Project Ignite Podcast by Derek Gehl Starting A Digital Magazine…Here’s What You Need To Know
00:00:00 00:00:00
  • Episode  88
  • Adam Force


Launching a digital magazine can be a powerful way to expand your audience and profits. In this interview Adam Force shares the systems, tools and steps he took to launch Change Creator, his digital magazine. This interview is full of valuable, in-the-trenches tips that will save you a ton of time and money!

Transcription Episode 88: Starting A Digital Magazine…Here’s What You Need To Know

Welcome to the Project Ignite Podcast, a podcast designed to skip the hype, skip all the BS, just give you guys real actionable tips, strategies, things you need to grow your digital business.

This is your host, Derek Gehl, and today we’re going to be exploring what it takes to start a digital magazine and brand and we’ll be also exploring a little bit of social entrepreneurship along the way.

Now, today’s guest is the founder of Change Creator Digital Magazine and Podcast which is dedicated to developing and empowering social entrepreneurs. He has a pretty extensive entrepreneurial and business journey. The last 15 years is full of some pretty incredible accomplishments, including things like developing digital marketing strategies for some of world’s largest brands like Colgate, Dove and Excedrin.

He’s co-founded his own record label, he’s DJ’d alongside some of the biggest names in the dance music industry. A super interesting entrepreneur whose brain I’m really looking forward to picking about how to start a digital magazine .

Without further ado, I’d like to extend a huge welcome to Adam Force.

Adam, thanks so much for being here today to discuss how to start a digital magazine.

Derek, I love your intro and I appreciate you having me. It’s an honor to chat and I look forward to talking, so let’s dive in.
Let’s do it. Now, before we get into the start a digital magazine stuff that I’m super intrigued by, let’s talk a little bit about your story. Share your journey with us and how you got to where you are today as the founder of Change Creator. What’s the path?

God, it’s a long path. There’s definitely no overnight story here, that’s for sure.I guess the story is really for Change Creator, I’ve had this entrepreneurial side to me for a long time and I just, always had that urge. I want to work for myself. I don’t want to work for someone else. I’ve always been a little bit of an activist and I like to travel.

My wife and I were out in Costa Rica and like a lot of other entrepreneurs, this travel experience, being out there in this really remote area away from the city life. We were living in New York and Philadelphia, we had to get away from that hustle for a little bit.

It just gave me the opportunity to really have this new connection, sit with my thoughts and I know it sounds a little cheesy, but it really makes a difference. You realize just how precious everything is, how things work together and I was like, “We’ve got to protect this.”

You think about all the things that are going on in the world and the thought that starts getting into my mind was, what problem can I help solve. I’ve had all these years of experience doing business strategy, marketing, design, user experience, how can I use these things to build a business that actually contributes something to the world?

When I came back, I was on a mission to become a social entrepreneur and this was a bit more of a new concept. It’s been around for a while, I don’t know how many years. Maybe 30 years or something like that, that is starting to get more popular, but at the time there was no classes about it, there’s not really any books about it, not even a lot of literature.

Recently, it’s really been picking up a little bit more, but it’s still very new.

With that being said, I found one book, Making Good and it was co-authored by this guy Billy Parish. You’ll see that he was on the second issue of our magazine, the cover.

Finally, I dabbled in things like hemp water bottles. That didn’t get me very far. Got really complicated with understanding plastic productions modes, and all these different things. I even spoke to hemp experts and all these different things.

There was a young kid that actually got pretty far and won this contest for this idea of a hemp water bottle and he got stuck with a certain part of the process. I found a solution and it just got really complicated, so I gave up on that. It wasn’t my field of expertise and I got into rainforest protection.

Then I built a website for conscious news and these are all during times where I was in the position like I think a lot of entrepreneurs have. Where do I go? What do I do? How do I start? It just became a lot of question marks for me that I had to solve.

I was always doing stuff. Reading, listening to podcasts, trying to get myself to … I knew I had to continue to develop my own personal skills and working in the professional industry for a larger corporation is very different that working as a start up.

