We’ve been hearing from people in the magazine world about their increasing need for a digital business and marketing strategy which often – in the end - outweighs the print side of things in terms of workload and maintenance.
As it’s London Fashion Week, we decided to have a chat to one of the bloggers at the forefront covering this event, Amelia Gregory – creator of Amelia’s Magazine - about the changes she and her business have undergone since the launch of Amelia’s Magazine, to the making of www.ameliasmagazine.com.
How has Amelia’s Magazine changed after your move to digital?
I like to think that moving over to digital has been part of a slow evolution rather than a major change. We had already part moved over to the web by the time the print magazine ceased in late 2008, so there wasn’t a huge break. I hope that the website has retained many of the characteristics of the print magazine but of course it is intrinsically different in many ways too.
For example the web is all about moving new information out into the wider world as quickly as possible and now we are able to cover a whole host of wider events that were not possible in a biannual magazine. I also adopted the earth section so that I could write more widely about my involvement in climate activism.
But things have definitely not stopped evolving – we are constantly changing the way we work to suit the Internet better. For instance we now work far more widely with illustrators who contribute to most articles, and we work via twitter to talk with them. We don’t run as much photography and I do miss the creativity allowed in photographic fashion stories, but it’s not the end of the world and I’m sure I will find another outlet for photography in a book one day.
What prompted this move?
Many things prompted my move to the web – I really wanted the chance to get ideas out into the world much more frequently than I could in the print magazine. Plus I only meant to run Amelia’s Magazine in print for ten issues over five years and then see where I had got to – which was into a lot of debt – and then see how I felt about it. The magazine was really stressing me out and I wanted to get back to other things that I enjoyed… especially being more hands on in the creation of print matter.
I really needed more time to make the website work better and so that I could start to write books about tangential subjects… so the print magazine had to fall by the wayside to make room for these. There’s no money in a high quality magazine like mine was, which also hardly contained any advertising, but then again there isn’t any money in running a blog either… but still, at least the outlay has been less! The trouble is that producing a book has set me right back into serious debt.
What are the good and perhaps unexpected benefits of this?
I really love how I can reach out to so many more people via the web – at the time of answering this interview I have over 46,000 readers all over the world and that is still rising. The print magazine became very well known and loved but it would never have reached that kind of readership. Distribution is just so damn hard in print, and yet the web can reach everyone. I don’t miss having to deal with vast piles of magazines all over my house (though I still have great swathes left over) and it’s great only visiting the post office once a week to do mail-outs.I also love how I have managed to entwine running a website with working on social media, which has been very important since we first got onto Facebook back in 2006 (and then onto Twitter at the start of 2009) I really love social media so it’s great that I get to use it for work purposes.
What are the downsides?
People still don’t take blogs seriously – I’ve been running adverts on the website for years, and yet most brands still won’t take an interest. It’s madness – we’ve got such a wide and closely targeted readership and yet they just don’t get it. I keep hoping, one day one day, but all the fashion blogs are pretty much in the same boat. None of us make money from this, and that is a pretty major downside.
I’ve got a really well known and widely regarded brand, and yet I’m still really really struggling financially. It can get me down so I try not to think about it too much. Plus it’s just not as respected as the print version – for instance even though I am arguably way more influential nowadays I’m getting really crappy tickets for the London Fashion Week shows. I used to get front row as the publisher of a fashion magazine in print… not so anymore, despite my thousands of readers. I also have to update constantly and forever keep an eye on the website so there’s never really a day off. It’s a bit like being a doctor on call – constantly on duty! I’ve got a vast army of contributors that I talk to all the time on email and twitter – many of whom I really couldn’t do without – and it can feel like I’ve got way too many balls in the air, but it’s a small price to pay for the enjoyment that I get from running the website most of the time.
How do people normally come to your site?
I’m not very good at actually measuring stuff like this, but I do know that Twitter is now second only in importance to Google for driving traffic to the website, which is pretty amazing! Of course a lot comes through Facebook too – we used to use MySpace back in the day but I’m rather ashamed to say that I haven’t even logged in for about a year, I really should go and sort it out because lots of people all around the world still rely on MySpace for information. We also do a weekly email-out which reaches 5000 people.
How do you communicate with your audience – and how do they communicate with you?
We obviously communicate via the email-out and using social media, and our readers are quite a chatty bunch. I love it when people comment on the blogs or on the Facebook posts! Twittering us on personal profiles is definitely the main source of general communication, and also via email of course. I get to wade through an awful lot of emails every day – it’s highly distracting.
Do you have an SEO strategy?
We’re very careful about how we label blog posts, and we make sure all keywords appear in the subtitle and in the tags section. We also link wherever possible internally if we’ve written about a subject before. Other than that we don’t do much – to be honest I don’t really think we have to – usually we’re at the top of Google anyway.
Where do you see Amelia’s in 5 years’ time?
I have no idea – I’ve ceased to have any kind of plan (not that I did in the first place) I hope very much that it will still be a brand that is known for showcasing the best in underground creativity with a conscience. I’d like to carry on having a web presence and producing stuff in print indefinitely, in whatever way that might be. But I also very much want to raise a family and I’m running out of time: the thought fills me with fear because I have no idea how I’ll be able to carry on running Amelia’s Magazine if I am lucky enough to have children, who will of course be dependent on me earning a real income (which I’ve never managed to do) as well as devoting my time and energy to them. We’ll just have to see how it all pans out if I do have a family… I’d like to think I can somehow manage the two in a seamless fashion, but I’m pretty disorganised even now so we’ll just have to see! It might mean some serious downsizing for a while.