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Launching a Magazine on WordPress – A Complete Guide

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Launching a Magazine on WordPress - A Complete Guide
24 Feb

Launching a Magazine on WordPress – A Complete Guide

Launching a magazine or professional blog on WordPress may seem daunting at first, especially when looking at massive publications like The New Yorker, BBC America or TechCrunch. These giant websites can be a sobering reminder of the amount of coordination, money, and effort that’s involved in such an endeavor, but all of those websites proudly run on WordPress!

What’s reassuring is that each of those online publications started from scratch. To make a name for yourself as an online publisher or generate revenue from online ads doesn’t mean you have to spearhead a giant, multi-author news publication. Just look at the wildly popular blogs of Michael Hyatt and Nomadic Matt. Each of them have their niche audiences, and they are both full-time bloggers in their areas of expertise.

If you have aspirations of becoming the next big blogger in your field, or if you’d like to coordinate a team of writers to cover the hottest stories in your neighborhood, or around the world, you’ve come to the right place. We encourage you to keep reading to learn how to launch a magazine or blog and make it successful, too.

Why WordPress is perfect for a magazine or blog:

More than 25 percent of the websites on the Internet run on WordPress, and this has much to do with the fact that it’s easy to learn, incredible for managing content, and it allows you to scale up your business with the use of plugins, access to files, and much more.

The main reason WordPress is the ideal choice for a magazine or blog is because of its support for all sorts of traffic. If you run a small blog with a loyal following, all you have to do is go out and get shared web hosting. On the other hand, a multi-million dollar magazine would most likely have a dedicated or virtual private server, which also works perfectly with WordPress installations.

WordPress is also highly customizable, whether you implement the use of plugins to optimize or secure your website, or code the customizations in yourself. For example, a more experienced developer might generate custom CSS to adjust the overall look and feel of their magazine or blog at any point.

However, many bloggers and magazine owners aren’t going to have this expertise. But thanks to its open-source community of developers and designers, WordPress users have access to thousands of plugins: from multi-author systems to content sliders for featuring your most recent articles. With plugins, you don’t have to settle for your theme’s default functionality or design. If you’re missing social media buttons, go out and download a free plugin. If you’d like a social comments section, there’s a plugin for that as well. Basically, for all of your WordPress needs, there is a plugin built and ready for you.

Finally, beginners and advanced developers alike have access to an amazing array of WordPress themes. Third-party theme developers create themes specifically for magazines and blogs, so this essentially lets you find a free or premium theme, activate it, then forget about the design process.

Picking the perfect WordPress theme for your magazine:

Finding the perfect theme for your WordPress-based magazine or blog is worthy of an entire article on its own. Thankfully, we have one of those just for you! Check out The Best Places To Find Beautiful WordPress Themes for a detailed rundown of where to source and how to acquire the perfect theme for your magazine or blog.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when searching for WordPress themes that are ideal for magazines and blogs.

  • Find a theme that’s responsive so your content displays well on any desktop, tablet or mobile device.
  • Consider the branding, colors, and typography, since you may not know how to change those.
  • Seek out themes with beautiful post/article formats. Your articles make up the core of your magazine or blog, so make sure they look wonderful and are very easy to read.
  • It’s nice to have little bonus features like social media buttons, image sliders, and comment modules.
  • Try to find a theme with a built in newsletter signup form, so you can start capturing the email addresses of your readers right out of the gate.
  • Check with the developer to see if magazine and blog-centric plugins work with the theme. For example, you want to ensure that multi-author, author box, and comment box plugins don’t mess up your site.
Find a WordPress theme that is responsive and will look great on all sorts of different devices.

Find a WordPress theme that is responsive and will look great on all sorts of different devices.


Looking to make money from your WordPress magazine?

Although you have hundreds of ways to make money through a blog or magazine, two of the most common include advertisements and subscriptions. There comes a point when you have to make the decision on how to monetize your magazine, and your choice becomes much harder to change as time passes.

When comparing ads or subscriptions, you should consider a few things:

  • Ads mean that customers don’t have to pay anything but they are subjected to sometimes irritating or annoying banner or text advertisements.
  • Subscriptions cut out distractions and bring focus to the content, but you have to ensure your content quality is always kept very high if you are charging for it.
  • If you’d like to include banner advertisements (such as Google Adsense) in your magazine or blog, try to find a theme that has built-in ad areas already.

