Interview with an entrepreneur:
How to create an e-zine from scratch
The site openbusiness.ru, within the framework of the joint project of the Community of Information Portals Promoting Small Business Development, continues the cycle of interviews with successful entrepreneurs who are ready to share their own experience in creating a business and help newcomers take their first steps in business.
“… we decided to put some experiment with Lenar and promote the magazine either without initial investments at all, or only with the money that the magazine will gradually begin to bring in itself.”
Today we are interviewing an Internet entrepreneur. Anastasia Lukyanova is a co-owner of the monthly electronic publication BlogNEWS, aimed at those people who have already linked their fate with blogs, or are just starting to master the blogosphere.
If you are thinking about the possibilities of making money on the Internet, we would strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself not only with the magazine itself (since it is free), but, above all, with this interview, in which Anastasia openly shares her experience in creating a promising project from scratch.
Anastasia, tell us a little about your company.
Hello, my name is Anastasia Lukyanova, I am a co-owner of the electronic edition of BlogNEWS. We publish the magazine monthly and always try to publish only the most interesting and relevant topics on installation, blogging, their further promotion, optimization and even monetization.
How was the idea for this business born?
The idea came about quite by accident. I have long wanted to see such a publication on the Internet, when I myself just came to the blogosphere. Bookmarking about a hundred successful blogs became more and more difficult over time, because in order to find really valuable information, you had to go through a lot of articles, filter them and collect valuable information bit by bit. But at that time, I did not find such a magazine, at least in the Runet.
Therefore, a little later, when I got used to the blogosphere a little, I decided to offer the organization of the magazine to one fairly well-known seo blogger, Lenar Amirkhanov. Lenar responded to my proposal with great enthusiasm. As it turned out, he had been pursuing such an idea for quite a long time, there just wasn’t a particular plan and time for implementation.
As a result, after about a week we began to prepare the very first issue.
What difficulties did you face at the initial stage of doing business? What is the most difficult thing in starting a new Internet project?
The most difficult thing is probably to determine the demand and clearly identify the target audience for which you want to make your offer. Everything else is purely technical. For example, I have already seen several publications that were launched, following our example, only because they also wanted to get a share of popularity. But there was no clear understanding for whom this publication was being created, how topical the chosen topic was in principle. As a result, these magazines no longer exist.
It was also difficult for us to start a magazine with absolutely no technical skills. The fact is that we decided to put some experiment with Lenar and promote the magazine either without initial investments at all, or only with the money that the magazine will gradually begin to bring in on its own. That is, in fact, we complicated our task and at first worked on bare enthusiasm. We ourselves were looking for interesting information, writing articles, I had to learn the basics of layout. But, despite this, many people liked the very first issue, because it was really interesting in terms of content.
How did you start when launching a magazine on the market?
We immediately decided that our magazine would be completely free for readers, that is, we would earn money only through advertising. Therefore, the only condition for our readers was a subscription to the magazine. It looks like this: a person visits our official website, fills out a form with a name and e-mail, and receives the latest issue of the magazine directly to his mail. Thus, this procedure both helps us to gradually accumulate a subscription base (and this is great information for advertisers), and we will not need to re-promote a new number each time, because all our subscribers will receive it on time immediately to their email inbox . If you wish, you can unsubscribe from this mailing list and never receive letters from us again. That is, we took the path of e-mail marketing and were not mistaken.
Especially for those who doubt whether it makes sense to subscribe to our magazine, we have placed the archive of issues in free access. That is, after looking at the archive, you can decide whether a person is interested in our magazine, and whether it is worth subscribing to it.
What experience did you have in the field of Internet business before launching your e-zine?
I didn’t have much experience, at least I didn’t, if we talk about Internet business on a large scale, and not in the vein of some kind of affiliate programs. Lenar, in this regard, is much more experienced than me, his connections with well-known bloggers helped us a lot.
How much did it cost you to start the project? What are the main items of expenditure? As for the layout and support of the site, do you involve specialists for this part of the work or do you do it yourself?
As I said, we had no costs at the start. But gradually, we still got an excellent professional layout designer, to whom we now pay for layout on an ongoing basis, we also pay the designer separately for cover design. Over time, we have redesigned our official website: blogo-news.com to look more professional. And also spent money on a presentation video, which you can also see on our official website. There are also costs associated with buying some interesting articles from the article exchanges. That is, as incomes grow, our investments in the project gradually increase.
