Growth Trends for Related Jobs

How to Become a Magazine Distributor

careertrend article image
blank magazine spines - with dates image by Wingnut Designs from

A magazine distributor buys publications in bulk and sells them to store owners or consumers directly. This profession requires a solid customer base as well as astute product knowledge. Buying low and selling high remains key in turning a profit in this business, and a distributor needs solid negotiation and salesmanship skills. Selecting the hot magazines that fly out of your hands into the those of eager buyers creates a loyal clientele.

Create a detailed business plan. Include which magazines you plan to distribute, how many copies you plan to sell and who you plan to sell to. Contact the magazine's publishers to inquire about distributor rates and practices. Determine which publications offer the most substantial profit margin. Detail and outline all of your costs and expenses. Knowing precisely how much all of your costs are provides you with the needed information to determine the correct mark-up on your publications, advises B. Ann Bell, author of How Not to Start a Magazine.

Obtain the start-up capital needed to launch the distribution company. Apply for a bank loan or grant, use your personal savings or raise from investments of friends and family.

Apply for a business license, reseller's permit and sales tax ID. A business license gives you the right to conduct business in your locality. The reseller's or wholesale permit assures your locality won't charge you retail tax on the magazines you purchase to distribute. The sales tax ID allows you to collect retail sales tax from your non-wholesale customers--usually individuals--on behalf of your locality and hand-over those taxes to the state tax commission. The Department of Commerce in each state issues the business license and reseller's permit; the state tax commission issues the sales tax ID.

Contact potential customers or start making connections, recommends Scott Benfield, author of Marketing Plans for Growing Sales. He suggests contacting the publisher of magazines you're distributing and asking which retail outlets in your local area don't yet carry their products. Go after these with a vengeance.

Visit established outlets with your list of publications and inquire about their relationship with their current distributors to ferret out dissatisfied potential customers. Study the magazine distributing competition. Find out what prices the competition offers and what services they provide then determine a way to set your company apart. Start small and work your way up. The first few months may prove quite challenging; offering better pricing and service than the competition helps attract and maintain loyal clientele.

Study sales tips; local libraries keep hundreds of books on-hand on the art of selling--additionally, the Internet houses thousands of articles and tips as well as training for sales people.

Create a website or have one designed for you by a professional to expand distribution beyond the local market, which has limitations. Train yourself in marketing and know your magazines inside out and their appeal to set your marketing strategy in motion.

  • "How Not to Start a Magazine"; B. Ann Bell; 2006
  • "The Distribution Trap"; Andrew R. Thomas; 2009
  • "Marketing Plans for Growing Sales"; Scott Benfield; 1997

Rose Smith has been writing professionally since 1992. Her how-to and relationship articles have appeared in "Family Circle" and several other national publications. She has also written the books "Sizzling Monogamy" and "101 Ways to Date Your Mate." Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Illinois State University.