How a Magazine I Published Lost $40,000 a Year and Was My Key to Making Millions

"Don’t let the opinions of the average man sway you. Dream, and he thinks you’re crazy. Succeed, and he thinks you’re lucky. Acquire wealth, and he thinks you’re greedy. Pay no attention. He simply doesn’t understand." - Robert G. Allen

There had been one or two attempts to publish a martial arts business magazine by the time I launched my first issue in 1992, but they were flawed attempts. Although the products were good, both attempts tried to survive on the classic magazine model of selling advertising. Other than a couple of major suppliers, there were simply not enough vendors to support a magazine through ads alone.

Despite publishing for five years with the long-term support of several vendors, my magazine never made a net profit from ads sales. What it did accomplish was far more important and far more profitable than ad sales alone could ever be.

First, publishing your own magazine to an industry of 15,000 or so schools was not as expensive as you might think—about $18,000 an issue—with ad sales picking up about 80% of the cost. This meant I essentially got into the magazine business with no money, as my advertisers had to pay in advance. (Good way to get financed.)

Despite losing an average of $4,000 per issue, the upside was huge: instant credibility. I was my own Randolph Hearst. I could say whatever I wanted about me, my competitors, and the various other suppliers in the industry. I could, in fact, influence a great many people.

1. I got to sell my own books, manuals, tapes, seminars, and my monthly $250 business-success package. This alone easily surpassed the $4,000 deficit from the magazine twenty times over.

2. I got to reward my clients by featuring them on the cover of the magazine (priceless). I mean do you have any idea what a kick it is to be on the cover of a magazine, even a small trade journal?

3. I had monthly branding of my business and services to the entire industry.

4. Last, and by no means least, I got to use the magazine’s credibility, along with the accompanying association, to promote a massive annual trade and awards show that produced a six-figure profit.

The big money in any venture may not be in the most obvious or traditional places.

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