Start a Digital Magazine Nathan Chan header

When Nathan Chan started a digital magazine business called Foundr Magazine, he never expected it would turn into a massive global business. But that simple digital magazine for iOS and Android became famous for curating helpful information for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Using savvy outreach and pure hustle, he was able to land interviews with legendary entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Tim Ferriss for the magazine.

The rest is history, as they say.

So if you’re thinking about publishing a magazine or getting involved in the digital magazine business, you can learn a lot from Nathan.

What is a Digital Magazine?

A digital magazine is a paperless magazine that is read online—on computers, smartphones, iPads, and tablet. It’s just like a regular magazine in design and style, except it’s not being printed on paper and sitting on a grocery store shelf near the checkout counter.

How to Distribute a Digital Magazine

Digital magazine content can take the form of:

  • Written articles
  • Audio interviews
  • Pictures
  • Video interviews

The great thing about digital magazines is you can include more interactive content like videos, audios, and additional content like checklists or workbooks that just don’t make sense for physical magazines.

Foundr Magazine is delivered on phones and tablets via iTunes (for iOS) and Google Play (for Android). Digital magazines can also be delivered as PDFs.

One element that paper magazines and digital magazines share in common is the cover. The cover is there to catch the attention of your audience and give them a sense of what will be in that particular issue of the magazine.

So if you’re going to start a magazine business, make absolutely sure you invest in high-quality design, especially for the covers.

Why Digital Magazines Are Better

Digital Magazines can provide a much better experience than physical magazines because you don’t have to rely on advertisers to support your business.

Open a typical magazine and you’ll have trouble finding anything actually useful inside it. Sure, there’s a nice recipe on page 73 or a great article on page 44, but everything else is just ads, right?

Not so with digital magazines!

Digital magazines often use a subscription or pay-per-issue model, so you don’t have to rely on advertisers. That means you can design the magazine FOR your subscribers and readers, and not primarily for advertisers.

Why Nathan Started Foundr Magazine

Nathan started Foundr Magazine because he saw a gap in the market. Magazines like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and HBR focus on CEOs and people who already have a business. He wanted to have a magazine in the world that he could relate to.

That’s why Foundr Magazine is for new and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to build a business. Nathan started the magazine because he wanted to find answers to questions he had about starting a business. And he thought it would be a good idea to share his journey with the rest of the world.

Foundr Magazine focuses on giving new and aspiring entrepreneurs tactical advice they can use today to begin building their business.

Digital Magazines are Similar to Ebooks

E-books and digital magazines are very similar.

They’re both content sources delivered digitally that used to exist solely in the analog paper world.

Just like with e-books, digital magazines need to have an eye-catching cover that looks like a magazine cover. You have to have great content inside your book or magazine, but you also have to have great design and packaging so that customers actually want to buy it and read it.

If you want to start a digital magazine, look for other magazines that your readers might read. See what cover elements you can emulate to make your digital magazine feel like a magazine to your audience.

How is a Digital Magazine Different From a Paper Magazine?

The major difference between a digital magazine and a physical magazine is the type of content that’s available in a digital magazine.

In a digital magazine you can include audio and video of the interviews that you would just print in a traditional magazine.

All of the other features of a traditional magazine exist in a digital magazine. You still have articles and letters to the editor.

Being able to give your audience content in several different formats makes the content more accessible to a wider range of people. Being able to listen to or watch an interview while you’re doing something else allows your audience to consume the magazine the way they want to. It also gives the consumers of your content freedom they didn’t have before the invention of the Internet.

A typical paper magazine is over 100 pages long, with at least half of those pages devoted to advertisements.

A typical issue of Foundr Magazine is about 70 pages long, and has about five hours worth of interviews in each issue.

One of the benefits of having a digital magazine is that it’s a continuity product. It’s like a monthly membership in the sense that people pay every month for content.

Special Digital Magazine Features

Foundr Magazine has a button you can push to email the editors at any time. They take the best questions and answer them in a feature of the magazine called Virtual Mentor.

Another feature In Foundr Magazine is the Action Items feature. This is the last piece of the magazine where they summarize all the articles in the magazine and give you specific action items you can take to implement what you’ve learned reading the magazine.

Whether you write an e-book or a digital magazine, always keep your reader in mind. Your reader doesn’t care about you. They only want a solution to their problem. Whenever you’re writing for an audience be sure to put them first in your mind and in your content.

How to Get Interviews with Celebrities

Foundr Magazine has had interviews with many famous successful entrepreneurs including Tim Ferriss and Richard Branson.

There are 4 simple steps to getting an interview with a famous person.

  1. Present yourself like a news source because you are.
  2. Gather an audience.
  3. Find the gatekeeper. Every famous person you want to interview has one or more gatekeepers that allow you access to that famous person. One of the most important things you can do is figure out who the gatekeeper is for the person you want to interview.
  4. Always be thinking about how you can add value to the guest you’re interviewing. Nathan was able to get an interview with Tim Ferriss when Tim wanted press for a new book. Nathan contacted the press agent for that book to get an interview with Tim.

