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Build Your 1st Apple Newsstand Magazine

Build Your 1st Apple Newsstand Magazine

by kobura02
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Build Your 1st Apple Newsstand Magazine

Your magazine’s first issue is only a beginning – but if you follow all of the steps in this Execution Plan, it’s a strong foundation on which you can build a lasting brand. From identifying your audience and creating the content, to creating and uploading your app, to tracking it’s performance and staying connected to your audience – we walk through every stage you’ll need to successfully create and sell your first Newsstand magazine issue.


1 – Your First Newsstand Magazine: Introduction


EVERYBODY reads magazines.  According to recent industry studies, 91% of all adults, 94% of adults under 35 and 96% of adults under 25 read print or digital magazines, and the top 25 print magazines reach far more adults and teens than the top 25 regularly scheduled primetime TV shows.  All of these print magazines have digital editions, and in the leveled playing field of the Newsstand marketplace, your magazine can now be seen right alongside theirs.

You obviously already see the marketing opportunity in this rapidly growing new channel, but before we dive in to the details of making this opportunity a reality, let’s take just a minute to talk about trends.


Growth Trends

You already know just from looking around that more and more people are getting tablets every day.  What a lot of people don’t realize is the incredible rate tablet ownership is increasing:

  • Percent of American adults ages 18+ who own a tablet computer has increased 100% every year for the last 4 years
  • 40% of online U.S. adults now own a tablet

Half of U.S. adults will own a tablet by 2014



Of that huge and growing tablet market, 82% of all online tablet usage comes from iPads.


So how much of all that tablet activity is being spent with online magazine subscriptions like the one you’re here to build?  A TON.  Magazine apps consistently make up as much as 2/3 of the top 15 grossing apps in the key Lifestyle, News, and Health & Fitness app categories.  And the numbers are growing:

  • The digital-only magazine media audience grew 84% from spring 2012 to spring 2013 [—page 62]
  • 64 million issues were delivered in the last year (about 300,000 every day)

Over the previous two years, the number of U.S. magazine apps released increased an average of 28% per quarter.  Too crowded? Not yet!  The number of magazine downloads increased an average of 36% per quarter – outpacing new magazines by almost 30%.




Customer Value

The good news doesn’t stop with the continually growing number of people available to be part of your subscribing audience.  Studies show that on average magazine readers are more engaged – they spend more time and money online, & they’re more likely to share with social media – especially with digital magazines:



So what we have is an explosive growth trend in adoption of tablets, new digital magazines, and subscription rates by people statistically more likely to engage in that content, share it with others, and spend money.

Plus, the majority share of all three trends is happening on Apple devices in Apple’s Newsstand, which is tied directly to over 500,000,000 credit card accounts only one click from purchase!


Here are the areas that we’ll focus on throughout this training as we walk you step-by-step through every stage you’ll need to successfully create your Newsstand magazine.

Identify Audience and Purpose

We establish your reason for being.  Whether you’re leveraging your magazine as part of a marketing strategy for an already existing business, or you’re using it as the foundation to build an audience for a new one, we’ll dig in to key analysis for validating your market, identifying your audience, and defining your goals.
Develop Content for Audience

We examine the three core techniques for developing your magazine’s content, strategies for finding the right mix, and establishing the content framework and content guidelines for keeping your audience engaged.

Monetize Your Magazine

We look at the three key methods for monetizing your magazine and outline the steps you need to start each of them successfully.

Create Newsstand App

We discuss the range of development options for creating your magazine’s app in Apple’s Newsstand, all the basic requirements to get started, and guide you through every step of the setup process for two easy-to-use platforms that can get you up and running fast.

Upload to the App Store

We introduce iTunes Connect – the site where you’ll upload and manage all the pieces for your Newsstand app and review sales and opt-in reports.  We’ll look at the app submission process and cover best practices for App Store Optimization to make sure your magazine can be found from day one.

Stay Engaged

We cover methods and tools for measuring the success of your magazine and reader engagement.  We’ll then look at some best practices for keeping your subscribers engaged and interested both inside and outside of your magazine.

One Last Thing

Before you begin, a note about reading the competition: Do it.

Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Throughout this course we talk about observing your competition: from validating your market, to developing your content, to communicating with your customers.

You could literally fill a library with all of the books written about the topics we cover in this course – market research, product development, customer engagement – and you could spend a lifetime absorbing all this information (depending on how long your competitor’s been around, they may already have).

You don’t want to start a lifetime from now – you want to start today.

Another variation on Newton’s quote is, “you can tell a pioneer by the arrows sticking out of his back.”

As you grow your business you’ll have ample opportunity to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them.  In the meantime, take full advantage of the lessons your competition has already learned – they did.

Let’s get started!


2 – Identify Audience and Purpose

Make a Plan

It’s nearly impossible to over-emphasize the importance of validating a market before committing precious time and energy to developing your business*.  It seems as obvious as “look before you leap”, but you’d be surprised how many people just don’t do it.

It’s understandable.  There’s so much information out there many people wonder, “where to even begin?”  In many cases it just seems too daunting – and it is, if you don’t have a plan.  Here is the plan.

*NOTE: Even if you already have an established business that you’re developing your Newsstand magazine as an addition to, you can still benefit from using this module to take a fresh look at your market.

Validate Your Market

As we go through this checklist of questions and decisions about your potential (or existing) business, there are a couple very important things to keep in mind.

First, what we mean by “market”.  In this context, Market = Who, not What.  When we’re evaluating existing interest – especially in terms of existing competition, there doesn’t have to be another magazine exactly like yours.  There does have to be evidence that people are interested in the kinds of things your magazine is going to offer.


Second, what are the people who make up your market missing?  A lot of times market analysis focuses on customer needs vs. wants, but we like to think of it in terms of “void”.  What’s the void (or voids) they’re trying to fill as a member of this market?  This is a good list of void types, one or more of which will match with any type of market you want to be in.

The more you can check off this list, the better off you’ll be:

  • Make money
  • Save money
  • Look good
  • Improve health/longevity
  • Increase popularity
  • Increase security
  • Give inner peace
  • Increase free time
  • Have more fun

Market requirements checklist

Every market is different, but there are still requirements that hold true across the board for magazines, despite widely varied subject matter.  In addition to sufficient topic interest, you’ll need a market with a strong sense of association and a continued need for what you’re offering.  This is your checklist:

  • Existing competition/search volume
  • Associated products/affiliate offers
  • “Membership Mentality”
  • Ongoing need


Survey Existing Search Volume and Competition

Online search volume is a really useful metric for identifying niche interest.  If at least 10,000 people a month are searching for a particular phrase or item related to your magazine, then you’re in good shape.




Google Trends will give you relative interest in different search terms over time.  It’s good for a quick snapshot of whether interest in your ideas is trending in the right direction, and for identifying counter-intuitive seasonal interest.  It won’t show you total volume though, so you’ll have to use their Keyword Planner tool for that.




Click below for additional information about getting started with these tools, as well as other popular paid and free tools for additional research:

Introduction to Google AdWords

Using Keyword Planner to get keyword ideas and traffic estimates

Sign in to your AdWords account

Google Trends

Additional Free and Premium Keyword Research Tools

Existing competition is also very important.  Another marker we’ve long used for determining overall interest goes double in this case – magazines.  Already existing magazines that address your niche not only demonstrate a market, they demonstrate a market with the necessary characteristics.  This is especially true with existing print magazines – and not because they’re better (everything they can do digital editions do better).  They just cost more to produce (a LOT more), which means if they’ve been around for a while, there’s a very good chance that they’re finding success for themselves and their advertisers.  We’ll get into more specifics on evaluating this competition as we go, for now we just need to find some.

Click the links below for some online magazine directories:

Amazon Magazines


Newsstand Directory


Next Issue


Keep in mind it digital additions of your competitors magazines are not only more convenient to research, they’ll continue to provide you with new ideas for different ways to leverage the digital magazine platform.

Look for Associated Products or Affiliate Offers

If you have an existing business, you already know that associated products and services are selling.  But if you’re just getting started, it’s a crucial question to consider.

Look back to the keywords from your initial search volume research and do additional individual searches, paying specific attention to what kind of ads appear alongside the search results.

Besides just search engines, check other popular high-volume sites that support advertising like YouTube or even popular blog sites in your niche.  Amazon is always a good research for associating keyword ideas with products that are selling.





Another great indicator that your niche has a sustainable amount of interest is whether there are any associated affiliate offers.  Clickbank, Commission Junction, and ShareASale are three very popular affiliate advertising marketplaces that are free and easy to join.

What kinds of products are available in your category?  Can you picture advertising them to your subscribing audience?

Check the links below for additional information about affiliate marketing and getting started with these platforms:

Share a Sale

Commission Junction


Associated products don’t just mean interest – they mean advertisers.  The truth is, advertising is the lifeblood of the majority of the magazine publishing industry for a reason.  Magazines without advertisements are the exception to the rule, and in those cases it’s usually reflected in the cover price.

You may be the next Marco Arment, with content compelling and popular enough to be sustained by subscribers alone – and that would be great – but even if you could be, wouldn’t it be good to have associated offers for your audience as well?


Find a “Membership Mentality”

This is the strong sense of association that we referred to earlier.  The more people identify personally with your magazine, the better.  Would anybody ever self-identify as a member of a group that your magazine serves?  Would they say, “I’m a ____” about the group you’re targeting for subscribers?
Here again existing magazines are a strong indication, but another great indicator is an existing association.  With associations, you have clear evidence of a literal membership mentality!

Click the links below for multiple directories of U.S. and international associations:

List of Industry Trade Groups in the United States

List of International Professional Associations

Yahoo Directory of Trade Associations

U.S. Societies & Associations Directory

Planning Shop Listing of Major Trade Associations

Look for an Ongoing Need

Having an audience or customer base with an ongoing need is a good idea for any business, but with a magazine it’s critical.

Think about the most common categories for magazines: Entertainment/Lifestyle, Health/Fitness, News, etc.  These are all topics for which most people have an insatiable appetite.

Your niche doesn’t have to serve an insatiable appetite for most people, but you definitely want it to address an insatiable appetite for some people.

It helps to think about this with an example of filling a one-time need vs. serving an ongoing need.  Take the runners market:  They definitely have associated products; there are certainly people who’ll say, “I’m a runner”; and they have an ongoing need depending on how the market is addressed:


There are two additionally important aspects of your market to consider in relation to ongoing need: seasonality and appetite.

Newsstand sells your magazine worldwide, so regional seasonal issues aren’t as important (the December issue of Barefoot Runner might not do well in Alaska), but you’re still likely to have a hard time selling 12 monthly issues of a Halloween magazine.

Appetite goes back to the insatiable need we mentioned earlier.  As you evaluate different niche markets your magazine could address, look for markets known to be “rabid”, “impulsive”, or “desperate”.  Here are good examples of each:

  • Rabid: golf
  • Impulsive: entrepreneur
  • Desperate: weight-loss, making money

Define Your Purpose

Why are you doing this? What is it that you plan to achieve? Obviously it’s great to make money, but what else? The underlying function of creating an online magazine is to build an audience.

Your personal reasons for selecting the particular audience you build and the goals for where you want to direct their attention are what make up your purpose. To be successful, you need a clear idea of both.


Articulate Goals

What do you want to do with the attention of your audience?  Where do you want to direct it? Why?  Perhaps you just have a particular idea about your subject that you’re excited about and want to share with people of similar interest, and you plan to think about it later.

Do yourself a favor and think about it now.  It may change later, but staking out a concrete answer to this question now will be a big help with the editorial decisions ahead.

Crowd audience looking at screen

Maybe you already have a clear idea of a specific service or group of products that you want to drive people toward – as in an existing consulting business or particularly attractive product niche that you’re interested in.

If so, that’s great – you can then turn your focus to finding your passion for your magazine and crafting its unique market position.

Find Your ”Reason to Exist”

Why should they listen to you?

We all have more choices than ever before for where to direct our attention and who to listen to about any given thing, and yet some still manage to win out every day – why?

Passion.  It’s contagious.  Read about the growth and success of any business and it’s always the common denominator.

Likely there’s some degree of passion you already have for your topic that drew you to it in the first place, but if not you should reconsider.  Finding that excitement behind the subject is just as important for your future editorial decisions as considering concrete goals.

We’ll grant it’s possible that you have a really compelling set of goals for your audience’s attention, but can’t find any traction with your personal reasons for selecting that audience.

If after taking some time to brainstorm you find that this really is the case, find someone else who is passionate about the subject to help act as your editor. Considering your audience’s point of view will be second nature to them, and free you up to focus on what interests you.

If you don’t already have connection to somebody who’ll fit the bill, start your search with the more popular writers and sites in your niche.  Published authors and established bloggers have experience choosing audience winners, and are always interested in opportunities for new people to learn about their work.

Evaluate Market Positioning

Think about your magazine’s brand.

What is your magazine’s unique point of view (POV)?

Does it have a personal or organizational voice?

Is the tone of that voice motivating and helpful? Or is it expert and instructive?

How about witty and irreverent?

How you answer these questions is what determines your market positioning: the ideal way to bridge the gap between your purpose and the void(s) of your market.


Establish Unique POV

What’s your story?  What personal relation do you have to the topic?  Do you have a unique angle to share?  What is your unique point of view?  People often think there’s nothing unique about them, but they’re usually wrong once they take the time to really think about it.

