How To Start A Magazine

How To Start A Magazine by Olivia Bossert of Well, that is a monster of a question, but it's one that I asked all the time. Atlas Magazine, the magazine I co-founded with my dearest friend, Megan, is my current full time job. I don't talk about it a lot here, because I wasn't sure if people would want to hear about it. But I was out walking with my friend, Alex of "On Serpentine Shores" and discussing blogs, creativity and the online world, and she suggested that I should write about Atlas more on here.

First, a tiny bit of background. Atlas started 4 years ago when I met one of my best friends online, Megan. We were both photographers, both at uni, and both fascinated by magazines. Despite never meeting, and despite being on opposite ends of the planet (she's in the USA, I'm in the UK), we decided to start a magazine. We called it Atlas; why? Because we're international (I get asked that a lot). Atlas was never meant to become a business, all we wanted to do was be creative and have some fun. But as it developed and time went by, it grew and before I knew it, all I wanted to do was work on the magazine. Over 4 years later, that's exactly what I'm doing.

I get emailed a lot by people who love magazines and who have dreams of starting their own, asking how we did it. It would take far more than one blog post to really go into more detail about this, but here is a summary.

Go Digital

When we started Atlas, we discovered issuu is an incredible platform which allows anybody, anywhere in the world to upload a PDF that they have designed and turn it into a magazine. Pages flip, you can zoom in, it looks legit. It's what we started on, and it's what we still use today for our digital magazines. We wouldn't be where we are today without issuu, so I can't recommend using it enough! If your heart is set on print, starting off digitally can be an incredible way to build up a following without having to fork out the money to print your first few issues.

Build A Strong Team

You can't run a magazine on your own. Well... you can try, but there's a reason that magazines normally have enormous teams behind them. There are so many aspects to them, that you'll find it hard to cover them all on your own. You've also got to bare in mind that you might not be the best person for the job. It's pretty obvious that I'm not a graphic designer, so when I stumbled on Jessica Bailey's work at a Falmouth degree show, I didn't hesitate for a second to ask her for help. She's the mastermind behind our incredible typography and layout. Would the magazine look as great as it does without her? No way.

Get on social Media

One of the first steps we took to start building Atlas' name was setting up our social media accounts. We started Atlas before Instagram was big, so our initial biggest platform was Facebook. We were super active, scheduling posts ahead of time, and commenting on people's work. As we were targeting creatives, it was important they heard about us. Know which platform is best for you; Twitter isn't very visual, so get on there if you're wordy. Instagram is where it's at for anything image based. We're also seeing a lot of interest on Pinterest, so work out what works well for you, and stick to it!

How To Start A Magazine by Olivia Bossert of

Know your Niche

It's so important when you start a magazine to know what your niche is. Are you a fashion magazine? Are you an arts magazine? Do you focus only on fashion photography that revolves around cats (check out Puss Puss Mag!)? Knowing exactly what you want your magazine to be about is key. Write it down, get really detailed about it, and stick that in front of you at your desk. Refer to it constantly and make sure that you stick to it.

Know your Reader

One thing I wish I had known when we first started was how important it is to understand your reader. You should be able to paint a really clear picture of them in your head, and it's quite a fun exercise! Take some time one day to write down a character description of who your reader is. If you're just starting your magazine and don't have any readers yet, that's ok, because knowing the reader you want to target is just as important! Write down who your ideal reader is: What do they wear? What do they eat? Where do they live? What do they do for a living? What are their hobbies? Get as detailed as possible!

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Build A Website

Sounds obvious, but if you want to be legit, a website is going to be essential. Whether this is simply a place for people to find out how to get in touch with you, or its a blog, you need somewhere on the interwebs where people can go and it's your space. Make it easy to read, easy to navigate, and give people the info they need. Want to stick to the basics? Leave contact details, social media links, and an about section.

