Every year I make a magazine called The Good Stuff Guide. I publish it via Issuu, an easy-to-use online magazine platform for amateur and professional publishers (I am the former!).
Here’s a bit about how I make my eMagazines, in case you want to make your own magazine too!
1. Plan editorial elements
Proper magazine types draw up a flat plan and map the whole thing out, page spread by page spread. Think about how many pages you want and sketch out accordingly. Seat-of-your-pants types like me tend to make it up as they go along and plonk it all in intuitively. Both approaches are valid, so see which one works for you. I find that it’s really easy to do this on the computer in Microsoft Word’s Publishing layout. You can click and drag page elements around and add pages if you bugger things up. You could use any publishing software you have access to, though.
2. Approach other bloggers and collaborate on articles
You probably can’t create all your magazine’s content yourself, so it’s a nice idea to approach other bloggers and ask them if they’d like to get involved. Make sure that the exchange is fair, so you would need to offer some promotion to that blogger or even swing them a bit of cash for their trouble. Usually a non-cash exchange can be worked out between bloggers though, so have a think about what you can do for them before you ask.
3. Write articles
Now you have to write a bunch of articles yourself. My magazines usually have some DIY projects in them, which I design, write and snap myself. Perhaps your magazine has a different lean and is not DIY focused? That’s OK, too. Head to your blog archives to see if there are any pieces that did really well. Republish them in your magazine or use them to spark ideas for fresh pieces. A mix of brand new articles and some refreshed existing pieces is an achievable and interesting mix to aim for.
4. Take photographs
The visual element of magazines is so important. Unless you have access to stock photography you are going to need to gather a whole bunch of photos for your publication. Create a spread sheet with all your articles listed and then draw up a possible shot list for each article to save time. Remember to take a selection of photos so you have lots of options. It’s important to keep in mind that you may need landscape or portrait oriented shots and that some photos should be the hero shot while others will appear smaller on the page or show little details.
5. Layout the magazine
I have all the bits and bobs I need saved as individual Word documents and associated JPG image files. Then I just go through and pop them in article by article. If you are including ads you should consider where they should appear (dotted throughout? in a special section at the front? at the back?) and factor those in, too. Remember to save your work regularly as you add and shuffle things because there is NOTHING worse than going back to the drawing board.
Also note that when you upload your magazine’s PDF to ISSUU, the first page will be the cover, so you need to allocate your pages with that in mind. Your first double page spread is Page 2 and Page 3.
If you’re not sure how to lay your magazine out, my advice is to keep it super simple and don’t crowd your pages. Head to the newsagent and look at other magazines you admire. Take inspiration from the way they put their pages together. What do the headings look like? Is there lots of white space? What fonts do they use in the headings and sub-headings? Are there ‘break out’ boxes for extra text or captions? Draw up a ‘map’ of your ideal page elements and work around this on each page of your eMag to ensure consistency.
Remember to focus on a simple colour palette, too. You don’t want it to be all cray-cray land so stick to a few colours that work well together and it’ll pull your mag’s pages together nicely.
6. Tweak, tweak, tweak
Now go back through and look at every page. Is everything where it should be? Are the fonts clear (remember that some fonts may weird out when you save to PDF, so test your font on a couple of pages by saving to PDF before you layout your whole magazine and have to change it all to a friendlier font!).
Have someone else take a look and flag any layout glitches or spelling errors, too. Once it’s published you won’t be able to go back and fix it so take the time to get it as perfect as you can. (That said, everything has teensy errors so don’t freak out if you spot something down the track!)
7. Save as a PDF
Save your Publisher document as a PDF. Then check the size of the PDF. The smaller the better because Issuu, the online magazine publishing platform, has a size limitation of 100MB. This is where I get into trouble every time! Usually I go through and lower the resolution on my images to keep the file as small as possible. I’ve also tried flattening pages with Adobe Acrobat to whittle it down. It’s best to keep your eMag’s page count as low as possible for best results.
8. Upload to ISSUU
Now create an account with Issuu if you don’t have one yet and upload away!
Now that you’re all ready to go you can promote your magazine. Issuu offers an embed code so you can plonk it straight into a blog post and go for broke. Your eMag will also have its own URL which you can push out across social media. Issuu even has a useful dashboard where you can track the views of your magazine and track readership and popularity. Nice! Let your contributors know once you’ve published and be sure to promote them and their articles in your social media activity, too.
10. Bask in the glory!
And that’s it! You did it! Granted it’s a lot of work, but it’s a totally doable annual project and if you are anything like me, you’ll improve with every issue you produce.