How to run an online magazine in 2020

By |Published On: October 5th, 2020|Last Updated: September 21st, 2022|

These days many people have easy access to express their views. Websites, platforms, the online world is full of opportunities. Given the circumstances, more than ever people are self-publishing. With so many marketers and individuals writing blog articles on almost every topic, grabbing the audience’s attention became a difficult task. No matter what, if you have knowledge of a particular subject, whether it’s cooking or finance, nowadays you have all the tools at your disposal that can help you easily launch your own magazine. In this article, we’ll show you ways in which you can manage and run a successful online magazine

What is an online magazine?

The first step in managing and running a successful online magazine is understanding what exactly an online magazine is. What are the characteristics and advantages?

First and foremost an online magazine has many similar characteristics as the print magazine but is published on the Internet, through bulletin board systems and other forms of public computer networks, so it can be read on electronic devices.

Print vs online

image of an old printer- how to run an online magazine in 2020

The debate over print vs digital has already become old. Which is better? The pendulum swings back and forth as we try to formulate an answer: But what if these two methods weren’t enemies, but allies?

The idea that print is dying is a myth. When it comes to reading articles people still like the idea of a tangible publication. The thought of holding a magazine, the smell of ink on paper, continues to strike people’s interest Yet where it excels, it also lacks. Online magazines have many advantages, one of the most important ones being convenience. 

Compared to print, the main advantage of an online magazine is that it can help you reduce costs. For example, a paper magazine has to be printed, distributed, and finally sold by the newsagents. These three long processes, of course, involve a cost. Moreover, unsold copies of the magazine often represent a loss for the publisher.

Digital, on the contrary, allows publishers to distribute their magazines on the web, without having to pay the commercial mediation of suppliers and sellers.

image of a laptop- how to run an online magazine in 2020

Another advantage of running an online magazine in 2020 is global distribution. Every issue of a magazine can be bought by potentially everyone worldwide: convenient. That will definitely increase your income and also your visibility as a brand.

There are a lot of opinions regarding print and digital means, as well as whether this argument has any validity at all. Some say print is dying. Better we say it gained a partner. 

After understanding the characteristics and advantages of an online magazine, the next useful step is to choose what type of digital magazine is right for you. If you haven’t decided yet, here is a rundown of the main formats partner to expand its business.

Types of digital magazines


The PDF format is ideal if you already have a printed magazine. It is an easy and cheap solution. With PDF, you can create an exact replica of your printed edition. Besides these advantages, there are some drawbacks. PDFs are fixed-layout documents, which means that zooming and panning around will be required. 


Digital Flipbooks are interactive, digital recreations of print publications. They copy the look and feel of reading a physical book, magazine, or brochure with the addition of interactive elements and Media such as Video, Audio, or Web links. Their essential feature is that they can simulate the flipping of pages, just like a printed edition.

If you are looking to create this kind of digital replica, then Flipsnack is the ideal solution for you. With our help, in less than one minute you are able to create, share and embed and run an online magazine in 2020, transforming your content into online interactive flipping books

What it takes to run an online magazine in 2020

Self Publishing

Now that you choose a format is time to start the process of self-publishing. Starting with the advent of digital technology and smartphones as reading devices, such as Kindle in June 2007, those creatives frustrated with publishing houses policies and procedures suddenly saw an opportunity.

According to the Alliance of Independent Authors by 2014, within five years of mainstream digital self-publishing becoming widely accessible, it was accounting for more than 30% of all recorded book-sales in the US. Almost 300m self-published units generated 1.25 billion in sales in 2016, in the US, in a $6billion industry.

image of a man holding a phone- how to run an online magazine in 2020

Today, as Mike Shatzkin, the co-founder & partner of Logical Marketing says: “hundreds of thousands of book buyers spend real money to buy and read untold pages of books written and uploaded into the cultural bloodstream with no judgement, mediation, review, or pitching by the traditional keepers of the gate.”

