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5 Steps to Launching a Podcast by Matthew Blackett

By Matthew Blackett, Publisher, Spacing

Podcasts have become a vital component in engaging with your magazine’s readers. Adding a podcast to your publication’s repertoire is no easy task; it should be approached in the same way that your staff would go through when developing a commemorative issue or special insert. Below are five steps for you to consider before uploading your first episode.


It’s important to identify all of the reasons why your magazine needs to launch a podcast. Here are some of the most common goals.

  • Increase awareness of the magazine: A podcast is the classic “brand extension” and opens you up to attracting new readers who may only have been exposed to your podcast;
  • Provides new avenue for you to share editorial and complement magazine content: As every writer has told one of your editors, “there was a lot of content that didn’t make it into the article.” Podcasts offer you the opportunity to expand on quotes and ideas presented in your articles and features.
  • Share info about your magazine and other business needs: Podcasts offer the opportunity to promote your own events, market special offers on magazine subscriptions, etc.
  • Monetize the podcast: Depending on the size of your audience, you can sell sponsorship or advertising on your podcast.*

* A cautionary note about advertising and sponsorship—very few, if any, magazines that launch a podcast will make significant revenue from ads or sponsorships. Unless you’re attracting tens of thousands of listeners to a podcast, the numbers just don’t add up. One solution is to add the sponsorship of a podcast as part of an ad sales package (i.e., “for $500 more an issue you can be the sole advertiser on our podcast” or “if you buy the outside back cover for the year, we’ll make you the only sponsor of our podcast for the year, too”).

Another solution to the ad/sponsor challenge is to make the podcast a value-added benefit for subscribing to the magazine. That means making the podcast exclusive only to your subscribers. Reducing the number of people you can reach by essentially putting the podcast behind a paywall may not make your ad sales reps happy, but it might be good news for your circulation department who are looking for any way to attract new readers and retain existing subscribers.


Your magazine has a unique voice; it might be serious and informed or it could be accessible and light. Whatever tone you try to project within the pages of your magazine should be reflected in your podcast.

Identifying the voice will allow you to envision the format and the type of guests you want to invite onto the show. By using a similar tone/voice from your magazine, your magazine readers will feel more at ease with your new product.


The format of your podcast will help give it a shape and flow. Much like your magazine, the podcast should be split into digestible sections. It’s absolutely fine to even mimic the format of your magazine: start with a few short bits (front of book), a main topic or theme (cover section), and finish it off with some short and light content (back of mag).

A successful format for a podcast is to theme the episode. From a bird’s eye view, this allows the podcast to feel like all of its components are related and intertwined. It allows your marketing and circulation teams to target groups of listeners and gives you the potential to attract new listeners that are interested in the theme.


Depending on your magazine’s frequency, you should work the podcast producer and the podcast’s production timeline into your production schedule. Below is a rough template for how/when to include your podcast team into the magazine’s workflow.

  • Editorial team discusses next issue articles, themes, etc.

Podcast producer attends meeting and participates in editorial decisions;
Potential to suggest which articles are podcast-friendly

  • Articles submitted, edited

Podcast producer reviews final articles, picks best fit for podcast;
Podcast producer approaches writer for contact info of experts quoted

  • Articles go into layout

Podcast goes into production: interviews recorded

  • Magazine goes to printer

Podcast enters post-production stage

  • Magazine distributed to store

Podcast uploaded, post made to website, promotion begins

  • Release party/related event

Podcast promoted at event


Your podcast should come with a lot of fanfare. You need to take every opportunity to promote it: in the magazine with ads, easy-to-find links and house ads on your website, posts in your social media channels, in your monthly newsletter, a mention from our editor in their opening column—draw attention to it with prizes and cross-promotions with advertisers. Include a blow-out card to subscribers. Take every opportunity to promote this free product you’re offering to readers. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Direct Mail Success by Alysa Procida

By Alysa Procida, Publisher, Inuit Art Quarterly and Executive Director, Inuit Art Foundation

Though digital marketing and outreach continue to attract publishers’ attention, direct marketing can still be a powerful marketing tool, especially for small, niche publishers. In 2017, the Inuit Art Quarterly undertook a highly targeted direct-mail campaign that wildly exceeded our expectations: the magazine’s subscriptions increased by 27% overall, thanks to some lists’ response rates as high as 26%. By comparison, past efforts had yielded a 2–3% maximum return. Here’s what we did differently:

1. We got expert assistance.

If at all possible, invest in quality guidance and support. Thanks to funding from the Ontario Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, we engaged Abacus Circulation to oversee the campaign and hired experienced contractors to help write, design and distribute our packages. This proved invaluable when creating an outreach strategy. Prior to this campaign, we reached out to lapsed subscribers with a no-pressure, no-offer update letter about our recent activities and initiatives. In doing so, we welcomed past readers back, with a look at what they had missed.

2. We got to know our audience.

Before conceptualizing the direct-mail campaign, we undertook an extensive reader survey to better understand our audience. In addition to basic demographic information, we prioritized asking about our readers’ magazine-reading habits, travel, interest in museums and other cultural activities and art collecting. Having a well-rounded picture of our readers helped to more precisely hone the messaging of campaign and target new potential readers.

3. We knew our niche and our value in it.

The Inuit Art Quarterly is the only magazine dedicated to Inuit and circumpolar Indigenous art worldwide. For thirty years, the IAQ has been the only consistent way for audiences to connect with Inuit artists. It is overseen by the Inuit Art Foundation’s majority-Inuit board of directors. The IAQ consequently has developed the reputation of being a community-driven, authentic and trusted source of exclusive information on Inuit art. Our direct-mail campaign messaging highlighted these reader perceptions.

However, we also know that Inuit art is much narrower in popular imagination than it is in reality. To pique potential reader interest, we knew we had to combat this idea so made sure to highlight the diversity of work covered in the magazine. Our tagline “Soapstone is just the start” provided an enticing and welcoming introduction to the broad scope of our content.

4. We targeted lists precisely.

Undoubtedly, the most important element of our campaign’s success was specifically targeting lists that best matched qualities we knew about our existing readers or had an affinity with our mandate. These came from other magazines, but also partnerships with museums and private art galleries with direct relationships with Indigenous art collectors. We also made an effort to target international audiences, which was a successful risk: our international lists had an average return rate of 6%, though several ranged between 23–26%.

5. We didn’t discount our history.

Although we undertake regular solicitation regarding renewals, our biggest jump came from historically lapsed subscribers. By reaching back as far as 2008, we were able to engage a number of past subscribers. This taught us not to assume why a subscriber might have left and not to discount their original interest. If you have a niche, chances are your readers are still interested even without an active subscription. Reaching out again is also an opportunity to learn what can be improved to increase retention rates and create deeper reader engagement.

6. We tracked results and learned everything we could.

To evaluate the success of the campaign, we tracked the results precisely in order to learn as much as possible about our new (or renewed) subscribers, and what elements of the campaign were especially successful. Two-year subscriptions outperformed one-year subscriptions significantly, which was our hope. That offer has come to be a benchmark for our other marketing efforts. Finally, working with an experienced team helped to build capacity and knowledge amongst our own staff. We have developed a more robust sense of our audience and their high level of enthusiasm, which we have in turn parlayed into strategic engagement, such as gift offers and donation solicitations, all tweaked to highlight and support the messaging we crafted with our direct marketing materials resulting in a significant jump in support that we look forward to stewarding for years to come. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)