HOW TO: MAKE A ZINE


I follow a ton of amazing people on Twitter. I used to use the platform predominantly for personal use, you know, tweeting about the amazing cheese toastie I had for lunch and not much else. This past year, however, I have really got in to the bloggers and writers side of Twitter. I've found some amazing blogs through it and made so many friends who are just like me, all of them who love to write on interesting and important topics.

The more I got to know these people, the more I realised that so many of them had interesting things to say about the topic of mental health. It got me thinking, how amazing would it be if I could collect all of these people's stories and somehow publish them? A collective works from dozens of creatives, all who had a story to share about their own experiences with mental health. As well as being a personal venture, it could be something that would help a lot of people currently struggling with their own health. This was where the idea began.

A zine is a mini magazine which is homemade and usually stuffed with creativity. I knew virtually nothing about zine making when I decided this would be my format, but honestly, it didn't really matter. There are no particular rules to the process, which is what makes the finished product so personal. However, I do have a few tips which I learnt along the way which I'd love to share with any budding creatives who feel like they have a story to share.

Choose your topic
Often, the point of a zine is that it sheds light on a subject that you wouldn't be likely to see a whole print publication dedicated to in mainstream media. Of course, this doesn't mean you have to choose the most obscure topic out there, it just means that it should be an area which you personally feel like you could add something new to. I chose mental health, because it's a subject close to my heart and an area that I wish more people would write about. Maybe you love to cook and come up with your own recipes? Maybe you want to talk about a city you've visited, share your photos of street art or talk about your favourite films? Whatever it be, make it something you love.

Utilise your friends talents
Collaborative zines are not something you see very often, but I have no idea why. The idea of making a zine all by yourself seems really fulfilling, but right from the start, I knew that this project was about more than just me. I reached out to any writer, illustrator or photographer I knew and collected so much material for my zine that I knew it would offer a rounded view of what it's like to live with a mental illness. Don't be afraid to ask people to help you. You may find that you even make friends who have similar interests to you through the process. I definitely did!

Put time into the design
The design process is quite an important one. Zine making is quite different to simply writing a book. It's more than just words, it's images and typography. Think of it as an Instagram friendly mini magazine (I say this with no irony whatsoever). I did my entire zine online, but maybe you want to design yours by hand? Whatever you choose, make sure you leave enough time for laying out your zine and designing it. Look on Pinterest and see how other people have made their pages look pretty - that really helped me!

Figure out page layouts
Working out how I had to layout my pages so that it would read in chronological order when I'd printed and folded it REALLY baffled me. I watched dozens of Youtube tutorials before I'd figured it out, and I recommend anyone who wants to make a folding zine does so too. If you're making your zine online, most editing softwares (I used Microsoft Publisher) will work out all of the page layouts for you so you don't have to, but if you're doing it by hand, try to familiarise yourself with the process before you put pen to paper.

Work out your printing process
The printing process was the dreaded hurdle looming at the end for me throughout the whole process. However, when I was finally ready to print, it wasn't too difficult to get my head around. If you buy good quality ink and paper, printing your zine from home is the easiest and cheapest option. Professional printers charge extortionate prices per page, so for me, doing it all myself was the only option! But do your research, work out which method would be most cost effective with you and go with it!

Choose your binding tools
Binding is a pretty fun part of the process. I've seen people do it with pretty stitching, elaborate bows, hot glue or just plain old staples. It really depends on the general look you want your finished zine to have. Personally, I think staples work better when you have more pages and stitching up the spine makes an interesting addition to smaller zines. Considering my zine was 80 pages long, I went with good old staples to keep it secure. There really is no right or wrong way of doing it though, so experiment!

Be aware of costs
Postage, materials, ink, paper, envelopes - all of these things need to be considered before you're ready to sell. Figure out if you want to make a profit, whether you want to give money to charity, and how much your outgoings will be for each zine before you put it up for sale.

Promote! Promote! Promote!
Finally, don't be afraid to put yourself out there when it's finished! You've spent so much time putting the whole project together, so don't feel like you're being annoying by trying to get people to buy it! Be proud of your hard work and shout about how great your zine is across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Etsy. Positive promotion = sales, so get sharing!


You can buy my zine, Stuck in my Head: Stories from Survivors, on Etsy. It features stories from dozens of creatives and is all about mental health. All proceeds (which don't go back into printing costs) will be going to a MH Charity, where they will make the world of difference to those currently living in the dark.

4 comments :

  1. This is a really helpful post, thanks so much! Well done on making a zine, I'll have to try pick up a copy soon. I'd love to try do something similar one day!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! They're so fun to make, I'd def recommend giving it a go!

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  2. This is super helpful! Printing at home is a great idea, I'd actually never thought of that as an option because I presumed the quality wouldn't be good enough. Can I ask what kind of paper or ink you would recommend?

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    1. I'm so glad to hear it! They're obviously not as high quality as they could be, but you can definitely still make them look pretty professional from home. I always go for heavy weight paper (around 30lb), but that's the main suggestion I have - the better quality the paper, the better the ink looks!

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