Publish a Menu Guide

Providing a menu guide that tells people where to get a good meal can become a profitable part-time home business.

| May/June 1985

I'm not exactly a member of the Hearst dynasty, but I can honestly say that I earned $900 last year from my own publishing business. Better yet, I invested almost no money of my own and only 60 hours of spare time in the whole enterprise. I publish a menu guide, and I've yet to see a more satisfying and risk-free money-maker.

What Is It?

A menu guide is what you probably wished you had in your hands the last time you checked into a motel on unfamiliar turf. It's a booklet that answers the traveler's perennial question, Where do I go to get a good meal? A menu guide is also one of those rarest of creatures: a piece of advertising that's not only fun to look at, but immediately useful to the possessor.

In it, readers find the actual menus offered by local restaurants, as well as their business hours, addresses, phone numbers, and positions on a locator map. This sort of advertising doesn't just tease — it delivers!

Having said all that, I must remind you that I'm talking specifically about my product, the Bozeman Menu Guide. Similar booklets are sold in some large cities, but my little creations are paid for and distributed in a way that reflects conditions in Bozeman, Montana, which has a population of 25,000. So bear in mind, please, that I'll be talking about a small-city adaptation of a big-city idea.

From Megalopolis to Montana

Three years ago, when I began planning my first guide, I asked a friend, "What tourist would buy a Bozeman-size booklet when he or she could skim through it at a bookstall, pick out a restaurant, and put the pamphlet back on the rack?"

"Nobody would pay for it," my friend answered, "but lots of people might look at it. So get the restaurants to finance the whole deal, and then distribute free copies to motels. That way, thousands of hungry folks will see them over the course of a year. And I don't see any reason why the restaurants wouldn't pay in advance for that sort of advertising." By golly, that solved my first (and worst) problem!

8/5/2007 9:54:54 PM

I'm glad to see that this article is still available on-line. I wrote the article, but my life has gone in different directions, and I no longer publish them. I'd love to hear from any readers who are still publishing menu guides. Thanks!

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