This is why today, more than ever, the process of how to run an online magazine in 2020  became more accessible. Here is a step-by-step process to make writing and publishing your magazine much easier:

  1. Establish what your magazine is about and choose your editorial agenda 
  2. Choose your audience and topics
  3. Make your own online magazine 
  4. Edit, format and add finishing touches to your publication
  5. Proofread it 
  6. Press “Publish”

Editorial agenda

When you are trying to figure out how to run an online magazine in 2020, setting your editorial agenda is essential. A successful publication has an effective content strategy carefully planned. An editorial calendar is the basic outline for all the stories and themes a magazine will be covering for the month or even for the year. Publications do this for advertisers to plan what issue they want to buy ad space in. Here are some tips you will find useful when it comes to working with editorial calendars:

image of a post-it - how to run an online magazine in 2020

Choose your audience

When you are run an online magazine, understanding who your target audience is can be a crucial step in your marketing strategy. It can benefit your sales and improve how much importance to attach to a topic on the basis of your reader’s age and interests. Take for example a magazine like Teen Vogue. is an online magazine aimed towards teens that covers a wide variety of topics, from fashion and beauty to environment and government. With 11.6 million digital users and 13.6 million social media followers, Teen Vogue has an enormous audience. 

Teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 19 are Teen Vogue’s target demographic. That is why their pallet of topics is designed to hook the attention of youngsters. Their table of contents incorporates topics such as prom outfits: “Four Ways To DIY Your Prom Look This Year” new wave pop singers: Halsey’s Best Beauty Moments and new social media trends: The Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected Consequences of Selfie Obsession; subjects that would definitely appeal to a younger audience.

Teen Vogue table of contents- how to run an online magazine in 2020

How to get people to advertise in your magazine?

When you are just starting up knowing your product and its audience you can use that information to sell ads and make your magazine blossom. Without a serious advertising income your magazine will not be able to self-sustain. Also to recruit advertisers your magazine should be a wise investment.

When you are starting out in this sector take as an example a magazine like GQ, that already has a well-formed audience. With unique competence, GQ explores the male universe as a coach and friend of the readers in all situations: fashion & grooming, watches & technology, career & business, traveling & cars, food & drinks, fitness & self-improvement, relationships & health. All their advertising orders are executed exclusively in accordance with their brand identity. Ads for products such as watches, luxurious attire and fitness equipment are preferred.

image of GQ magazine- how to run an online magazine in 2020

So, when just starting out running your own online magazine try pitching your publication to potential advertisers. Call or email brands. If you contact them by email, you can ask them permission to send a sales package also. Follow up this action with a phone call to give further explanations about your magazine and what they’ll stand to gain by advertising with your magazine.

If you are still confused about this whole process here are some tips on how to get people to advertise in your magazine:

  1. Know your audience 
  2. Find businesses that would appeal to your audience 
  3. Create package rates with prices and descriptions about the ad options available in your magazine
  4. Co-create advertorial content connecting influencers with unique audiences
  5. Offer promotional partnerships and annual packages

Google Analytics

When it comes to starting and running an online magazine in 2020, make sure you understand the power of data. Tools like Google Analytics makes it so much easier for a publisher to have access to audience data, consumer behaviour, clicks and so on. Understanding and using tools like this is highly crucial when pitching potential brands to advertise in your publication. 

In order to extract this data, you’ll want to pay attention to the Audience and Acquisition sections. The Audience section provides a lot of information about the people who visit your website, such as their age, gender, location, interests, browsers, and mobile devices. It also gives you data on how people were driven to your website.

To understand more about your online presence look at both Age and Gender under Demographics, and Location under Geo. These insights can help you get to know better who your readers are. 

image of a Google Analytics statistic

Knowing the average age of your audience helps you craft a more tailored content strategy. 

