Can niche publications make money?
Hi, thanks for bringing your question to answers.google. On a subject
like this I believe a bit of an introduction is essential. I have been
involved in trade publications and regional publications for decades,
both as a writer, and on staff. Currently I am working with neighbors
on a publication focused on small town life and based in West-Central
The simple answer to your opening question is, yes, highly focused
publications can make money. A subscription rate of as little as
$25/year can, when combined with a good mailing rate, actually show a
profit but your real money would come from advertisers.
As for finding writers, you will find that you have a far greater
problem keeping them from beating down your doors. Everyone wants to
be a writer, or so it seems. You may be able to find pretty decent
writers who will write for free. Paid professionals such as myself,
will require $1 per word or perhaps more and you will want a few of
them because they are more reliable.
You didn?t mention the particular focus of your publication so I can?t
be specific but you will probably be able to get ?placed? articles
from businesses which provide goods or services related to your
As for a printer, you need to negotiate with local printers to look
for the best rate. For any reasonable sized new publication (5-50,000
print runs) you will do best working with a smaller local publisher
simply because you need to learn the business and they should be
willing to work with you.
Enough of generalities.
I can only think of two publications which would fit your description
? regional magazines and trade publications.
Trade publications are all those highly-targeted publications which
are often given away to qualified individuals in their target market.
Your average hardware store gets several, as does every other kind of
retailer you can think of.
There are literally tens of thousands of trade publications but they
necessarily survive on advertising.
Regional publications or other targeted consumer publications also
need significant ad revenue to survive.
Because of the costs involved in printing each issue (about $1.25 for
each glossy 40-50-page magazine based on a run of 10,000) you need
advertising to pay the basic costs. The only sort of publication which
doesn?t involve that big basic cost is the online magazine. Whether or
not that is possible for you to consider depends on the topic and the
To address your specific questions:
The ones with little advertising may actually be all advertising. They
are either paid for by some business associated with the topics
covered in the publication or the articles are paid placement pieces
where PR agencies actually pay to have the articles run.
Where to they get printed?
That depends on a lot of factors but they may be produced by local
printers and you will have to talk with all of them to find the best
Even more important is how you will mail the publication. USPS rates
are runious for small magazine publishers but you may be able to ride
on someone else's deeply discounted rate. Begin with your local or
regional Chamber of Commerce - they may know who you should talk with,
or they may actually have their own discounted rate and by joining you
will be able to use it. Having discounted USPS rates make the
difference between loosing money on every subscription and making a
small amount of money.
How do they find contributors?
If you place a notice in the local paper or in any of the online
freelance sites, or even contact other publishers with a different
target audience, you will quickly be flooded with offers to write for
Depending on the perks you can offer and the focus of your
publication, you can expect to pay between $0.50 and $2.00 per word
for quality professional writing. If you have lots of time and editing
skill, then it is perfectly possible to work entirely with beginning
freelancers who are desperate to get their name on published articles
in order to build their careers. Almost every freelance writer begins
You might also contact any local newspaper to see if they will share
the names and contact information for their local columnists and
stringers. Local newspapers pay about $25 for a column so you can see
that the writers would probably be happy to work for you at very
There are three basic categories of freelancers which you will need to deal with.
1) Professionals with no specific expertise. You will be surprised how
quickly a professional writer can pick up even the most esoteric
knowledge and write about it.
2) Experts in the field with no writing experience. Expect to do a lot of editing.
3) Professional writers with expertise. These rare individuals earn
6-figure incomes but may well be prepared to work with you because
they can turn out so much copy so quickly.
You will probably need to work with all three and it's important to
know which is which.
Internships for office staff can also be extremely useful. Journalism
is one of the hottest college majors and there aren?t very many
openings. I know that this is a good source of very inexpensive help
in many areas.
By the way, it is relatively easy to get Amazon.com to carry your
Here is a GREAT introduction to the business
Determining the viability of your project.
You MUST be a salesperson at heart. You can hire ad sales people even
on a commission-only basis but if you can?t sell yourself and your
ideas, you can?t succeed. You will probably end up ?closing? most
You need to have, learn, or hire desktop publishing and photo editing
skills. Printers will need ?camera? ready files to print.
Determine the focus of your publication.
Decide who would pay to advertise in it.
Determine if the market is already completely covered by other publications.
A good place to start is simply to go to Google and search for: magazine (topic)
Since I don?t know the subject area I can?t do this for you.
Google search term: freelance writers
For more information see:
www.publishingbiz.com is probably the best place to start for all your questions.
Circulation Management Magazine is a free trade publication
An essential purchase is the $20 ?Starting & Running a Successful
Newsletter or Magazine (Starting & Running a Successful Newsletter Or
Magazine)? by Cheryl Woodard
You can find it at Amazon.com or www.publishingbiz.com
Thank you again for turning to Answers.Google for help. I have
personally been involved in more than 20 startup publications in one
capacity or another. Good luck.