I had a lot of new things to learn and I was a big fan of self development and things like that. Long story short, I was listening to a podcast and somebody was talking about how to start a digital magazine.

I’m sitting there listening and he says this great success story and his audience, this is a magazine for entrepreneurship, business entrepreneurship, but they were asking him, “can you interview and talk to more social entrepreneurs?”

This is because his audience was the younger generation and the younger generations are more and more interested in meaningful work. Doing things that have purpose, putting people before profit and this is when the lightbulb switched on.

I was nowhere near thinking I should start a digital magazine and then it hit me that this is something I can wrap my head around with my past experience. From that point on, I started diving in and Change Creator was born.

Wow, wow. You quickly defined social … Well, you’re talking about social entrepreneurship, but it’s one of those terms that’s been thrown around. You’re hearing it a lot more, right?
What is social entrepreneurship to you?

To me it’s a mindset that drives a particular type of action and the definition by book is really someone who uses entrepreneurial skills to address social and environmental problems, all right.

The primary focus and the difference between business entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship is that social entrepreneurs, they’re saying what problem can I solve, but it’s about making change and impacting lives. Meaning that they’re going to put people and environment and things like that before their profits.Profits become a by-product of what you’re doing. Really that’s the intention here. It is a business with purpose and it’s designed to help.

Look at Mallika Dutt, she was just in our last issue. She is this incredible woman with tons of courage. Her story is amazing and she is in India. She is helping … They have a big problem over there with human rights violations against women and young girls and all these things. It’s a culturally bred type of thing and she had to figure out a way, how to change the system.

The other part of the definition of a social entrepreneur is that they are changing how a system works. It’s not just building a business and you’re doing a charity or something. It’s actually changing the way a whole culture functions, right? It’s a really big challenge and you see people who are doing big things.

Mallika Dutt for example was using pop culture media. She made a music video and it started making waves all around the country and started shaping the way people think about human rights. Now she’s been on this crazy mission and she’s impacting cultures all around India.

Wow. Now, here’s some grey area and this is where I’ve seen people get confused with social entrepreneurship. It’s when they start mixing it up with not for profit, so elaborate on the difference.Are you watching social entrepreneurs that are creating profitable businesses generating the wealth for them that they want to achieve as an entrepreneur while giving back?

Absolutely. That’s the idea and notice the difference. There is a great place for NGOs, charities, non profits, and all these things and they do amazing work, but their work is … How do you say it? I guess it’s a little bit more immediate.Meaning, if I continue to just say, “Hey, you have poverty, so we’re going to have a charity. We’re going to raise money. It’s a non profit and I’m going to get donations so I can start giving these people food. We need to get them food.”

Guess what? Until the actual root cause that is causing poverty is addressed, you’re not going to actually change the poverty situation. You’re just going to alleviate pressure from it for a little while. You follow what I’m saying?


You have to actually get in there and say, ‘Well, why do we have poverty in the first place?” There could be policies, there could be just cultural issues that are causing it, economic issues. Then you’ve got to get to the root of it and find ways to change that system.That’s where the system change comes in and now you’re actually changing how the results come out because you’re changing the system, so now poverty actually goes away. It’s not just saying, here’s some band aids and you could patch that up for a little bit, but we know that it’s not going to change because the same cycle is happening over and over and over.

You’re basically changing the course of history.

Yes, absolutely. This is what I’m trying to clarify for the audience. From a totally business perspective as well, social entrepreneurship, when you find a meaningful course, it really can give you a strong USP, strong positioning in different markets as well where it can be hard to stand. I think one of the best examples of that, are you familiar with Toms Shoes?
Absolutely. I hope to have him. Actually early 2017 we’re doing a special edition with RiseUP The Movie. He’s in that film. He’s supposed to be on the cover of that special edition.

