As asked by students and industry professionals

1. What is the best way to research potential audiences?
First define who your audience is likely to be and their demographic. Then develop a survey to find out what potential readers are likely to want in a new title, how frequently they would like it and the amount they would be prepared to pay for it. Also find out which format they would prefer content to be delivered.

If your idea is to develop a writing magazine then you need to find writers’ groups to survey. Once you have survey data, you then need to get a focus group together and test out ideas such as potential covers, content and delivery. The more audience research you do, the more likely your publication is to succeed.

2. What is the most effective way undertake surveys and focus groups?
If potential readers are likely to use the Internet or belong to an online forum then use one of the online survey tools, a Google search will bring up numerous options. Focus groups are best done face-to-face not online. Organise a date, time and venue. Do supply refreshments for your guests!

3. Should I opt for print or digital?
This depends on the data gained from your audience surveys and focus groups. If you develop both formats, make sure that you charge readers to access the digital version as well as the print issue.

4. How long does it take to launch a magazine?
About nine months – most distributors ask for a lead-time of six months to market the title to their wholesalers.

5. The best way to develop a viable business plan?
Research business plan content, then map out how you will start, where you want to go and how you plan to get there. You also need to include financial forecasts, such as start-up costs, income and expenditure plus a projection of your first year’s profit and loss.

6. How much should I charge for advertising space?
This depends on the size of your publication. Start by analysing your closest rival’s media pack – take into account their circulation, how long the title has been established and the quality of the product. When building your own media pack make sure it reflects your brand’s house-style and offers good incentives for potential advertisers.

7. What should go into a media pack?
Remember this is a sales tool, so as well the basics such as the size and cost of your advertising space, do publicise your magazine’s circulation figures. Also include data on your audience classification, a readership profile and reader demographics. Don’t forget an overview of editorial coverage and mechanical data such as the exact sizes of your advertising space and how clients should supply their adverts.

8. Why are subscribers essential to a print magazine?
Subscribers prepay – for the publisher this means money in the bank and helps cash flow when times are lean. Remember advertisers won’t always pay on time.

9. How many staff will I need?
Again this depends on the size of your publication. But starting off keep the team small – an editor, deputy, a couple of assistants and a production editor, plus an advertising sales manager and an admin assistant should suffice in the early stages. Don’t forget you will also need outside services such as a bookkeeper, accountant and solicitor.

10. What about case studies?
Find out how magazines have evolved through research and networking. Don’t be afraid to approach editors or publishers who aren’t rivals to your publication. Often they will be happy to offer advice in exchange for a cup of coffee. If you are a journalism student why not interview an editor?

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