Printing a magazine can be an expensive proposition and many publishers look for an inexpensive ways to get their publications to press. While there is no cheap way to produce a quality magazine, there are ways to cuts costs. Adjustments in paper type, page size, ink and the number of copies you ultimately decide to print could save you thousands of dollars while increasing your profit margin.
If you are looking to print a magazine cheaply, you’ll need to start at the front end. Whether you are printing a glossy, four-color magazine or a down-and-dirty black-and-white newsletter, these steps can save you money before you even get bids from a printer. Start with the size of your publication. A standard magazine size is 8 3/8 x 10 7/8 inches. Try trimming the page length and width by several inches. A 5½ x 8½ format can be substantially cheaper. Also, look at the number of pages you are printing. You’ll need enough space to accommodate your advertisements--roughly 30 or 40 percent should be reserved for ads, if you want to be profitable, but perhaps you can cut some editorial. Also, if your magazine relies on color but all those glossy photos are wrecking your budget, consider limiting the color to an inside spread, or just to the outside and inside cover. If your advertisers insist on color ads, charge them more for the space. Charging extra for color ads is standard practice in the magazine industry.
Once you have decided how you are going to save through production, you’ll need to work with your printer to save even more. Need that glossy paper? Are you sure you need it throughout? Consider bidding out your magazine with a glossy cover and a matte finish inside. Losing the gloss will lose some of the price tag. Paper weights also matter. If you can do with a thinner paper stock, you can save money that way. Ask your printer what paper stocks are on the floor. There might be a good stock that you can substitute for the thick paper you have been using. Also, take a hard look at your print run. Do you really need those extra thousand copies for the trade show you are working, or can you do with half that amount? Planning a slim print run may cut costs. If you are mailing, make sure you have the proper sizing for the letter rate. The United States Postal Service is a great resource for sizing and planning your mailings and is listed below as a Resource.
No Cheap Way Out
Unfortunately, printing a magazine is still a costly endeavor. Altering page size, color, page weight and print run can shave off 30 or 40 percent of the original price tag, but for a high-quality magazine, you can still see your earnings drained away in a sea of red ink. Another possibility is giving up the idea of a print edition and going digital. You can create a digital edition on your desktop and email files of the magazine to your subscriber list for pennies. You’ll need to adjust your thinking, consult your advertisers and alert subscribers, but digital publishing is an excellent alternative if you just can’t afford the print price tag.
John Zaphyr is a marketing and sales manager with the Oncology Nursing Society. He has written professionally since1999 and also has editing credits with Friedlander Publishing Group. His articles have appeared in the "Pittsburgh Tribune Review." John earned a master's degree in English education from the University of Pittsburgh.