Fit to Print

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Tight budgets and demanding schedules are a reality for most fledgling magazines, which is why many start-ups begin as homebased businesses that either employ no outside help or use contract employees to produce the first issues. Wright didn't take a paycheck for the first 18 months--supporting herself by buying and selling real estate. Blackstone plans to continue working as a full-time advertising director for a while. "Our biggest challenge has been [finding money] to advertise," he says, "but we know you have to invest money to make money."

The Sheffermans still do most of the writing, production and promotion for Modern Ferret themselves. "We finish an issue and think, `Wow, that was a lot of work,' " Mary says. "Then we have to start the next one. There's little time to market and promote the issue that just came out."

Start-up publishers say they are fueled by the excitement of running their own businesses and treating readers to information they want and need. "You run on emotion and enthusiasm," says Wright, who was thrilled when Business to Business landed interviews with the likes of former president Jimmy Carter and the CEOs of Delta Airlines and UPS, both based in Atlanta.

Although magazine publishing can be one of the most exciting types of businesses to run, those in the know say it's also one of the most challenging. Blackstone, like the others, cautions enterprising publishers not to expect miracles overnight. "Take it slow," he advises. "If you try to do everything at once on a small budget, it'll kill you."

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This article was originally published in the October 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Fit to Print.

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