From Blogger to Publisher – The Crazy Wine Magazine Adventure
Have you ever had dreams of being a magazine publisher? Be careful, those dreams might actually be nightmares in disguise. Some say that traditional media is dead, and while I might agree that traditional media that refuses to adapt is in danger of dying, there is still a place for niche driven publishing. Today, I officially enter the world of the insane…er, I mean magazine publisher.
Rewind six months to a restless night in May. Coming up on my final interview of Spokane’s 18 wineries, I was consumed with the desire to get the word out beyond the readers of this blog. A print publication celebrating the regions wine seemed to be the next logical step. In my mind Spokane has reached the tipping point of being a wine destination. When I visit Woodinville, Yakima, Lake Chelan, or Walla Walla, multiple publications help share the story of the areas wine and events. Why not Spokane? I reluctantly crawled out of my bed, leaving the warmth of my wife behind, to be embraced by the glow of my computer screen (an activity that has repeated on many occasions since).
The next morning, I started my research and was startled to learn that it was feasible to publish a magazine. Heck, with enough money and time, you can accomplish anything. I began to lay the foundation of what would become Spokane Wine Magazine. Here I am, Josh Wade, in Spokane WA, with no experience in print publication, attempting something way outside my comfort zone. I’ve done my fair share of indie CD recording and distribution, but layout, design, ad sales, editorial, and printing was all new territory.
Fast forward to today. With the help of an army of talented individuals, Spokane Wine Magazine goes to print. In just a few short days, 10,000 copies of a regional celebration of wine will be hitting the streets. Over the last several months, I’ve learned several important lessons and spent a lot of money and lost some hair, and gained a little more grey hair. But, we have arrived…below are five short lessons I’ve learned through the process. Please join the journey by bookmarking www.spokanewinemagazine.com, follow us on Twitter @spowinemag and like us on Facebook.com/SpokaneWineMagazine.
Five Ways to Avoid Going Crazy When Entering the Publishing World
Engage people who have been down the road:
One of the first calls I made after getting the wife’s blessing to go forward with this crazy idea was to my friend Margaret Croom of Nosey Parker LLC. Margaret has successfully published shopping guide books for women in Spokane and Oklahoma City. She is a brilliant marketer and understands the publishing world. She agreed to partner with the publication by offering her experience, lending her name, and providing her talent. She immediately introduced me to Rainmaker Marketing. Without these relationships, my dream certainly would have turned into a nightmare.
Enlist the support of key influencers:
Who, besides yourself, stands to benefit from the publication? In my case, the Spokane wineries as well as the visitor’s bureau were logical people to approach with a partnership and sponsorship. Spokane IS a wine destination and getting that word out benefits both groups. I put together a pretty rough media kit and scheduled meetings with the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the agency that represents the Spokane Winery Association. The result was a fairly immediate excitement about the project along with a cautious approach to jumping in with a hobbyist wine blogger. After some coaxing, follow up and compromise, both groups were happy to be on board.
Hire the right people:
I consider myself to be pretty ambitious, but it became apparent pretty quickly that I was in way over my head for time, and expertise. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to surround yourself with competent people who can help you fulfill your vision. As most of you know, I try to balance my family, church activities, blog writing, opening Nectar Tasting Room and a full time job. Starting a magazine was just another demand for time and money. Hiring a designer, photographers, ad sales person, and an editor became necessary additions to the budget. You cannot do it all…and survive to tell about it.
Make a budget, double it, and prepare to lose money:
I went into this adventure prepared to lose what some would consider a fairly substantial sum of money. It was the price of getting started and hopefully blazing the trail for future revenue. I was committed to proving that I could get it done and didn’t want to cut any corners. Starting off with a budget and getting firm numbers from contractors was essential. In the end we stuck pretty close to our original budget and I’m happy to say that with the help of the team, we broke even with the very first issue, something my wife is very happy about.
Be flexible, strive for perfection, and stay true to your goals:
Believe it or not, not everyone will be supportive or understand your vision. In fact, chances are you’ll experience some good ol’ fashion opposition. Be persistent and in the end, develop a thick shell and let it roll off your back. I believe in the project, but convincing companies to part with their money for advertising in an unknown can be a challenge (on a side note, I am extremely grateful for all the advertisers who have jumped in to the first publication. You’re support will not go unrewarded). I learned that I needed to be flexible with my design ideas, with my time, and with my money, but still stayed true to the original vision of the project.
These are just a few of the lessons I learned along the way. I’m always available if anyone would like to talk about my adventures. Having gone from zero experience to seeing the whole process unfold, I certainly have some other lessons learned that I can pass along.
With that, I am so full of pride to say that the final product is complete. Very soon, Spokane residents will be able to pick up the very first copy of Spokane Wine Magazine at area wineries, the advertisers, and other key businesses and wine events. The Spokane CVB will be using the publication as part of their visitors and convention packet as well.
Thank you so much to the following partners, Nosey Parker LLC, Rainmaker Marketing, Spokane Regional CVB, Spokane Winery Association, Nectar Wine Blog, and my beautiful and supportive wife! Let’s do it all over again in September 2011.