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How to Start a Magazine

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Magazine

Fast Facts

Investment range

$2,850 - $6,300

Revenue potential

$54,000 - $180,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 – 3 months

Profit potential

$49,000 - $108,000 p.a.

Industry trend




Print magazines do still exist, but they’re quickly being taken over by digital magazines, the market for which is expected to expand 40% by 2025. People look to magazines for news, entertainment, and advice. If you can create an innovative concept and have a talent for the written word, you could start your own digital magazine from home and make a good living.

But before you start writing, you’ll need to learn the business launch process. Luckily, this step-by-step guide will fill you in on all the information you need to start a successful magazine. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a magazine has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.


  • Creative Outlet – Choose your own concept and articles
  • Provide Value – Use your magazine to educate
  • Flexibility – Run your magazine from home


  • Crowded Market – Compete with a host of other digital magazines
  • Delayed Revenue – Must build a following before you make money

Magazine industry trends

Industry size and growth

magazine industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

magazine industry Trends and Challenges

Trends in the magazine industry include:

  • Video content is becoming a larger part of digital magazine content.
  • Interactive features, such as puzzles, are a way digital publications engage today’s readers.

Challenges in the magazine industry include:

  • Most people are not willing to pay for digital subscriptions to magazines, so digital magazines have to rely on ad revenue.
  • The growing number of channels where publishers can distribute content is creating more competition for digital magazines. 

How much does it cost to start a magazine business?

Startup costs for a magazine range from $2,800 to $6,300. Costs include a computer and design software for your magazine graphics.

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Computer$800 - $1,200$1,000
Design software$500 - $1,000$750
Total$2,850 - $6,300$4,575

How much can you earn from a magazine business?

magazine earnings forecast

You can make money from your magazine by using Google AdSense, which will pay you 68% of what Google makes on each ad. Google offers tips to maximize your ad revenue. The average per ad click you’ll make is $3. Your profit margin will be high if you’re writing all the articles and doing the graphics yourself and should be around 90%. 

In your first year or two, you might have 1,500 ad clicks per month, bringing in $54,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $49,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. As your magazine gains traction, you might get 5,000 ad clicks per month. At this stage, you might outsource some of the writing, reducing your profit margin to around 60%. With annual revenue of $180,000, you’d make a handsome profit of $108,000.

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a magazine. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • The writing skills needed to create informative and engaging content
  • Drawing eyeballs from existing online magazines

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a magazine, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research magazines online to examine their content and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the market is missing a digital publishing company that features personal essays or an educational digital publication on entrepreneurship that has interactive features. 

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as DIY articles or video content.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Define your magazine themes and subscription options

Your products will be the digital content that you create. You’ll just need to decide on a theme for your magazine, and what features you want to add, like interactive features or video content. 

You could also offer your magazine as a subscription so that you’re not completely reliant on ad revenue. 

How much should you charge for your magazine?

Your ad revenue will be based on Google AdSense rules and how much traffic your magazine gets. If you decided to offer your magazine as a subscription, you might be able to charge $2 to $4 monthly. Your profit margin when you’re working by yourself should be about 90%. 

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your potential subscribers and readers will depend on the type of content you provide. If your content targets younger people, you should focus your marketing on TikTok and Instagram. 

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
magazine idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Magazine Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “magazine” or “digital magazine”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Insight Magazine” over “Tech Trends”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Magazine Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: A brief summary of your business plan, highlighting its key points and objectives.
  • Business Overview: An introduction to your business, its purpose, and the industry it operates in.
  • Product and Services: Details about what your business offers and how it meets customer needs.
  • Market Analysis: An assessment of your target market, including its size, trends, and opportunities.
  • Competitive Analysis: Examination of your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting and selling your products or services.
  • Management Team: Information about the key individuals running the business and their qualifications.
  • Operations Plan: How your business will function day-to-day and the necessary resources and processes.
  • Financial Plan: Projections and analysis of your business’s financial performance, including revenue, expenses, and profitability.
  • Appendix: Supplementary information, such as supporting documents or detailed research, to provide additional context to the business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to magazines. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your magazine will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

types of business structures
  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

types of business financing
  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a magazine business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept. 

