A Great Magazine In 7 Simple Steps
See what it takes to make a great magazine through our seven steps.
Successful consumer and B2B editor and publisher Nick Wright reveals a selection of his key secrets to creating a successful, award-winning publication.
1. Know your readers inside and out
When you craft engaging content that hits your readers’ needs, you create an emotional connection that makes them feel like they “belong” and that they are part of an exclusive club where they can immerse themselves in their passion. That kind of magazine/reader relationship is what every editor should strive to achieve.
2. Give your magazine a personality
The best magazines don’t just deliver great content to their readers, they do it in a conversational style that creates a rapport. A good editor should stamp his or her personality on a magazine. Every single feature or story in your magazine should convey the message that you know and understand your readers. Make it personal.
3. Content trumps design every time
Whenever a magazine starts to lose readers and circulation, the finger for blame often gets pointed at the design team. However, in almost all instances when a publication starts to slump, it’s because the editorial quality has dropped for some reason. Although good design is crucial in creating a “complete” magazine package, it’s the editorial content that attracts and keeps readers. Good editorial can save a poorly designed publication, but good design can’t compensate for weak or bad content.
4. Authority. Authority. Authority
Readers look to your publication for opinion, advice, insight, inspiration and education. You can’t let them down. There’s nothing worse than picking up a publication and finding that you don’t learn anything new or, even worse, that you know more about the subject than the so-called “expert” writer or journalist.
5. A blend of content experiences
A good publication should take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. You should be challenged intellectually and emotionally.
6. Keep the editorial experience fresh but familiar
All good magazines have a consistent rhythm or beat. Readers like to be able to easily find their favorite sections or columns, and they like to have a sense of where they are in the magazine at any time. The key to keeping the reader experience fresh is ensuring that the presentation of content changes from feature to feature. Likewise, every individual issue of your magazine should feel consistent and familiar to readers yet still be a fresh design and content experience.
7. Encourage collaboration between writers and designers
Writers and designers can often be very individualistic characters, but the editorial and the design team should collaborate at all stages of the creative process. Art directors can help writers come up with innovative ways of presenting copy, while writers should always have the opportunity to explain how they envisaged their copy being presented on the page. If the two departments don’t collaborate, challenge each other or occasionally squabble, you end up with a sterile publication.
Nick Wright is the managing partner of branded content agency Fourth Element Creative.
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