A the beginning of this month, I launched a digital magazine called SHERPA. (You heard about it, right? If not, go signup here. Go on – I’ll wait.)

I wasn’t the first to launch such sexy content goodness. Some of the best and most notable ones that came out before SHERPA include In Tree Houses (perhaps the sexiest and most beautiful magazine *ever*, online or off), Fear.Less (such an incredible concept), and Blog Networking Tips from Jade Craven (my hero heroine and ice cream partner in crime).

A LOT of people have been contacting me asking to talk with them about launching a PDF digital magazine. And not one, but three of my small business coaching clients are also considering this too. So I thought it would be interesting to share and reflect my thoughts on the process with some lessons learned.

1. Getting started is the hardest part.  Really, I said it last week and I’ll keep saying it again until YOU get started.

2. Design and visuals in a magazine, no matter how big or small, is key.  Delivery in a PDF format gives you heaps more flexibility and choice than an email newsletter does, for example.  So you have to up your game.

3. You have to trust your team and partners.  My designer, Craig, has been a total linchpin in the restructuring of my entire business the past 4 months.  (Perfection takes time. :P)  Everything that is visual has been in his court, and we had some disagreements about the magazine flow and style.  I went with my gut and decided he was the visual man in charge, so we go with what he thinks is best.  And sure enough, his design choices are some of the most commented-on things in the whole magazine.

4. Sharing is caring.  My list doubled almost overnight after Issue 1 simply because I included a page at the end with Twitter/Facebook/etc links.  Almost everyone used them.

5. Ask people to do stuff.  They’ll do it. One of my sections is called “feedback rocks” and I give people a tip or suggestion on a thing to do.  I won’t share what the tip was (you’ll have to download your free copy to find out), but I can say that I know people have done it – I’ve seen it with my own eyes. 🙂

6. Even in a business setting, people like to be entertained.  I mean, come on, I have a sex tips for biz column in my magazine!  Everybody could use a smile now and then.

7. The tools for digital publishing are both awesome and lacking.  The fact that we can easily publish and deliver a digital magazine at such a low cost is incredibly awesome.  The thing that is lacking?  Click tracking.  I’ve been using some features from bit.ly, and my Amazon file hosting service can show me downloads and usage, but overall, the stats aren’t as rich as I’d like them to be.  I’m sure that will change in the future (and really, my stats are better than what I would know if it were really a print magazine, so it’s hard to complain).

8. Experiment.  Seriously, you don’t know what marketing things will resonate and which ones will fall flat.  Try to build out things that you can reuse later – Melody and I both have already found our startup junkie videos to be useful as marketing material elsewhere.  Also experiment with content to see what gets people talking.

EDITED: Kevin Luke May wanted business/financial lessons from the initial launch.  It’s kind of early to make any solid lesson learned, but I do aim to please 😉

9. Pricing is the one of the most important topics, worthy of lengthy discussion. Will you charge?  Not charge?  Ads, no ads?  You have to decide why you’re doing it, and what the Ideal Readers are looking for.  I can’t tell you what you should do.  For me, SHERPA is a tool for thought leadership, thus why it is free.  The ads are just to experiment (and a bit of market research).

10. Doing something different gets you noticed.  SHERPA has been a great tool to use in some PR opportunities and has led to new project work with clients weren’t aware of before.  It’s a great tool to have something to talk about – you have a story, right?

Are you thinking about launching a digital magazine?
Tell us about it in the comments – we wanna know!