Sunday, May 29, 2011

Start-up Journal: The Greatest Feeling in The World.

Here's a sneak peak at the summer issue of JUMP magazine. It officially hits the streets on Friday and I couldn't be more proud. The stories are solid, the images are strong, the amount of interesting content overall is impressive and the presentation, I think, looks way better than issue one.

First of all, I used smaller fonts in this issue, which allowed me to be more creative with design. We were able to run more stories and with larger images. The only people who will likely complain will be my grandparents. Everyone else, I presume, will have no problems reading the type.

I'm pretty excited about the content. The theme of issue two is "The Hook-up." It's all about connections, romantic or otherwise. Surprisingly, nearly everyone followed that theme, creating a package that is consistent and unusual. We learned how all of these bands and places and people came together. It's pretty fascinating.

I'm still reconciling my vision of the magazine with some folks. To me, music is the excuse to talk about all these people doing amazing things. The magazine is more than music. It is a youth culture guide. With that in mind, we cover food, politics, education and lots of other stuff.

I love the blend. I interviewed the mayor about his DJ days. We have a story about a 24-year old guy who is using classical music to transform a Southwest Philly neighborhood. And we have a food story about a West Philly restaurant that is trying to foster the jazz community.

In this issue, we have stories about rappers, neo-New Wave artists, indie rockers, pop musicians, a folk venue, a century-old piano shop and everything in between. It's wildly diverse and I absolutely LOVE that.

Some folks, I think, are really interested in only being about the music. I would argue that Rolling Stone, SPIN and most other mags do really cool pop culture stuff that is connected to music. Why can't we?

Now, the business stuff:

- I sold nine ads to a variety of local businesses. Nearly all of them signed on for multiple issues and they paid up front. Their early payments - around $4,0000 - cover my ass in the short run (it costs $5,500 to print the mags, so I'm still in the hole). We'll owe them space in future issues but they build a base from which we can grow. Their paid ads signify to other potential advertisers that people believe we are product with value.

My goal for the issue was to sell 10 ads or reach half the printing costs ($2,750). I'm pretty satisfied with where we are at this point. I think it will be easier to sell ads in the fall - I assume that businesses realize that the summer will be slow, regardless of advertising.

- I had coffee or drinks with countless people after issue one came out. Some of those meetings resulted in stories, and a few resulted in advertising. More than anything else, however, I thought every meeting had value because they gave me greater perspective.

- Numerous people have told me I need to be less honest with these blog posts. Showing any sort of weakness could hurt the business, they say. But I really want everyone to understand what is happening with the magazine: we are an altruistic operation whose only goals are to be sustainable and make everyone realize that Philly has great stuff going on.

- Everyone I spoke to saw the business as being easily sustainable, and they liked the overall product. One guy told me that we are reaching an audience many people would kill to reach. He told me not to under-value the product.

- I tend to under-value my time, and I messed up pretty good again with this issue. For instance, over the last 72 hours before we went to print, I probably slept about ten total hours. I pulled an all-nighter the night before going to press. I can't even begin to count up all the hours I put into this product.

I should probably begin to delegate tasks but I hate to ask people to work for free. Plus, I want to establish what we are before allowing others to have greater control of the overall. We'll get there.

- With this issue, I found two young writers I am really, really pleased with. I intend to groom them for leadership in the magazine.

I pick up the mags on Thursday and Friday. We'll begin drops on Thursday. I'd like about 2,000 on the street by Friday night (which is the start of Beer Week). We have a table at The Roots Picnic on Saturday and we'll deliver another 1,000 copies then. On Sunday, we'll give out mags at the MAD Dragon Showcase at the TLA.

By the end of the first full week in June, I'm hoping to have around 8,000 copies in circulation.

Look at the virtual mag above. I think it looks really good. Seeing what we created gives me the greatest feeling in the world.