Q: How much does it cost to start a magazine?
Answer: People ask this question all the time,
and unfortunately, its impossible to answer without knowing exactly
what kind of publication you have in mind. They spent $20 million
to launch Oprah's magazine, O. Any national consumer magazine
that reaches a million readers or so, like Oprah's does, would
cost the same, but entrepreneurs rarely launch anything at that
We spent $150,000 to launch PC Magazine from a kitchen table
in 1981 and it would take about $3 million to do the same thing
today. These days, you also have to factor in the cost of launching
both in print and on the web, which we did not have to to do
with PC Magazine. Read our
At the other extreme, people start zines with next to nothing.
If you stick to the web, or print very few copies (like 5,000
or less), and use mostly volunteer writers and contributors,
and nobody gets paid for anything, you can start out with a few
thousand dollars. Figure $1 per copy for printing, plus $.35
for postage and do the math. But realize that you're not paying
yourself or your writers or your designers or anyone else. Many
independent publishers DO start out by using their credit cards
and spending less than $30,000 or so.
But if people get paid, and if you print in the neighborhood
of 10,000 copies or so, and if you spend a little money on promotion
(to get some paid readers or enough web traffic to support some
ads), then you should expect to spend between $250,000 and $500,000
to get far enough along that you can hope to begin breaking even.
We produced a simple magazine
business plan kit that will help you estimate your publishing
costs and potential revenues. Its easy to use and a quick way
to make that basic calculation: how much do I need? Order it
online and we will email it to you.
We recommend our business how-to book
for first-time publishers and our second book, Every
Nonprofit's Guide to Publishing that covers the creative
side of publishing in great detail. Look for both in
your local library,
well-stocked bookstores, or buy
them right now from Amazon.com.