If the circumstance of your interest in your magazine’s market doesn’t automatically provide you with what you consider a unique POV, this is a useful brainstorming exercise to get the process going*:

  1. List your hobbies and interests
    • Don’t worry about qualifying them, this is just a brain dump
  2. List life experiences and achievements
    • These can be large or small
    • Examples: raising children, started a business, married for 50 years, planning your own wedding, learning a complicated software
  3. What problems large or small have you solved in your life?
    • Examples: lost a lot of weight, helped a loved one through an illness, landed a great job, survived bankruptcy or divorce
  4. Consider these same questions again in relation to someone you know and respect
  5. Now go back through your list of answers and think about how each of them shape or could shape your unique POV in speaking to the “voids” in your market
    • Examples: your experience changing careers helps you speak to your market’s desire to make money and increase security; your total lifestyle change that began with taking up yoga helps you speak to your market’s desire to improve their health/longevity and to have inner peace

Once you have a better idea of your magazine’s unique POV, it’s time to consider the voice and tone of how it will be conveyed to your market audience.

*NOTE: Even if you’ve already got a clear idea of your unique POV, going through this exercise can be a big help in further refining it.



Find Your Voice

Will the voice be personal or organizational?

Ever heard the name Henry Luce? He was the founder of Fortune Magazine. I’ll bet you can guess who founded Forbes Magazine. Of course, the Fortune 500 carries a great deal of authority as well..




So which is better? It depends in part on the goals we discussed earlier.

Perhaps you have a series of training products or a consultancy service that you want to establish a personal brand for. If so, you want the voice of your magazine to be personal – centered on you to build your personal authority with your audience.

Maybe you want the flexibility to easily sell your magazine later, or seamlessly transition into an entirely different market. In this case an organizational voice would work better.

Generally speaking, a personal voice can make it easier to relate to your audience, but be less flexible overall than an organizational one, and vice versa.



Set the Tone

If the voice is who is talking to your audience, the tone is how they’re talking. Even in the same niche the tone can make all the difference in terms of how the magazine’s brand is perceived.

Take two magazines in the same food niche as an example: Bon Appétit versus Cooking with Paula Deen. Bon appétit would be closer to the expert and instructive tone, while Cooking with Paula Deen would be considered more warm and conversational.

Before even opening the cover you can hear these tones in their Newsstand descriptions:



The best voice and tone for your message depends just as much on the recipient as the message itself. Let’s look at who they are.

Create a Customer Avatar


Think about the people you know – your friends and family. Think about the conversations you have when you’re trying to influence them. We all tailor our messages differently based on whom we’re delivering them to. Demographic data is great, but you can’t have a conversation with a chart.

One of the key secrets to writing marketing or sales copy of any kind is to create a customer avatar – a single, well-developed persona that you can use as a direct target for all of your editorial decisions.

Who are we talking to here? What’s her name? How old is she? Where did she grow up? What’s her annual salary? Does she have any hobbies or interests? What are they? Would you consider her to be more emotional or logical? Is she introverted or extroverted? Is she married? Does she have any children? Boy? Girl? Both? How old are they?

These answers create your customer avatar.

Complete Customer Avatar Template

Use this avatar worksheet as a starting point here.  Answer all these questions in detail, and find an image of a real person online so that you have an actual face to put with the name.  Add as much authenticity as you can.

You can search for Facebook or Google plus groups related to your topic and pick an actual member image that matches your description.

Pick their hometown from one of the top cities under Regional Interest in Google Trends.


You can also piggyback on Google’s demographic information for gender, age, and interests with this trick:

  1. Clear out your browser’s cookies and browsing history
  2. Re-enter a bunch of your core topic search terms into Google
  3. Browse around some among the most relevant results for your topic
  4. Go to http://www.google.com/ads/preferences


Now consider the list of competitors you identified earlier.  A search for “readership demographics ” will almost always return a media kit or press fact sheet with at least half a dozen data points.  Look for patterns among your competitors to help decide things like your avatar’s employment, education, and household income.





Analyze Competition for Targeting Jumpstart

Closely analyzing your competition can yield a lot more than just raw demographic data.  Read the last six issues.  What voids are they filling?

Think about your avatar and look at their advertisements – you can almost see the avatars of the ad agencies start to come into view.  Just as important as filling in some blanks about who’s buying from your competitors, ads show you what they’re buying.

Look at the letters to the editor and see what they’re responding to.

Look at the covers – those messages were chosen knowing they had 2 seconds max to make the sale to your audience.  What do they say?


Craft Elevator Pitch

Let’s pretend it’s a little over two years ago, and because Newsstand doesn’t exist yet, you have zero chance of starting a magazine available on the scale that yours will be without somebody writing you a very large check (luckily you don’t have this problem).

You get on an elevator to find yourself standing next to just such a somebody, and you’ve got 30 seconds to tell him about your magazine. What do you say?

Review everything you’ve discovered about your magazine’s audience and purpose, and then take the time to craft one or two clear sentences that encapsulate the essence of what your magazine will deliver to that audience.

Here are a few examples from some other magazines:




With this kind of clarity, you’re now ready to begin developing the content for your magazine’s first issue.


3 – Develop Content for Audience

Set Content Goals

Now that you’ve successfully identified your target audience and your magazine’s purpose, you’re ready to start developing your first issue. The details of how you present your content can vary some depending on the platform you choose to use to create your Newsstand app, but the core of your content – the words, images, and videos – will be the same.

Your goal for this section is to identify and collect enough of this content to create the first two full issues of your magazine, and in the process establish the system you’ll use for all your future issues.

Establish Content Strategy

You’ll need to come up with an initial content strategy for what your magazine delivers and how.  This consists of finding the right mix of source material types, choosing an initial arrangement or framework for this material, and creating a schedule for what pieces have to be in place when for each issue to be published on time.

You have three basic sources for your magazine’s content:

  • Write or create it yourself
  • Pay someone to write or create it
  • Use content that already exists (with permission)

These three sources are the same regardless of what type of content you’re using.  Whether written article, image, audio, or video – somebody has to create it.  There are pros and cons for each source, each of which can be dependent on your market.

Write or Create It Yourself

The primary benefit of writing or creating your own content is that it gives you the greatest degree of control.  It’s also the least expensive in terms of cash, but because it also typically takes the longest amount of time, that has to be evaluated against what your time is worth.

Beyond the letter from the publisher, we don’t recommend that you write much of your magazine yourself – certainly not the whole thing.  This is mainly because you can get further faster working with others, but also keep in mind that variety is one of the key features of all magazines.  If you do end up producing the majority of your magazine’s content for whatever reason, you’ll need to find ways to vary it up.

Pay Someone to Write or Create It

Paying someone else right or create your content also gives you a great degree of control, though not quite as much.  Obviously this tends to be the most expensive, and there’s still a time trade-off.  It still takes time to produce quality content, just notyour time.  We’ll look at expectations for these trade-offs in more detail a little later.

Use content that already exists (with permission)

Curating content that already exists is the least expensive option in terms of time and money.  Whether words, images, or videos – there is a practically unlimited amount from which to choose, with new content being created all the time.

Content curation has the additional benefit of being able to use tested content already proven to engage your audience.  Later in this section we’ll look at methods for identifying this content in greater detail.


Find the Right Mix

So which source mix is right for you? It depends on your situation, your audience, and your goals for that audience.

As we’ve seen, the three main variables for each content source option are time, money, and control. Your goal is the path of least resistance to the goals for your audience. This path is based on your situation and audience, and determined by these three main variables.

Generally speaking, the fastest and least expensive way to assemble the content for your magazine is to curate quality existing content. However, your situation or your audience may mean that the path of least resistance to your audience goals is entirely content you create yourself or have created. Most likely it will be a mix.

For example, your situation might be that after years in an industry or association, you’re in a position to have a friend or colleague easily create something for you. Or you might have relevant content you’ve created earlier that can be repurposed. In these cases it’s actually easier to create or repurpose your own original content.

You may have specific audience goals that you want to lead them toward which require specific messaging not easily found in content created by others.

Say for instance your primary audience goal is to funnel them into a training program – either developed by yourself or maybe an affiliate offer. Building the case for the program’s value, and even weaving calls to action into the articles themselves, can be a very effective. Of course you can always include ads, but those calls to action would also be boosted by this method. It would be much easier to create or commission specifically tailored copy like this than to find it.

Prime the Pump

Here these sources are evaluated on the assumption that you’re starting from scratch – which may not be the case for you. When you actually begin collecting and assembling the content for your magazine, your very first step will be to consider what you may have on-hand already that can be used to prime the pump.

Catalog any relevant source material that you’re authorized to publish in your magazine – either because you own it directly or have been cleared to use it by somebody else.


Set the Issue Framework

However different they may be, nearly every magazine in existence has at least one thing in common: a clear structure of regularly featured content.  Pick up any 10 magazines at random and look at the table of contents.  You’ll see they all have columns, departments, and features:

  • Columns are regularly appearing messages from established experts (e.g. love or advice columns).  Many magazines have multiple columns, but almost all have some kind of message from the editor or publisher.
  • Departments are several sections of regularly occurring content (e.g. Top Ten Tips, Infographics, etc.).
  • Features are the articles that change from issue to issue that are of greater length and usually thematic to that issue (e.g. in-depth analysis, interviews, etc.).

This structure or framework establishes consistency that is as important for the publisher as it is for the reader.


For the reader it sets and maintains expectations. People are naturally more comfortable with things that they recognize than they are with things that they don’t.  Everybody wants to make sense of the world and is constantly looking for reliable patterns to shortcut that process.

The entire franchise industry is based on this idea – that people will have a consistent experience every time they interact with a certain brand.  Providing this consistency to your readers will make it easier for them to identify with your magazine’s brand.


Not only does this consistency make it easier for your readers to identify with your magazine’s brand, it makes your magazine easier to produce.  For example, you decide each issue of your magazine is going to have a letter from the editor, industry interview, two feature articles, an infographic, video synopsis, product review, and a reader’s submission section.

Now every month you know exactly what you need to come up with for that issue.  You’re not starting from square one with an infinite range of possible content.  You can build relationships with contributors and plan ahead.

So what should your framework be?  Ask Tom.  Or Janice – whatever your avatar’s name is.  You should be considering what they would want to see in your magazine – what are those market voids?  Here are a few market void/regular feature examples:

  • Improve health/longevity? Favorite Surprisingly Healthy Recipe
  • Give inner peace? Audio: Monthly Guided Meditation
  • Save money? Product Review: Best Bike Deals
  • Look good? Gallery: Latest Looks
  • Save money and look good? YouTube Trainer: Our Favorite Free Workout Video of the Month

Think about your elevator pitch – what are the core benefits you plan to provide?   Think about your goals – where else are you planning to direct their attention?  Look again at your competitors – what kind of regular features are they providing for their readers?  You don’t have to copy them, but consider if it makes sense to offer something similar from the angle of your unique POV.

It again depends on your situation, your audience, and your goals for that audience, but here are a couple points to consider:

  • Definitely include a publisher letter.  It gives you an opportunity every issue to reinforce the voice and tone of your magazine’s brand, introduce new organizational changes or offers, and generally tie the whole issue together.
  • Be on the lookout for easy and repeatable curation opportunities.  Whether it’s agreements with contributors to provide you regular content, or content that can be easily added to and adapted for your audience, you want slots that can be easily filled each month.

After you’ve put together the first two issues you’ll need at launch, you’ll have a clear idea of when each section requires in time and resources.


Create the Editorial Calendar

Once you have your initial framework established, you’ll need to create a calendar to stay organized and on schedule for producing each month’s issue.  The editorial calendar for your magazine will be unique, but the process is universal.

As you’re going through the process of creating your first two magazine issues, take the time to monitor and record how long it’s taking to complete each stage of the process  – both in terms of your personal time, and in terms of overall turnaround time on the calendar.

These times will necessarily be different for every magazine because the framework is different.  Even in the same magazine some of the contributors are going to change from issue to issue.  The key to creating your editorial calendar is to measure for a baseline and then give yourself a buffer.

Here are the basic steps for creating your editorial calendar:

  1. Make a list of every stage of development for your magazine framework from beginning to end, noting how long each stage takes.
  2. Pick a date of the month when the issues are going to come out – this is your release date.  Enter it in a calendar a couple months from now.
  3. Look at how many days the final development stage takes (e.g. Enter articles into app and upload to App Store – 1 day), add a day, and enter it in the same calendar the total number of days prior to the release date (e.g. if your release date was on the 4th of the month, you would enter that last stage “Enter articles into app and upload to App Store” on the 2nd)
  4. Continue to walk backwards in the calendar and up the list to the beginning, keeping track of which stages have to be completed in sequence versus those that could be completed simultaneously (e.g. It may take anywhere from a day to a week to get permission for each piece of curated content, but you can request permission from everyone simultaneously; You can outsource layout design and/or upload articles to your app individually, but the titles at least have to all be settled before you can create your table of contents or your cover)

How long this overall process takes will change some month-to-month (some content will take more or less time), and over time (it will become more streamlined), but as long as you provide yourself adequate buffer you’ll be able to stay on track and make your release dates.

Click the links below for examples of several useful tools and templates to get you started.

Improve Content Strategy with an Editorial Calendar: 14 Free Downloads

The 15 Most Life-Changing Editorial Calendar Tools

In addition to this project-based month-to-month editorial calendar, you may find it helpful to create another bigger-picture version.  Having even a general idea of a feature or interview topic for six months from now can give you a better chance of getting harder to land contributors.