Structure of an online magazine

Flipsnack magazine templates collage- how to run an

Understanding your audience and finding contributors to help you gain some income are the essential starting points for making your own online magazine. But for being able to do that you need to have a well-structured publication. To help you manage the number of sections you should include in it, here is a common and effective online magazine structure example: 

Magazine cover elements- how to run an online magazine in 2020

A classic magazine has two cover pages: the front and back cover. These two pages can help you sell your magazine. Take for example a publication like Teen Vogue. The cover page is iconic, you could recognize elements like headlines, typography and the selection of topics instantly.  

So, when you start creating your magazine, make sure to:

  • Add your magazine title or brand logo
  • Use bold and eye-catching headlines
  • Use an original and unitary font for your magazine
  • Add a representative image or illustration 
  • Select a color scheme that will reflect your brand identity 
  • Do not cram your background
  • Add highlights about the most important topics 

The front of the book 

Front of the book is a publishing industry term that refers to the front section of a magazine, including the table of contents, Impressum, the Editor`s letter and comments or letters from readers.

Table of contents

GQ table of contents - how to run an online magazine in 2020

Anyone who has flipped through a magazine knows what a table of contents is. The Contents page helps the reader navigate through the magazines that have multiple chapters and highlights the most important parts of your publication. Online magazines can be interactive. For instance, you can turn your table of contents chapters in hyperlinks, therefore the reader will be able to jump to the chapter or section that interests him.

Impressum or masthead

GQ impressum example- how to run an online magazine in 2020

Placed usually in the front of the publication, Impressum is the list of all the people that work in the magazine. From the editor in chief to marketing and ad sales and all the essential staff that helps in the process of publishing the magazine.

Editor’s letter

Teen Vogue Editor`s letter- how to run an online magazine in 2020

It is a welcoming letter from the editor-in-chief that incorporates an explanation of the main content of the magazine and also it can contain some thoughts about the overall topics that your publication covers.  But not all online magazines have this type of section. For example, if you create a magazine that also serves as a, for example, an online product catalog you do not need an editor’s letter. It doesn’t fit with your editorial agenda and you will cram your online magazine unnecessary. 

The feature well

The feature well example- how to run an online magazine in 2020

The feature well is the largest section of the magazine. It incorporates the main features. Here, the reader will find the articles your team wrote. Size-wise, these articles can be short, just a few pages long or longer ones, up to 10- 15 pages. Running a successful magazine implies great management of the articles. When organizing features it is better to combine short ones with long ones. This will give a better flow and rhythm to your magazine. Also, it is essential to give every article the uniqueness it deserves. Create a visual identity for each one.

Back of the book

back of the book example- how to run an online magazine in 2020

The back of the book contains the remaining content. It can be shorter articles, remaining columns so on. Even though the back of the book is considered less important, it should incorporate useful information.

In this section, advertising is cheaper and here you can find smaller ads that are grouped together. Also, the last page of your magazine should have laid back content. For example, you can add a horoscope. It’s an easy to read section and an important part of your audience will be interested in finding more about their day.  

Work with a magazine maker

After understanding how a magazine should be structured, I hope you find it easy to create your own. If not, for a smoother process use Flipsnack as your own magazine maker. We have many free magazine templates that are pleasing to the eye and beautifully designed. You don’t have to worry anymore that your next magazine publications will be boring for a large audience. Take advantage of Flipsnack’s magazine layout ideas to draw attention and to boost your brand. Also, we got you covered for different types of magazines. Here are some templates you can use:

Teen magazine template

We helped you better understand how to put together a magazine like Teen Vogue. What if we told you that you can do it within hours? With the help of Flipsnack you will be able to include your publication in the best teen magazines category?

Do not worry, Flipsnack has the ideal solution for you. Choose this elegant teen magazine template as a starting point. Ideal for modern magazines aimed at teenagers this layout features a colorful cover that will hook your audience, modern geometric shapes, striking central photographs and strategically placed text boxes so you can showcase your articles. Drag and drop this template in our editor and start creating!