Be Prepared to Work Really Hard - It's Worth It

It probably goes without saying, but starting a magazine is really, really hard. I'm quite glad I was so naive about it at first, because had I known how much work it would involve, I'm not sure I would have even thought about trying. There are so many different aspects to magazines that you end up having to go down routes you probably never even knew existed. But the harder you work, the more you get out of it, and before you know it, it's starting to look incredible. Hard work really does pay off, I promise!

Have Fun

I honestly believe that the reason Atlas has been successful, is because from day one it was just some fun. Megan and I wanted to create something cool, learn some stuff, and have fun. We never wanted to start a business and we never intended for it to grow as big as it did. So my best piece of advice is to really enjoy what you're doing. Don't stress about it too much, and try not to take it too seriously. That's when the magic really happens!

So there you have it; a short guide. If you have any more questions, or something I've said here isn't 100% clear, then please comment bellow or send me an email as I'm more than happy to answer any questions anyone has.

If you fancy being really nice and helping us out, head over to and pick up a copy of Atlas! 

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Why I Don't Want to Live In London

London by Olivia Bossert This is something I get asked all the time: "Why don't you live in London?" or: "Don't you think you would be better living in London?" To be totally honest, I'm not a big fan of cities. I never have been! I grew up just outside of Geneva, Switzerland in the countryside. I know that for a lot of people when you say to them that you grew up outside a city, they think that must mean that you lived in a city-like environment. That couldn't be further from the truth. Geneva is tiny. Beautiful and charming, but really tiny. It feels more like a large town than a city. You can drive 10 minutes out of it, and you'll be surrounded by fields and trees. It's a small country, so lots of villages are squished up together, but essentially, it's the countryside.

When I moved to Cornwall, I took "living in the countryside" to a whole new level. I live in Falmouth, which is a beautiful seaside town. I've been here for 5 and a half years now (how the time has gone that fast, I do not know), and at first I was a bit shocked but just how small it was. It took some getting used to. You can cross the high street in 10 minutes by foot, and I guarantee that you'll bump into someone you know every time you leave the house. It's such a lovely place to be, and you do get sucked in by its charm. Cornwall is a very rural county. The public transport is terrible, and to get to any other big village, it's always at least a 25 minute drive (trust me, you need a car), but it's the most beautiful place ever. There's a reason Poldark is so successful! Just look at this post, and this post to see what I mean.

Porthtowan by Olivia Bossert

Now, as you know, I work in fashion. I run a print and online magazine, Atlas, and I'm also a fashion photographer... so the obvious choice would be to go live in a big city right? Right. Well, not for me. Thanks to the good old internet, I can run and build my entire business from home. I work from my beautiful apartment all day, and I regularly email or call people up in London. My colleagues are scattered all around the world. Would it be easier if I was closer to the city? Hell yes. I do have to travel up to London quite a lot, and it's a 5 hour journey from Cornwall, so it's a big old slog every time I need to go up (don't get me started on the time I went there and back for a 15 minute meeting... never again). But would I be happier if I lived in London? Hell no.

I couldn't even begin to  think about rent costs for a start (they terrify me). I like to be outside and go on walks, and thanks to where I live, I've got the sea on my doorstep. I like trees, and greenery, and fresh air, and happy people who smile at each other when they walk down the road. London has it's perks: I can't shop down here at all because Cornwall doesn't have an H&M or a Zara (ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME GUYS, WE NEED YOU), and I sometimes feel jealous that I miss out on a lot of the cool cultural stuff that goes on. I get invited to events by PRs for press regularly, and most of the time the invites are very last minute and I can't make it, so that's frustrating. But most of the time if there's something I want to go to, I hop on a plane or a train and head to the big city for a day or two! No biggie.

The internet has opened up so many doors to so many people all around the world. There's no longer a need for us to all cram into huge cities and survive of baked beans on toast because we can't afford our rent, or a need to breath in polluted air all day. We can work hard and be a part of the industries we love from the comfort of our homes!

What do you do? Do you ever feel pressure to move to a big city? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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