Creating a Print Magazine From Scratch
What I learned about journalism through creating my own magazine concept
This project was an assignment for one of my journalism classes at Drake University. For the class, students were asked to create a concept for a magazine, then develop an effective business plan and working prototype for that concept.
I chose to create a magazine centered around the benefits of running for mental health reasons. While many magazines and websites talk about running as a sport or as a way to get faster and fitter, none focus on the mental health benefits of running. The magazine I chose to create–Cadence Magazine–is sponsored by Saucony and covers the activity of running through the lens of mental health, nutrition, and self-improvement.
This project has been one of my favorites so far in my college career. It was the first time I had the chance to combine my passion for design with my passion for writing–and the first time I’d ever thought about the logistics of magazine production. Creating a business plan and treating this project like the real world helped me to think from a brand’s perspective and what the people working behind the scenes would need. Designing a prototype reminded me that even if the words I write are interesting, without effective visual elements, they have no power.
developing my idea
As part of the business plan for this project, I had to conduct extensive research into my magazine’s sponsor and into its potential audience. Using demo- and psychographics of runners in the United States, I built several personas to exemplify what Cadence Magazine’s average reader would want to receive from the publication. I also dug deeper into Saucony as a shoe brand: what they stand for, who their audience is, and what they could benefit from sponsoring a magazine such as Cadence. Additionally, I determined potential advertisers, outlined an editorial formula, calculated employee salaries, and identified social platforms to promote the magazine.
“Cadence magazine exists to inspire runners of all levels and life experiences to get out and run—to take deep breaths and make the most of life, not to run from challenges, but instead toward their goals with a strong mind and steady purpose. From lacing up your shoes each morning to living every day stress-free and with a clear mind, Cadence and Saucony want to encourage and empower their readers to be the strongest versions of themselves every day through inspiring stories and new perspectives.”– CADENCE MAGAZINE MISSION STATEMENT
The final part of the assignment required students to present their magazine pitches to a room of real-world professionals. I created a powerpoint outlining the details of Cadence Magazine, led them through my audience, sponsor, and advertiser research, and fielded questions from the audience.
Overall, this project taught me to think about writing from a business perspective–not just about my own interests and what I want to write about. How can I create content that people want to read? That attracts advertisers? That generates revenue for the brand? It narrowed down my options, forced me to think outside of my comfort zone, and address areas of journalism I’d never touched before. While Cadence Magazine was technically just a class project, it felt like the real world–and better prepared me for it.