How can a print magazine journalist start an online magazine?

You are a print magazine journalist but you want to start your own gig by launching an online web magazine.

My assumptions are that you are as far from technology and the web 2.0 tools as I am from writing a print magazine article.

Here is how I think you can start. There could be gazillions other ways, but here is one that might work for you.

Assumption: You have a team of writers, photographers and videographers. But you are missing a techie.

Here is a strategy I would suggest:

a. You and the writers on your team should start writing out articles for the magazine on an easy setup blogging platform. I believe that writing online is very very different from writing on paper. Some nitty gritties of online writing are things like how are you categorizing your article, what tags are you giving it, how many embedded links are you putting in your article body, what online sources are you referring to in your article etc etc. Also, once your team starts writing you will start getting an idea about how much material you can churn out. Plus, you have one place to see what kind of balance in amount of material you are achieving in different areas of focus that your magazine will have.

Enough said – start using or to start blogging. You can even watch some videos on how to blog on wordpress – or

This should take a week for you to get setup on wordpress and get comfortable writing your articles (say 1 ir 2 per day) there and develop your online writing style.

b. Step a gets you going in terms of material. One of you has to start putting together the structure of the site on paper – what we call IA or Information architecture. What sections, categories and sub-categories you think there will be on the site and how will people browse through them – this is the most important question to answer before you go to a designer to ask him to make you a design. Once you have a rough idea on paper (as a list or a diagram), you need a designer to get some comps made.

For starters, you might only get 2 comps made – the home page and the article page. All other sub-sections can follow the same design as the home page for now. A comp is a photo of how the page looks like, for e.g. here is a comp for design of a site that gives you news with prime numbers – .. its a simple jpg file showing the layout.

Some good examples of magazine style layouts I recommend:

c. When steps a and b are happening, you need to do a little management of building a company too – know who is going to be on your team and start talking about your idea to people. Start forming a “Board of Advisors” who are people who like your idea, can give you advise about the magazine, can you give ideas about how to market, can give you insights into the logistics of forming the company.

d. The comps and the material in step a and b give you enough ammunition to go get angel funding. Angel funding can come just from friends like 1000 bucks each, or it can come from some small time incubator (people who invest small time in companies) or some agency. Also by that point of time – as an outcome of step c, you will have a document (a word document and a presentation) that presents your idea about what your magazine and the company is about and who are your advisors a.k.a. “evangelizers” ….

e. You get angel funding – you got money now what. I believe that since you do not have a techie on your team, you need to contract a small team of techies as your tech team – they are responsible for designing, developing the site and hosting it. That is when you start building your website based on the designs created, migrate all your data from the blogs you have written to your website and basically have a launch date that you march towards.

Launch! Champagne! party! MONEY!!!!!

Overall I think this should take between 2 and 3 months.

I write this post for a friend, but if you have a suggestion about this – please leave it in the comments.


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