It is not an oxymoron. A new PRINT magazine aimed at college kids by college kids. Yes, yes I know, but please keep on reading… University Link magazine describes itself as “an edgy, fun and socially conscious magazine written exclusively for college students by college students that informs and entertains.” When I heard of the newly launched monthly last April, I had to take a double take. A print magazine for college kids! Didn’t all the “media pundits” tell us that college kids are no longer interested in print, and if they are interested, than it is only in free print. So why on earth will someone, anyone, launch a new monthly magazine aimed at college kids and written by college kids and, to top it all, has the guts to charge for it $20.00 for 10 issues.
Well I took my questions to Ali Salomi the managing director and co-publisher of the Southern California based magazine and here’s what he had to say:
Samir Husni: A print magazine for college students? Isn’t this concept outdated? Some say college kids don’t use print anymore? Care to comment…
Ali Salomi: We don’t believe this concept is outdated. We have three years of research that we completed prior to launching this magazine that gave us enough confidence in welcoming the phrase “Print is Dead.” We found that other than local school papers, there really isn’t any print media aimed only at college students. We felt that by publishing a magazine that was edgy and entertaining and at the same time informative we would capture our readers’ attention.
We have street teams that are on college campuses everyday to sell subscriptions and to take surveys from students to find out what they want to read about. We wanted to design a magazine with the reader in mind and because we’re generating income with our subscriptions we’re not beholden to our advertisers for content. We keep the students and their interests first.
We charge the students $20 per year (10 issues) for our subscriptions and DO NOT publish any of our stories FREE on the web. We are the ONLY subscriber-based, college-magazine in Southern California.
With our first issue we had 12,000 subscribers, and our second 15,000. We are forecasting 20,000 subscribers by our September issue and 30,000 by year’s end. For a magazine that just launched (and the first we’ve published), these numbers are incredible. Our reader responses have been amazing and the flood of email from students asking to write for us is always nice as well. Students regularly report to our street team how nice it is to take a “break” from school and read the magazine between and sometimes even in class.
SH: Why is the magazine limited to Southern California and what are the expansion plans?
AS: The magazine is currently limited to Southern California. We did this for two reasons; one was to make sure that the voice of the magazine remains the voice of Southern California college students. It speaks to them in their own lingo and covers subjects within their own communities. We also wanted to assist student writers within the Southern California region. All our stories are written by college students. We are trying to give students a leg to stand on when they enter the world of journalism. By writing for our magazine they will gain hands-on experience while still in school.
The second reason we are only in Southern California is for our advertisers. There are many companies that are located in Southern California who don’t need a nationwide advertising campaign. By advertising in our magazine, they are able to hit a niche 18-24 year old demographic within their own region.
Our expansion plan is to cap off at 50,000 subscribers in Southern California then open up to another major market. Once in another major market, we will publish a magazine only for that area, i.e. University Link Magazine: Miami Edition, it will be a different magazine with different writers and different content. We will use student writers from that area. Our long-term goal is to target 10 major U.S. markets.
SH: What innovative things you consider yourself doing launching ULM?
AS: We consider ourselves the first paid, subscriber-based magazine targeting college students; that is also written by college students. We will strive to keep our advertising costs low, so that local businesses can advertise in a high quality publication.
Best of all, starting in September, we will be launching our “Editor Internship Program.” This will be a 5-month internship program where we will select five students to work with University Link Magazine. During these five months, each student will be able to edit one of our next five issues with the other four interns learning and assisting. The five interns will be working directly with our Managing Editor, Taylor Van Arsdale, who has more than 15 years of editorial experience.
The covers above are those of the first and second issues of the magazine.