The Making of a Magazine
One of my (many) dream jobs growing up was to work for a magazine. I wanted to be the Editor in Chief (obviously) and sit in my big, floor to ceiling window office overlooking Manhattan. I wanted to design each page, and I wanted to style and photograph the models, and I wanted to talk to celebrities. I wanted to do it all. But as I grew up and learned more about the magazine industry, I ultimately decided I didn't want to be a part of it, and changed my major from journalism to fashion. I didn't want a job where I was working from 7 am until 9 pm, where I'd miss dinner with my family, and where I was constantly stressed. High paced and energetic, I could handle. But sacrificing my home life wasn't something I wanted- even before I had a family. So I pushed the thought of working for a magazine out of my mind and continued on. Once I started blogging and reinvigorated my love of writing and designing, I tried to find side projects that would fulfill me- freelance writing, logo and blog design. But nothing was really a true fit for me. So that nagging feeling in the back of my mind about starting a magazine would continually pop up. But I kept talking myself out of it. I didn't know anything about running a magazine. But then one day in April I decided that enough was enough. I was sick of talking about this big idea of mine. I was just going to go for it.
Deciding on a Name
Once I decided it was time, the first item on my list was to decide on a name. This was by far the most difficult decision for me. I polled my friends and family with a lot of different names, went back and forth a few times, checked out what names were already taken by magazines, and looked at available domain names. I kept coming back to Holl & Lane, which is the cross streets of my first home. Because I figured there was a reason I kept coming back to it, I settled on that and moved on.
Deciding on Topics
I always knew that I wanted to have my magazine be based on a wide range of topics. I personally read magazines that are about more than one topic because I feel that they enrich more parts of my life that way. My life isn't made up of just fashion, or just motherhood. So I wanted to bring that idea to my magazine as well. I sent out a survey to my blog readers to get an idea of who THEY were and what THEY liked. I discovered the average age of my blog reader (who would then be my audience), their educational and marital status, and what sorts of hobbies they were into. That helped me craft the topics that would be available in Holl & Lane.
Once everything was in order, I announced on my blog that I was going to be starting this venture. Luckily you are all amazing and were so supportive. I also asked at this time for contributors. I know a lot of people with a lot of interesting stories and who were luckily interested in sharing. I spoke to a lot of people and slowly the articles for each section were coming together. I set a deadline and gave all of the contributors information on what I was looking for. Though admittedly I didn't give them quite as much information as I should have, one of my lessons learned for sure.
My absolute favorite part of the whole process was designing the magazine. It isn't perfect, but I'm thrilled with how it turned out for my first attempt at anything of this magnitude. In the past I've always designed for others and that isn't quite the same as designing for yourself. I was able to do whatever I wanted. I was able to take the words my contributors sent me and turn them into something beautiful to look at. I designed each and every single page in InDesign and learned quite a bit along the way.
Developing a Team
One thing I wish I had done sooner was develop a team to help me. It's tough for me to admit that I'm not superwoman, but I'm not. I can't run a magazine, plus magazine social media, plus source stories, plus run my own blog and social media, plus work full time, plus be a wife and mother. But that's what I did while I made the first issue. I did it all myself and let me tell you, it was exhausting. So just before the first issue launched, I "hired" volunteers to join the Holl & Lane team. It was particularly important since I'd be on vacation when the magazine launched. I was able to trust these 4 women that they would have my back and would promote the crap out of the magazine while I was away. I have two people who work on social media, and two people who now help me source stories. Had I not had them while I was away on vacation, I wouldn't have been able to truly enjoy being away from reality. And now that we're moving on to Issue 2, I'm so glad to have them to bounce ideas off of.
Another thing that my team has been able to help me with is getting organized. For the first issue, I ran everything through my email, which meant that in addition to my normal blog emails, and personal emails, I was also getting magazine emails mixed in. I tried to keep everything separated into folders as much as possible, but it was incredibly difficult. Because I knew I'd be sharing information with the team for the second issue, I set up several google doc spreadsheets that everyone could view. They have been tweaked along the way to make them exactly what we need to see and use, but they are incredibly helpful at this stage. Another big thing was that I set up an email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) specifically for my blog. I wasn't sold on the idea of having to pay for an email address, but it not only looks more professional, but I can be assured that the only emails going to this address are magazine related.
The last thing I did (just this week) was to develop a website specifically for the magazine. I had everything going through my blog, but because the magazine is completely separate from the blog (the only thing they have in common is me), I wanted a website just for the magazine. So because I had already bought the domain once I came up with the magazine name, I just needed to develop the website. At this point it's an incredibly simple format (see it here), but it serves it's purpose- to tell people what the magazine is, to offer a contributor form, to inform about potential advertising spots, and, of course, to have each issue listed so people are able to look through and read each published issue. Will the website change and grow one day to include even more content? Possibly. But right now it serves its purpose.
If you've made it through all of this, I applaud you. I've been asked quite a few times since I launched HOW exactly I made this work so I wanted to give you the inside scoop. As you can see- I didn't wait until I was really ready. I just did it. I didn't have a business plan, or really any kind of plan. I didn't do a whole lot of research. I knew that focusing on these types of things would just talk me out of it. So instead, I just went for it.
Is there anything else you want to know about? Let me know in the comments!