer both work on a freelance basis, there is a network of writers who produce the content, volunteering their services to gain a voice and share knowledge.

My goal is to achieve a much higher readership and international distribution – creating a global community within the next 18 months to three years. The idea is to grow events on a worldwide basis all on the same URL but with different versions of the site for each country.

Key lessons to be drawn

  1. Be determined and believe in your ideas – providing of course that they are viable and that you have undertaken in-depth market research.
  2. Change your perspective. Nothing is static, so if something isn’t working try a new strategy – the worst thing publishers can do is continue doing what they did yesterday.
  3. With specialist magazines building a community and magazine in tandem is essential to ensure both become sustainable.