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Q: We need to cut magazine publishing costs; how can we do it?

Answer: Printing, paper and postage are the major expense items for a print publication. Content and traffic promotion are the top items for websites. But wasted time is a serious, and sometimes hidden cost driver for all publications. That's why as a first step, we recommend that you explore how to automate as many of your publishing procedures as you can. For example, installing an advertising sales managment program may free up enough time that you can sell the same number of ads with fewer people. Ditto for transfering your editorial systems into a digital wokflow system. Many publishers lose the bulk of their profits by wasting people's time in inefficient operations. Our links page lists software and services for publishers, including consultants who might help you.

Ask your vendors what you can do to cut spending. Some cuts are not obvious and nobody will tell you about them unless you ask. For example, a printer may be able to offer significant price breaks if you increase your print run by only a few copies. And by bringing down the average printing cost of all your copies, you might be able to make more profits at the same subscription price, or even to lower the price and sell more subscriptions.

Finally, we always recommend that our clients bid out all major contracts at least every two years. The printing business is very competitive, and printers are constantly adding new services or lowering their prices, but unless you re-bid the contract, you'll never learn about these potential savings. Web services are the same, so if you haven't shopped around recently, now is a good time to do it.

More Information

I recommend my business how-to book for publishers, Starting and Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine. It will help you understand the key decisions that drive your profits. My second book, Every Nonprofit's Guide to Publishing (co-authored with Lucia Hwang) covers budgeting issues in even greater detail. Look for both in your local library, well-stocked bookstores, or buy them right now from


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