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Why Independent Magazines Are Succeeding?… The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 8

May 7, 2019

Day 2 of ACT 9 at the Magazine Innovation Center wound up with a panel of independent publishers, each with their own stories to tell:

Darren Sanefski, Moderator, Associate Professor of Multiple Platform Journalism, University of Mississippi
Jimmy Dean, former publisher Sarasota magazine, telling the stories of the community
Rob Hewitt, Founder, Oh-So magazine, celebrating the girls’ skateboarding community
Michael Kusek, Publisher, Different Leaf magazine, for the more mature cannabis consumer
Doni Ambrosine, Founder and Publisher, Culturs Magazine, the global multicultural philanthropic brand
Andrea Butler, Founder and EIC, Sesi Magazine, a teen magazine for girls of color
Monique Reidy, Publisher and EIC, Southern California Life and Weekend Escapes magazines.
Pam Woody, EIC Brio magazine, a voice for the teen space.

The panel has tips for magazine survival and success:

1. You need funding—but if you have the passion, go for it anyway. Sesi launched with basically no money, and is on its seventh year.
2. Choose carefully how you spend the money you have. Sesi saves it for their cover shoots.
3. You need a passion for what you’re doing, to get you through the inevitable valleys.
4. You need courage.
5. You need business savvy.
6. At some point you need to shut everything out and just go forward.
7. Look for the rewards. People stop Ambrosine on the street, cry, tell her how she changed their lives.
8. Keep learning. Read the trade press.
9. Be creative. Find your way around problems.
10. Print. There is still a desire and need for the tangible product, and it will be the driver of other platforms. 11. Use digital to drive people to print. Going from online to print Culturs stature rose a thousand percent. They doubled their reach in six months. Kusek says that at his level he will never make his money back on digital. And the creativity in graphic design has moved back to print, now that social media has killed the home page and digital design has moved to mobile.And as long as the platform isn’t yours, they can change and algorithm and shut you down tomorrow.
12. Put your digital focus on email. That list is yours, and a third party platform can’t take it. Use digital to give your readers ownership of the magazine. Use it to learn about your readers.
13.Innovate. Change with the times. Brio dropped celebrity, includes space for the girls to add their own thoughts, to interact with the publication.
14. Target your audience. It reduces the risk. Different Leaf is launching with 5000-7500 copies in the Massachusetts area, self-distributed into dispensaries and independent outlets.
15. Events can both generate revenue and build community. Gather your readers together. Different Leaf is doing an event on how to design a dispensary. It will also bring them to the attention of potential advertisers.
16. Know your vision, know your brand, stick with brands that align. You become known for who you are. Reidy’s magazines are mistaken for regional, but they’re not—they are travel magazines, so they don’t run articles about politics or businesses.
17. Keep your eye on your audience and make the best product you can for them. Don’t try to be all things to all people.Don’t let naysayers pull you off brand. Teen Vogue can never do what Sesi can, for example.
18. Remember to have fun while you’re doing it. Use this job to create the life that you want.

To watch the entire panel discussion click on the video below.

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