Oh, brilliant. You’re very familiar. I think that’s a fantastic example of someone that went into a market that, come on… shoes. Somebody said, “Hey, what’s the product category that has lots of room for …” Shoes won’t be on top of my list, but he’s tied a social element to this company and it’s just taken off like a rocket.In fact, somebody asked me, “Do you have any Tom Shoes?” I said, “I don’t think I do.” Then my wife looked at me. She’s like, “We have lots of Tom Shoes. I’m like, “Oh, of course we do. Of course we do.”

He started that model, buy one get one. Like you buy one, he gives one, right?
Absolutely. Absolutely, which is fantastic. Okay, so now I want to shift gears a little bit. I want to dig into how to start a digital magazines, because digital magazines are a bit of a head-scratcher for a lot of people. I’ll be honest, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher for me as well. Because when somebody says magazine, we still think in terms of physical, flip the page magazine, right?
Of course. Of course, yeah.
For whatever reason, eBooks have been around forever. People are used to buying digital books. Magazines though, people still associate that more with the magazine rack. I pick my magazine, flip the page. Let’s talk about digital magazines and my first question is, why start a digital magazine?

Well, the idea to start a digital magazine I found really attractive because you can really read it anytime, anywhere, you get automatic updates and the best part is, it’s interactive. You can put your videos in there, you can put your interviews in there, whatever creative solution you can have.You can have a mosaic of people’s faces and you click each one and it goes to a special piece of the information about them, so however you want it. Interactive infographic, so the interactivity is a big component. I think that can offer a deeper level of education and engagement.

If you’re looking what they said, what is it? A video is worth, I don’t know. What was it? It was something like 180 million words or something like that. Just to give the idea. How much more of an in-depth experience it really can be and why starting a digital magazine can be so effective.

If you’re getting premium content that is curated specifically for a certain type of experience, so you have great content curated, so you’re not surfing all over someone’s website to find all these different articles. It’s all there in a cohesive experience, with a layer of depth and interactivity and you don’t have to think about it. You’ll get notifications that tells you when it’s ready and then it’s like Christmas morning.

Yes, right. Okay. I’ve used digital magazines now because in many cases now, for traditional magazine, if you subscribe to them you also get a digital copy of it. I do love the fact that digital versions have so much more depth to them with videos and stuff like that which is fantastic. Let’s walk through the process of how to start a digital magazine, okay.
Yeah, that’s a big one. Before I even get into that, there’s one other benefit. Hey, I was a rainforest advocate. I want to save trees, so the digital magazine is also more friendly to our environment.
Yeah, and that’s very true. That’s very true, very true.

All right, so the process of how to start a digital magazine. Wow, when I started diving into this, it was a head-scratcher for me. Where do I go and how do I make a content calendar and how do I get writers and what content should I even use? All these questions come up.It’s like anything, Derek, you’ve just got to start doing it. That’s a big thing for any entrepreneur, is just start. For me, in order to start a digital magazine, I started writing down and vetting who do I need to talk to?

How to start a digital magazine

Vendors, getting prices for different things, designers, and I made a huge excel sheet to say what’s it going to cost me for six months of full production. What’s it going to cost me for twelve months of full production. Do I need to do crowd funding? How much do I think it’s going to cost for an article?

I did a whole cost analysis and I had to go through … I vetted ten different designers to see … It was very important to me that it’d topnotch quality because that first impression is really important and people want that sexy feel and plus, it’s your brand image.

This is the face of who you are, so it’s incredibly important that you put the time and effort into those details. Otherwise it reflects poorly on you as a brand. For me I started using … I guess I narrowed it down to what the bare minimum was I needed to get started and once I had my cost analyzed, I started learning about content calendars.

I had to figure out how to populate the magazine and then I had to figure out, how do I even get someone to agree to be on a cover of a magazine. Where I don’t have a website yet, I don’t even have a logo yet and I’ve never published any magazines for them to refer to and so it really came down to selling my story to people.

It helps when you have a cause that they can get behind, so when you align to the right people, they’re more interested.

Starting a digital magazine

Before we get into that, the tool I used, that I found very, very helpful at the start was Upwork. Giving them a shout because it’s a really good platform and you can build a team of people there and you can also submit a query to say, here’s what I’m looking for and here are the qualifications that are required. You could say, have you ever written in a magazine about social entrepreneurship, for example or have you ever launched a product?

