Never start your plan with a compromise.
At the beginning of any project we can be susceptible to stories of the-way-the-things-have-always-been-done, and other potentially distracting notions … like data and people’s good advice.
Incubation time is a tender, fiery phase when your vision is weaving itself into a strategy, and it’s tempting to fall back on convention. But don’t. Not now. Please, not yet.
I’m in that place myself right now. Starting a magazine — in print (!), with some digital elements, with advertising, and commissioned artwork and photography, and contributors and editors, and retail distribution. Like, a real magazine. And … we’re creating a suite of other things that will make this unlike any other reading experience out there. It’s thrilling.
I had no idea how to start a magazine a few short months ago (and I don’t know much now.) So naturally we started doing our homework. And naturally, I felt it was imperative to remind our mighty lil’ creative family that we’re freedom-seekers. I rarely send messages down from the mount. But beginnings call for sermons. Here’s an excerpt from the letter I sent to my co-builders.
. . . . . .
from: Danielle LaPorte
to: Angie, Alex, Bryce, Shannon, Jenn
date: Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 11:05 AM
subject: Smart magic
A philosophical note on what we’re about to create…
Angie and I spoke yesterday about the growth strategy of the magazine. Vision. How fast we grow. Mostly, HOW do we grow it. In short: We’re going to grow this our way. In a way that feels good, healthy, fun. Joyful. Freedom-based.
The magazine/publishing space is extremely noisy. There’s a lot of fear and scrambling in the industry. Dying breeds. Bloated budgets. Compromise and appealing to the lowest common denominator. Everyone is trying to get to new readers — in old ways. Direct mail is an absurdly expensive, unreliable and therefore high risk way to entice people. And buying mailing lists is always a bit creepy. I’m not ruling out direct mail down the road. But it’s highly unlikely for us. I’m stating this as an example of one of the ways that we do NOT have to conform to traditional ways of building this.
If we have one dollar to spend on marketing, we’ll spend fifty cents of it on building/maintaining a gorgeous, SEO-powerful site, and fifty cents on online advertising like Facebook or audience-resonating sites.
We have a powerful combination of strengths and assets: a major online presence and highly engaged readers. And the pure love we’re givin’.
Online, we have a high response rate and low unsubscribe rate and we’re growing steadily in terms of traffic and subscribers. And then there’s that pure love we’re givin’.
We also have multiple platforms/products/revenue streams for the business. So whatever we draw attention to — the magazine, Desire Map, Your Big Beautiful Book Plan, posts — is an entry point into a world of ways for people to get engaged, learn, buy, become devoted, be ambassadors.
Another thing to keep in mind: It’s not about revenue. It’s PROFIT that wins. And we are lean and mean…ingful. No big buildings to lease; we’re a small, smart team making frugal and faithful choices.
We’re in a very strong place to create a sustainable and profitable magazine. This is what I really want to impress on us as we start to play in this very big field. We are already turned on and tuned in. We have a lot of magic and deep insight into the digital space that will make … more magic.
We’ll do this the way we do things. The way we want. Joy is the aim. And… we’re going to surprise countless people with how solid and useful and beautiful — and fucking awesome this is.
All for now.
. . . . . .
You’ve got to be still at the starting gate so you can hear your truth. This is the time to create your own conventions and systems that support you to be creative, truly innovative — and free.
To beautiful beginnings,