Growing Publications
Publishing Tools




Q: How much does it cost to start a magazine?

Answer: People ask this question all the time, and unfortunately, its impossible to answer without knowing exactly what kind of publication you have in mind. They spent $20 million to launch Oprah's magazine, O. Any national consumer magazine that reaches a million readers or so, like Oprah's does, would cost the same, but entrepreneurs rarely launch anything at that scale.

We spent $150,000 to launch PC Magazine from a kitchen table in 1981 and it would take about $3 million to do the same thing today. These days, you also have to factor in the cost of launching both in print and on the web, which we did not have to to do with PC Magazine. Read our startup story.

At the other extreme, people start zines with next to nothing. If you stick to the web, or print very few copies (like 5,000 or less), and use mostly volunteer writers and contributors, and nobody gets paid for anything, you can start out with a few thousand dollars. Figure $1 per copy for printing, plus $.35 for postage and do the math. But realize that you're not paying yourself or your writers or your designers or anyone else. Many independent publishers DO start out by using their credit cards and spending less than $30,000 or so.

But if people get paid, and if you print in the neighborhood of 10,000 copies or so, and if you spend a little money on promotion (to get some paid readers or enough web traffic to support some ads), then you should expect to spend between $250,000 and $500,000 to get far enough along that you can hope to begin breaking even.

We produced a simple magazine business plan kit that will help you estimate your publishing costs and potential revenues. Its easy to use and a quick way to make that basic calculation: how much do I need? Order it online and we will email it to you.

More Information

We recommend our business how-to book for first-time publishers and our second book, Every Nonprofit's Guide to Publishing that covers the creative side of publishing in great detail. Look for both in your local library, well-stocked bookstores, or buy them right now from


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