Lower Your Magazine Design Costs

The end of summer often means the start of budget season. For the association that outsources magazine design, here are a few easy tips to minimize spending.

1. Get Your Redesign for Free
Found a designer or firm that you like? See if you can sign a two-year contract, and get your redesign for free. Look for the long-term relationship rather than just one year. We all grew up with the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is designers do. In fact, it is what you are paying them to do. Promoting a well-executed product is important to designers. Most likely, they will be willing to start off the relationship with strong design, and in this case, free design. The time put into the redesign is well worth the satisfaction of a portfolio piece, especially knowing two years of the publication will follow.

2. Limit the Scope of Work to Get Price Reductions
The easiest way to do this is to reduce your edit cycles. Editing involves time, both for you and the designer. If you find that you are requesting multiple rounds of edits, could you change your internal process to reduce that number?

Features are a place where heavy design time is spent because they are the highlight of the issue. Talk to your designer and see if reducing the number of features per issue would decrease the design price.

Can you approve art ahead of time or offer suggestions? Sometimes the art just misses the mark. We’ve all been there. Remember, you are the experts of your industry. If your magazine relies on stock art, finding the perfect subject can sometimes be tricky, especially if the subject matter is technical and unique. Researching art takes time, so ask the designer if developing contact sheets with options ahead of time helps decrease the design time. This also eliminates the risk of time spent redoing an entire layout when changing art.

Keep in mind if you limit the scope, then you need to honor your side of the agreement. Additional edit cycles past the budgeted hours, for example, could end up costing you more than had you stuck with the original scope.

3. Leverage Your Magazine Design to Get Design Savings in Other Areas
Does your designer or firm also handle your meeting materials? If you are already smart about your magazine budget, think about how the relationship with your designer could provide savings in other areas. Run your meeting design budget by them, and they may be able to offer competitive pricing on that save the date postcard just because they enjoy working with you on your magazine. Graphic designers are typically talented in multiple areas, not just magazines. One of the biggest perks of working with a firm is the house of talents and experience you are hiring. If you are happy with the design in your publication, changes are this satisfaction would extend into other branches of design from the same firm or designer.

4. Be Nice
This one should go without saying, but designers (anyone really) are much more likely to jump through hoops and make exceptions if they feel like it will be appreciated.

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