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Saturday, May 02, 2020

Creating Magazine Content: A Case Study
Along with the monthly lifestyle magazine I edit, I recently accepted a gig editing a new monthly magazine geared towards area residents ages 55+. We launched our first issue right in the midst of COVID-19. So far it’s been well received, and I am in the process of planning our third issue. I thought it would be helpful to share with you how I used the resources I had to plan the content for a 40+ page magazine (we are still being conservative with the number of pages we’re printing because of COVID-19).

For the June issue of LIMITLESS, we planned for a “Foodie” themed issue. When we designed the magazine, we broke it up into different sections that could fill each month: “Explorers,” “Be Bold,” “Health + Happiness,” “Helpings Hands,” “On the Scene,” and “In My Glass” or “On My Plate.”

Because we pay photographers in trade, I try to come up with ways to repurpose stories we’ve run in the past in our other lifestyle magazine, CURRENTS, so we can use photography that’s already been shot. I knew we had profiled a local restaurant owner in 2018 who is also in the 55+ target market, so I assigned a writer to interview her focusing on how she found her niche in creating a tearoom in our area. We already have photography. I also read about a local pie company that was founded by a man who retired after a long career in corporate finance. I reached out to him to see if he was interested in a profile, and he was thrilled. One of our regular food and wine writers sent me a fun article he had written about a local farmers market experience, and I told him it would fit our “Foodie” theme perfectly.

Another local retired couple saw our premier issue, and sent an introductory note sharing a travel blog they started after retirement. They both had a successful career in marketing, so the blog is fun, fresh, and full of beautiful photography and helpful travel tips. I e-mailed them asking if they’d like me to interview them, and also expressed interest in having them write for our magazine in the future. A nearby resident and grandfather recently authored a picture book, so one of our writers is working with his publishing company to set up an interview. A sales rep forwarded me an e-mail about a camp that helps military families heal from the wounds of war, and the founder and director is in our target market and seeking volunteers for the camp. I sent an assignment off to one of our writers who enjoys writing about volunteer opportunities. Add in a fun health article that I plan to write about June being National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month and the calendar of events, and you’ve got an issue.

As you can see, planning content for a magazine takes a village, from the writers, to the PR firms to the sales team, but once it all comes together, there is a real sense of accomplishment. And before you know it, it’s time to start the cycle all over again.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and magazine editor who is also in the process of launching a true crime podcast, "Missing in the Carolinas." Sign up for her e-mail list so you can be the first to know when the first episode drops in early May, and download her free short story, “The Last Circus,” by May 15.


  1. Renee--The number of people you thrilled with one magazine issue is amazing. The retired couple. The restaurant owner. The pie company founder. The grandfather-author. The founder of the wounded warrior camp. The writers who get the fun of writing a story and then getting a byline and some recognition. Your brilliant "repurposing" is an example of what all authors should do--but on a grander scale. You also are an example of something else great writers (and editors) should do: you're sharing the wealth and the spotlight.

    I can't wait until May 15, and I can't wait for the debut of your podcast. Way to go, Renee!

  2. I agree with Sioux! Renee, you've done an incredible job with both publications during the toughest times! Repurposing content is a smart idea. Readers don't know everything we put out there and it's fresh again in a different form for them, and a time saver for us! I was just thinking about all of you Muffin bloggers... some of you have been blogging for years and have so many posts you could compile into an ebook--whether it's giving it away as an incentive for email subscriptions or selling it! I like what you did with your short story, btw! :)

    It does take a village. I also believe in highlighting the community, and we try to do that as much as possible in every newsletter by featuring authors, celebrating successes big or small, by you wonderful bloggers interviewing contestants. We always have a few contestants who ask us why we want to interview them when they didn't place in the top three, and it's because we want to get to know our community. Sometimes you just don't know who is reading. The other day when we sent out the markets newsletter, I was blown away by all the nice letters we received. Deeply personal letters and stories about what writers were going through during Covid-19, and those who had family members with cancer. I was telling Margo that we received more thank yous than we ever did the entire 14 years of running the e-zine. So that tells me there's a real need for connection right now through content, stories, media. People are listening, and they want to hear what's real and comes from the heart. And since they're listening, this is the PERFECT time to launch your podcast! I can't wait.

    I'm also so glad your publisher decided to go through with the magazine issues, and your smart choices made them successful. This is a real example of your community coming together to share stories and make a great issue. You should be proud of yourself, Renee! Great job!


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