Building a Relationship with your Readers

This article has been written with the aim of helping you to build a good relationship with your readers.
It is impossible to stress how important your readers are. If your magazine is great people will talk about it and continue to read it. If it’s poor people might talk about it initially but more than likely after the first edition they’ll just pop it out for recycling without giving it a second glance.
If no-one is reading your magazine, why on earth would advertisers want to take out an advert?
So you need to create a relationship with your readers which will make them want to pick your magazine up and thus make it desirable for advertisers. How can you achieve this?
Choose your audience with care
Who are your target audience?
  • Residents of new estates
  • Residents of some older, affluent and more established areas


I would suggest that if your magazine is primarily a directory of local services then you should really be targeting new estates which have a high proportion of people new to the area. These people will be looking for services: decorators, handymen, landscape gardeners, dentists, vets, electricians…the list is endless.
My own experience also tells me that advertisers like to know that your magazine will be circulated in the more affluent areas of a town or village even if those particular homes are long-established.
Though I was more than happy to distribute in old established areas of town, if that was what the advertisers wanted, I initially thought it was a waste of time. These people had already extended their homes, built their conservatories, had established gardens and were probably personal friends with their dentist and vet. What was the point in sticking one of my magazines through their letterbox?
In fact these people proved very useful indeed. Many of them were pillars of the community; active in the church, in the schools, in local charities etc. They were quick to provide editorial content for my magazine and quick to take piles of them to school fetes. They also used the magazines to keep up with local events and were very good at putting potential advertisers in touch with me.
So if your magazine is primarily a directory then choose new estates but don’t forget a few well chosen more established areas of town.
Creating your skeleton publication

  • Study the competition
  • Design an eye-catching cover
  • Plan the basic layout
  • Don’t forget the index


First, study any competitors. What does their magazine do well? What does it do less well? Are there any areas it doesn’t cover which, if you did, would give you an edge?
Next, make the cover attractive. Having produced a community magazine myself I take an interest whenever I see another one. You would be amazed at how many have dreary covers. One I have in my possession has a dingy Khaki cover. It looks as welcoming as a wet weekend.
You can design a nice cover easily. Get out and about early one morning or late in the evening and photograph interesting areas of town. Early morning and evening photos always look better and more atmospheric than those taken in the middle of the day.
Even if you want to give most of the front cover over to advertising (which is what I did) you can still make your magazine look attractive. Your printer will have lots of beautiful colours of card from which to make the cover. I used to have a different colour each month; red, pink, kingfisher blue…but NEVER dingy khaki!
Now, consider the layout. If you look at any big glossy or trade magazine you will see that the letters page is always in the same place, as are certain other regular features. Readers like this. They know where to find things without having to search through the whole publication. Consider having a couple of regular pages; I had a regular history slot on page 4 and my community page and puzzle page were always at the back, just before the index.
You also need to have great editorial content spread throughout the magazine so people will have an excuse to read through the whole magazine. Thewritecontent can help here. Check out The Content Club which provides four, fresh, advertiser-friendly articles plus puzzles every month for just £10 per month.
Finally, you need an index so that when a reader needs a plumber or an electrician etc. they can go straight to the page or pages where those services may be found.
Engage with your readers
  • A letters page
  • A community page
  • Reward advertiser referrals
  • Competitions which engage the reader with the publication


Even if you don’t have a regular letters page you can invite readers to contact you. Perhaps you could give away a gift voucher to the person who spots the most mistakes in your magazine. Ideally there shouldn’t be any but in practice there are always one or two which slip though the net; generally spelling mistakes.
Ask for suggestions. Are there any advertisers who aren’t in your publication who readers would like to see there? Offer a small gift voucher for any referrals. Any outlay will be recouped ten-fold in advertising fees.
Perhaps they could nominate a ‘resident of the week’. The winner could have their photo in the magazine along with the reasons why they’ve been nominated.
The trick to a successful community magazine is to give the community ownership of it. If the community take it to their hearts it will be a success.
Back to the Articles Index
text menu area