Many established magazines have their editorial calendar mapped out 6, 9, or even 12 months in advance:





Identify Content Sources

Congratulations!  You’ve got a content strategy and are ready to start putting together your first couple issues – this is where it really starts to get fun.  These are practical tactics and tools for pursuing each of the three source types.


Write or Create it Yourself

We’ve covered the pros and cons of creating your own content, and how in most cases it isn’t the path of least resistance to your audience goals – but again this depends on your personal situation.

You might already have something that isn’t ready for primetime yet, but could be with a little work, like a series of videos you shot while mountain-biking that just need some commentary or a trail map to make an interesting article.

You may be a great writer or photographer.  Even so, if you’re starting from scratch it helps to have some ideas to get the process moving:


We talked about analyzing competition when setting up your magazine framework, and really it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them all the time – this is another useful example.  Is there topic multiple competitors recovering?  How could you address if from your unique POV?  Do they publish their editorial calendar?  If so, what are they talking about three months from now?  You could publish your own angle on the same topic before they do!


Do you know somebody who’s enthusiastic about your subject?  Have a friend in the industry?  Reach out to them and ask if they’d mind getting a little bit of time for an interview (20-30 minutes is more than enough time for this size magazine article).  Think about your avatar and put together a list of questions based on what you think they’d be most interested to know.  Make sure you record it, and if you can get it on video all the better.  If you’re not able to meet just do it over the phone or even email them a list of questions (just make sure the degree to answer the first).

Check the links below for some great tips on conducting interviews.

Columbia Journalism Review: The Art of the Interview

Freelance Writing: 10 Tips to Better Interviews


Check out a trending topic in your area and interview yourself about it.  First seek out a variety of opinion about the topic.  Next formulate a list of questions – again think about your avatar and the questions that they’d be most interested in hearing the answers to.  Then answer the questions.

Most people find it easier to speak than to write, so use some dictation software – most current smartphones have some built in – or a website like this one to record your answers.

Finally, go back through your answers and add a few credited excerpts from sites whose opinion you found interesting while putting together your questions and voilà!


This is like the method for putting together the commentary piece but even easier.  Again look to a trending topic considering your avatar’s interests.  But this time instead of building questions and answers around one or more points of view you, you’ll just add you own.  Agree? Disagree? Different take altogether? Doesn’t matter!  Think Seinfeld: “Who are these people?” and just talk about it as you would to any friend.  If it helps, you can just record yourself actually talking to a friend about it – the dictation software usually works just as well with audio recordings as speaking to it directly.

Other kick-starts

We know it’s always easier to work off of another existing case than just starting in a vacuum, so in addition to the ideas we’ve already talked about here, check the links below for a great two-part article with 50 more great content idea examples to get you off square one.

50 Great Content Ideas Examples Part 1

50 Great Content Ideas Examples Part 2

Pay Someone to Write or Create It

Paying someone else to write or create your content will always be the most expensive, not only in terms of money but in time as well.  Although it personally saves you the time of having to write or create the content, you still have to devote your personal time to establishing and managing the working relationship – and this is in addition to the time it takes on the calendar.

How much calendar time?  Here’s how turnaround time works for writers in most cases: two weeks is standard, 1 week is OK, and less than that requires more money or a good relationship.  There are exceptions of course – you can request a rush if you have a ton of exposure to trade – but until your magazine gets there your constraints are money, time, and quality.

By constraints we mean that they’re all tied together, and more or less of one is going to mean less or more of the others.

For example, you might get quality writing for less money if you give the writer more time.  If on the other hand you give them less time and still want quality, you can expect to pay more money.  And if you don’t have time or money to give, don’t expect quality.

Sources for Freelancers

You can hire freelancers to handle any type of content for your magazine, but here we’ll focus the discussion on writers.  Writing is generally the least expensive type of content to produce, and the most likely to be needed at this stage of your magazine’s development – though these principles hold true for other types as well.

The single greatest challenge of working with freelancers of any kind is that it’s very difficult to know what you’re going to get at the start.  The sad fact is that people can and do pad portfolios and ratings as often as they do resumes and referrals – maybe more.  It’s no surprise then that your best luck with freelancers will be found with people whose work you can actually see.

Pulled from the published

It may sound obvious, but if you need to pay somebody to write a magazine article from a certain angle in a particular niche, your best bet is to hire someone who’s done it before:

Go to Google and search ‘[YOUR MAGAZINE TOPIC] blogs’.  Then, search related topics as well.  Find blogs that have great content but little traffic or social shares, these bloggers are often happy to blog for money or exposure.


Search Twitter – In some niches, anybody who is creating content is on Twitter.  Use a site like FollowerWonk to search Twitter Bio’s for terms like ‘[YOUR MAGAZINE TOPIC] blogger’ and ‘[YOUR MAGAZINE TOPIC] writer’.


Poaching from the competition

Look back over those last six issues of your competitor’s magazines again – which writers stand out?  Look them up online to see where else they’ve been published. You want somebody who’s published multiple times for a variety of publications in the last few months.

Do they have their own website? Do they appear on any online writer directories?  If so, reach out to them through the most reliable independent channel you can find – either through an email link or contact form on their own site, or directly through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Freelance sites

If you want to try your luck with large freelance sites such as eLance and oDesk, do it by targeting specific writers instead of posting open Request for Proposals.

You’re looking for people who have worked at least a hundred hours over the last six months – the one thing people can’t “game” in the system.  This will give you the best chance at finding a writer who is responsive and gives you what you need the first time around.


Click the links below to search oDesk and Elance specifically for writers:



Without a built-in measurement for productivity, Craigslist is more of a crapshoot, but it can be useful in helping you to gauge the price of a particular type of assignment.  Contact the 10 most promising leads with the same assignment, and then see how much they charge when they reply.

Helpful tip for searching Craigslist: Enter the following URL into your browser, substituting “losangeles” at the beginning for the city you want to search:



Also see this post on how to use advanced search for all of Craigslist at once.

Writer job boards

Another option is to place a paid posting for work with job boards that writers look to specifically.  This could lead to sifting through a lot of writers that you don’t want to work with to find the one you do, but they have the benefit of being a popular place for writers to find work.  Like Craigslist, they can also be a good gauge cost for a particular assignment type.

Click the links below for some job posting boards popular with writers:




Also see this list of additional sites popular with writers.

Working with Freelancers

Whether working with writers, designers, artists, photographers or any other freelancer, these guidelines will keep everybody on the same page and on track:

  • Sample their work: We already mentioned the need to see examples of relevant work when working with writers, the same holds true for everybody.  If you’re looking for an outsourcer to do layout design, get a designer with layout similar to what you have in mind in their portfolio, not just someone who saysthey can (they’re probably right, but you don’t want to be the practice case).
  • Get to know each other: Don’t make it just about them.  Take some time to have an actual conversation with them about the concept and purpose behind your magazine to make sure they see where you’re coming from.
  • Be clear: You can’t be too clear when handing out assignments, especially the first ones.  Be explicit.  For writers provide an outline, for designers, specific file sizes and types, etc.  Give comparative examples not only of what you want but what you don’t want. The extra time you take here will absolutely be worth it.  Click here for a sample designer assignment.
  • Keep talking: Invite iteration.  Let them know you’re open to answer any questions they have about the assignment and if it’s a large one to send you drafts as they go.

Use Content That Already Exists (with permission)

Did you know that 90% of all the world’s data has been generated in the last two years?  It’s a staggering statistic.  Curation has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but statistics like that show you it’s here to stay.  With that kind of flood of information every day, people don’t just want content curation – they need it.

Being a tastemaker in your niche provides real value to your magazine’s audience while building your authority.  Fortunately it’s also the least expensive way to source your content.  Here are three keys to getting more content than you can use and making the most of it all:

  • Build a routine
  • Establish relationships
  • Make the most of it

Build a Routine

It takes much less time than your other two options, but it still takes time – make some.  Sit down on a regular basis and look through options – it can be as little as 20 minutes every day or two depending on your audience.

Your routine for collection is going to consist of two main steps – collection and organization.  Fortunately, most of the collection tools we’ll look at also have built in ways to organize as you collect.


Collection begins with searching for terms related to your audience (think avatar’s) interest.  It’s usually best to start broad and narrow once you see the variety of what’s available, but if you have an overwhelming amount to choose from and need help narrowing your initial searches, try one or more of these keyword suggestion tools:






Why start from scratch looking for quality content every day when you can have a pile of it waiting for you to sift through?  Google Alerts is a great place to start.  It will compile a filtered set of newly available results and mail it to you instantly, daily or weekly.

See more about Google Alerts in the curation tips video below.

You can also sign on to free or freemium services like feedly.com that will let you create your own custom source collection, and services like scoop.it that take it a step further by letting you search and follow the collections of others.






There are several other good services for discovering, collecting and organizing content, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.  Some are better for certain types of content; others are easier to get used to, etc.  Test drive a few to see what they offer and then stick with a couple that will serve your specific needs best.

See the links below for three lists of additional options:

10 Of The Best Content Curation Tools

15 top-notch content curation tools

A Curated List of Content Curation Tools

Trending Topics
Possibly the best thing about online content curation is knowing content is popular.  Several of the content stream sites we just mentioned will indicate how popular a given piece of content is, but these sites rank and categorize the most popular content sources across the web:

  • Pop URLs gives you the hottest trending current events across categories
  • Alltop combines a human editorial team with a ranking algorithm to provide the hand-selected most popular posts of the most popular blogs
  • Technorati delivers algorithmically selected popular blogs by topic

See more about these trending topic sites in the curation tips video below.


The only thing better than great photos you’re free to use however you want for your magazine are free photos that you’re free to use.  Check the links below for a couple good lists of free (& some paid) stock photo and illustration resources.

The 12 Best Places to Find Free Stock Photos

The 17 Best Stock Photo Sites Every Designer Should Bookmark

We’ve just covered a lot of different tools and sites you can use to help you curate content for your magazine, but don’t be overwhelmed – they’re just tools.

Take some time to try different tools to find the combination that’s the best fit for your workflow. The best tools are those that you’ll actually use because they work for you.

Establish Relationships

The primary goal to keep in mind while targeting and reaching out to contributors is to establish mutually beneficial relationships.  Your magazine is an opportunity for them to be exposed to a valuable new audience, and their existing audience is an opportunity for new subscribers.

Every contributor who agrees to have their content featured in your magazine is a potential ongoing contributor – whether for an existing or planned column or department, or just one less feature article slot you have to fill in a future issue.

Targeting Contributors

Besides great content that your audience will love, there are a couple other things to consider when prioritizing which contributors to reach out to first:

  • Look for a following. You’re better off establishing a relationship with a contributor with a built-in audience that they can funnel back to your magazine.  Whether it’s number of Facebook fans, YouTube subscribers, or customers – the more the merrier.  Check out this article listing several ways to track social media influence.
  • Shoot for the middle.  The bigger your magazine gets, the more interested people will be in contributing content for your magazine.  It never hurts to ask, but you’ll find as you’re just getting started that you have a greater rate of success asking for contribution from people who aren’t already really big names.  By all means reach out to the owner of a popular blog in your simple cooking niche; just don’t expect Rachel Ray to let you reprint her last big post for your feature.

Reaching out

Initially you obviously can’t offer specific exposure without any existing subscribers.  What you can offer is a chance to reach a new audience through a totally different channel, a direct link back to their preferred contact site, and the ability to add published in Magazine to their list of credits.  Nowhere near as many writers, photographers and artists have their work published in a magazine as do elsewhere online.

Once you’ve found who & what you’re looking for, just ask.  There’s no magic formula for the request – the key is to offer exposure by highlighting the platform and promising attribution. Customizing for your voice and recipient is great; we just recommend you keep it short & sweet.

Click here to download an example template.

Make the Most of It

While you’re curating, you will find content that your audience would like but that won’t or can’t fit into the magazine – either because the content itself won’t fit, or because you can’t get approval to use it.  Don’t worry; you can still use it – just not in the magazine.

Use magazine rejects:

  • To create a steady stream of content for posting to your social media profiles that’s automatically relevant to your audience and different from your magazine’s content
  • As an inspiration base for content you create yourself or pay someone to create using the methods we discussed earlier.


Make Your Content Engaging

However you plan to monetize your magazine, more subscribers = better.  The more engaging your magazine’s content is, the more your readers will identify with it, the more likely they are to become subscribers and spread it around to other readers.

Good content is critical, but engagement requires participation.  You need to start a conversation with your readers, and grow it outside the magazine.

Start a conversation

At least half of a conversation is listening.  Creating opportunities for participation not only makes your readers feel that you can better identify – it makes it so that you actually can.  You have an idea of who your readers are, but you won’t know until you ask them.  The good news is they’ll tell you.

Next we’ll look at a few magazine classics that have already made their way to blogs and social media due to their longstanding success.

Open Letters to the Editor

You should strongly consider including a Letters to the Editor department in your magazine.  Everybody’s got an opinion and they love to share it – especially with large groups of people.

There’s a reason they’re featured in almost every magazine and newspaper – usually at the beginning:

  • Tells your readers you’re listening
  • Great opportunity to establish or reassert your magazine’s voice and tone

Click the images below for submission guidelines examples



Invite Open Submissions

Consider including a standing call for open submissions.  If letters to the editor let you hear from people interested in your topic, content submissions come from people who are dedicated to it.