As far as we understand, there are no editorial articles in the journal, do you use bloggers as journalists? The idea of publishing a magazine or a newspaper based on the best materials of bloggers is not new. Many offline publications now use bloggers as independent journalists in exchange for pr. Moreover, in America, various media are now being mass-produced from the materials of popular blogs. For example, we described a similar idea of publishing a newspaper from The Printed Blog blogs on the business ideas website www.1000ideas.ru . It is obvious that your costs consist only of hosting and promotion?
You are mistaken, the magazine has unique articles written exclusively for the magazine. But at the initial stage, this is how it all started, as you described. Our task was to draw the attention of top bloggers to our magazine, so we actively interviewed them and published the best articles in our opinion. Which, of course, gave a certain amount of PR to these bloggers of our magazine.
In addition, our magazine has 2 very interesting headings that will always be relevant: these are “blogosphere contests” and “review of young blogs”. The last one causes a real sensation. Her idea is that we promote new blogs for free. More and more applications come every month, we even have to arrange some kind of selection.
“Blogosphere Contests” are also interesting to many, because bloggers, in one place, can learn about all the current contests of the current month, participate in them and win prizes!
So far, we have not set ourselves the task of going offline. After all, the online field for activity is still simply huge! In addition, our main readers and advertisers are online.
As for the costs, I have already listed the main ones in the previous question. But I will briefly repeat. In addition to hosting and promotion, this is cover design, layout, and the purchase of some articles.
How long did it take your project to change the status of a project created by enthusiasts to the status of an official business?
Somewhere around half a year.
What is your legal status? (LLC or IP).
For now, we are IP. Perhaps in the future we will move to the rank of LLC.
Have you registered electronic media?
At this stage we are in the registration process. Indeed, at the very beginning, we did not even think that our hobby could gradually grow into something more and begin to generate income.
What is the state of your company? Do you hire employees on a permanent basis or do you outsource part of the work?
Yes, it’s mostly outsourcing. Although, there are 2 constant people, one of them is a layout designer, the other is a designer, with whom we have been cooperating for several months in a row. Lenar and I also do some of the work ourselves. He is with us in terms of advertising, I am in terms of preparing materials.
It is clear that all free online and offline publications earn on advertising. How do you find your advertisers? Do you have any difficulties in attracting them, given that you can reach the declared audience of readers on the Internet with much less investment than the cost of advertising in your magazine?
No, there are no difficulties. We are looking for advertisers who are close to our subject. These are all kinds of affiliate programs, earning services for bloggers, etc. And our prices, taking into account what we offer, are quite democratic. First, the advertiser is placed in our room forever. Since our magazine is constantly growing and developing, old issues of the magazine are also downloaded, which means that more and more people can see ads even in the old issue. In addition, bloggers can post our magazine on their blogs. That is, potentially many more people download it than the number of subscribers that we currently have.
Do you use direct selling to attract advertisers, or do they reach out to you?
What do you mean by direct sales? After all, this is an electronic edition. We simply offer various large services to advertise with us.
How do you increase the number of subscribers? As a business that depends on the number of subscribers, you cannot limit yourself to word of mouth. What is your monthly advertising budget and what methods do you use to promote your magazine online?
Yes, relatively recently we also started advertising in direct, as well as buying banners on large sites. At the moment, we are looking for the optimal solution for paid promotion. The budget is not big yet.
Judging by the number of ads sold (even taking into account the price), the monthly income of your project is small. Perhaps you use additional sources of income, do you have other projects that bring you profit?
What is the daily traffic to your site?
One of the main income of any Internet project is advertising, why don’t you sell ads on your site?
Selling advertising on the site at this stage is not advisable, perhaps in the future we will use this monetization method as an additional one. Our magazine advertising revenue is now directly proportional to the number of our subscribers. The greater the number of subscribers, the more expensive our services will cost. In addition to the magazine itself, there are great ideas for monetizing the video channel. In any case, every month the income from the magazine is only growing.
As for additional sources of income. Undoubtedly! Both Lenar and me, our blogs also generate income on the net.
Does your e-zine have an offline version? Many foreign magazines sell the rights to publish offline versions in the regions. Do you plan to earn in this way or do you already have such an offer?
Not yet, although there have already been thoughts. But first, we will develop as an online publication, then it will be much easier to go offline.
How do you see the prospects for further development of your business?
There are a lot of prospects, we plan to launch a few more additional services to help the magazine for the benefit of bloggers. The immediate goal in terms of subscribers is 50,000 people.