Setting up a community magazine

  • You can go through a franchise scheme like My-Mag or Community Times
  • You can purchase a magazine which is already up and running if you can find someone in your area who wants to sell
  • You set up on your own magazine from scratch


Each method has pros and cons.
This was the route I took. It had several major advantages for me:
  • I received all the material I needed to get started
  • I received a step by step guide which was invaluable to someone who knew NOTHING about the printing and advertising business
  • I had access to a ‘club’ which provided editorial content and ideas
  • I had access to sound advice and a friendly ear when everything seemed to be going pear-shaped, which it did many times during the first month or so!


For me these advantages outweighed the three disadvantages of the franchise route
  • There was a start-up fee. These vary with each franchise but it's generaly between £1800 - £4000.
  • It cost me around £50 per month to be a member of their editorial club
  • I was limited to a particular postcode area


Some franchises take care of the printing for you and some even take care of the delivery. These tend to be slightly more expensive to set up and the ongoing running costs are also greater but these costs have to be weighed against finding a reliable printer (which isn’t difficult) and finding reliable folk to deliver your magazine (which can prove very difficult), or delivering them yourself which is exhausting and time-consuming…I know, I’ve been there!
Franchises include:
  • My-Mag
  • Community Times
  • Raring 2 Go (owned by My-Mag)
  • First Issue
  • ABC
  • Families
  • Family Grapevine
  • Kids Direct
  • Parents News
  • Primary Times


Buying a Going Concern
This has the following advantages:
  • You have a ready made advertising base
  • You have previous magazines on which to base your own ‘new and improved’ version.
  • You have advertiser goodwill because hopefully they’ve seen how useful and economical this form of advertising is.
  • You can pump the previous owner for information before you start…which advertisers have a poor payment record and are there any who are better avoided altogether.


But it has disadvantages
  • You’re buying goodwill so you have to make sure this is exists. If the previous owner failed to deliver or produced poor quality magazines you might actually be buying resentment
  • The advertisers may identify strongly with the previous owner. People don’t like change as a rule so you might have to go on a charm offensive to retain them
  • It’s likely to be more expensive or at least as expensive as a franchise because it’s a going concern


Starting from Scratch

The two major advantages are:
  • It’s much cheaper to do it yourself
  • You don’t have to limit yourself to any postcode.


The postcode rule for franchises exists to prevent two or more franchise owners from having to go head to head attracting advertisers. It DOES NOT prevent someone else completely unconnected with that franchise from starting up their own magazine in that area and that someone could be you. Don't be put off by the fact that someone is in the area already. Most community magazines have a circulation of between 1500 and 5000 with an average of around 2000-2500. There could be whole villages or new estates within that postcode who have no magazine and are there for the taking.
  • You need to research carefully how to set up your publication
  • You need to choose your software and learn to use it which can be time consuming, especially creating adverts.
  • You need to find or produce your own editorial content
  • You’re on your own!


Actually that last bit is no longer true. You’re not on your own anymore. Thewritecontent is here to help you.

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