What I learned from publishing a digital magazine

“Write a digital magazine,” they said, “it will be fun,” they said…what they didn’t say was what a ride it would be!

The idea to produce my own digital magazine came from a need to read good quality information, with pretty images and loads of new recipes to cook during lockdown. I remembered back to my cancer recovery, which was also a bit like lockdown really, and how magazines – beautiful magazines had been my saviour.

But where to begin? I shortlisted the things I like in magazines – table of contents, layout, number of articles, recipe categories, food styling, photography, and the all-important cover. I took my three favourite magazines and let aspects of each inspire my own adventure into magazine-land.

Tip #1 – Source experts to help with content

Feature articles were going to be a challenge…or rather finding the experts who may like to contribute and then (something I dreaded)…actually asking them for their input. You see, I suffer with imposter syndrome and to date, really hadn’t had much validation from the big hitters that what I was doing was making their radar. A braver person may have just fronted up to the people they wanted and asked them. Not me. Instead, I wrote some awkwardly worded SourceBottle call-outs.

I started connecting with really good talent, those in influential organisations, with prestigious qualifications and huge social media followings. First question: could they see a previous issue = potential problem #1 as I didn’t have a previous issue to show them. What I did have though was a very clear vision of why I do what I do, and I was able to convey that to them clearly. This made all the difference.

One expert I dearly wanted remained elusive, and it became apparent I would need to approach her direct. I invested some sweat equity and pushed myself beyond my comfort zone, knowing her input would be important for my audience. Again, being clear on my what and why proved invaluable in her responding with a yes!

Tip #2 – Outsource where possible and do due diligence

Outsourcing became my friend. My recorded interviews with experts were transcribed with Rev. A great, inexpensive time-saver. I made full use of Fiverr and found two amazing writers. Due diligence on Fiverr is a must, and using filters to find the good talent. Ask for samples of their work, they’ll happily send it as they want the gig. I also enlisted my family and my award-winning author sister who edited the articles I wrote and made them extraordinary.

Tip #3 – Master the visuals

I wanted the imagery in the digital magazine to really sing but outsourcing to a specialist (and expensive) food photographer wasn’t possible. So, I learnt to master the visuals myself. With the help of a Sony 𝛼6300 mirrorless camera and a funky little Manfrotto 055 tripod, I was able to spend as much time photographing the food as needed to make it pop.

Tip #4 – Use what you are familiar with

When it came to layout, I used Canva, creating my own templates and a magazine template I purchased from Creative Market with a commercial license. Definitely use a platform you are familiar with. For future editions, all my templates are there and ready to be populated, making the process much faster.

It was a steep learning curve but worth it. I now have a quality product that is easily replicated and another income source for my business. But mostly, it provides value to my customers.