Elegant Teen Magazine Template from Flipsnack
Click on the image above to edit

Business magazine template

Transform your publication into one of the best business magazines. Take as an example Foundr magazine, created with the help of Flipsnack. Use this business magazine template and impress your readers. The modern and sophisticated layout and the top-notch typography will definitely set your magazine apart from the rest. Do not forget that this template it’s fully customizable. The text can be changed to fit your editorial content. Also, you can add your finest photos and instantly hook your audience attention. Take as an example a successful online magazine like  Foundr, created with the help of Flipsnack. Grab now this template, start creating and when you are done print it or share it online.

Business Magazine Template template from Flipsnack
Click on this Business Magazine Template to edit

Fashion magazine template

Creating an attractive fashion magazine can be a hard task to do. But with Flipsnack you can have one in minutes. Use this modern fashion magazine template and create one of the best fashion magazines. The minimalist yet modern layout, the eye-catching photography and professionally looking structure will keep readers glued to your content. With the help of Flipsnack creating and publishing a fashion magazine has never been easier. Try it out and share it with your audience! 

Modern Fashion Magazine Template from Flipsnack
Click on this modern fashion magazine template to edit

Publish and sell your magazine with Flipsnack 

Because we know that selling digital magazines is sometimes tricky, we made it easy for you. Let’s break down the process of selling magazines on Flipsnack.

How can you sell your publication? 

Readers can purchase your magazine directly within the preview edition. You have total control of the preview, content, and price for your publication. All payments are handled through Stripe, therefore, you need to have a Stripe account. Each time you sell a publication, Stripe automatically takes out a small fee. Don’t worry, the rest of your revenue will automatically be transferred to your Stripe account. Also with the help of our real-time statistics, you can see how many publications you sell from embed, Flipsnack link, or fullscreen link.

Selling a magazine subscription

If you run a paid circulation magazine, you know that selling subscriptions are essential for gaining an income and maintaining your magazine budget above the line. Magazine subscriptions are a great way to create a stable relationship between you as the publisher and your readers. Also, the reader will now be able to automatically get all the issues that you publish within a subscription, without disruption. With Flipsnack all you have to do is to set up your subscription. The next steps are to determine the publishing frequency, the price, the number of issues your audience gets with your subscription, the availability and you are good to go.

Keep in mind that our Rolling subscription feature is an add-on that you can unlock by paying a fee of $100/month. Moreover, it’s available starting with our Professional Plan.

Advice from the wisest

We hope that you find all these tools, tips, and tricks for running a successful online magazine in 2020 useful.  But let’s not forget about the importance of taking advice from the right people.

Anna Wintour 

As the editor-in-chief of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast, Anna Wintour knows a thing or two about running a magazine.  American Vogue reaches over 12 million readers in print and an average of 1.2 million monthly visitors online. Wintour is arguably the most commercially minded editor ever. When talking about running one of the most successful magazines in the world, Anna Wintour is well known for her pioneering spirit and the use of figures from outside the fashion industry, including basketball player LeBron James and rapper Puff Daddy, to represent the zeitgeist and illustrate her editorial messages.

Get inspired by her motto:

Quote from Anna Wintour

Edward Felsenthal

Edward Felsenthal is the Editor-in-Chief and CEO of TIME Magazine. His presence in media and journalism began with his work for the PBS NewsHour and the Wall Street Journal. In 2008, Felsenthal co-founded the Daily Beast in which he was involved in joint ventures and audience development, particularly with SEO and social media. This experience translated directly into his work at TIME, where he directed its digital operations and successfully created a global 24/7 news operation that brought in more than 50 million followers monthly. In particular, TIME’s fast-growing video operation gained him an Emmy Award in 2017 and the National Magazine Award in 2018; within the same year, Felsenthal was named the CEO of the magazine.

Get inspired by his motto:

Run your own online magazine 

Even if it may sound scary at first, starting and successfully running an online magazine in 2020 is a dream worth working for. Today, literally everyone can start a new magazine and be their own editor in chief. And why not, become the next Anna Wintour or Edward Felsenthal. So, get started! 

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