Whatever your needs are, you can identify them and if they have those qualifications, you could set up time, Skype with them, talk, and you start vetting people. I’ll be honest, I did not do actual discussions in vetting at first. I would just find people with certain skillsets and I came up with content plan and I would start making requests to get articles out there.

For me, I have learned about storytelling as a strategy because when I’m building actual content marketing strategies and PowerPoint docs for pitching and all those things, I always end telling a story.

When I approached the content plan, a couple of books and lots of articles later, I finally got the confidence to populate it and it was really about telling a story. Not only with the magazine, but with each edition as it progressed. When I looked at my content plan, it was really like, all right, so this is the first issue, what content makes sense for the first issue?

Article one through article ten, built on each other and told the story as you read the magazines. That was my personal approach and I never knew, was I doing this content plan the right way? Was I doing it the wrong way?

For me, a lot of people I also contacted were through Twitter. I would go to Twitter and start direct messaging people like crazy. Actually from my first issue, that’s where two of the articles came from. I didn’t pay them, but I gave them exposure in the magazine, so you make mutually beneficial agreements.

If you have something to offer somebody, you can certainly make an agreement and strategically I was going after … I wasn’t going after the Gary Vaynerchuk’s of the world. I was going after people that had interesting stories, but they’re early on, they’re hustlers, and they have something to say, so that even though they’re not famous, they’re real people, making a real difference, and they have something cool to talk about.

Right on my first cover, I had Jake Orak. His story is just awesome. He makes these crazy design bags which was inspired from his travel and there was a culture, I think it was Guatemala.

He was out there and there was a culture that was being pushed to extinction because of industry and so they made out these great handmade design, I don’t know what you call it. These knit like patterns, it’s called Ethnotek bags and he was like, let’s keep this culture alive. To save that culture, he came up with these business to sell bags and designs, even covers for your iPads or whatever by using their materials, their raw materials that they made.

Now, they have someone to sell to and it’s now these awesome business. He had a really cool idea, cool business, and a cool story. It was stuff like that. I started there and strategically I worked my way up. I would build magazine by magazine, the types of people that I was bringing on board.

Okay, and just to be clear. Before you decided to start a digital magazine you had never published any kind of magazine offline or anything before this?

No. The only thing I’ve had … Actually there’s a lot that contributed to my ability to start a digital magazine. Running the record label was an important part of my life because I learned how to edit music, so that comes into play with the podcast portion and then I learned how to do graphic design, so I have an eye for design.Plus my business experience, I did a lot with design in user experience, so all those things helped me which is why when I said earlier, this makes sense for me, to start a digital magazine. It’s because I had those skillsets, so I can have an eye for imagery and design and stuff like that. Stuff like that was really important.

Okay, I’ve got questions. Walk me through an episode. What does an episode actually consist of? How big is an episode? Sorry, not episode, an edition.

An edition. Yeah, sure, sure, sure. Yes, so we usually enter about 70 pages and it’s always evolving. I’m always evolving based on … What I would tell people who want to start a digital magazine is, one of the most important things no matter what business you’re doing is, you have to put more … If you’re going to put let’s say 80% of your time in discovering your audience, make sure it’s 100% because off the bar, if your audience is wrong, you’re going nowhere fast.For me, this isn’t always an iterative process. It’s about 70 pages and I bring up the iteration part because it’s always evolving based on the audience needs and it started out with ten full articles and people are like wow, it’s great, but that’s a lot of content. I said what do you mean? It’s only 70 pages. Actually, a lot of magazines are like 120, but you know what? They’re not all articles.

There’s little, quick, snackable, digestible pieces of information. I started evolving my content plan so that I would have different recurring trends and snackable pieces of content and I would have a couple of core pieces of articles.

You’ll start seeing some of that with our next issue that’s coming out with Neil Patel. Yeah, it is a pretty robust magazine and it will also save you a little time and money when you’re not paying for ten full blown articles.

