From Twitter to Instagram, or from Patreon to Kickstarter, it’s never seemed simpler to build an audience and launch an indie magazine title. But with an infrastructure that’s set up to favor bigger publishers—those with large sales teams and an economy of scale that still relies on advertising—it’s also never seemed trickier to keep one going.
New titles often appear with excited fanfare only to silently disappear into the ether months later. And it’s never certain which titles will achieve longevity—the real test is whether they last beyond issue two or three. Some indies, like Riposte and The Gourmand, manage to sustain themselves long enough to build a creative studio to attach to the brand. Others—the especially inextricable ones with fancy printing processes and ludicrous travel budgets—are perhaps quietly financed by trust funds. But what about the rest?
We sat down with five editorial teams from variously sized independent titles from Europe and North America to find out what exactly goes into publishing an issue, and what strategies editors use for generating money to keep momentum going, from grants, to lucrative T-shirts, to some pretty wild parties.