Indie Publishing
Field Notes

We love sharing our process of making a print magazine and building a sustainable indie publishing brand. New here? Start with our list of popular posts.

Marks of quality

Posted on Nov 01 2014 in Snippets

The content-first approach to modern publishing may turn out to be a winner, even as the business challenges for journalism remain significant and unresolved… Soon, if it’s not true already, magazine brands will matter more as marks of quality or tone than they do as gatherers and arrangers of content in a unified experience… That is the standard to which magazines of the mobile era must aspire.

A great quote of a quote from a great article about the future of digital publishing.

Me vs. us

Posted on Oct 31 2014 in Thoughts

If you follow Offscreen’s behind-the-scenes stuff here on the blog you know that I’m big on making things personal. I don’t pretend to be bigger than I am — Offscreen is a one-man magazine.

However, one little issue I keep stumbling upon when communicating with my readers is the ‘me vs. us’ problem. In 9 out of 10 cases, writing copy from my own view works just fine, but there are occasions where it just sounds a little amateurish, in particular when talking about the magazine as a business and not just a ‘thing I do’.

For instance, on the Contact page, inviting readers and contributors (or even sponsors) to get in touch with me would make Offscreen sound like a little ‘zine’ I throw together during my lunch break. Telling my readers to contact us still appears more meaningful and simply more professional. And while I don’t usually care about standard business lingo, it does seem more mature in certain situations.

And sure, there are ways around using ‘me’ or ‘us’ altogether, but it often makes communication a lot less personal.

So I guess there are rare cases when writing about a one-person business from the perspective of a (fake) team makes sense, as much as I hate inconsistency. I’m sure I’m not the only one dealing with this little predicament. How do you handle this situation in your own one-person business? Any emails or tweets are welcome.

Have faith in what you make

Posted on Oct 07 2014 in Snippets

Making something new takes patience. But it also takes faith. Faith that everything will work out in the end. During the development of most any product, there are always times when things aren’t quite right. Times when you feel like you may be going backwards a bit. Times where it’s almost there, but you can’t yet figure out why it isn’t. Times when you hate the thing today that you loved yesterday. Times when what you had in your head isn’t quite what you’re seeing in front of you. Yet. That’s when you need to have faith.

Love this short article by Jason Fried on making things.

Something worth paying for

Posted on Sep 10 2014 in Thoughts

At the fantastic The Modern Magazine conference here in London yesterday, I had a brief conversation with another publisher whose magazine no longer exists. She said that when she announced the release of the final issue earlier this year, suddenly a lot of support in the form of emails and tweets came flooding in from readers she didn’t know she had — people expressing their disappointment and sadness that one of their favourite magazines was closing its doors.

What surprised her most was the fact that more people were actually reading the magazine than buying it (assumingly getting it handed down from friends or finding it in cafés and other places). Apparently, there was also a large group of supporters that bought the occassional issue and followed the project online, but never really committed to being a regular reader. And they, too, were sad seeing a project disappear that they appreciated, even if they just followed it from the sidelines most of the time.

The overwhelming response to her announcement of bringing the magazine to an end surely made the decision more difficult, but “nice words don’t really pay the bills”, she said frustrated. It reminded me of something Cameron Moll mentioned in his interview with Offscreen. He said: “There’s an opportunity for a Buy Bootstrap movement along the lines of Buy Local or Buy Organic.”

The ‘passive supporter problem’ (if it can/should be called that!?) is, of course, not only prevalent in the magazine scene, I think it can be applied to all ‘indie’ makers out there. I can easily think of a handful of app developers and bloggers with tons of supporters that really want to see the project grow and succeed, but that rarely take practical action (in most cases by signing up for a paid account, paying a small membership fee, etc.) to actively enable the creators to continue the work they appreciate.

Of course, there is a lot of great ‘indie’ stuff out there and you can’t throw your money at them all. So what to do?

In the last few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to find out more about my favourite products and services, by following them online, by signing up to their newsletter, and by meeting and talking to them in person when I get a chance. If I’m convinced that their values and efforts align with my own, I try to be an active supporter and pay my fair share. This doesn’t just apply to the digital world, of course, I try to apply the same principles to, say, charities or my local shops down the road.

I guess it all comes down to being an informed consumer. Take a moment and think about the tools, products, and services that really make a difference in your life, and then show them your appreciation through proactive support, which in most cases (but not always) means adding them to your list of things worth paying for.

Something worth paying for

At the fantastic The Modern Magazine conference here in London yesterday, I had a brief conversation with another publisher whose magazine no longer exists. She said that when she announced the release of the final issue earlier this year, suddenly a lot of support in the form of emails and tweets came flooding in from readers she didn’t know she had — people expressing their disappointment and sadness that one of their favourite magazines was closing its doors.

What surprised her most was the fact that more people were actually reading the magazine than buying it (assumingly getting it handed down from friends or finding it in cafés and other places). Apparently, there was also a large group of supporters that bought the occassional issue and followed the project online, but never really committed to being a regular reader. And they, too, were sad seeing a project disappear that they appreciated, even if they just followed it from the sidelines most of the time.

The overwhelming response to her announcement of bringing the magazine to an end surely made the decision more difficult, but “nice words don’t really pay the bills”, she said frustrated. It reminded me of something Cameron Moll mentioned in his interview with Offscreen. He said: “There’s an opportunity for a Buy Bootstrap movement along the lines of Buy Local or Buy Organic.”

The ‘passive supporter problem’ (if it can/should be called that!?) is, of course, not only prevalent in the magazine scene, I think it can be applied to all ‘indie’ makers out there. I can easily think of a handful of app developers and bloggers with tons of supporters that really want to see the project grow and succeed, but that rarely take practical action (in most cases by signing up for a paid account, paying a small membership fee, etc.) to actively enable the creators to continue the work they appreciate.

Of course, there is a lot of great ‘indie’ stuff out there and you can’t throw your money at them all. So what to do?

In the last few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to find out more about my favourite products and services, by following them online, by signing up to their newsletter, and by meeting and talking to them in person when I get a chance. If I’m convinced that their values and efforts align with my own, I try to be an active supporter and pay my fair share. This doesn’t just apply to the digital world, of course, I try to apply the same principles to, say, charities or my local shops down the road.

I guess it all comes down to being an informed consumer. Take a moment and think about the tools, products, and services that really make a difference in your life, and then show them your appreciation through proactive support, which in most cases (but not always) means adding them to your list of things worth paying for.

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