Well, absolutely right. What is your frequency?

We’re doing every other month, so in my mind when I decided to start a digital magazine, I was looking at my cost analysis and I was like you know what? Well, I don’t want this to be the brand itself. It’s not the magazine, it’s Change Creator. Change Creator is a brand that is helping the growth of social entrepreneurship as a category and the magazine and the podcast, are just the first two initiatives to start establishing ourselves, make some income to support the business, and build the trust and audience base that we need.We’re going to expand into other areas. We’re working and in discussion with some academic groups and stuff like that. We have some ideas with our vision down the road. Right now, these are just the first two pieces, the first two initiatives.

Got it. That actually brings me to the next question because you’re leading to that. With these two, the podcast and the magazine, were they created with the intention of becoming a profit center or were they created with the intention of building an audience?

More so, building an audience, but I needed some type of revenue model to support the business, otherwise there’s no more magazines. It was the intention of building the audience and establishing trust with an audience by saying, hey look, we’re serious. We have great premium content, we put a lot of time and care into, we have a strong image.Our goal right now, which I didn’t mention before is, part of what my objective here is, is you have Inc. magazine, you have fast company magazine, you have entrepreneurial magazine, and they make business entrepreneurship sexy and cool, but nobody is out there making social entrepreneurship sexy and cool. I wanted to make a young, fresh, vibrant brand that would breathe some life into this category and make it cool. Now, we are the entrepreneur, the Inc. of social entrepreneurship.

Got you. Okay, so obviously it needs to generate some income which makes sense because you need to be able to grow it. How do you monetize a digital magazine?

We are without ads at the moment and that was intentional. I didn’t want to just start peppering ads, plus we don’t really have a big … When you first start a digital magazine, you have no reach, right? Who are you selling to?Really, it’s just a recurring financial model which is, the monthly subscription type of thing. A yearly subscription or a monthly subscription. Yearly, it’s just 20 bucks, maybe a high end lunch in New York city and you get your six issues. Then monthly, if you want to do it that way, it’s just $1.99 a month, which is just a blip on the map basically and you’re getting just insane premium content from awesome people.

You’re connecting to social entrepreneurs, learning from them, because they have a mindset that’s a little bit different, so you’re learning that execution of how they’re doing, how they’re solving big problems.

Right, right. Okay, so you’re charging either an annual subscription or you’re charging $1.99 a month. Now, from a traditional, sorry, information marketing background, okay. I say, wow I put 70 pages of effort into developing a piece of content … Like all these effort and I’m selling it to somebody for $1.99.
Yeah, I know.
Right? It’s a very different model that a lot of info marketers are going to have trouble wrapping their heads around. Right now, what platforms do you sell it over?
Just iTunes and Google Play. They’re both there. It is a different model. I would love to say it’s 50 bucks for the year, but unfortunately you do have the Inc. magazines and the fast companies and they’re selling a yearly subscription for $9.99.
Yes, yeah.

What do you do? You can establish yourself as a premium product, sure, but you have to be slightly competitive, so I had to make a decision.There are magazines out there, like Stanford’s Social Innovation Magazine and that’s like, I don’t know, 40 or 50 bucks a year or something? Some of these magazines are very high priced, premium content, really well established PHD authors, whatever it might be and that’s great.

I had to make a decision where I wanted to play and I decided to be competitive on price because I’m not trying to make my money just from the magazines, so I didn’t want to create a roadblock. I wanted to make it very acceptable and when we kicked it off, we started a one year at $8.99 for the first thousand people.

Then we bumped it up to $19.99 and I think this will give us enough to be sustainable while in parallel creating other solutions that will be at higher price points and be more in depth with instruction and support and things like that.

Got it, okay. Now let’s talk about launching when you start a digital magazine, okay? You’ve got this new magazine, I’ve launched a podcast, obviously on iTunes. I’ve done it on the different platforms. What does that look like when you start a digital magazine and you’re launching on iTunes? Does it follow a similar format? How did you get it off the ground?

