How to Market a Magazine

by Nancy Wagner; Updated September 26, 2017
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Publishing an appealing magazine with well-written articles and beautiful photos takes lots of time and resources. At the same time, you must focus on building your subscriber base while also finding advertisers, key ingredients for the long-term success of your publication. Whether your magazine relies solely on advertisers for its revenue or is a subscription-based publication that includes ads, start by creating an overall marketing strategy to figure out the best ways to approach both.

Marketing Plan

Develop a marketing plan that identifies the goals of the publication. Figure out how many subscribers or readers and advertisers you need to reach those goals. Next, identify the demographics of your subscribers as well as the characteristics of your advertisers so you know who to market to. Outline how you plan to distribute the publication, such as at newsstands, via subscriptions or if the publication is a freebie, at local stores and community centers.

Website Development

Use your website to showcase the articles and other content found in your publication. Include teaser articles from the most recent issue to persuade people to pick up a copy to read the entire piece. Use a shopping cart that accepts credit cards to encourage people to subscribe online. Add a page to your website geared to advertisers and provide a downloadable media kit.

Online Promotion

Create a business Facebook page, and post information about upcoming articles and other content in the next issue. Once the magazine comes out, invite contributors to post comments, as this helps you get in front of their followers, too. Encourage bloggers who post about the same subjects your magazine covers to mention the availability of the next issue. Place targeted pay-per-click ads on Facebook, and include a link to your website to download a free sample issue or pay for a discounted subscription.

Direct Mail

Buy a database of names and addresses of people who fit your publication’s subscriber demographics. Create and send a series of postcards or letters to solicit subscriptions. Offer a discount for subscribing for two years, as this gives you working capital. Include an expiration date on your mailings to encourage recipients to subscribe immediately. Include your website address to encourage online subscriptions and provide a tear-off form to fill in and mail for those less inclined to subscribe online.

Approaching Advertisers

If you’re a new publication, securing advertisers is tricky since you don’t yet have a large subscriber base. To counteract this problem, develop a media kit that focuses on the demographics of your readers rather than the number of subscribers. As soon as you build your subscriber list, add information that helps convince companies that enough people will see the ad. In the beginning, plan to call advertisers to persuade them to place an ad. Once you’re more established, hire a publisher representative to sell ad space. You can also research the Advertising Red Books, a directory that lists more than 13,000 ad agencies who buy ad space for their clients.

Promotional Events

Sign up for a booth at street fairs, trade shows and other events that appeal to your readership. Sponsor the event to give your publication more coverage and to build familiarity with the name of the magazine. Print extra copies of your publication, and hand them out to potential readers at the event. Include a special promotional offer on a card affixed to the cover to persuade people to subscribe. For a fee, a magazine can be included among sponsors of an event, getting its name and logo in front of potential readers and associating itself with an activity or cause that readers identify with.

About the Author

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

  • Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images