Not only are you engaging your most enthusiastic readers, you’re lightening the load on your curation efforts.  Just make sure you set clear guidelines and expectations.

Click the images below for examples




Once the number of submissions starts to scale up, consider using a service likeSubmittable to help.

Create Contests

User submission contests have become ubiquitous on social sites like Facebook and Pinterest, but there late to the game compared to magazines like The New Yorker:


In addition to pin the caption on the image here a few other contests to consider:


For someone who wants the world to see their work, the only thing more satisfying than being published is beating out a bunch of competitors to be published.  This doesn’t necessarily have to be long form – consider contests for shorter submissions like poems or jokes and publish the top five or ten.

Click the images below for examples:




A picture’s worth 1000 words, which is why when it comes to contribution a lot of people would prefer to take the picture.  Some topics lend themselves more to images than others, but with a creative angle this is a good option for any magazine.

Click the images below for examples:




It’s one thing to have your photo published in a magazine, it’s another thing to have your photo published as the photo for a magazine.  Have your readers submit cover ideas or vote from a list, or both – a great way to crowdsource creativity.

Click the  images below for examples:




Don’t forget the rules of the game!  You shouldn’t need a legal department if you keep it simple, but you still want to make sure you’re coloring inside the lines once you say “Enter to Win”.

Check the links below for contest rules template tools:

Free Contest Rules Generator from Rocket Lawyer

Competition Terms and Conditions Template

Solicit Article Feedback

Every article in your magazine is an opportunity for engagement.  This is especially true for recurring columns and departments – whether advice, tips, trends, or anything else – they should all be explicitly asking for reader suggestions.

Even feature articles can contain an additional editors note prompting the reader to email related or general feedback or to join a discussion online.

Take it Outside

A Letters to the Editor column, while technically a conversation, is a long time to wait for response by today’s standards.  Our attention spans aren’t what they used to be.

Even with the expanded options of a Newsstand magazine, it’s difficult to keep a conversation going with the reader – which is a good reason to take the conversation outside.

Two of the best options are email and social media.

Get Their Email

Of course an even better reason is to build your list – but we’ll dive into that in the next module, Monetize Your Magazine.  For now understand that every call to action should include the option to contact you by email.

One the great things about Apple iOS devices is that if they have their mail program set up (almost everybody does), regular mailto links will open their default mail application.

This is important for two reasons:

  • Most people have their primary email address set up on their iPad or iPhone
  • You can customize the subject line and the message body to streamline it for them – they just have to click Send

iOS-mailto_1 copy

iOS-mailto_2 copy

You can then have your email autoresponder reply with a call to action and link to join your mailing list.

We’ll get into the technical details more in the next module, just know that you should never miss an opportunity to get your reader’s email.

Send Them to Your Profile

As with email, you want to leverage every opportunity possible for your readers to make their network part of your network.  Every social media channel is an opportunity for new people to become subscribers to your magazine and to your list, and ideally all of those subscribers would be boosting your social media channels.  Until they are, keep giving them chances to.

For example, both of the platforms we discuss have a built in ability to share to Facebook, but you should still remind them to.  Look for opportunities to involve your magazine subscribers with your social media profiles and vice versa.

All of the engagement suggestions we just made and more could be reposted and/or crowd sourced to social media:

  • Narrow the Cover Contest down to the top 3 and have your Facebook Fan Page vote – most likes wins (will they have their friends pile in to rig the vote? Good!)
  • What should the title for your new travel tips department be?  Outsource it to your Twitter followers & have the vote in next month’s issue

We’ll look at a number of possibilities for different social media channels later in the Stay Engaged module, but you get the idea.  For now, go ahead and set up your accounts for two reasons:

  • So you can establish a presence and begin building followers for your magazine.
  • So that you can link to them from your magazine and your magazine’s website as you build them.

Check out our Execution Plan, Set Up Your Facebook Page and Get Your First 100 Likes to get started.

See this resource page for a general overview about setting up branded social media profiles.

Like your email list, your social media networks each have value that grow as they do – and the more engaged your fans, followers, or subscribers are, the more value they have.

You should be constantly thinking of new ways to engage your audience.

Never stop asking yourself “how can I keep the conversation going?”

4 – Monetize Your Magazine

Evaluate Monetization Options

In the Identify Audience and Purpose module, we spoke generally about goals for a planned or existing business in conjunction with your magazine, and validating your market with associated products and offers for niche.

Now it’s time to talk specifics about how to make money and build this business.  There are essentially three methods of monetizing your magazine app:

  • Subscriptions
  • Advertising
  • Build a brand

Luckily this isn’t multiple-choice (if it was, the best answer would be “D. All of the above”).  You could make money from any one of these avenues individually, but they work better as a team.  Before we delve into how they do, we should take a couple steps back and look at CVO.


Understand CVO

Understanding the greater strategy or context in which your magazine fits is the difference between the frustrated, broke magazine publisher and the successful, money-making one.

The greater strategy is called Customer Value Optimization or CVO.

We urge you to begin by reading the article entitled, Customer Value Optimization: How to Build an Unstoppable Business.  Read it multiple times.  Commit it to memory.

Print the CVO Process graphic that is available as an additional resource in this step.  Pin the CVO Process document to the wall next to your workstation.

Every time you lose your way with your magazine (or any other marketing tactic) look at the CVO Flowchart document.  It will remind you of the greater strategy and put you back on track.

Please, if you do nothing else with this module, read this article now.  Later in this module, we will learn how your magazine fits into the greater CVO strategy.

Sell Subscriptions

When was the last time you purchased a single copy of – let alone a subscription to – a magazine you had no interest in?  Most other people don’t either.  The key to selling subscriptions is getting your magazine in front of people who are interested.  If it looks good and the price seems fair? Sold.

There are four fundamental ways for people to find out about your magazine:

  • You tell people you already know
  • You convince other people to tell people that you don’t know
  • You pay other people to tell people that you don’t know
  • They find you on their own

After we settle on a price we’ll look at each of these in turn.


Pick a Price

This question is multiple-choice thanks to Apple’s “pricing tiers”.  Tier one is $.99, tier 2 is $1.99, tier 3 $2.99 and so on up the ladder.

You’ve already addressed whether it looks good (it should) in the last module, so assuming that – what price seems fair?  It depends on what else they’re looking at:

  • Look at the 5 or 10 competing magazines most in line with yours
  • List them with the prices in a spreadsheet (or add the prices to one you’ve already created on your competition)
  • Select all the prices and check the average and median price
  • Round up or down to the nearest pricing tier

Keep in mind you can change it later, but if you do it’s always easier to lower price than raise it.

Tell People You Know

The starting point for awareness about your magazine is the answer to “Who do you know?”

Existing Lists

If you have an existing business or have been involved in online marketing for any time at all you probably have an existing email list.  Tell them about it if it makes any sense AT ALL.  Golf training product list and new healthy living magazine? Good.  Astrology forecast list and new feng shui magazine? Great.

You have more leeway to bridge the gap with your list if they’re used to getting emails from you personally because you can always tell them about your “exciting new personal project” – but you’ll have to be the judge. You know your list better than anyone.

Contact List

Even if you don’t have an existing email list, you do have a circle of influence.  Whatever size it is, use it to get started.  Look at your entire contact list and begin to segment it, even if at first it is it’s as broad as business vs. personal contacts (congratulations if your contacts are already neatly organized into groups).

Now think about how you relate to each of these groups differently and how you could tie the announcement of your new magazine into that relationship.

We’ll look at some specific copy suggestions for email in later modules, but you should address people you know as they expect you to.


Reach out to all your Facebook friends.  You can send a direct message to up to 250 people, but like your contact list think about segmenting.  Any groups you belong to are another natural segment.  Consider looking for new groups relevant to your magazine that you can join and contribute to now to establish yourself.

Later we’ll talk about the importance of setting up a separate page in Facebook for your magazine.  If you already have a Facebook page set up for a different existing business, the same considerations as with an existing email list.

However large it may be, the more personal and relevant you can make outreach about your magazine to your circle of influence the more successful it will be.  In other words, don’t be spammy.

Tell People You Don’t Know

There’s only two ways to tell people you don’t know: convince other people to tell them or pay other people to tell them.


Convince Other People to Tell Them

Here we’re looking mainly at contributors, influencers, and reporters – three groups with whom you can find mutual benefit by providing something of value to their audience who they share with you. You just need to give it to them.

Ask Contributors:

Whenever possible you’ve been looking for contributors who have their own following, and this is the time to leverage it to boost your subscriber base.  Look for opportunities of win-win exchange with your contributors for your audience and theirs, like exclusive discounts on products, services, or subscriptions.

Meet Influencers

You also want to cultivate relationships with other influencers in your niche.  Besides sharing their audience today they could become contributors tomorrow.  First you have to find them.

You probably already have a good feel for who the primary influencers are in your niche from your content creation efforts, but you may be able to uncover new ones using social metrics tools or digging into the social media channels themselves.

Check the links below for tips, tools and tricks for targeting influencers:


The Definitive Guide to Influencer Targeting
How to Find Influencers Who Want to Share and Link to Your Content


The Ultimate List of Tools for Finding Influencers in Your Niche


One Simple Method To Finding Influencers You Can Actually Connect With
Get Noticed by the BIGGEST Influencers in Your Niche (CRAZY FAST)

*Much of this content is focused on getting influencers to link to your blog – but the same principle applies for your magazine.  You just need to make it easy for them to share by linking to content their audience can directly access on your site or social media profile, or make it clear how they access the content through a free trial.

Now that you’ve found them it’s time to strike up a conversation.

As with your contributors, the key thing remember when reaching out to influencers that most people stay tuned to WIIFM (What’s In It For Me):

  • Offer incentive: Make it clear what they have to gain for themselves. This shouldn’t be transactional – you don’t need to spell out a quid-pro quo.
  • Be relevant: Use (or create) content that’s similar or with a tie-in to topics they have a history of sharing with their audience.
  • Be helpful: Focus on how what you have can provide value to their audience.

See this article for an in-depth set of examples.

Contact Reporters

Like niche influencers, reporters are under constant pressure to provide new content to their audience – so the same rules apply for enlisting their help.

Making it easy to be helpful by providing something ready to use that fits this need is the idea behind sites like Help a Reporter Out, and the original concept behind press releases.

Check the links below for some press release guidelines and examples, and instructions on how to write and submit your own:

Content Marketing With Press Releases: Pros, Cons, Examples & Best Practices

How to Write a Successful News Release

You can also outsource them with Fiverr or eLance.

Reach out to Review Sites

Another option to consider is app review sites.  These are a big part of the discovery picture for non-Newsstand apps, but because people don’t tend to think of Newsstand in the same context as the rest of the App Store, Newsstand apps aren’t typically a focus.

The same rule for relevance applies to these sites as to other influencers, so it may take some digging to find one with a good tie-in.  That said, people who go to these sites are in the mood to install.

Click here for an extensive list of categorized app review sites.

Pay Other People to Tell Them

One of the great things about online advertising is how measurable it is.

The primary keys to success with online advertising are understanding what you can afford to spend to acquire a customer, and targeting the best audience to keep your spend focused where it will give you the best return.

Both Google and Facebook have advertising options that are focused specifically on boosting app downloads, targeted only to people who are on the Apple iOS devices that can download and install your magazine app, and can track the number of downloads they initiate.

Click the links below to learn more about both:

Facebook Mobile App Ads for Installs


Google Click-to-download and Click-to-download App Ads


If you’re totally new to online advertising, check out the chart and links below to familiarize yourself the basics:












In a later module we’ll get into greater detail about how to choose and measure the right metrics to be successful – as well as a couple great targeting strategies.

Make it Easier for People to Find You

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the equivalent of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the App Store.  Later in the Upload to App Store module we’ll look at best practices and helpful tools to follow them.

SEO is certainly something to have a basic understanding of for any online business, but it’s a long game.

We’ll cover SEO basics, along with useful resources, later in the Stay Engaged module.  For now your discovery efforts are better focused on the three methods already discussed.

Sell Advertising

It’s a great benefit your business that people not only expect ads in magazines, they want them. Studies show that people find advertisements in magazines the least intrusive of all advertising media:


They also show that people spend as much time with, and have as much recall of, ads in digital magazines than in print – plus that they’re interested in purchasing directly from digital magazine ads:


This is good news for potential advertisers in your magazine, and great news for you!

Magazines get to be sold twice. Like selling subscriptions, the process of selling your advertising is a matter of identifying your customer, setting the price and getting in front of them.

Target Advertisers

Here again, targeting your competition is a great way to get the ball rolling. It’s best to start looking for advertisers in competitor’s magazines – both online and in print.  It will be easier to sell magazine advertising to someone who’s already accustomed to buying.

Look over the last six issues and make a spreadsheet listing everyone who advertised and the size of the advertisement they bought.  If they sell advertising on their website, note those advertisers also.

Separately list advertisers that appear with search results for your magazines primary keywords, and advertisers that appear on related and influential niche sites.

You can then use ad monitoring tools to gain further insight into who those advertisers are targeting.

Industry tradeshows are another great place look for advertisers (and influencers).  Even if you’re already familiar with some in your niche or industry, it often pays to do a little digging.

Establish Ad Pricing

The prices you quote in your media kit will often be a starting point for negotiation, but the more in line they are with your potential advertisers expectations the better.

