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The Leap from Photographer to Publisher: Not As Long As You Might Think
Posted By Helene Kobelnyk On September 18, 2012 @ 12:00 am In Business of Photography | 4 Comments
I never thought I’d be a publisher. But my new online magazine is developing a following, and I think that’s due in large part to the skills and resources I developed as a photographer: an appreciation for quality content, an ability to motivate freelancers, a social media following and a clear understanding of editing. I now look at life and the people in it in terms of the beautiful stories that are out there and ready to be shared — through words as well as images.
I created Vivacini! as an online venue for community building, entertainment and education — focusing on people with amazing stories — and featuring gifted writers and photographers of all styles. I have lived and worked in this community for more than 20 years, so I have a pretty good idea of the needs and interests of both residents and visitors.
Even the most gifted of writers can be lackadaisical about deadlines that have to be met in order to get the magazine built in a timely manner. To avoid unnecessary stress on everyone’s part, we have instituted a profit-sharing plan based on incentive points. Contributing writers to newspapers usually get paid nothing, and we wanted to make sure that Vivacini! was in a class by itself, both in terms of content and the treatment of contributors.
It is only fair that as the magazine grows in success, writers share in the profits, especially whenever they go above and beyond what is expected of them. Therefore, points are given for timely submission of content, with an extra point if they give a one-week lead-time. Other points are earned for advertising referrals, writer referrals and multiple sharing on social media.
After seeing the quality of the magazine, writers are now asking to contribute, and we have an extra week in lead-time. And we now have the luxury of quality fillers, to make sure we no longer have to work until three in the morning before launching the issue online.
Drawing on a Social Media Following
As a photographer, I had built a following of nearly 10,000 on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. When Vivacini! was launched in July, it was able to piggyback off my followers, who then drifted to the magazine’s Facebook page. My Twitter followers are very generous with their retweets and helped spread word of the magazine. Excerpts are posted on the website, www.vivacini.com , which then allows me to broadcast quality content on all social networks numerous times. Using NetworkedBlogs and RSS Graffiti, one post is easily shared across multiple networks simultaneously. Gradually, Vivacini! is taking on a life and following of its own.
When it comes to online presence and marketing a business, content has to be king. That is what makes the writer-publisher-editor relationship critical.
Our team looks for writers who not only have something interesting to say, but a clever way of drawing the reader into their universe. The editing is done with an eye to preserve unique styles. Whether the columnists are local, out of town, weekly contributors or bi-weekly contributors, we try to maintain a nice balance between consistency and variety, with the occasional surprise.
Reaping the Benefits
The “we” of Vivacini! is now a lead staff of three: publisher, editor and creative director. Many of our duties overlap, but we keep autonomy in our key roles. With content contribution and the magazine layout fairly solidified, we now focus on building revenue from advertisers. Our readership has increased by 250% since the first issue, and has a social reach of 110,000 worldwide. Most importantly, the statistics show a steady gain in visitor and reader numbers, as well as geographical reach.
Additionally, starting this magazine seems to have spawned a whole new surge of creativity in all aspects of my life. My first love, photography, has become more conceptual and daring, and my writing more free flowing and dramatic. Because of Vivacini!, I personally have received more paying photo shoots, and our creative director has landed lucrative design jobs.
The adage “do what you love first and the money will follow” really is true. I saw it in a magazine.
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