If you still can’t decide, consider your customer base. Are they loyal enough to start paying for the content? Do you think they wouldn’t mind looking at ads? If all else fails, send out a customer survey to see exactly how they feel.

If you decide to test the waters with advertisements on your blog or magazine, you can choose from a wide range of tools and advertising partner programs that use online ad payment models such as pay-per-click (PPC) in which an advertiser pays a publisher (typically a website owner or a network of websites) when the ad is clicked.
Advertising partners:

Google AdSense
Google AdSense is a program run by Google that allows publishers in the Google Network of content sites to serve automatic text, image, video, or interactive media advertisements, that are targeted to site content and audience.

BuySellAds drives access to, and activation of, the most loyal audiences online by bringing the best independent publishers in the world together with advertisers that value relevance and context.

Adsterra is a premium advertising network serving over 10 billion geo-targeted ad impressions per month. They connect product and service companies to their audience through our smart advertising platform to raise brand awareness globally, improve ROI, and increase ad revenue.

Amazon Associates
is a web service and application programming interface (API) that gives website owners and publishers access to Amazon’s massive product catalog data so that they can generate revenue through the Amazon affiliate program.

Viglink empowers influential publishers who produce digital content to connect enthusiastic consumers with the products they love from the brands who value them the most. They accomplish this directly through publishers’ words, without the need for an ad.
Subscription tools:

Restrict Content Pro
A complete membership solution for WordPress sites. Create unlimited subscription levels, manage members, track payments, offer discounts, and more.

Simple Membership
A flexible, well-supported, and easy-to-use WordPress membership plugin for offering free and premium content from your WordPress site

Membership 2
Transform WordPress into a fully functional membership site. Provide access to downloads, online content, videos, forums, support and more through a flexible membership system. It’s simple to use and yet if you dig in, it’s incredibly adaptable.

Memberful makes it easy for your community to support your work with their simple membership software that has powerful features and works right alongside your existing WordPress website, no coding or server setup required.

Ultimate Membership Pro
Ultimate Membership Pro is a well known membership plugin for WordPress that allows you to create and work with multilevel exclusive access has both free and paid premium packages.

Multi-author plugins to manage your writing team:

Finally, most revenue-generating magazines eventually require a multi-author plugin to help manage writers and editorial calendars. What are some of the options?

Capability Manager Enhanced
Capability Manager Enhanced provides a simple way to manage WordPress role definitions (Subscriber, Editor, etc.). View or change the capabilities of any role, add new roles, copy existing roles into new ones, and add new capabilities to existing roles.

Co-authors Plus
Assign multiple bylines to posts, pages, and custom post types via a search-as-you-type input box with Co-authors Plus. Co-authored posts appear on a co-author’s archive page and in their feed. Co-authors may edit the posts they are associated with, and co-authors who are contributors may only edit posts if they have not been published (as is core behavior).

Author Avatars List
This plugin makes it easy to display lists of user avatars, grouped by user roles, on your (multiuser) site. It also allows you to insert single avatars for blog users or any email address into a post or page – great for displaying an image of someone you’re talking about.

Edit Flow
Edit Flow empowers you to collaborate with your editorial team inside WordPress with calendars, editorial comments, editorial metadata, story budgets and user groups.

Editorial Calendar
The Editorial Calendar plugin gives you an overview of your blog and when each post will be published. You can drag and drop to move posts, edit posts right in the calendar, and manage your entire blog.
There you have it! With this information, you should be well on your way to launching a magazine or blog on WordPress. Whether you want to join the ranks of Nomadic Matt, The New Yorker or want to start something entirely new and original, you’ll have all the info you need to make strategic decisions and get your publishing ball rolling on WordPress, arguably the world’s most popular content management system.

Further Reading:
Should You be Running Your Website on WordPress
The Best Places To Find Beautiful WordPress Themes
8 Plugins to Optimize WordPress for Your Small Business
How HostPapa Protected Thousands of WordPress Users

Brenda Stokes

Brenda Barron is a writer and WordPress enthusiast from southern California. Her work has appeared at WPMU DEV and Tuts+ and she blogs at Digital Inkwell.

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