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Why I Started My Magazine: 5 Successful Entrepreneurs Tell Their Story
It’s all the more reason to celebrate those who’ve not only launched a magazine, but actually managed to grow it into a thriving publication.
What can we learn from their stories and their humble origins?
Are there any common themes running throughout their startup stories that you can take to kickstart your own journey?
We lift the lid of how five of the hottest magazine founders in the world right now started, what events and circumstances led them to taking a risk on an industry some consider to be dying, and what that decision has meant for their day to day lives.
Meet the five founders in the hotseat:
Founder of Executive Secretary Magazine
Executive Secretary Magazine is a magazine catering to administrative assistants worldwide. The magazine aims to help executive assistants develop their skills, regardless of their seniority and position within their company.
Executive Secretary Magazine was one of the six finalists in the 2013 Business Magazine of the Year Awards.
Lucy: In 2003, I was doing PR for about 6 months on a freelance basis. To cut a long story short, this led to a lunch meeting with the then owner of a subscription newsletter that circulated widely in the UK to senior Assistants…After several conversations, she asked me if I would like to take it over. I agreed and ran it for several years as just a newsletter, but always in the back of my head, had the idea that I would like to re-launch it as a global training publication, complete with a website & events.
Over the next seven years, I got to know the market properly. The more I researched it, the more it became obvious that there was a real gap in the market. Assistants all over the world were crying out for solid, inspirational training. The opportunity came in 2011, when I was made redundant and was finally able to afford to launch Executive Secretary properly.
When I was setting the launch plans, it became very obvious, very quickly that what we needed to build was not a subscriber list, but a community. And that meant that it had to be an ongoing conversation.
I began by joining every group for Assistants on LinkedIn…[and] connected both on LinkedIn and on Twitter with over 80 associations for Assistants all over the world .
What began as a trickle – a couple of people joining a day, is now up to over 40 a day signing up to the LinkedIn group. We have over 18,000 members and a conversation between Assistants all over the world that keeps my finger on the pulse of what content we need to put out to our community on an ongoing basis.
We also run a weekly TweetChat for Assistants on a Thursday, hosted by a different world-class trainer every week. This training regularly attracts over 2000 participants and is another excellent way to keep the conversation current.
You can visit the Executive Secretary Magazine website at http://executivesecretary.com/
Lucy’s full interview on the Asaporg.com website.
Co-Founder of Munaluchi Bride Magazine
Jacqueline founded Munaluchi Bride Magazine alongside her husband in 2010. Starting initially as a side gig taking wedding photographs during the weekends,Jacqueline has quickly grown her magazine to become the ‘go to magazine for any bride of color looking for wedding inspiration’.
Starting with no publishing experience, Munaluchi Bride Magazine is now stocked in all Target stores, as well as leading distributors in USA, UK and Nigeria.
Jacqueline: We decided to launch our business after my husband and I started getting into wedding photography…from that we had all these pictures and we thought ‘why not start a bridal magazine?’ So we did some research and figured out how to start one and that’s basically how we got started.
“I literally typed “how to start a magazine” in google and that was the beginning.”
We did not have any experience in magazines before this. I come from a medical technology background as basically someone who looks under a microscope all day. My husband comes from an IT background so we are not publishers, we have zero publishing experience however we did a lot of research and figured out how to make a magazine, how to be publishers and how to get into the industry.
A lot of people say we started a magazine during the recession and we went into an industry that was considered dead. Those were two big challenges and it’s not typically the thing to do – you don’t go into an industry that people are running away from and you don’t start a company during a recession. However, we felt we had a good product and we were very positive and motivated and pushed forward….Once we had the product made and we showed it to the distributors they signed on right away.
You can read visit the Munaluchi Bride Magazine website at http://munaluchibridal.com/.
Jacqueline’s interviews can be found on Madamenoire.com hand Weddingmarketnews.com.
Co-Founder and Publisher of The New Inquiry
Rachel was recently ranked in the Forbes 30 under 30 Media list, quite a feat for a lady who describes herself as a “misfit.. [with an] obsession of tinkering around with coding and technology”. Her magazine, The New Inquiry, started as a Tumblr and has grown into an online magazine offering thought provoking discussions that center around cultural and public life. The magazine is lauded for featuring some of the most exciting young writing talent around.
Rachel At first, it was just that I felt as a young woman who wasn’t a homework-doer or note-taker, but still had drive and passion about politics and art and ideas, there was nowhere for me to go. What was I going to do? Apply for publishing jobs? Become a part-time freelancer/intern making photocopies?
