Flops, Flunkies and Failures
Why some magazines succeed and others fail may have just as much to do with the stars as it does with business models. Depending on who you ask, magazine success is measured differently. For more mainstream magazines, high circulation is the goal. But for small-to-medium-sized publications, creative content is often considered a crowning achievement. Somewhere between both presumptions is the answer for which most magazine publishers are looking. The definition of economics can be just as fluid—it's both fiscal and temporal. Similarly, if you ask magazine publishers how money and time are related, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who'll admit continuity isn't critical.
But these days, uttering the word "economics" usually follows suit with a blush of disheartening signs, slurs and sophistry. True, stocks are sore, but not serendipitous. And yes, ad sales are down, but not out. Imagining that magazines are up to bat on a level playing field—despite these economic foibles—the key to being the next big thing, as opposed to the next extinct magazine—comes down to the following issues:
Demand: While it might be amusing to read about cowboys-turned-adult entertainers in Rolling Stone, dedicating an entire publication to this genre may warrant reconsideration. The old business cue still holds true: supply and demand. An audience must exist in order for a magazine to succeed because if so, advertisers will acknowledge it and spend their monies on marketing applicable products within the niche. If you're one of those publishers who may have been mistaken about your target audience, there are ways of testing the waters before losing credibility, not to mention big bucks.
Spin-offs: It usually doesn't work well on television, with the exception of All in the Family begetting The Jefferson's, but in the publishing world, name recognition is gold. Rather than launch a publication blindly, it's worth testing the concept within a stable magazine environment. In other words, develop a section within another similar publication to A.) generate interest B.) hone direction and C.) introduce the concept to a potential audience. If the concept works, there's no guarantee the new magazine will, but chances are you'll have a much better grasp of the material and the market.