Here’s a formula that you can use to set your initial price based on reverse engineering your competitors prices:

  1. Calculate average the cost per subscriber (CPS) of your top 5 competitors
    • Record their full page ad cost and number of subscribers (many magazines will have this published in their media kit but it may require some sleuthing)
    • CPS = full page ad cost/# of subscribers
  2. Estimate your initial number of subscribers (EIS)
    • You can be confident in a minimum EIS of 1000* (just 150 downloads/day @ 25% conversion to free trial subscription = 1125)
    • Scale the estimate based on the reach you can expect from existing contacts, contributors, influencers etc.
  3. Initial price = average competitor CPS x your EIS



You can charge whatever you want for your advertising space, but at the end day what you sell is whatever the market will bear.

Click here to download the rate calculator spreadsheet in this example

*Note:  An EIS of 1000 is a baseline, not a goal.  This formula is a starting point to evaluate what potential advertisers may expect to pay.  Competitors with media kits will have a circulation much larger than 1000, and this formula will result in pretty low rates based on EIS of 1000.

Put Together a Media Kit

Your media kit is the sales presentation to potential advertisers designed to convince them that it’s a good idea to advertise with you.  There isn’t a hardened industry-standard for how they’re laid out, but they generally include the following (yours should too):

  • Conceptual overview or statement of purpose (think expanded “elevator pitch”)
  • Standard department and columns
  • Circulation statistics
  • Reader demographic profile
  • Reader consumer spending habits
  • Rate card
  • Production schedule
  • Ad guidelines (technical/copy specifications)
  • Contact information

The best place to start formulating how you’re going to lay out your media kit is look back at how these different components are represented by your competitors.

Finding media kits for specific niche competitors by searching for “(competitor title) media kit”, or you can find media kits for most of over 2500 consumer magazines in a searchable database at adsprouts.


Reader Demographics and Profiles

So what about circulation and reader demographics and profiles?


You can easily survey your readers and share that information once you have them – but what about now?  Here are a couple points to consider:

  • Don’t lie. There’s no reason to and they’ll see through it anyway.  Your initial advertisers will understand they’re taking a chance in your premier issue, and if you’re using the suggested formula, that’s reflected in the price.  That said,
  • Put your best foot forward.  Focus on the benefits of advertising to yourtargeted demographic; just disclose that’s who you’re talking about.  After all, you can still
  • Use publicly available consumer spending and demographic income.  Make note of sources listed in competitor media kits.  If it applies to your target demographic and is based on aggregated data from industry reports, you can use it too – or find | your | own.
  • Draw attention to enticing digital magazine platform and advertising trends.  The MPA is a great source to start with.

Click here for a copy of the media kit used in these examples

Production Schedule and Ad Guidelines

Your production schedule and ad guidelines are there to make it easier for both you and your advertiser.

As you saw with the editorial calendar examples in the Develop Content for Audience module, your advertisers will need a schedule that tells them the deadlines to submit their ad materials for any particular issue.

Look to the editorial calendar you established from creating your first issues, and allow yourself enough time prior to publication to incorporate their content based on the platform you’re using and your production team.

Your ad guidelines should include technical specifications and any relevant content limitations.

Apple is of some assistance here by providing specifications for the screen sizes of different iOS devices and what kind of image files can be used.  There may be some additional limitations or considerations based on your publishing platform, so confirm those also.

Apple also sets some boundaries for content in their submission guidelines (particularly 14 through 22), but anything you may need to communicate beyond those should be included too.

For example, your audience may have a certain cultural or political take and find ads in contradiction to it offensive.  Don’t create a problem where one doesn’t exist – those situations could be probably be handled on a case-by-case basis – but it’s something to consider.

Finally, put some time into the design.  Remember, this is a sales presentation.  You don’t necessarily have to hire design firm, but you do want to put at least as much consideration into it as you do the layout and design for your magazine.

If you’re not a designer, consider outsourcing or using a good template.


Contact Targeted Advertisers

Prepare your pitch before reaching out your potential advertisers, whether by email, phone or in person.  Script it out with the same considerations we discussed for reaching out to influencers – focusing on the benefits to them; digital ad engagement, targeted reader spending habits, etc.

Once you’re ready to talk:

  • Reach out with the best contact info you can find
  • Confirm you’ve got the right person
  • Gauge interest
  • Send your media kit
  • Follow up on receipt of your media kit

Remember once you’re in a negotiation that it’s a negotiation, and your rate card is the starting point.  Be prepared to offer discounts for volume or package deals, and upsell for additional interactivity, premium placement, etc.  Check out this specificallydigital media kit from Condé Nast for examples of different discount/package options (you may have to consider lower pricing).

Advertise Your Advertising

Definitely advertise your advertising.  Include at least one full or half page ad in your magazine, and plaster your magazine’s site.

There should be a clear link visible from every page and a specific advertising page that at minimum includes a link to download your media kit and a mailto link to contact an ad-sales specific email.

Make sure that email or contact form is set up to auto-respond and forwards to an address that is pushing to you or another responsible adult!

Also have the link prominently displayed on all your magazine’s social profile sites.

Run House Ads

If you don’t have advertisers lined up for your first issues, you can still test the waters with ads you create for your own offers or affiliates.


Not that you have to stop once you do have advertisers. These  were all from the same issue of Fast Company:




Build a Brand

Now we return to CVO and how your magazine fits into the overall plan for your business.  Look back to the goals you articulated and the affiliate offers you identified in the first module.

Even if you didn’t have an existing business in mind or a particular idea for a product or service to build your magazine around, you’re still in business – the business of your magazine’s brand.

It’s more than the magazine. If it’s part of an existing business it’s a way to solidify and scale an existing brand.  If you’re just getting started it’s the foundational piece of your new brand.  What is it selling?

Think Angry Birds or Duck Dynasty.  Sure they sell everything now, but it started with downloads and duck calls.



Whether selling magazine subscriptions and advertising, or slippers shaped like Angry Birds, remember there are still only three ways to grow a business:

  • Increase the number of customers
  • Increase the average transaction value per customer
  • Increase the number of transactions per customer

The best single way to do all three is to build a list and sell to it.


Create a Site

Before you can build your list effectively, it needs a place to live.  This goes for your magazine as well.  After all, it’s not just the magazine – you’re building a brand.  You need someplace to operate it from.

Before we talk about what’s possible, let’s look at what’s required.

Cover the basic requirements

It’s important to note that the only required URLs for submitting your magazine are for support and your privacy policy.

In our experience just having a mailto link to a support@yourdomain.com email is enough for approval (definitely be sure to have an auto-responder set up for it, or at least someone watching it during the approval process).

If you have an existing site that it makes sense to add this link to, or that already has a support link that wouldn’t be confusing to users, you can use that.

In most cases, support requests will either be passed through to the publishing platform you’re working with or Apple. One of the most common is people having trouble with their auto-renewing subscription. Click here for an email response template.

An existing privacy policy can also be used here, though make sure to review it for consistency with your plans for your subscribers information.

If you’re creating a new one, you can take advantage of privacy policy generators to do some of the heavy lifting.  There are plenty to choose from – this is an easy to usegeneric and iOS specific example

This site gives an overview of privacy policy considerations and a review of several popular generators.

It’s important to understand and follow the policy you publish, so seek legal advice if you have specific questions.

Identify Your Site’s Primary Purpose

The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you could include with your magazine’s website, and it can be overwhelming if you’re just getting started.  It’s much more manageable if you stay focused on the three key areas when evaluating your competition and considering how to lay out your own site:

  • Relevant Content: Whether it’s curated content or your own, creating a place to showcase articles, images, videos, interviews, etc. will engage your audience further and give new visitors a reason to subscribe
  • Opportunity to Connect: Give visitors an opportunity to join your list with an opt-in form and stay connected with links to any social media profiles
  • Monetization: Make it easy for your audience to take advantage of your offers.  If you have an existing business, look for ways to tie your offers into relevant content.  If you’re just starting with the magazine, look at opportunities to promote other people’s offers and begin building your own (We’ll outline your CVO funnel a little later).

Design a Basic Sitemap

As we noted in the magazine site overview video, what your magazine’s site may ultimately become is not what it has to look like the first time anyone sees it.  It’s better to start by creating a simple site that covers the basics and gives you room to grow than to wait until it’s “perfect”.

You can start with a basic sitemap that has just four pages:

  • Home Page
  • Privacy Page
  • Contact Page
  • Signup Page


Like the Travel + Escape Magazine example, your home page can be as simple as a magazine cover image, description, and CTA button to subscribe linked to the App Store.


Your privacy policy page is just the text of your privacy policy (and provides the necessary privacy policy URL).


The contact page increases the opportunity for engagement and makes you seem more accessible to your audience (and provides the necessary support URL).


As mentioned in the Develop Content module, it also gives you a chance on iOS devices to auto-respond with list opt-in links to known-good emails.

Even if it’s a bare-bones opt-in form as in a couple of the earlier magazine site examples, it’s better not having one (though it works much better with a lead magnet).  The individual page gives you a starting place test different lead magnets.



Build the Site

The site platform we recommend you use is WordPress.org.  It’s the choice ofcountless companies including many large magazines.

It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and well supported – whether you’re looking for helpworking on it yourself or looking for someone to help you.

If you’re completely new to the process but want to get started with basic setup, this is a great step-by-step walkthrough.

Additional Site Resources

We’ve covered the basics of the how and why to incorporate a website with your magazine, and looked at what’s necessary to get started.

As your site grows, there is lots of additional specific help we can offer in other Execution Plans about growing your subscriber list and optimizing your funnel:

How to Get Your First 1000 Blog Subscribers and More

How to Create Your First Lead Magnet

How to Build and Write your First Landing Page

22-Point Offer Optimization Checklist

Sell to Your List

What list? When did we build it?  You haven’t missed anything – it just makes more sense from a technical standpoint to explain the overall CVO funnel before looking at how the list building tools fit into it.

Next we’ll outline your CVO funnel, look at using other people’s offers, and then understand the technical tools for building your list.

Outline Your CVO Funnel

Now we’ll begin the process of thinking through your Customer Value Optimization Funnel.

If you’re unfamiliar with the CVO Funnel, you’ll need to read this article, Customer Value Optimization: How to Create an Unstoppable Business by Ryan Deiss.

Remember that the CVO Funnel consists of,

  • Offer a Lead Magnet
  • Offer a Tripwire
  • Offer a Core Product
  • Offer a Profit Maximizer

The CVO Funnel is indicated by the gray funnel image in the CVO Flowchart,

In this step, we will outline the CVO Funnel you will use to make money on this magazine.

One reason your magazine exists is to drive more leads/subscribers into your CVO Funnel via the Lead Magnet.

As a result, there’s nothing more important than understanding the Lead Magnet process.

Watch this 7 minute video from Ryan Deiss explaining Lead Magnets,

The Lead Magnet is critical, but putting the entire CVO Funnel in place will drive incredible results.  Each step along the funnel is designed to increase the number of or profit from the leads you generate from your magazine.

Keep in mind that each offer made in the CVO Funnel should be relevant to the last.  Your ability to make money from this process is tied to your ability to make valuable offers to your magazine audience.

The nature of the offers in your CVO Funnel will also help determine the topics of the content you will create on your magazine.

This step is very important.  Take your time and think it through but don’t let it stall you.  As you move through this course you can come back and tweak your CVO Funnel.

Let’s look at the nature of each offer in the CVO Funnel,

  • Lead Magnet – A piece of premium content, usually delivered digitally, that solves a single specific problem.  The goal is to increase subscribers/leads.
  • Tripwire – A low-dollar digital or physical product, usually between $1 and $20, which is irresistible to leads generated by the Lead Magnet.  The goal is to increase the number of buyers.
  • Core Offer – The higher dollar, flagship product.
  • Profit Maximizer – The upsell, cross-sell, bundle, etc. that often allows the benefit offered by the Core Offer to be realized more quickly or through automation. The goal is to increase the value of sales made by the Core Offer.

Think about the existing offers you make.  Is there something you already have that could be made into a Lead Magnet or a Tripwire Offer?  How could the maximize profit by allowing the benefit of your Core Offer to be realized more quickly or through automation?

Let’s look at some examples.

In the first example, we’ll look at a food magazine that is making a Core Offer of a digitally delivered course called “The Weight Control Diet Plan.” This is a great example for your magazine because you could create it as a stand-alone issue that Apple will let you sell from within your magazine app for up to $999.99.

Most people will develop the Core Offer and try to sell it to cold leads.  But adding the CVO Funnel process will dramatically increase leads, conversion rates and profit on the Core Offer.

Our healthy food magazine’s CVO Funnel might look like this,

  • Lead Magnet – a digitally delivered PDF report called “A Single, Simple Diet Change That Will Shed 5 Pounds Almost Instantly” (you can embed opt-in forms directly into your magazine).  This Lead Magnet is specific, actionable and relevant to the Core Offer.
  • Tripwire Offer – a physical product, the Digital Food Scale sourced from AliBaba.com (costs $8 including shipping), offered to your leads for $8 from an article link or linked ad in your magazine.  This Tripwire is low-dollar, solves a specific problem and is relevant to the Core Offer.  A digital product (a $7 webinar for example) could be substituted here.
  • Core Offer – “The Weight Control Diet Plan” course offered at $197 as a stand-alone issue in your magazine app.
  • Profit Maximizer – One-on-one coaching with the food magazine editor or another expert delivered via weekly calls offered at $497 per month.  This Profit Maximizer delivers the benefit of the Core Offer more quickly.  As another example, diet planning software could be delivered to offer automation of the Core Offer benefit.