While these steps aren’t necessarily easy, they are all simple and relatively straightforward. Remember that everyone you know who is successful started where you’re starting now.

The key to getting famous influencers to sit down for an interview is to create a project that a community can gather around like a digital magazine or a podcast.

Once the community begins to gather, you can pitch the interview as an opportunity for the influencer to talk to your specific community.

Finding the Right People to Interview

Interview people who excite and inspire you. Interview people who are further down the road that you and your audience want to travel.

You can always email your audience and ask them for suggestions about who to interview.

Marketing a Magazine on Instagram

“With Instagram, it’s all about the content you produce. Know what really resonates with your audience. Next is consistency, keep serving your market. Maximize use of relevant hashtags, and get like-minded accounts to share your content.” – Nathan Chan

Nathan built Foundr Magazines Instagram community to over 150,000 followers in just under six months.

Instagram engagement occurs at 10 times the rate of Facebook engagement. 150,000 Instagram followers can build a massive business.

There are four keys to being successful on Instagram.

1. Know Your Audience

Nathan primarily posts success quotes from founders of successful businesses.

Success quotes are some of the most re-shared posts on Instagram or any other social media platform. That’s the key to growing on Instagram. You post content that other people want to interact with and share.

2. Be Consistent

The next piece of the puzzle is consistency. Nathan and his team post on Instagram at least six times a day. They have done that every day since they started the Foundr Magazine Instagram profile.

3. Use Relevant Hashtags

Use hashtags on Instagram to maximize the exposure of your content. Hashtags allow Instagram users to find posts about a specific topic. You should use hashtags that are relevant to your audience.

4. Create Share-Worthy Content

Make use of the share for share principle to explode your Instagram audience growth.

The fastest way to grow your audience on Instagram is to share content that like-minded influencers will share as well.

For example, Nathan will post a success quote on Instagram. Someone like Tim Ferriss will see that quote and post it to their followers. Now Tim’s followers know about Foundr Magazine’s Instagram profile and they might choose to follow it.

All of these factors work together to create momentum for your brand.

Building an Instagram following is like building any other business. You want to create something of value and collaborate with other influencers in your industry to build your audience.

Nathan’s Journey to Success

“Everyone starts at zero. It’s what you do from there that’s going to get you to millions and beyond.” – Tom Corson Knowles

Nathan decided to start Foundr Magazine because he was frustrated with the work he was doing in IT, and what success look like after college.

He read The Four Hour Work Week around 2011 and it took him several years to actually put himself out there.

Nathan started Foundr Magazine out of frustration. He wanted to figure out how to be a successful entrepreneur and run a business. So he decided to create a magazine and a community to help him answer those questions, and help his audience along the way.

If you want to be financially successful focus all your effort on helping other people, that will start a word-of-mouth campaign and soon you will have a large enough audience to support your lifestyle. Focus on helping others first and success is inevitable.

“The amount of money you make is equivalent to how well you serve your community.” – Nathan Chan

Creating a Magazine Brand

When Nathan left his 9-to-5 job a year ago he had plans to start multiple businesses. But as he really dug into Foundr Magazine he realized there was tons of untapped potential in the brand, and he could build his audience through social media and other channels, and really focus on the quality of the information that he delivered to the audience.

Foundr Magazine has become a truly Transmedia brand with multiple elements.

  • There’s the digital magazine
  • There is the Foundr Magazine app
  • There’s a podcast
  • There are training courses

Nathan’s goal is to reach 1,000,000 aspiring and new entrepreneurs through all of his media channels.

Repurposing Content

Nathan interviews entrepreneurs every month for Foundr Magazine. Once that interview is completed it has the potential to become several pieces of content:

  • First there is the interview in the magazine.
  • He could also put that interview on YouTube with a frame.
  • The interview can be released as an episode of the Foundr Magazine podcast.
  • Nathan can have a transcript of the interview made and post the interview as a guest post on a blog to attract a larger audience.
  • He can break the interview up into smaller segments and post them on YouTube and other places.
  • He can use the interview as the basis for content for Foundr courses.

See how you can use one piece of content in multiple ways to create a Transmedia strategy?

The benefit of this kind of Transmedia strategy is that you make yourself accessible wherever your customers are.

It allows you to reach more people and make a bigger difference without having to spend 10x as much effort finding new stories and content.

Obviously, you still need new stories and content every month, but you can use your existing content across multiple distribution channels to have a bigger impact. That’s just smart business, and it’s one of the reasons Foundr Magazine has been so successful.

Start Your Magazine Business

Want to start a magazine business! Jump in and get started.

Model the success of Nathan and Foundr, and get your message out to more people.

God knows we could use some better magazines than the ad-ridden drivel you see every week at Whole Foods.

Resources Mentioned

Learn more about Foundr at

Nathan Chan’s Instagram domination course