Tag Archives: publishing

How to build your online community

No, it’s not advice from me. It’s advice from hyperactive blogmeister John Scalzi, who has posted a handy video of a forum from the Tools of Change online media publishing conference thing in New York in February.

I was aware of the event, and it looked very interesting. I would have liked to have gone but, given that it was in New York and cost $1,600 for a ticket – well.

Scalzi’s panel – “Where Do you Go With 40,000 Readers? A Study in Online Community Building” – is chock full of info for all keen bloggers and those who want to develop an online presence.

If you’re interested in the rest of the conference (and if you’re going to be involved with journalism at all, online or offline, you probably should be), all the conference sessions are archived here on Blip.tv.

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The slow, sad death of print #2

Just as Haymarket canned Promotions & Incentive‘s print edition, it also made Marketing Direct web-only. I’m not as sad about this, though I did work on its launch about 10 years ago and have written and subbed on it over the years, so it does affect me. md-cover

And like P&I, the web-only move means just one person uploading content, with little or no freelance input, which scuppers all those fascinating features I used to write about database cleansing back in the day.

But is this a real loss? Not for the readers maybe – by moving online, the magazine will probably be able to track and analyse what it is they want much more accurately.

It’s the journalists who are facing the real challenge. Their worry is that there simply won’t be enough work to sustain them if a whole swathe of the business press follows suit.

Of course there are still scads of written content on direct marketing on the web. The big question for traditional magazine journalists is how they can make money from it. More thoughts on this in a later post…

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The slow, sad death of print #1

A sad day for me recently with the news that one of my very first freelance titles is closing its print edition. Haymarket has decided that Promotions and Incentives mag isn’t cost effective to print and distribute any more. pandi2

I am genuinely sorry. Obviously that’s because I won’t get to write any more thrilling features about book promotions or vouchers – but also because P&I launched in the 60s and has a venerable history as a trade press title. Like many sentimentalists, I mourn the passing of old things. [Though someone who does it much better than me is my mate Peter Ashley, who writes the fine Unmitigated England blog.]

Of course, it’s still around on the web. But from the standard trade monthly team of two-and-a-few-halves (editor, senior reporter plus half an editorial assistant, part of an art editor and unclassified bits of a freelance sub), now just one person gets to write and upload material with, as far as I know, no freelance budget.

I really do understand why printed mags will go to the wall, and why the web is so much, MUCH better a vehicle for the information in the business press. But to slash the web resources to practically nothing does make me question Haymarket’s so-called web strategy.

Yes – the advertising revenue is probably a fraction of what it was in its heyday. But can you build a credible web offering with just one person uploading content?

Maybe the worry is that you can. It seems now the goal in web content is not really good, but just good enough…

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Money, sex and power

That’s what we all want – and basically that’s what you won’t get as a freelance writer/journalist or sub-editor. Not directly, anyway. And in the case of money, not promptly.

So why bother? Why put in the hours of creative fervour and spend all that time parsing sentences correctly in order to turn in polished prose about a trade show you would crawl on your hands and knees on broken glass to avoid visiting in real life?

It’s called professionalism, people. And that’s what this is all about.

Freelance Unbound is all about that code – get the work done; get it done right, and get it done on time. Or earlier.

It aims to dissect the world of the freelance in publishing with forensic precision. To get under the skin of the business and look at how it works, why it works and how we, humble freelancers can exploit it for all its worth. Or at least blather about it.

I sort of know what I’m talking about. I’ve spent pretty much two decades in publishing – magazines mainly, trade and business press mostly – and most of that time has been freelance (or self-employed as I sometimes like to call it, though that definition has been disputed over the years as employers and the Inland Revenue try periodically to tax us at source as if we were – shudder – employees).

I’ve moved from subbing and layout to features writing and editing. And now, thanks to one too many encounters with young journalists fresh out of a journalism degree who can’t actually string a coherent article together, I’ve moved into training.

So Freelance Unbound will cover stuff to do with the mechanics of producing content profitably and competently, as well as ranting about the fact that yards of copy is produced for the national media without the writer once engaging their brain to think about what they’re saying, or researching the background. Have I done it too? Of course. There’s still no excuse.

Unbound is also an exercise in exploring the wonderful world of Web 2.0. That’s all that social networking malarkey the kids are into these days for anyone over about 30. As I’m starting to work on training material to help people rework printed editorial content for the web, blogging is a useful tool to understand the web as a medium better. There’s a heap of material online about writing for the web, but doing it is much better than reading it.

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