Actually for me it was the most brutal part of starting a digital magazine. I’ve got to be honest man. I hated working through the iTunes review process and I definitely had some serious hiccups.I was the one guy that got … I was working with my developers and stuff for the first issue and I can’t remember exactly what happened there, but … Oh yeah, I kept getting rejected and rejected and it had something to with their ad id or whatever they call it.

Ad identifier, id and I was like, what is this and trying to figure it out. Every time you put it back into review, it’s like another two weeks. My whole launch plan got moved. I went from January, all the way to March because of those delays and I was like, damn. I’m all about getting something out the door and not waiting until it’s perfect and I wasn’t.

I was ready to roll with that first issue. I just got hung up in iTunes.

You have to basically do this whole setup process, put your keywords and your descriptions, so you have things to populate an app store. It’s similar in some of that respect with the podcast, but there this review process and all these different options and tweaks.

The support with Apple is not, it’s not like can sit there and chat with somebody and be like, hey, here’s what’s going on and can you tell me. They would just come back to me and be like, “Oh, this is a problem.” I would write back and be like, “Oh, well here’s why. Can you tell me …” Then they would just … They had no … They would never really answer your question and so I’m trying to figure it out.

It was just this real big brutal process then, but finally, now I get it. Now I know it and you’ve got to set up your pricing right.

I had big issue too where earlier on I had all these people sign up for 8.99 and I was like, all right, well it’s time to change the price. I go in and instead of creating a new pricing layer and then deactivating the 8.99, I updated the 8.99, so guess what happened?

Oh no.
It didn’t just change it for the upcoming people, it sent a note to the previous people saying, “oh, this changed. Now the subscription is 19.99.”
I was like, oh my God. That was just a horrible learning.
Oh, yeah. I can just imagine the frustration that you’d go through with something like that. That’s why I’m so interested in asking these questions because the podcasting process is actually quite simple. To launch a podcast, it’s fast. Bang, bang, bang. You can do it.
Especially now. Back in the day it was hard.

Yeah, but again to start a digital magazine is far more complex. I think it’s that fear of unknown that is preventing more people from going down that road and not having that tenacity and persistence that you had to make it work, right?Now, when you launched out onto those platforms, did you have external channels that you were able to reach out to, to start promoting that or did you find that those platforms, being iTunes or the Google Store, were they able to start generating consistent flow of business for you?

They can initially if your ranks … Like you start off, you get a spike and then it just flattens out because you’re a nobody in the store. Nobody knows you, nobody knows your brand, and no one really cares because they don’t have a reason to care and so I found it to be a struggle.My plan was, I have all these contributors to the magazine and with everyone that contributes, I made an agreement that they promote the magazine. Let’s say there’s ten articles with ten different contributors, they all become people who will distribute to their networks, so I have those distribution channels.

There was some success there. Some people did it, some people did not and so there’s some challenges with that model, but it does help. Obviously you want those people who are promoting and doing things like guest posting. This is important when you want to start a digital magazine.

I was aware aware of a lot of these things for distribution upfront, but I got so hung up with trying just to get the first issue established and building a team of writers on Upwork and doing all the stuff.

Being a one man show trying to start a digital magazine, I didn’t get all my distribution squared away upfront, so I had a slow start to be honest. Even now, I’m always working on my distribution strategy and I even brought on a marketing consultant to start supporting me because I couldn’t dedicate the time I needed.

There’s the time you spend to the product that you have and then time you spend to the actual distribution and growth of it. I was struggling there for a while for sure. Now, you’ve got to start focusing on a couple of channels that work and so things like Instagram are good, Facebook paid ads have been good, and getting out on other people’s networks.

That’s probably why too I like to share my story, connect with people on podcasts, and I find it to be a viable channel to talk about what’s going on and get the word out.

Yeah. Talking about podcasts, you also have a podcast, how do you use the podcast in conjunction with the magazine? Because it’s the same brand, correct?
How do those work together?

