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10 ways I grew a national magazine without spending money

If you know me from my days as Founder & Editor of Woman Rising magazine, the you’d know it was my 4th baby!

It was a bi-monthly print and digital publication for regional women in business and lasted for 18 months before the Universe had other plans and washed it away with the rest of my family house in 2019. But that’s another story…

The point is, when I needed to shift Woman Rising magazine from a small idea to a national publication, I had to think outside the box and use every single marketing tactic I’d ever learned during my career, to give that baby the oomph it needed to get off the ground.

Yes, you could calling it ‘hustling’ but I like to think of it as mindful marketing. Creating opportunities for my business to grow that was also in alignment with my values and my reader’s needs.

Here are the 10 strategies I used to grow Woman Rising magazine in less than 6 months to more than 5000 readers without spending any money on advertising.

1. Networking – While this option is difficult thanks to our current COVID restrictions, it was by far the most powerful strategy in my marketing toolkit. People loved hearing from me, learning what I did and hearing in my voice that I was passionate about the product. Of course, I would align my networking opportunities with women I wanted to buy it – so it was a win win.

TIP – Get out from behind your computer (when you can) and meet people. They will end up being your best ambassadors!

2. Social Media – Obviously social media presence is a no-brainer these days but make sure you’re on the right platform and not trying to be everywhere everyday. Just pick the one you know your ideal customer is on and focus on it. Instagram was my platform of choice and it worked well because it was a product based business I was able to include social-proof of other readers enjoying it, which increased awareness and interest in my mag. Win. Win.

3. Visibility – Flip through your favourite accounts and tell me what you notice about the brand. I bet 99% of them will put themselves front and centre of their brand story. You know who they are. You can hear their voice. You resonate with their personality. Put a face to the product or service and lean in to the powerful connection that only comes when you are make yourself visible. Visibility could come in the form of a weekly video message from you or just incorporating more of yourself in photos instead of just product shots. Essentially – we want YOU!

4. Free Samples (Opt-In) – This tactic was definitely a big game changer for me because people loved the idea of the magazine so I’d offer them a free sample of it to capture their email address, build my list and hook them so they’d buy a complete issue. It was also important to me to show that the magazine was excellent quality and worthy of their investment.

TIP – What can you provide that is of value to your audience to attract them to trial your services, but not a significant cost to you?

5. Blogging & Guest Contributions – Don’t just post on your own blog or focus on pushing content out to your readers, expand your reach and build yourself up as an expert with guest posts on third-party sites to drive traffic back to your website. Those external links will help you build a bigger audience and strengthen your position in google (hello SEO!) Apart from that, you will grow in confidence when you see your byline pop-up in online publications and your press page will flourish. Gotta love that credibility!

6. Collaborations / Contribution – Of course my magazine needed fresh, fun and fierce content my readers would devour! So I reached out to experts in their field to ask them to contribute an article or blog (the reverse of the tactic above). This worked because many of my Contributors would share their article on their own platforms (boosting their own profile and credibility) and I would easily reach more people. Hence my social platform grew and my magazine grew as more people discovered it.

TIP – Think about ways you could get other people involved or who you could work with on a collaboration that is mutually beneficial.

7. Leverage Influencers & Relationships – As a long-term PR girl from way back, I knew I had to get my magazine in the hands of women who could really make an impact. So I did my homework and made a list of all the women I wanted to “be seen” with the magazine – or at least recommend it to others. I compiled a list of their mailing address, hand wrote a personal note to each of them and sent them a hard copy of the magazine. It’s PR101 ladies!!

Here’s the twist – I always offered them a way to return the favour such as promote their events to the woman rising database or promote their packages (with an exclusive offer to my readers of course) and as long as I could show them I was willing to give back and nurture the relationship, then they were happy to promote it on their Instagram too. BOOM! 

8. Facebook Groups – This one can be tricky because most groups don’t allow selling. But there is a way around that when you know how… I simply shared my story.

For example, after I secured my first ‘big name’ to grace the cover of the magazine, I shared how I did it in a Facebook Group of my target audience with more than 80K women.

I included an image of the cover (for a magazine that was just open for pre-sale) and explained how I had secured the talent to feature. I explained how I was able to step out of my comfort zone to really ‘make things happen’ and encouraged the facebook group members to never underestimate what you can achieve when you believe in yourself etc… etc….

The truth is, I was promoting the new issue. Only when someone commented and asked me for the link to learn more, did I offer it! Off that one post and the ability to share my story (instead of just selling it), I sold an extra 45 copies of the magazine and my email list grew by more than 300 ideal customers. I was thrilled!

Side Note – People can also smell bullsh*t, so make sure your story is authentic or it won’t land at all.

9. Exclusive Offers For My Audience – Providing an exclusive opportunity for my loyal newsletter subscribers to buy the magazine first or get it at a discounted rate, not only secured sales for that issue but it funded the printing and production of the magazine so costs didn’t come out of my pocket. It’s OK to sell something before it’s 100% ready. It shows your commitment, provides an income and also builds brand loyalty as your audience feels special for the exclusive early bird rate not available anywhere else.

10. Tell Your Story – You are your business’s secret weapon. Don’t be afraid to share your story and tell people why you do what you do. When I started to talking to people about who I am, why I started the magazine and what its purpose was, was crucial in the development of the product in the early days. Sharing my story and my vision for Woman Rising magazine gave people something to believe in and get on board with… They loved the purpose behind it and it’s heart. Are you sharing the heart behind your business?

Which marketing tactic could you incorporate in your business today?

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