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How to Start a Magazine in 2021

Jan 1st, 2021 by Angela Ruth

This is Issuu’s no-nonsense guide on how to start a magazine in 2021. If you have been toying with the idea of beginning your own publication there is no better time than now– the start of a fresh decade!

1. Refine your goals

Are you a company looking to establish your brand? A business seeking to connect and inform employees?  Maybe you want to sell products and services, or even provide an outlet for creatives. These are just some examples of publishing goals.

Those who have paved the way in publishing agree that “today’s magazines are lifestyle products.” What does that mean? It means that you must identify want your audience wants to buy. Therefore, you should understand B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customer) operations. Essentially, your magazine is a platform for building other businesses– such as event planning or retail [1].

For example, highly successful online food and drink magazine, The Taste Mag, has the following goal: “bring local Irish flair to anyone around the world” [2]. This approach is both personal and enticing, giving people an insider look at life in a corner of the globe apart from theirs.

2. Align goals with format

Let us revisit the above example. The Taste Mag wanted to takelocal experiences global. 5 years later they have over 19 million readers worldwide.

Sure, pdfs are accessible. But, they’re not mobile-optimized and must be downloaded–thus resulting in lower readership. The effort is low, but so is the impact on readers (and you cannot collect reader data this way) [3]. Which is why Issuu created the flip-book reader and personalized embed for eliminating pdf struggles. You can even collect publication and page-level statistics!

More: Success Stories: Sweet Paul

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Another method is using an application. This usually a high effort and high impact format [3]. But, Issuu has developed a powerful mobile reading environment for creators just like you. No need to spend precious time and money developing your own app. Simply upload your content and enjoy the benefit of our intuitive flip-book reader, existing community of readers, and boost in SEO.

3. Design your content

Experienced creators have lots of valuable advice. So, when you start your publication join groups like the Indie Publisher Club, or Little Magazine Coalition for support. They can help you network and find smart partnerships [1].

Keep your audience first, and do not approach your publication inside-out. Form content around the demands of your desired audience. For example, Makeshift Magazine blossomed with the help of their contributor network. As a luxury lifestyle magazine their brand and partnerships, particularly on Instagram, are critical. They focus on co-created advertorial content and even run a creative agency connecting influencers with unique audiences [1].

If your vision is to work with contributors a strong social presence is critical. Consider avenues such as a blog, newsletter, social accounts, and Youtube as ways to simultaneously cross promote contributors and your publication. Then, ask yourself questions like: where are my potential customers dropping off? Issuu Analytics provides those insights.

More: Top Self Publishing Trends for 2020

Additionally, a common mistake for new publishers is locking up all of your online content. When you first start off experts strongly recommend the “freemium” model [3]. This means starting off free, and when a fanbase is established setting up previews that entice a purchase. Issuu allows for magazine previews, and paired with Issuu Sales the steps in your funnel are dramatically reduced. With Issuu you can sell single copies or entire subscriptions. Other ideas include co-writing gift guides with collaborators, throwing membership exclusive events, and fielding special offers from restaurants and hotels [1].

Lastly, some purely logistical advice. If you do print order fewer than you think you need because you take 100% of the risk of printing. Distributors will charge by pound and for good placement. So, start small you can always print more if they fly off the shelves [1].

5. Organize your content

Finally, you should know the structure of a magazine. Below is a breakdown of standard magazine structure.


Start with the cover! This include your brand logo, title, a main image/illustration, publication date, edition or issue number, subtitle, and content highlights. Next, is the “front of the book” containing a table of contents, staff introductions (aka the impressum), and letters from the editor and readers [3]. Take advantage of Issuu’s link embeds in your table of contents! This way people can jump directly to the content that interests them most.


Here lies the bulk of your publication, the “feature well.” Long form articles, interviews, and how-to’s live here. Display ads and advertorial collaborations from your sponsors are also dispersed throughout the middle [3]. Use Issuu Stories and create tap-through social stories shareable across the entire mobile web from the articles in this section. Our AMP integration makes your Stories the fastest loading and most discoverable format on the Internet!


The “back of the book” contains things like short articles, classifieds, contact forms, calls to action, and information for interested advertisers. Sometimes the impressum is also included at the end [3]. This is a personal choice.

Issuu has solutions for all steps in starting a magazine in 2021. With everything from publication templates, personalize-able flip book embeds, advertising opportunities, sales, analytics, links, and more.

Start your magazine and choose Issuu as your editorial team today!

[1] Lessons from Four Years in Print

[2] Tastes like more: The decision by Kevin Mahon and his wife Jules to start a purely online food and drink magazine has really borne fruit in terms of international recognition and visitor numbers

[3] How to Start your Own Online Magazine in 2020

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