We do our cover feature and so that was part of a tough process upfront is getting people on the covers and you would do the podcast. Then I do a feature article based on that interview, so they become the feature article on the magazine. There was issues were I did like four interviews and I would put four in the magazine and now I’ve modeled it to have two. One for the front cover and then a supporting interview.There’s two, four interviews that are exclusive in the magazine. It does work together because we get information that goes into the magazine. We highlight about what they talk about in the interview, but we also elaborate and give more details and things like that, so it’s a more robust story.

Got it. Okay, now we’re running out of time here. I have one pivotal question here for you and that is, deciding to start a digital magazine, it’s a relatively new thing, right? It’s been around for a long time, but not a lot of people are doing it.Listening to your story, it’s that classic entrepreneur story of you had to figure it out and it was just hurdle after hurdle and roadblock after roadblock, but you got through it. I love learning from other people’s mistakes and challenges and that’s the best way to do it.

For everybody that’s listening, wanting to start a digital magazine, it’s a new channel that’s not as saturated as podcasting and I think it’s a great way to potentially build audiences. Now that you’ve been through that process, if you had to say here’s the three most important things you need to know going into this, what would they be?

If you want to start a digital magazine, I would say smart design, you have to really understand who you’re speaking to, as in audience, and you want to really think deeply about your distribution strategy. I’m going to add one more there which is, get an analysis of your cost because I will promise you that the first year is slow and that’s why most magazines are failing.There is the cost model which is a struggle for a lot of companies, that’s why they stick with their print and they can’t become profitable, they have a hard time. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. You’ve got to be in it for the long game. It’s not like you’re going to publish your fourth issue and you’ll be rich. It’s not what it’s about.

You need to start establishing big names to be taken seriously. For example, we’re in discussions with Arianna Huffington, Tony Robbins, Blake Mycoskie, and this is stuff coming down the pipeline, but you can only do that strategically at the right time. It’s a step by step process of who you’re reaching out to and when.

I think those are things, design, understanding your cause, planning your distribution, and the given is always start building your email list as soon as possible after you decide to start a digital magazine. Because if you have a thousand people on your list, when you launch the magazine, you’re in good shape.

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, and in fact … Okay, I’m going to throw one more question on how to start a digital magazine in there because you just brought something out. When somebody subscribes to a magazine, how do you capture their information? Because that’s not something iTunes just hands out to you, correct?

No, and that is a drawback. Unless I’m missing something, it is aggregated information. The way that you can reach out to them is through your push notifications with the apps. Okay, so “hey, new magazine” or “hey, take this survey.” Whatever it is, you don’t get their email addresses. If you do, then I’m really missing out on something, but I’ve looked high and low and I believe it’s all aggregated information.The other way to go about it, which is something we’ll be rolling out at some point, it’s been a tech challenge, but we’re getting there now, is really to sell directly from our site. What’s going to happen is, we’re going to sell directly from the site.

This way we can control the data collection and I’m trying to have it communicate with the app store so that you can fulfill it at the app store, but you don’t have to purchase it there. If that doesn’t happen, I have a solution where you can read it on desktop, so you can get a full big screen, because I’ve had people ask me for that.

Sometimes the apps, they’re just too small. They don’t want to read it on the phone, but that can become a responsive design so that even though you’re not on the app store, you can still pop it on your phone and it restructures its size and it acts just like the app.

Sure, of course.
The data collection is an important factor. Right now, you do have an audience, you can speak to that audience, get information, but you don’t have specific email addresses. That is something that we’re going to start working on through the website.
Fantastic. I’m listening to everything that you’ve just said here, there’s an entire other product that you need to launch soon, that is how to start a digital magazine.

Yeah, that’s a long story. It’s interesting too if you don’t mind me just talking a little bit more. I want to say, when you’re building something like that, it’s a complicated process, but like anything, persistence and patience, you’ll figure things out, got to get through the ups and the downs. All part of the process when you start a digital magazine.When you’re reaching out to people, one of the things I will share as a strategic approach was, one, have a story that they care about so it’s not just something silly. You’ve got to get to the right people that actually care about your cause. They’ll be receptive and for whatever reason, people like the idea of being on the cover of a magazine, or featured in a magazine, so it works well.