Step 8: Apply for Publishing Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a magazine business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your magazine business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

types of business insurance
  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as The Magazine Manager, Chargebee, or Ad Sales Genius, to manage your projects, sales, and billing. 


  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 


Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Professional Branding — Create an engaging brand that reflects your magazine’s style, including an eye-catching logo, well-designed layout, and visually appealing website.
  • Website and SEO — Develop a website showcasing sample articles and subscription options, optimized for SEO to attract readers searching for content related to your magazine’s themes.
  • Social Media Engagement — Leverage platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to share content, engage with readers, and promote upcoming issues and events.
  • Content Marketing — Publish articles or blog posts that align with your magazine’s content, driving traffic and increasing subscriptions, complemented by newsletters that keep subscribers informed about new content and offers.
  • Video Content — Produce behind-the-scenes videos, interviews with contributors, or features on cover stories to enrich your content offerings.
  • Influencer and Brand Collaborations — Partner with relevant influencers, writers, and brands to extend your reach and add credibility to your magazine’s content.
  • Community Engagement — Participate in or sponsor community events and collaborations with educational institutions to increase your magazine’s presence in relevant circles.
  • Subscription Incentives — Offer attractive incentives for new subscribers, such as discounts or exclusive content, to encourage sign-ups.
  • Loyalty Programs — Reward loyal subscribers with special offers, exclusive content, or merchandise discounts to retain their interest and support.
  • Targeted Online Advertising — Employ targeted advertising on platforms like Facebook and Google Ads to reach potential subscribers interested in your magazine’s niche.
  • Distribution Partnerships — Collaborate with bookstores, cafes, and other venues for broader magazine distribution, expanding your physical reach and visibility.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your magazine meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your magazine business could be: 

  • All you need to know about DIY!
  • Get all your entertainment news first here
  • The latest tech news — with quizzes to test your knowledge 


You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a magazine business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in magazines for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in magazines. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a magazine business include:

  • Writers – write articles
  • Designers – design the graphics of the content
  • General Manager – staff management, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Magazine – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Digital magazines are seeing rapid growth, providing readers with valuable information and entertainment that can be accessed even on a mobile device. If you’re a writer and have always dreamed of starting a magazine, there’s no need for the expense of paper – you can create your own digital magazine for very little money and maybe build a national brand!  

You’ve gained valuable insights by reading this guide, so now it’s time to start writing your way to magazine success.

Magazine Business FAQs

How does a magazine make money?

Magazines generally rely on ad revenue, which digital magazines can earn by using Google AdSense. They can also charge for subscriptions.

Is it profitable to start a magazine?

Starting a magazine can be profitable, but it depends on various factors such as the target audience, advertising revenue, circulation, production costs, and competition in the market. Conducting market research and developing a solid business plan can help evaluate the potential profitability of a magazine.

How can I ensure the quality and relevance of content offered in my magazine?

To ensure the quality and relevance of content offered in a magazine, consider the following strategies: conduct extensive research and interviews to provide accurate and informative content, utilize experienced and knowledgeable writers and editors, develop a consistent and recognizable editorial voice and style, solicit feedback from readers and industry professionals, and regularly assess and adapt to changes in industry trends and audience interests.

How can I differentiate my magazine from competitors in the market?

To differentiate a magazine from competitors in the market, consider the following strategies: specialize in a specific niche or focus on a unique aspect of a broader topic, offer a visually appealing and well-designed layout, provide original and exclusive content, utilize interactive or multimedia elements, and engage with readers through social media or events.

What writing style is used in magazines?

The writing style used in magazines can vary depending on the target audience and the nature of the content. Generally, magazines utilize a more conversational and accessible writing style compared to academic or technical writing.


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How to Start a Magazine