Our second example is a BMW enthusiast magazine by a business selling refurbished BMW engines to BMW enthusiasts,

  • Lead Magnet – a digitally delivered diagram of a BMW M5 Sedan Engine. This Lead Magnet is specific, actionable and relevant to the Core Offer.
  • Tripwire Offer – a physical product, BMW M5 Sedan spark plugs (cost you $5 including shipping) offered to your leads for $5.
  • Core Offer – Refurbished BMW M5 Engine offered at an average price of $8,000
  • Profit Maximizer – Engine Warranty, Assembly and Installation

Complete this CVO Funnel Planning document.

A healthy business will have multiple CVO Funnel’s running but, in this step, simply outline a single CVO Funnel.

If you are having trouble generating offer ideas, use other people’s offers.

Use Other People’s Offers

If you are pressed for time or the needed expertise to create an offer, use someone else’s offer and make a commission.

As we mentioned in the first module, this is called Affiliate Marketing and there are affiliate offers available in nearly every niche imaginable.

The nice thing about affiliate offers is that you can handpick the offer and they pay fairly well.  It’s not uncommon for affiliate offers to pay 50% commissions or more.

Create accounts with ClickBank, ShareASale, and Commission Junction. Search their relevant product categories for offers that match your topic. Most come with all the media you’ll need – banner ads, widgets, sales copy – to incorporate into your CVO Funnel.

To find affiliate programs, do the following:

  • Open accounts with the big affiliate networks: ClickBankShareASale and Commission Junction.
  • Search their relevant product categories for offers that match your topic.
  • Google search for things like
    1. [your magazine topic or other keyword] affiliates
    2. [your magazine topic or other keyword] affiliate program
    3. [your magazine topic or other keyword] associate program

If you’re stuck on the offer creation stage, affiliate offers might be the way forward.


Build a List

You must build a list.  Thanks to email’s intimacy, accessibility, cost effectiveness, automation, etc., it’s the single best way to build lasting and fruitful relationships with your customers – which you’ll notice cover ways #2 & 3 of the only three ways to grow.

 Set Up an Email Service

The goal of your magazine in the CVO process is to increase the number of leads that are entering your CVO Funnel.

New leads are generated when a visitor exchanges their email address for a Lead Magnet.

Your list of subscribers/leads is housed at your email service provider.

Advanced digital marketers might want to use a full service system like InfusionSoft.  You know who you are.

But for many that will be overkill.

To begin with you can get away with a free or paid version of MailChimp.  MailChimp integrates well with WordPress and PayPal as well as the Landing Page software that we recommend.

To complete this step, set up your account with MailChimp.  You can start with a free account and upgrade later if you need it.

Talk to Them

In this module, we’ve just focused on the nuts and bolts of the infrastructure needed to effectively build your list.  But now that you’ve got their attention, what should you tell them?

We’ll cover strategies on what to write to your list, as well as how and when to write it, in Stay Engaged module.

For now, begin thinking about the first impression you’ll give when someone joins your list.  Click the links below for some examples:

The Anatomy of an Effective Welcome Email
How to Use Welcome Emails to Delight Your New Blog Subscribers





We’ve covered a good deal of important ground in this module; all of it critical to the success of your magazine – and more importantly the brand that it’s a part of.

We pointed out at the beginning that there are essentially three methods of monetizing your magazine app:

  • Subscriptions
  • Advertising
  • Build a brand

And that if it was multiple choice, the best answer would be “D. All of the above”.  This is because of what we also noted later – that there are fundamentally only three ways to grow a business:

  • Increase the number of customers
  • Increase the average transaction value per customer
  • Increase the number of transactions per customer

Consider that while increasing the number of subscribers will ultimately allow you to raise advertising rates and increase transaction value per customer for your advertisers, the only was to really scale the number of transactions per customer is to take your subscribers beyond your magazine into a list to build your brand.

Now that you’ve got a clear path to cash for your magazine, it’s time to create the Newsstand app.

5 – Create Newsstand App

Newsstand and App Store Overview

Newsstand is really just a section of the same App Store containing Angry Birds, Facebook and the rest of your favorites with a few extra beneficial properties:

  1. It’s own icon (that can’t be deleted) on the home screen of every iOS device
  2. A built-in mechanism for automatic recurring subscription billing
  3. A built-in opt-in process for users to share their personal info on file with Apple (Name, iTunes email address & zip code)
  4. A tiny fraction of the competition the rest of the App Store has

The apps are almost all free to download and preview, and the point of sale comes after a user has already decided on specific content they’re interested in.  If that’s still too much purchase friction, there’s a built-in option to offer free trial subscriptions that automatically begin charging for subscription when they’re done.


Newsstand App Options

You really only have two options for creating your NS app:

  • Use your own – or someone you hire’s – iOS development skills to either develop your app from scratch or based on one or more templates, or
  • Use an established Newsstand app publishing platform service

Roll Your Own

We won’t train you to be an iOS developer here, but there are many great resources available online for those with the time and inclination. There is no question that you’ll have the greatest degree of control over your Newsstand app if you create it yourself.  That said, if it were us – more control wouldn’t matter because the app would never come to exist.

If you have some experience with coding or app development, another option is using an app template.  You can find templates for Newsstand apps at varying degrees of completeness and complexity for sale or even free online with just a search for “newsstand app template”.  In either case you’ll also need to set up your own web hosting for the content of your issues – Apple doesn’t do that.

You can hire a developer to do it for you, but remember you still need to know enough about how the development process works to know what to ask for and confirm whether you got it.  Of course you could hire a project manager with development experience for that… bottom line is that this process can be as expensive as you want it to be.  You can start to see why most people still believe it’s way too expensive to create a magazine for Newsstand – but that’s part of the opportunity there now.

Plug ‘n Play

If like most of us you don’t have iOS developer chops, your fastest path to success is to use an established publishing app platform/service.  It’s easier to get going and doesn’t require any coding skills, the tradeoff being that it generally costs more to use a service, though pricing models vary.  Next we’ll walk through the pros & cons of two of them.

Bear in mind that however high you choose to make the technical hurdle for yourself, the real challenge – and payoff – comes in the work you’ve already done and will do to put together compelling content and grow your audience.

Select an Established Publishing App Platform

There are other platforms available for publishing Newsstand magazines. Mag+, for example, offers a service that you don’t have to be a developer use, but does require an additional degree of prior experience with Adobe InDesign and programming concepts to be able to take full advantage of.

As with creating your own app from scratch or a template, there is additional benefit that comes from this additional effort – Mag+ creates apps ready for Google Play and the Amazon App Store as well as Newsstand. If you or your organization has these skills on hand, Mag+ may be worth considering.

However, the two platforms we compare here – TypeEngine and MagCast – stand out in their accessibility to regular people who just want to create a magazine.

Any necessary experience you don’t already have is either covered in detail by the platform help and training, or can be gained easily. Either one let’s you jump in and get started, but there are some important differences.

How Much?

Like anything else, the two main cost considerations are: How much to start? and How much to keep it going?  You are required to purchase an Apple Developer license to publish on Newsstand no matter how you decide to do that, so remember to factor that in.


The startup costs for TypeEngine are free.  It’s free to set up an account on their platform and begin creating your magazine right away. You’re not charged until you begin the process of building your app and submitting it to Apple for review.  At that point there is an initial setup fee of $99 per magazine.  After that, your ongoing costs are $25 per month, and 15¢ per issue download.  An “issue download” is specifically measured as the first time a subscriber downloads a specific issue of your magazine.

For example, if you charge your subscribers $3.99/month, your net after Apple’s 30% cut is $2.80 per subscriber.  If 400 of your 500 subscribers download your January issue, you’d be charged $85: $60 for downloads (15¢ x 400) + $25 monthly fee.  Recall in this example that $85 would come from $1400 collected for that month’s subscriptions.  You’ll only be charged once for any given subscriber to download any given issue.


The startup costs for MagCast are considerably higher at $3597/year ($299/month), but suspend any sticker shock to consider two points:

  1. Almost all of it’s costs are up-front, there are no download fees or additional monthly costs beyond nominal AWS hosted bandwidth costs.
  2. MagCast has a host of well-designed and well-supported built-in tools for expanding and monetizing your subscriber base.

How Hard?

How challenging these services are to work with depends on what part of the process you’re talking about and your goals for that stage.  We evaluate these stages as setup, creation, implementation, and assistance.


Setup with TypeEngine is very easy.  We’ll look at the steps specifically a little later, but you have only to set up an account, and, when you’re ready to publish your first issue, walk through a guided survey about your magazine.  After that, you give TypeEngine access to you Apple Developer account (you can set up limited access) and they take it from there.  While it’s to your benefit to learn at least the basics about how Newsstand apps interact with the App Store, you certainly don’t have to with TypeEngine – they do it all for you.

Creating your issues with TypeEngine can be easy, but you will need some basic HTML/CSS knowledge to customize your magazine much beyond the default template.  There is still personalization that can be done within bounds of just their platform website though, and if you can post to a blog you can create a magazine in TypeEngine.

Implementation with TypeEngine is one-click.  After everything is set for your issue on their platform, you just press publish and it becomes available to subscribers almost instantly.  Once you’ve gone through the initial app submission with Apple, almost everything can be handled through the TypeEngine platform.

TypeEngine’s assistance is pretty good.  Their documentation covers the basics, and combined with the tips we provide you’ll definitely have what you need to get up and running.  They are regularly expanding their knowledge base, and have very responsive customer support that you can ask anything that is always just one click away.  What they don’t have is a step-by-step walkthrough.


Setup with MagCast is a little more hands-on with the nuts and bolts of how your app is created and submitted through the App Store, but they have fantastic training that walks you step-by-step and click-by-click through the process.  Not only can you walk through their setup process without prior knowledge of the App Store, it is a great way to become familiar.

Creation with MagCast is very easy, and your options for customization are only limited by what you can create in any graphic/publishing platform from PowerPoint to InDesign.  Because MagCast gives you the option to upload PDF files as the basis for your magazine, anything you can create in two dimensions (and the screen size of the iPad) can be used as the design foundation.

Implementation with MagCast is again a little more hands-on in the App Store with the publication of individual issues, but they take you through it click-by-click and the functionality tradeoff is easily worth the extra effort.

MagCast’s customer assistance is excellent!  The moment you sign on to their system you’re directed to a series of getting started videos and then their comprehensive training guide.  These well-organized 50+ videos take you through every aspect of getting your magazine started and taking advantage of all MagCast’s great marketing features.

What Can it Do?

Here again we break down what these platforms deliver into the general categories: design, versatility, sales, marketing.


Design in TypeEngine is a trade-off in versatility.  TypeEngine automatically resizes your magazine content between the different display sizes of the iPad and the iPhone.  But because their platform is designed to support the content you enter as one size fits all, it is only guaranteed to work if you color inside their lines (e.g. one way to display images, one way to display videos, etc.).

You can include all standard image types, and MP4 videos as well as YouTube and Vimeo video links.  The versatility of confident content display on all different Apple iOS devices is balanced against the code they’ve written to do that.

The good news is that it’s based on web-standard HTML/CSS; the challenge is that you need to know what you’re doing there to create your own layout designs – especially if they’re elaborate.  Luckily coding skills in HTML/CSS are among the easiest to pick up or outsource.

TypeEngine isn’t geared for sales and marketing.

It takes advantage of Apple’s built in features for trial subscription period and customer opt-in incentive, and it allows you to sell individual issues, but it’s basically up to you.

Much like having your own site, you’ll use your own tools to develop ad space and communicate directly with your subscribers.  The platform has Google Analytics integration that will provide valuable user engagement metrics, but besides Facebook API, it has no other integration with popular app marketing services at this time.  There is still plenty you can do to engage your users if you use TypeEngine, but it doesn’t offer the convenience MagCast does of having it built into the app.


As already mentioned, design in MagCast is as wide open as anything you can include in a PDF.  You can add layers of interactivity or use basic word processing design tools in the platform to add anything you want to the base design of an uploaded PDF, or create the whole magazine from scratch.

You can include all standard image types, and MP4 videos as well as YouTube and Vimeo video links.  If you can make a Word or PowerPoint document, you can create an interactive magazine with MagCast.

In terms of versatility, MagCast isn’t limited to PDFs.  Although the PDF based design tools are optimized for the iPad, you can also create a web standard text and image based version of your magazine, and determine which version your subscribers will get based on their device or allow subscribers to choose.

Despite some duplication of development as compared to TypeEngine, the comparative ease of using more advanced design makes up for it – especially since any workflow for content will involve a step where the content can be cut and pasted.

MagCast is built for sales and marketing.

In addition to the easy setup for Apple’s Newsstand marketing options and Google Analytics integration that TypeEngine offers, MagCast has a multitude of marketing and monetization options built-in:

  • You can send push notifications anytime to subscribers &/or non-subscribers
  • Automatically timed “Come back to us” push notifications
  • Automatically requests App Store ratings from subscribers
  • Promo codes to give to reviewers
  • Social sharing and Evernote integration
  • Custom on-launch notifications, welcome letter, and ad banners
  • Ad network integration with iAd, Chartboost, AdMob, and Flurry ad network
  • Custom opt-in page

This is a partial list that doesn’t describe the features in depth, and MagCast is still regularly adding new ones.