It’s really how you structure your email. I spent a lot of time on what my email was saying and keeping it short, concise, but powerful with key points. Like I said, reaching out to the right people and then doing this thing. It’s a really important piece.

At the time I was reaching out for my initial covers, I didn’t have a website to reference for them and I didn’t have my logo or anything. Finally I did get the logo first and foremost. I was like, ‘Hey, designer, I’ve got to get this done.”

What I did was, I made a prospectus which is a contributors handbook, like a guide for anyone that’s contributing, whether it’s podcast, writing for the magazine, and so when I reached out to them and I got their attention with the first email, I would do a follow-up and I would send this prospectus and that was well designed. It had our logo and stuff.

I gave them something that gave a presence of professionalism. The email has to speak intelligently and smart about what you’re talking about, that’s the first impression. Then I had the prospectus with the follow-up, so it showed we were serious, we were professional, and they were buying in a little bit more.

It’s obviously working. You’re a new magazine, but the quality, the level of guests that you have secured and you’re getting is huge. As you said, your next guest is Neil Patel.
That’s right.
That’s a massive name in the industry. Not an easy person to get to, so I think that approach is obviously very, very, very effective. The other side of it as well is, you’re right, people like to be on magazines.
Yeah, why not.
Nowadays there’s a lot more podcasts. I think people get hit up to be on podcasts a lot more than say a year ago, but a magazine, that’s a whole different realm.
It really is.

That’s a fantastic way to open doors as well. Okay, so Adam, awesome information. I think anybody who wants to start a digital magazine needs to pay attention to what you’re doing and also if they want to learn about social entrepreneurship, they need to be subscribed to your magazine.Good Lord, for $1.99 a month, I would say that’s a bit of a home run. You can’t lose there. Where do people go? How do they find out more? Where do the connect with you? Where do they find your magazine?

Absolutely. Just go to of good info there. We’ve got all of our interviews up there, we’ve got the magazine up there, and we’ve got some good freebies to help boost your success, the Facebook marketing formula, a startup guide for anybody who wants to start a digital magazine.

It really outlines everything I did when I decided to start a digital magazine. Whether it’s creating a vision, creating a business plan, and I like Derek on your side, you talk about the why. That’s the first intro of our startup guide, is establish your why. Do your self inventory and it goes step by step. These are all the steps I’ve taken which if I was going to discuss that here, I would have take up the whole interview with that.

It’s a lot of information. I might have made it sound very simple and quick to get going, but there was a lot of … When I said establish your audience, that’s one piece compared to business plans, visions, all these things.

I carried a notebook around with me Derek and I would be writing in it all day. This little tiny notebook went everywhere with me there’s a lot to it. You can check that stuff out on the website. It’s free, I put blood, sweat, and tears into those guides. Especially that start up guide. That is everything I can share based on my experience and you don’t have to go fishing around all over the place, it’s there.

Awesome. Adam, thank you so much for sharing that. The challenges, the successes, and the journey you’ve been through and sharing that unconditionally with our listeners today.
I appreciate you having me. This was fun.

Fantastic Adam. Thank you so much.All right everyone, that was Adam Force and as always, all the links that Adam mentioned there, we will link to those for you. You’ll find that at on Adam’s interview page where you will also find our kick ass transcripts as well.

If you haven’t done so already, please head over to iTunes. Subscribe if you haven’t, leave us a rating, leave us a review. Guys, that’s the fuel. I love reading those reviews. That’s the fuel that gives me the momentum to keep making this podcast as the best podcast I can make it. Giving you guys as much value as possible every single week, in every single episode.

Now, it’s time to take the strategies that Adam so generously shared with us today and apply the final essential ingredient and that ingredient to make it work for you is action. Go for it, take action, apply what you’ve learned today, and stay tuned for more info packed episodes of the Project Ignite Podcast.

This is your host, Derek Gehl, signing off.

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