Two Great Ways to Publish Your Own Magazine

shanghai cover

It’s amazing how much money we’ve spent on photo magazines over the years.

Of course, that’s nothing compared to the amount of time we’ve spent getting the stink eye from the cashier as we thumbed through every magazine at the newsstand.

And then came The Internet, where you can browse photo magazines all day with nary a stink eye in sight.

Even better, you can publish your own magazine online. For free. And it’ll look just like a real magazine, with pages you can flip through.

Use it as a portfolio, show off that photo essay you’ve been working on, or get your artsy friends together for a virtual gallery show. You can even get your magazine printed and sell it!

Read on for more ideas on how to publish your own magazine, and why you should!

Publish Your Own Photo Mag

Why You’d Want Your Own Magazine

pipelineJust think of what you could do with your very own magazine.

Use it as an online portfolio if you don’t have your own website. People can flip back and forth through it just like a real book.

Round up other photographers for a joint publication that shows off everybody’s latest work. Get the contributors to sell the resulting magazine, so you can all get noticed by a wider audience.

Use your photos to get the word out about issues that matter to you
. Try shooting a photo essay about an environmental problem, a political issue, or historic landmarks in your community.

Make a photo magazine for your school
, or your neighborhood, or your all-female punk rock roller derby team.

The possibilities are endless…

Two Ways To Publish

There are plenty of self-publishing sites out there, but we’re partial to Issuu and MagCloud.

Issuu lets you to see and read magazines other people have designed. They actually look like real magazines, too. You can flip through the pages, and even embed a magazine on your website. You can also upload your own magazine or portfolio. The site is free, but you don’t have the option of getting your magazine printed.

MagCloud enables you to get your magazine printed and sell it to other people, online or in person. You can also buy magazines designed by other MagCloud users. If you want a physical version of your very own magazine, and even plan to make some money, this is the way to go.

Get Inspired

refueled layoutBefore you design your own magazine, get inspiration from what other people have published.

Have a look around on Issuu. There are magazines on tons of different subjects, from photography to science to pop culture. Catch up on your reading, or see what other designers and photographers are up to.

If you’re planning to design your own magazine, this is a good place to get your ideas flowing. Look at how other designers use type, color, or the white space of the page. Some of the magazines we liked were Intro, photo-eye and Refueled.

Even if you’ve never designed anything more complex than a book report, it’s never too late to learn.

Design Your Own

shanghai layoutNo matter whether you want to have an online portfolio or sell your own magazine, you’re going to have to design it yourself. If you’ve got some design background, that’s not so tough. Break out the photos and get cracking.

The rest of you will need a bit of practice. If you have the option, suck up to a graphic designer buddy and bribe them to help you out. Maybe they’ll trade you for a couple of photos.

Otherwise, keep it simple and you won’t go too far wrong. Choose two or three page layouts and build your design around them. Take a look at Shanghai by Daniele Mattioli for a good example of simple but effective portfolio design.

There are plenty of programs you can use to design your magazine: InDesign and Quark work best (or free alternatives like Scribus) but you could use Photoshop or even PowerPoint in a pinch.

Get a cheatsheet: MagCloud publishes a guide to DIY magazine design, with tips on using InDesign and exporting PDFs. At only $4.00, we think it’s a steal.

Use It to Your Advantage

refueled coverOnce you’ve designed your cool new photo mag (you stud you), just imagine what you can do with it!

Show off: Email a link to everybody you know. Bask in the glory. Sweet juicy glory.

Hone your skills: Practice makes perfect. If you want to learn graphic design (which will definitely help your photography) this is a good way to practice without paying for a class.

Assign yourself a new magazine issue every month and push yourself a bit harder each time. Ask design-savvy friends to critique your efforts, and build on their suggestions.

Drum up business: If you’re building a photography business, use your magazine as an online portfolio. Update it often so clients can see your latest work.

Get together: Collect work from all your artsy friends and have a group show. It won’t matter if Mike lives in LA and Jen lives in Brooklyn: you can all have a show online. Better yet, get the magazine printed and send it to everybody who contributed.

Make some dough: If you’ve got a really good magazine or photo essay, print that baby up and sell it at your local coffee shop. You can also sell your magazine online at MagCloud. You done the work, now make the money!