Set Up Selected App Platform

Initial account setup for either platform is as easy as going to their websites and signing up.

The main difference between the two here is that for MagCast you need to purchase your first year and set up your Apple Developer account to get started building your magazine. In TypeEngine you can begin using their creating platform right away without paying anything, but you will need to have your Apple Developer account set up before they can create your app.

So even though you don’t have to set it up now for TypeEngine, it’s still a good idea because it’s quick & easy and once you have it set up you can reserve your app name for up to 180 days.

Setup Apple Developer Account

To set up your Apple Developer account you’re going to need an Apple ID.  There’s a good chance you already have an Apple ID that you use with iTunes and/or the App Store, but we recommend that you create a new one anyway for convenience – as you add and remove people from your account and/or change passwords, you don’t want to worry about how it’s going to effect your personal apps, music, etc.

You’ll have the opportunity to set up a new Apple ID at the Developer Account signup page.


Once your Apple ID is setup, you can update enroll in the iOS Developer Program here.

If you’re working with MagCast their training introduction also has a walkthrough of the Developer Account setup.

It’s often suggested that you enroll as an individual as opposed to a business, because the verification process is simpler. This is true, but bear in mind three important points before you choose:

  • The name you choose for the account is visible in the app store for every app you create
  • You can use a different name than your Legal Entity name as a company to display in the app store, but it’s set in stone after you create your first app with it
  • You CANNOT transfer ownership of an app (i.e. sell) that has ever had an auto-renewing subscription, but you can transfer ownership of a company that owns the developer account*


*Apple seeks to protect its users of apps with automatic-renewing subscriptions by preventing a subscription that they signed onto with one person or company from being switched out from under them for another – but they don’t control contracts beyond their App Store environment

Reserve Your Magazine Title

Once your Developer Account is set up, you can reserve your magazine name by logging in and then filling out the basic information to add a new application (see Manage Your Apps in the Upload to the App Store Module).

If you’re using TypeEngine, check in with the support team to make sure that you’re using a Bundle ID that won’t conflict with their system.

If you’re using MagCast, your magazine name will be reserved automatically during the initial setup steps prior to creating your first issue.

Publishing App Platform Workflows

Your specific workflow for actually getting your collected content into your online magazine varies significantly based on which of these platforms you’ve chosen.

The remaining steps in this module all relate directly to one of the two platforms, and have the name for that platform in the title.  Feel free to look through all of them if you’re still evaluating which publishing platform you’d prefer, but you only need to go through the steps for the one you choose.

You’ll notice that there are many more steps for TypeEngine than MagCast because the support base for TypeEngine is much more limited.  MagCast already includes an extensive library of support videos walking you through every step of setup and publishing using their platform (which we’ll look at later).

Next we’ll run through the basics of using the platform tools to create a full issue with the content we’ve already gathered and/or created.

First Issue Workflow for TypeEngine


As mentioned earlier, if you can post to a blog you can create a magazine in TypeEngine.  Here we’ll take you step by step through the process of getting all your content into their system.

The following steps will cover:

  • Initial Setup
    • Register TypeEngine Account
    • Create TypeEngine Publication
    • Create First Issues
  • Create and Review Articles
    • Create Articles
    • Review Articles with the Preview App
    • Add Rich Content to Articles
  • Customize App Appearance
    • Develop Custom Article Templates
    • Modify App Styling


TypeEngine: Initial Setup


In this step we cover registering for your TypeEngine account, setting up and configuring your initial publication, and creating your first issues.

Watch walk-through videos below:

Register TypeEngine Account

Create TypeEngine Publication

Create First Issues

TypeEngine: Create and Review Articles


Here we’ll first look at how to create your initial articles in the TypeEngine console.  Then how to download, install and use the TE Preview App to preview how your content will actually look in your magazine app and update accordingly.

Watch walk-through videos below:

Create Articles

Review Articles with the Preview App

Add Rich Content to Articles

TypeEngine: Customize App Appearance


Customizing app appearance in TypeEngine takes place at two levels:

  • Article Templates that can be customized like the styling of a webpage and applied(assigned) to one or more articles
  • App Styling which is modified through a series of text variables in the publication menu of the console

Watch walk-through videos below:

Develop Custom Article Templates

Modify App Styling

First Issue Workflow for MagCast


The PDF and Text publishing methods each have their own workflow, and since we highly recommend using both for each issue we’ll be taking a look at both. MagCast walks you through the basic production steps for both methods in their training, so our focus will be on the overall workflow of creating both versions.

MagCast: Create Layout Design


Psychology studies tell us the first thing people notice on a page is color, followed by the photos, followed by the typeface.  There’s plenty to learn about graphic design theory if you’re interested, but the point is design matters.  Don’t throw away all the time and energy you spent developing your magazine by making it look someone threw it together in 20 minutes.

We’re not saying don’t throw together in a couple hours if you can – it just can’t look that way.

You essentially have three options here:

  • Use a basic template. Templates for basic document programs like Pages or Word have come a long way in the last few years.
  • Purchase an intermediate template. Stock sites like Graphic River hundreds of magazine templates to choose from (mostly InDesign and Photoshop files).
  • Hire I freelancer. Look for freelancer with the guidelines we covered in the Develop Content for Audience module.

Also, a little extra digging online with searches like “free magazine template” or “free pages templates” can turn up smaller collections like here or here, or free collections like this one.


MagCast: Create a New Text Issue


Because your layout options are more limited in the web-based Text publishing method, we recommend focusing on getting your layout into the design layout you want for the PDF version first and then conform your text version to that as best you can.

For example, you may have a design layout for your PDF version that has a large image background with three columns of text over the image and a video embedded beneath it – on your text version that would be adapted to a single column of text with image included and followed by the video below.

It’s easier to best match the limited format of the Text version experienced on the iPhone to the larger PDF version experienced on the iPad when the PDF version is already set.

The key here is to maintain copies of the source material you use for your PDF design (Word documents, text documents, web posts) so that it can be easily transferred via cut & paste into the text version later.

Watch this video walkthrough of creating a new Text issue using your Full issue design

MagCast: Previewing and Publishing Issues


Like TypeEngine, MagCast has a stand-alone app that you can use to preview you issues before you publish them to the App Store.

The included MagCast training has step-by-step instructions for testing and publishing your issue once you’re satisfied.  Refer back to their training for assistance with these steps.

6 – Upload to the App Store

Overview Upload Process

You’re almost there!  The excitement and satisfaction that come with seeing everything that you’ve worked to build live and available for anyone in the world to purchase with a few taps will soon be yours.

Setting up your app for review and download is relatively straightforward once you’ve done it a couple times, but there are a lot of boxes to check.  And since the review process typically takes 5 business days or longer, you want check them right the first time.

Next we’ll point out how to get around in iTunes Connect, what’s important to get right the first time, and the pitfalls to avoid.

iTunes Connect Overview

In Apple’s own words:

iTunes Connect is Apple’s exclusive web content management system for app developers. It provides access to the content you need to distribute on the App Store, including app creation, app delivery, app management, App Store sales information, and financial reports.

iTunes connect is divided into 9 modules:

  • 7 of which have to do with actually managing your account and app,
  • 5 of which are in the scope of this course, and
  • 3 of which are necessary to submit your app for review and upload to the App Store

See? It’s easier to manage already!  See the Additional Resources section for a video overview of all the iTunes Connect modules.

The three modules necessary to upload your app are:

  • Manage Users
  • Contracts, Tax, and Banking
  • Manage Your Apps


Manage Users

In this section you can (again in Apple’s words):

Add and delete iTunes Connect users, change user roles, and edit profile information and notifications.

This is how you control who can initiate what kind of actions with your developer account, and who is notified about those actions and other app events (e.g. review status for your app or financial reports becoming available).

User roles

The different user roles are most neatly summarized by Apple in this chart:

iTunes Connect Roles chart
Which of these you may need to assign to whom depends on your situation.  If you’re working as a team with others in a company or running your own, these roles are self-explanatory.

Many of you will be working as chief, cook, and bottle washer – in which case the automatic role assignment as owner of your Apple Developer account will already let you access everything you need.

If you’re working with one of the publishing app platforms, they’ll let you know what roles they need to be assigned to assist in submitting your app.

User notifications

You can set which of the four notification types each user gets for every App Store region worldwide:

iTunes Connect Notifications selection

Notification Descriptions:

  • App Status – Provides email alerts with app status updates.
  • Contract – Provides email alerts with contract status updates (for example, contract expiration warnings) or if more contract information is needed.
  • Financial Report – Provides email alerts when finance reports are available for download on iTunes Connect.
  • Payments – Provides email alerts when payment to your bank is returned.

Contracts, Tax, and Banking

This section is where you:

Check the status of current contracts, request new contracts or contract amendments, and provide financial information for your contracts. You can also review your current contracts.

Before you can submit your app to the App Store, you have to request and approve the necessary contracts from Apple, and then fill out banking and tax information for each.

This is essentially the same process as agreeing to the terms of any other online service and then providing you with your billing information.  Except in this case, money’s flowing into the account.  Also, because Apple is sending you money, they need your tax information for their own financial reporting.

For example, to sell your app:

  1. You must “request” and then approve the “iOS Paid Applications” contract.
  2. After agreeing to the terms, you have to enter your banking info for the account that will receive deposits from Apple for your cut (70%) of the money people pay for your iOS application.
  3. Then you have to provide your tax information (SSN or EIN) to Apple via W9 for their tax reporting* of those deposits

*Note: You are responsible for paying taxes to all applicable taxing authorities for your location.  How much that is, as well as when and how to pay it to whom, are all questions for your tax professional.



Manage Your Apps

We’ll look to Apple once more for this section’s description:

In this module, you can add new apps, edit app information for new and existing apps, download Application Loader, and download the Developer Guide. You can also create and edit In-App Purchase information, metadata, and clearance and pricing. The user with the Legal role, also known as Team Agent, can request promo codes for your app.

Practically speaking, if you are using any of the publishing app platforms you’ll be either guided through this process step by step in detail, or have it handled for you by the platform.

That said, like the Contract, Tax, and Banking section, the process will go easier if you give yourself some overview context by watching this five-minute tutorial from Apple on submitting a new app:




You should also review – and keep handy for reference – “iTunes Connect App Properties” (Appendix B of the iTunes Connect Developer Guide).  It lists detailed descriptions for all the properties of your app, and most importantly which ones are open to change anytime, locked but available for change with a new app version, or locked forever.


We touched on it in the Monetize your Magazine module, but the App Store Review Guidelines a useful reference here as well.

You can find most of Apple’s documentation related to App Submission at the App Review section of the Developer Support Center – including direct access to Expedited App Review requests and the Resolution Center for rejected apps.

Click Here for a template you can use as an assignment spec to have a freelancer create the additional icon images needed for app submission.

Navigate Documentation

If you’re cruising through this course without yet creating your app and you’re still considering having a developer assist you in developing a custom app, you’ll greatly benefit from going through the remainder of the already mentioned iTunes Connect developer guide.

It will also be good to familiarize yourself with:

Together with this module, these will provide overview context to understand what’s technically possible for your iOS Newsstand app, and help manage the process.

The iTunes Connect FAQs are also a good general quick-reference (must be logged in to iTunes Connect).


For future reference, you can see all the iTunes Connect resources we’ve connected to in this module and more are available in the iTunes Connect Resource Center.




Third Party Setup

Depending on which platform you use (or if you’re developing your own), there may be multiple third party accounts that you need to sign onto for content hosting, advertising platform integration, push notifications, etc.

In the case of either publishing platform, they walk you through how to set up any extra accounts you need and how to integrate them into your Newsstand app.

However, since you’re required to &/or would benefit from setting up Google Analytics and Facebook API integration, we’ll look at setup for both here.

Setup Google Analytics

People make careers out of analysis of the data GA provides, but you don’t need a degree or even experience to take advantage of the basics (e.g. Are more people downloading this issue than last? What articles are they spending the most time with? Which Facebook ad or content partner sent this traffic to the TW website? etc.)

Getting set up with GA is simple and just takes a few minutes:










You can find an overview of features and Getting Started in their Help Center.

Setup Facebook API

Here we only need to set up a developer account with Facebook and then create a new empty app (you don’t have to develop anything).

Watch this video for a quick walkthrough of the process:

NS App Store Optimization (ASO)


Newsstand magazines in most ways are treated like any other app in the app store, so all the standard ASO (App Store Optimization) best practices apply. There are a number of factors, some of which you can control directly and some you can’t – but even the ones you can’t control can be influenced. Besides quality content, the main factors you can control are keywords and appearance.

The main factors you can influence but not control are ratings and reviews. Obviously quality content is crucial here, too. But even with quality content the key thing here is to ask early and often.

There are a number of ways to do it – app notifications, emails to people who have opted in either directly or through Apple, CTAs in the magazine issues themselves – but the more you ask the more people will. I personally don’t know that I’ve ever rated an app that hasn’t asked me to repeatedly.

It’s a bit of a chicken & egg scenario because the higher you are in the rankings the more discoverable you are, and the more discoverable you are the more downloads you get, which push you higher in the rankings, etc.


Keywords apply to your title, company name, and in-app purchase display name as well as your actual keywords.  Basic principles of keyword selection apply here – search volume for relevant phrases, etc. – but the App Store is it’s own animal, so you’ll also want to check out competitors that are ranking in your niche.

