So you’ve made the decision to publish your own community magazine, but what now? Where do you go for advice, information and above all, inspiration?
Despite its growing popularity, the business of publishing local community magazines is not covered to any great extent on the internet and there are very few web sites where you can get informal advice and communicate with like-minded people. Unlike normal publishing, the business of publishing local community magazines is very often the domain of individuals working alone for much of the time, and it can become a solitary existence.
Basically, there are two types of local community magazines favoured by aspiring local publishers. The first comprises booklets, usually in A5 size, containing local trade and business advertisements, and this type of magazine is generally distributed around your local area free of charge, with income being made from advertising revenue alone.
There are several franchise opportunities available for this type of community magazine which can prove to be a great way to get started as almost everything you will require is included in the package, including software, advertisement templates and on-going support. The drawback to this type of opportunity is the initial cost of your investment, which can be as high as several thousand pounds. A number of companies now offer local community magazine publishing franchises and a search on the internet will enable you to obtain further information from those readily available.
The second type of local community magazine offers a much more personal reflection on your community, comprising the recollections of local people and a study of your town’s local history, which are compiled into a saleable product. It is unlikely that you will find a franchise opportunity available for this type of magazine and if you decide to go along this path then much of the groundwork will have to be done by yourself. However, in terms of overall interest, this type of magazine will offer much more appeal to your readers.
Establishing a local community magazine featuring the recollections of people from within your home community along with studies of your town’s local history can be accomplished with very little financial investment. It is possible to begin printing your magazines from home using a suitable laser printer until you have established a circulation sufficient to meet the cost of commercial printing. Even if you opt for commercial printing from the outset your initial investment could be relatively small.
The main difference between these two very different types of magazines is that one is distributed free of charge, while the second has to be marketed and sold, although as we have already learned, the second type of magazine produces a very saleable product.
A magazine based primarily on local advertising can be highly lucrative but the competition can be intense as there are already a large number of similar publications in circulation and you may well find yourself competing against large-scale organisations. On the other hand, a magazine featuring personal recollections will generally have very little, if any, competition.
Whichever option you choose there is a fair amount of work to be done in order to become established. You must either contact local businesses and sell your advertising space or you must obtain interesting accounts of your town for publication. As always, getting started is the most difficult part.
In terms of appeal among your intended audience, the more personal community magazine is easily the better option and can soon generate sufficient interest to ensure that once you have obtained content to begin publishing, additional content will be submitted directly to you by your readers.
It must be borne in mind that a magazine based on advertising can also incorporate features providing local interest, and in much the same way, a magazine featuring personal recollections can include local trade and business advertising as a source of supplementary income.
Publishing local community magazines can either be simply a business or a very enjoyable and extremely satisfying business – but that is for you to decide.