How to start a magazine and make it work: Wise words from Sophia Jackson


 

Sophia Jackson, a native of West Bromwich, who lives in London is the editor of Lime magazine. In this interview, she tells you how you can start your own magazine and make it work. Look at the raft of new magazines (online + print) aimed at black people such as Fashizblack, magazines are definitely having a great moment. Sophia is a talented entrepreneur: as well as being the communications officer for the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, she co-founded  Afridiziak Theatre News.

1)    Why did you start Lime Magazine?

I launched Lime in August 2009 with Dean Serieux and Michelle Adabra as we had all worked at New Nation newspaper which had gone into administration earlier in the year. We decided to put our skills and talents together to launch Lime magazine – London’s only printed cultural events guide .

 2)   What is the business model, ie Is it a paid for magazine or free?

The plan is that Lime will be a paid for magazine but at the moment it’s a free publication available at different venues across London – we will also be launching our subscription service later in the year.

 

3)   How long did it take for LM to find a steady group of readers?

We revamped the magazine for our Dec 2009 issue and since then the interest picked up – we just needed to find our feet and establish ourselves in the market. We’re getting there but every issue we try and improve on the last but you know you can always find something you want to change when it’s your own thing.

 

4) What has the response to it been so far?

We’re often overwhelmed with the positive feedback we get about Lime magazine – the general feedback is that it’s a quality production both in content and visually and that’s encouraging to hear.

 

5)   What are your plans for the magazine in the future?

We will be launching a new service related to the events industry later on this year but at this moment in time my lips are sealed. However, there’s no doubt there is a vast amount of scope for us to grow and develop and we plan to do this slowly and steadily over the coming years. Our main priority will be setting up the subscription service and cementing the brand.

 

6)   Some people say print is dead. Do you think online magazines have a viable future over print?

I still buy magazines and I buy them because I prefer to actually hold a magazine in my hand and flick through the pages. I find it much more enjoyable than reading a magazine online. I’m sorry but it’s just not the same. When people see the Lime online for the first times; nine times out of ten they will ask for a hard copy in the post or where they can get hold of it.

 

7)   What tips would you give someone wanting to start their own magazine?

Think long and hard about how long you want to do it for, do as much forward planning as you can and research into your market to see if your publication is needed. There were some people who couldn’t understand why we launched Lime especially with the financial climate being the way that it is but even though it can be tough at times – we have no regrets. If you are set on doing something and believe in yourself and what you want to do then don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

 

8)   Do you think black oriented magazines can still be relevant in the face of Facebook, Twitter and blogs?

Lime is multicultural publication and we love and use Facebook and Twitter as much as the next savvy Internet user but I think they enhance publications such as Lime but not replace them. Those mediums are an excellent way to promote the magazine. We’re fortunate to live in an era where we have so much information at our fingertips.

Check out the latest issue of Lime magazine, the HOT 2011 issue, by clicking here. You can also follow Sophia on Twitter, Facebook and of course the website.

My verdict: Lime is really well made, and no not biased because I was on the cover by chance. I think Sophia and her team are making a good product. I am excited to hear they are doing a subscription service later, as I think subscriptions are probably the best business model for media, especially in this online age.

What do you think?

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