How to run a successful magazine

Vicki Chastney is a PRINCE2 qualified Project Manager and has worked in this arena for over 20 years, helping clients with events, projects, campaigns and producing original magazines. We caught up with Vicki recently to find out about the latter and what it takes to turn a collection of ideas into a published magazine.  

At WSA we run a lot of complex projects, one of my favourites to manage is the magazines. Why? Because every issue gives us new challenges. It could be finding space for a last-minute news item, through to whole articles changing due to a contributor unable to provide the content. That ‘challenge’ element is what a Project Manager thrives on, solving each problem as it arises and fixing it to deliver the magazine on time, every time!

As Project Managers we oversee all of the day-to-day elements, including producing and managing the schedules, co-ordinating the advertising sales, sourcing and coordinating with contributors, liaising with clients and our-in-house designers. 

Planning starts months in advance of the publication date and below are some areas to think about when producing a magazine.

Ensure your content is engaging to your audience

It is not just making sure content is well-written, grammatically correct and well laid out, important though these things are, it’s understanding the audience you are writing for. Consider your tone-of-voice and make it appropriate to the audience with a mix of news, sector information, provocative options and perhaps some educational material too.

If your magazine is digital, ensure you are making full use of the links in articles and adverts.

You can expand the value and reach of a digital publication exponentially with quick, efficient links to relevant web-based sources.

Remember to be transparent about what is independent editorial and what is essentially paid-for sponsored content.

You need to ensure that images used are of suitable quality and have the correct licence to enable their use, especially in a printed publication being distributed to thousands of readers.  If a contributor sends you an image always check it is not one they have just downloaded from Google!

Chase contributors and advertisers early; then chase again.

You’ll have the best chance of producing a great magazine if you use the maximum time for design, layout and proofing. This means a continuous dialogue with your contributors to ensure that they are aware of the timings.

Reminders are sent on a regular basis to the contributors and advertisers – you need to be the friendliest pest they know!

Don’t under-estimate the work involved

From selling advertising space and sourcing editorial, through to providing flat-plans and proofing, magazines are time consuming and projects that require daily attention.

No more needs to the said – now check your schedules and start calling to get ahead of the game!

Always be prepared for last-minute changes.

As you have regular updates with your design team, never let them forget that last minute changes can – and will – happen. Flexibility, organisation and the ability to handle a crisis will help immensely.

We have produced more than 6000 pages in the last decade. If you would like help with your magazines, newsletters or catalogues – whether it be a design refresh, advertising sales support or full management of your magazines, contact me at [email protected] or call 01908 306500.