You can see their descriptions in the app store, but there are tools and services – both free and paid – that will analyze apps and guess their keywords for you.  The best one we’ve found is SensorTower.

You only have 100 characters to work with for your keywords, so every character counts.  Some points to consider for optimizing space:

  • Use commas to separate keywords but not an extra space
  • Don’t repeat any words in your title or company name
  • Use single keywords and not phrases (they combine automatically)

You can find several other good ASO tips here.

Because you can only update your keywords when you submit a new version of your app, it’s worth some time to research your competition now.

You can then check back to compare how you’re doing against competitors for those keywords and adjust them when it’s time to submit an updated version.  You can also resubmit your binary as a “new” version with generic review notes such as “fix bugs, add functionality and improve metadata”.

Visually Appealing Icon

Appearance is a little more subjective, which makes your own opinion more worthwhile as a starting point. Your magazine’s most recent cover is going to be what people see when they pull it up, and it will be displayed alongside all the others for that category – some of which will likely be existing professional print publications.

Browse around different sections in Newsstand and you’ll see a clear difference between magazines that look professionally produced and those that don’t – you want to be with the ones that do.

Here are some actual side-by-side examples from Newsstand:




If great if you’ve got good design chops, but if not, it’s definitely worth the cost of outsourcing to a designer or at least working with a good template.

Think about the impression you want to convey to your audience and then use one or more existing magazines that convey those impressions as a starting point for your design.

App Store Description

Per Apple, the app description does not affect keyword search results:


Although it doesn’t effect search results, it’s still important.  This is the sales copy for your app for anyone who stops to read it.  It should:

  • Outline key benefits early and concisely (think elevator pitch)
  • Be updated regularly with new issue-specific descriptions


Great App Screenshots

The same principles hold true for your app screenshots as for your magazine covers.  If your cover gets them in the door, your screenshots are going to be half the battle in sealing the deal.

Think of your screenshots as mini-magazine covers: even though they’re not displayed directly next to others as the main cover was one tap earlier in Newsstand, they’re still being mentally compared.

Make sure to put your best foot forward by choosing shots that incorporate the most appealing articles – both visually in terms of layout graphics and imagery, and also in terms of the most intriguing titles and subjects.


You want to create the impulse to pick it up off the rack to see what’s inside.  Also remind the browser about the additional functionality that comes with a Newsstand magazine by including a couple screenshots that show the menu or navigation interface and/or a video window.


7 – Stay Engaged

Measure Engagement


“What gets measured gets done”.  Staying successfully engaged with your audience takes the same level of commitment to scheduling and measurement you bring to your magazine’s content.

Regularly review your in-magazine content engagement strategies, and set up a plan for your engagement with your email list and social media audience.

Measure and Baseline KPIs

In this step will establish and look at how to baseline and measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Your initial KPIs for your magazine are

  1. Conversion Rate: This is the ratio of people who subscribed to your magazine to the total number who downloaded it, expressed as a percentage. e.g. 3350 subscribers ÷ 9610 downloads = 34.8% Conversion Rate
  2. Subscriber On/Off: This is the total change in subscribers from one period to the next as a percentage (typically monthly with a monthly subscription). e.g. 3920 February subscribers – 3350 January subscribers = 570 new subscribers, 17% change (570 ÷ 3350)
  3. Opt-in Rate: This is the ratio of opt-ins you’re getting to the number of people you’ve asked. e.g. 143 opt-ins ÷ 838 subscribers = 17% Opt-in Rate

The baseline (first) measurement of a KPI will be used to measure performance over an initial period of time, and against which you’ll measure your KPIs going forward.

The initial period to measure for Conversion Rate and Opt-ins would be a minimum of a week.  You could technically start measuring your conversion rate after the first day of downloads & sales, but you need to wait a week to download the first opt-in report from Apple (only available weekly), and you’ll have a better chance to establish a trend by that point.

You’ll calculate the initial Opt-in ratio by getting the total number of opt-ins from the Opt-in Report and dividing that by the total number of subscribers in the same period (see video later in this module for specific access instructions).

If you have your opt-in forms set up in your magazine app and on your site (we recommend you do), you’ll track that Opt-in ratio separately by measuring the same metrics where you access them based on your setup – typically in Google Analytics for your app/site and in your mail service.

The initial period to measure Subscriber On/Off is at least 2 months to be able to measure any month-to-month change.

If you have one magazine with only a monthly subscription option for purchase, the easiest place to see at-a-glance total Subscriber On/Off is Total Units Sold in the Trends section of the Payments and Financial Reports module.



The numbers won’t change, so create a simple spreadsheet to track these KPIs outside of your other reporting sites.  It’ll save you time and help you keep an up to date and overall perspective on the health of your magazine.

Decide how often you will update your KPI spreadsheet (at least monthly is recommended) and make note in your calendar to update your KPI spreadsheet.

Access iTunes Connect Reports

There are two ways to access your download and sales data through the Sales and Trends module in iTunes Connect – Top Content and Reports.

Top Content

This gives you a high-level, interactive overview of your downloads and proceeds, customizable by:

  • Date
  • Territory
  • Platform
  • Category
  • Content Type
  • Transaction Type


Here you can download daily or weekly reports as text, CSV or Excel files for:

  • Newsstand Detailed Sales Report
  • Opt In Report
  • Summary Sales Report

See the video below for a walkthrough of both methods:

Set Up 3rd Party Analytics Options

Apple recently made a major update to the Sales and Trends module with the addition of the Top Content section – none of the interactivity of those charts was available in the previous version.

This has effectively downgraded 3rd party analytics platforms from Need to Have to Nice to Have.  That said, watch the video below for an overview of setup and benefits of two popular platforms:

See the video below for a walkthrough of both platforms:

Understand the Return Path

A magazine that makes money operates in two cycles.

  • The high activity cycle (Launch)
  • Normal day-to-day operations (Post-Launch)

You might be launching something every month or just a few times of year.  That’s up to you.

But you should know that a Launch is not a singular event.  Each time you develop a new offer (Lead Magnet, Tripwire, Core Offer, Profit Maximizer) you should consider applying the Launch process.

The Post-Launch sequence is used to “set up” your next Launch.

For example, if you have a Fitness Magazine and know that your next Launch will be for a workout you developed called “Abs the Easy Way” you can use your normal in-issue magazine content and day-to-day content to begin supporting that Launch.

In other words, your normal magazine content could start mixing in feature and department articles about abs.

Let’s learn more how to conduct day-to-day operations on the magazine.

The Return Path is about creating “channels” whereby you can communicate with your existing subscribers/leads and customers.

These communications can be both promotional (offers) and non-promotional (content).

Here’s where the Return Path fits into the CVO Flowchart,

It’s important that your subscribers/leads and customers receive a mix of content and offers from you.

The goal of the Return Path is to create communication channels whereby you can increase the number of times a customer buys from you.

There are many tactics you can use to open the Return Path with your magazine including

  • Retargeting
  • Email Marketing
  • Custom Audiences
  • Organic Social Media

Don’t try to master all of these tactics at once.  Start with email marketing and choose (at the most) one other Return Path tactic to use in the beginning (continue to use retargeting to drive opt-ins, once you have specific offers in your funnel you can direct it toward those as well).

As you master these tactics, add another.

The next few sections in this module will outline specific Return Path tactics.


Use Email Marketing

All who follow the Customer Value Optimization system will use the Email Marketing Return Path.

A primary goal of your magazine is to grow the subscriber/lead list so that you can make offers to them using the CVO process.  In other words, generate NEW leads.

But each subscriber/lead you get can be reached again and again via the Return Path.

Start email marketing by putting the process in place to notify your subscribers when new content is available.

There are two ways to do this,

  1. Send broadcast email (Recommended) – Each time you add new engaging content to your magazine’s site or one of it’s social profiles – e.g. preview summary of the upcoming issue, cover photo contest for next month’s issue, winner announced for last month’s caption contest, etc. – craft a specific email that explains the value of that content and a call-to-action to click a link to see the content.  This is a manual process that takes time but it will get better results than the second option.
  2. Set up RSS to Email Distribution – Most email programs, including MailChimp, can be set up to automatically email the members of your email list when new content is added to your magazine site’s blog (note that we’re using WordPress blogging software as the basis for our site, so you can set this up even if you aren’t labeling your updates as a “blog”).  The system monitors your RSS feed and sends emails based on the schedule you set (daily, weekly, monthly, etc).  Use this method if you are pressed for time and don’t want to craft specific emails for each new piece of content.

Secondly, even when you aren’t initially launching, you should use your email list to promote existing offers or affiliate offers.

How often should you send email?

At Digital Marketer we send email to our list almost every day and we see great results.  That said, only you can determine the frequency that you will send email.

If you are unsure, start by emailing three times per week and scale up/back from there.


Additional Email Resources

Not only does exactly what, how and when to say it in an email depend on your brand, offer, and audience – it’s an entire area of ongoing study.

We’ve got a ton of great resources on our site, but these are a few good posts to get started:

5 tips to improve list engagement

Copy & Paste Our Best 101 Email Subject Lines [PDF Download]

4 Emotional Triggers that Increase Email Click-Through Rate

Lessons Learned from 58,316,432 Emails we Sent in 2013

Boost Your Email Results with Social Media Integration

Use Facebook Custom Audiences

Facebook Custom Audiences allows you to target specific people based on their email address or phone number, you can use this option to reach very specific segments of people.

In other words, your ads will show only to this specific list of people.

This way, instead of advertising to the Facebook audience at large, you can hone in on people already familiar with your business, i.e. those that are more likely to convert.

Setting up a Custom Audience in Facebook is as simple as uploading a list of emails or phone numbers.

You could create a Facebook Custom Audience from sources such as,

  • Your email subscribers
  • Your email unsubscribers
  • A prospect list of phone numbers
  • A customer list of phone numbers
  • A group of webinar/event attendees

The possibilities are endless.

If you think Custom Audiences might be a good fit, and you are a member of Digital Marketer Labs, we’ve created and entire Execution Plan showing you how to use Facebook Custom Audiences.

Access the Facebook Custom Audiences EP here

Here is another resource you can use to get started with Facebook custom audiences.

Build Organic Social Media

Organic Social Media is a very powerful Return Path tactic.

As a rising magazine publisher, you are – like all other magazine and newspaper publishers ever – in the business of content marketing.  Which essentially makes you – like everyone else in the business of content marketing today – a media company.

Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest (a recent study shows it just edged out email) are the top three ways people share online content with each other.

Although organic social media is not a consistent tactic for generating new leads, it is a critical part of staying connected to your existing subscribers/leads and buyers via The Return Path.

People are often frustrated with organic social media for two reasons,

  1. They use it for the wrong purpose – Most people are using organic social media to generate NEW subscribers/leads or (even worse) NEW customers.  Understand that the vast majority of people that will connect with you on social media, in any meaningful way, will be your existing fans, customers and colleagues.
  2. They don’t focus – As with anything else, it pays to focus your efforts.  Choose one (maybe two) social media networks to commit your time to and learn them well.  Make lasting connections and participate often.

Which social media network should you choose?  Here’s a good rule of thumb,

The big three social media networks are,


  • Facebook – Try this first if you’re B2C and/or create a lot of images, video as content.
  • Twitter – Try Twitter first if you’re trying to reach the tech crowd or plan to network with top influencers in your niche.
  • LinkedIn – Try LinkedIn first if you’re B2B.

Start by creating branded accounts for your magazine on all three major social networks.  Even if you don’t use them, you should register them before someone else does.  Use a service like Trademarkia or Know’em to check for previous claims and automatically register across dozens of social media properties simultaneously.

Then, connect with people and LISTEN.  If you’re brand new to a social network spend a week or two just “lurking” around and listening to the conversations.

After that, start distributing links to your content via the social network. This is what you’ll do with all of the misfit content we mentioned making the most of in the Develop Content for Audience module.

Participate in conversations about the topic of your magazine and lend a helping hand where possible.  Once you’re talking with your audience across multiple channels, you can use tools like HootSuite to manage the process.

Email your list and ask them to connect with you on your social network of choice.  Add linked icons in your magazine and to your magazine’s site that asks visitor to connect as well.

Remember, your existing readers and fans will be thrilled to connect with you on social media.  In fact, they will expect it.

That’s what makes social media such a critical part of the Return Path.



We’ve looked at tools and methods for leveraging different social media channels, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all.

It’s important to know how they work and how you can use them – but they only work when you actually do.  Figure out how to integrate them into your content strategy by including them in your curation process and editorial calendar.

It’s easy to get distracted, but keep your eyes on the prize.  Remember CVO.  Remember your goals and purpose – you’re building a brand.  You’re finding an audience that relates to your brand’s view on your niche, and growing that audience as your authority builds.

For our purposes here, these channels are just tools to help relate to and grow that audience.


Whether you use it to establish the foundation for a new business or a dynamic new channel to extend the reach of an existing one, your first Apple Newsstand magazine is a great way to leverage an explosive growth trend in new digital magazines, and subscription rates.

From identifying your audience and creating the content, to creating and uploading your app, to tracking it’s performance and staying connected to your audience – we’ve walked through every stage you’ll need to successfully create and sell your first issue.

Your magazine’s first issue is only a beginning – but if you’ve followed all of the steps in this Execution Plan, it’s a strong foundation on which you’ll be able to build a lasting brand.

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