TNI didn’t start as a friend group from the same place, with the same talents or interests. We were all once strangers to each other and we disagree on most things. That keeps us sharp. We also push against anyone bringing in a clique and I guess you could say we confer social capital on members who suggest someone new who no one has heard of and blows us all away.
[My advice is]..don’t wait for permission. If you’re doing creative work for the right reasons, you don’t’ need the validation of others to put yourself out there. That’s what the internet makes possible.
Full interview appeared on BKMag.com.
You can visit The New Inquiry here http://thenewinquiry.com/.
Co-founder of Mochi Magazine
A Harvard Business School Graduate with an MBA from Harvard College, Maggie certainly has an impressive resume to support her achievements with Mochi Magazine.
Her online magazine is dedicated to young Asian American women, and is run entirely by a group of volunteers. All profits made go back into website costs.
In addition to her active role at the magazine, Maggie is also the Chief Of Staff to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, for Downtown Project currently in the process of rejuvenating downtown Los Vegas.
Maggie: The concept for Mochi originated before my senior prom in 2004, when my friend and I were looking through Seventeen and other teen girl magazines and couldn’t find any Asian or Asian American representation in any article or advertisement. We actually sent Seventeen an e-mail and they politely but dismissively responded. After hearing back, we joked that we should start our own Asian teen girl magazine but didn’t take the idea too seriously.
Four years and many conversations later, I started Mochi Magazine with a fellow Taiwanese American female, Stephanie Wu. A key motivation behind starting Mochi was to increase sisterhood and support across the Asian American female community.
My favorite Mochi moment is actually from 2008. We were publishing our inaugural issue and wanted Brenda Song to be our first cover star. She fit our demographic, would be an inspiration for our readers, and was already famous – which would all bring legitimacy to our fledgling magazine. The only problem was that no one had her contact information.
Simultaneously, we were building out an Editorial Advisory Board of inspirational Asian American women in art, media, entertainment and journalism. We figured it was a long shot but asked each of our board members if they had any connections to Brenda. Thanks to their advice and connections, we were in touch with her publicist within a few weeks, and Brenda almost immediately agreed to be featured as our first cover star. I was honestly shocked. Up until then, I don’t think I quite believed in my own idea.
Full interview appeared on Taiwaneseamerican.org.
You can find out more about Mochi Magazine here http://www.mochimag.com/.
You can find out more about the Downtown Project here http://www.downtownproject.com/.
CEO of Foundr Magazine
Foundr Magazine labels itself a “Digital Magazine For Young Entrepreneurs”. In the short time since launching, Nathan, a young entrepreneur himself, has managed to interview some impressive name including Sir Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, Seth Godin and Arianna Huffington, to name but a few.
Prior to starting the magazine his background was in IT, fixing people’s computers!
Nathan: I started Foundr March, 2013 with no knowledge about entrepreneurship, publishing, apps, editorial or design and a very small budget. Fast forward to now Foundr is a top 10 ranked ‘Business & Investing’ magazine in the Appstore sitting alongside publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Fast Company and HBR.
‘If you would have told me back then that in 15 months I would be connecting with Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington, I would have seriously questioned your sobriety.
But that’s exactly what happened.’
There is no other way to put this. Building authority for Foundr was a case of working my way up, one influencer at at time, until we hit the top of the food chain.
When it comes to pitching influencers to be featured on Foundr, it’s really a numbers game, and even today many people we contact still say no. However, we constantly do get massive guests…Think of it like sales, you have 100 leads, and of those 100, ten may be interested in what you have to sell.
Every part of the journey I appreciate. I have done my apprenticeship in many elements for my career. Everything I have done thus far has equipped me with the skills to get me where I am today. Fully appreciate the journey.
If there was one recommendation I would have for people, that is get a mentor that has followed the path that you are going to take as soon as you know exactly it is you want to do with your life.
Nathan’s interviews from which we’ve quoted can be found on Billionsuccess.com and Ventureharbour.com.
You can visit the Foundr website by visiting http://foundrmag.com/.
So to wrap up, there’s a number of themes we can identify and learn from, especially when it comes to finding a gap in the market, researching the opportunity, planning thoroughly and using the internet and social media to grow your following.
Importantly, every one of our featured founders started from scratch with a limited budget. They were able to channel hard work and perseverance and were undeterred by the fact they didn’t necessarily have experience when they started.
There’s a lot we can learn from these remarkable founders, and having grown Exceptional People Magazine into a worldwide publication myself, I’m inspired by the next generation of publisher breaking through.
If you’re considering launching your own magazine you can find out more about how I can help you (remember Nathan’s advice about getting a mentor?) by visiting my Magazine Publishing Coaching page here.