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The journey of building a magazine December 31, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, Green & Frunchy, networking, parenting & family, WAHM/WAHD Stuff, writing/editing/blogging.
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A lot of my regular readers and close friends and associates know that I’m launching a magazine in January—theWAHMmagzine: the only content-driven digital magazine for work-at-home parents. It has been exciting and a challenge, and with five days to go until the big launch, I’m getting beside myself with excitement about it, so I thought that I’d write about the journey.

 

The Catalyst

Somewhere early in the spring, my husband informed me that he spoke with his boss about doing what his company calls Transitional Work Arrangement (TWA) not to be confused with the former airline. He was challenged, and it was even intimated that TWA isn’t something that guys do, that only the women in the company do it, and that.  But, my husband, tenacious dude that he is, persisted. In fact, he’d set the wheels in motion to go on TWA shortly before our son’s first birthday in February, but hadn’t told me yet, because he wanted to get all the facts first. He and I were both ticked off by the statements and attitude towards men wanting to have a different kind of work/family life balance. I was even more ticked off that the resources out there for men wanting a more emotionally fulfilling work/family life balance aren’t as plentiful as the resources out there for women, and even those resources vary in quality. Unfortunately, there are too many scams out there for home-based-businesses, Internet sales and multilevel marketing (a.k.a. pyramid schemes) out there that end up attracting women who want to work from home, but may not have the time or resources to start their own businesses.  And while there are a lot of great work-at-home and working-mom sites out there, I figured there was room for one more, and thus my idea was hatched and theWAHMmagazine was in gestation. He was granted TWA, by the way, and started telecomuting in June, so now we can say that we are a work-at-home family: me full-time, and my husband telecommuting part of the week and being at the office the other work-days.

The Idea

I wanted the magazine to be green—an purely electronic magazine, but I also wanted it to function like a printed publication. I also wanted it to address the issues that WAHDs face as well as freelancers and telecommuters. And, I wanted it be a useful resource for people considering working from home. I didn’t want to duplicate what other business magazines or business magazines for women do, by solely focusing on business issues—it was clear to me, that theWAHMmagazine had to have a whole integrative approach. Beyond business issues, we had to discuss parenting (duh), relationships, but not just what you get in the usual suspects of women’s magazines of sex and romance —it had to look at friendships, relationships with colleagues, neighbors, anyone whose life you touch and who touches yours. And, because as work-at-home parents we often forget to take care of ourselves as we’re taking care of our families and businesses, it had to talk about personal time and health and fitness. Sure, a lot of magazines do that, but I wanted to have a special touch, so the idea of having a profile of or interview with successful, noted work-at-home professionals and have a section of fiction and creative non-fiction of stories about working from home were added as Voices and Stories from the Trenches respectively.

The Research

Any freelance writer knows that there are so many magazines out there—both in-print and on-line, general interest and in niche markets. The number of magazines that start up and fail (as with any new business venture) is great.  And in a market that is saturated with WAHM- and home-based-business stuff, creating something that was going to have potential viability and still be fresh and different enough was key. So that meant going back to business basics 101 and figuring out my format and platform (there’s that blasted word again), doing the research, drafting a business plan, getting a team in place, and testing it out on trusted friends (some of whom happen to be business consultants for some pretty cushy companies) and see what needed to be revised, and revised and revised again. (The research never ends, by the way.)

Research went into everything from choosing a name, to examining the target market, examining the competition, finding out how to get an ISSN, looking at Web hosts and all of the administrative issues for the magazine and bringing it to market,  finding the right “engine” for our digital media, designing the Web site (and later redesigning it after some great consulting from my dad, who’s a software engineer; from Tammy and Wendy at business and learning and, learning the ropes of publicity, thanks to Shannon Cherry, and getting a lot of feedback from countless others to whom I am extremely grateful.)

The Design

Because theWAHMmagazine is a digital magazine, it meant figuring out two stages of production—the same kind of layout and design issues as if it were a print magazine and how to bring it to life electronically. I didn’t want a point-and-click-on-articles kind of on-line magazine, and because I’m pretty green-tinged, my schtick from the onset was to have theWAHMmagazine not be a printed publication. It meant designing the Web site and it meant finding the best medium for delivering a digital magazine. We ended up working with Zmags.

Networking, Testing and Feedback

From friends and family members to new associates and colleges through networking, I tested out the idea, and learned that it was indeed viable…and wow, people outside of my inner circle, really like it. So I pressed on, taking suggestions seriously and making revisions and altering tactics where necessary.

The Content

Since I wanted fresh content, I started posting calls for submissions, contacting possible people for Voices interviews, starting with a very dear friend, and in some cases, getting permission to reprint pieces that were successful and well-written.  This is the hardest part of an editor’s job, something that you don’t realize when you’re on the other side of the publications relationship as a freelance writer, but going through query letters and submissions is hard work. On one hand, it’s nice that I can read them while sitting on the couch, but it also means, that when I’m reading submissions, I’m not writing, which I still practice. (In fact, I’ve got two works-in-progress, one with the publisher of my last book, and one which I’m honing the proposal for to send off to my agent.)

And, since theWAHMmagazine isn’t just about the publication, it’s about the community, I worked on the things that would help to make having a subscription to the magazine an greater value. It’s not like you can pick it up at the doctor’s office or at the market, so that meant creating a forum where subscribers could have a place to connect. It also meant working closely with my Health and Fitness editor, the international fitness expert Craig Pepin-Donat (and author of The Big, Fat Health and Fitness Lie) and a dear friend and former client to bring more content to the subscriber area, as well as leave room for growth including podcasts and other subscriber perks.

Getting the Word Out

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t mention theWAHMmagazine. I did a test press release for my editing company to see if my press release writing skills were up to snuff enough to get any bites. I did, and ended up with a interview with Lillian Cauldwell on Passionate Internet Voices Radio as a direct result, which gave me the courage to make more contact, and my husband and I will both be interviewed on work-at-home-family talk radio early in January. (Info on the interviews will be posted on my news page.) Of course the publicity and advertising work never ends, so there’ll be more press releases going out, but specifically about the magazine.

A Continual Work-In-Progress

Evolving. That’s what theWAHMmagazine is doing—it’s constantly evolving, and I with it. It’s a labor of love, a passionate project and hopefully it will bring added value to the lives and businesses of our subscribers and advertisers. We’re pushing the envelope in work-at-home parenting resources, and I hope that many will join us on our journey.

theWAHMmagazine

The only content-driven digital magazine for work-at-home parents.

 

Copyright 2007, © Erika-Marie S. Geiss

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Comments

1. Thursday - December 31, 2007

I think you’ve got something impressive going here, and I can’t wait to see how you develop it.

2. Samantha - December 31, 2007

Like Thursday, I can’t wait to see how the WAHMmagazine evolves!

3. Spontaneous Derivation » Mondo Monday! - January 29, 2008

[…] from the Mitten: The journey of building a magazineErika is launching a magazine, the only content-driven digital magazine for work-at-home parents. […]


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