Where the design community meets.
Publisher at Offscreen Magazine Joined about 6 years ago
A bit of behind the scenes of my newsletter that's now at around 27,000+ subscribers. As you can see I make use of a lot of other tools to publish it.
I also just launched a membership program called 'Friends of DD' that you can see here.
Happy to answer questions if you have any.
I just launched a rebranded, extended version of my weekly newsletter, helping web workers be productive, stay inspired, and think critically.
No worries! :)
I don't pay interviewees. I think that would be weird and AFAIK is not general practice (unless you are retired CEO of a bank).
Most of the pieces in Offscreen are about people telling their own, very personal story, and so they are to an extent self-promotional. It would be weird to pay people to talk about themselves or their companies.
Besides, I've never been asked for money to interview someone. Have you?
Hey Max! Good question!
I think being a 'jack of all trades' can be a good thing if you work for yourself (perhaps it's even a prerequisite). Being able to do all these different things throughout the day is something I really enjoy. I also find that people in that situation are often more empathetic to various other roles because they can put themselves in other people's shoes more easily.
Sometimes I think about life after Offscreen and I realise that I don't fit into any specific role if I ever want to be employed. At first that's a bit scary. I realised that I'll probably never be a UX design expert or a front-end engineer, but that's ok, because the older I get the less interested I am in doing the hands-on stuff, and I much prefer to take on a managerial role anyway. That's not to say that I no longer want to code or design. It just means that I've happily removed that pressure of constantly keeping up with the latest and greatest.
Working for yourself is tough at times. I'm quite introverted and I happily avoid big groups, so I could easily work from home and not go out for days (other than going for runs). I'm aware of that though and so late last year I joined my friends at a shared office space. I try to get there at least twice a week, which counteracts that loner feeling. ;) But yeah, I miss having a team, for sure!
Surprisingly, since I started publishing and editing a magazine, music has almost completely disappeared from my work day. It's sad I know! But I simply can't concentrate on editing other people's words if there is music playing. It makes me miss the days when I just designed and music was playing pretty much 24-7. :-/
Drew! I hope you've found your pants.
That burrito was amazing, but as I haven't been back to San Diego since, I haven't had the chance to enjoy fries in my burrito. (Do they make them in SFO too?) It surely was a highlight of my Valio Con weekend. That, and nearly passing out with an oxygen mask on my way over.
Haha, it's an interesting point you make. I guess the 'print is dead' argument is something that wasn't articulated as often or as well as I and the rest of the print industry make you believe.
I can't point you to an article with that title, but there are tons of journalists that proclaimed the end of newspapers and magazines. You have to go back a little to just after the launch of the iPad to find the biggest naysayers. Remember Wired's 600MB digital magazine edition? At first everyone was like "Holy dead tree, that's the future!" but after a few months people realised that it's completely impractical and, more importantly, it just doesn't give us the same experience as flicking through a mag.
In the years after the iPad came out you saw a LOT of newspapers dying and a lot of mainstream magazines going out of business. You also saw ebooks and the Kindle take over Amazon and traditional book sales declined. At the same time digital ad revenue grew (and still is growing) rapidly. That's why the media world assumed that the time of print is over.
I do think certain parts of the print world will die (like daily newspapers) but that has almost the opposite effect on other parts, like indie publishing. Some more thoughts on that here.
As for what's happening in 5 years... not sure. I could be publishing magazines, or I could be doing something completely different. One of the nice things about our self-taught roles is that we can (have to?!) continue to shape them as much as we like. So who knows what I'll be doing. Pretty sure I'll be a bit old to live out of an RV without pants on, though.
I hear you. I think the most important part is that you have something to say. Nowadays a lot of designers launch magazines to make a nice product, but that product often doesn't have anything valuable to say. Have a clear intent and define your niche early. That's how you ensure to not just make one issue, but actually build up an audience.
It's hard to summarise all the things that go into a magazine. Obviously content is key, so that's what I would focus on first. Locate good content sources (which doesn't necessarily mean that you create it yourself) and then build your publishing ideas around that. What types of features would you like? How much of it is text, photography, illustrations, etc? Create a content plan.
Making the project viable is definitely a challenge. You can try to finance the first issue on Kickstarter (many do), but you'll have to work hard on making future issues sustainable through, for example, a high cover price, ads, sponsors, memberships, events, or a mix of all of those.
And yes, obviously, distribution is always the hardest part (which is not unique to print, but more difficult in the real world). I was lucky enough to have a niche (web/tech) that finds buying their copy online quite natural, so I don't really depend on shops and distributors. Try to build that (online) community early. Build a good website. Share a lot. Connect with people and be authentic.
Have a look at magculture.com. It's an important website for all mag makers.
Yeah. There are always plenty of ideas, right!?
I'd love to do a magazine that's more broadly about business and entrepreneurship (not just tech or online), but in a very human, everyday kinda sense. I'd love to walk into shops, bars, cafes, studios, etc. and just interview owners about their businesses, where they come from, what drives them to keep going on a daily basis. Especially the older generations I find super interesting. There is a barber on our street that's been there for at least 40 odd years. I'd love to hear some of his business advice and his opinion on the 'fail fast, fail often' approach. ;)
(Let me add: there is no way on earth I can do two magazines without neglecting one of them, so this idea has been put on ice for the time being.)
Thanks Sam! :)
I'm not entirely sure where the visual style comes from. There are lots of magazines that influenced the original layout, like Monocle, Process Journal, The Travel Almanac, Underscore and other magazines.
I think it was clear from the beginning that I wanted something fairly minimal that doesn't distract too much. Having more (natural) photos than illustrations, screenshots or infographics seemed like an easy decision, given that the magazine is all about the human side of tech.
To be honest, I had to first discover and learn how to use typography in print (coming from the web). It's something that you get better at after making your fair share of mistakes.
Consistency is always a bit of a tricky balancing act: you want issues to stay fairly consistent, but at the same time you don't want to fall into a template-like pattern that makes each issue look identical.
I wrote this in the latest editor's note:
This magazine is the longest project I’ve ever worked on. Having now spent more than three years fine-tuning a single product, I have developed a respect for the evolutionary process, whereby change comes in small tweaks rather than sweeping overhauls. Like most creative people, I feel a constant urge to follow trends and inspiration, to start all over with a blank canvas. But over time, I have learned to take joy in making little improvements, many of them only noticeable to the most loyal readers.
With that in mind, and after much consideration, I’ve made some more substantial refinements in this issue, most obviously to the cover. There is also a new typeface in town, several new smaller features and, if I may say so, some really thoughtful long-form writing. But once you dive in, you’ll hopefully find that all the things you liked about Offscreen in the past remain largely the same.
Some people say magazines have to constantly reinvent themselves to stay relevant. This may be true, but I also believe that readers turn to print because they appreciate the medium as a more predictable, less erratic alternative to the ever-changing web. And so creating Offscreen remains a delicate balancing act between keeping things consistent and keeping things interesting — for you and for me.
That's right, thanks for pointing that out. Either one of these shops or buy straight from my website (which takes a while to receive, because... Australia).
Thanks very much for being such a loyal reader!
I've talked about my daily routines in this blog post.
I find that breaking up my day in 2-3 chunks and my week in 2-3 different types of days helps. At the moment I tend to get up at around 6.30-7am and after a quick breakfast I'm going straight to a café for a coffee and 3-4 hours of work. Then back home for lunch, more work, then a run, and some more light work afterwards.
Two days a week I usually spend at a shared office with friends and colleagues. That way I get some socialising in and I don't feel like a complete loner. It's also a good way to be (positively) distracted so that I can get some fresh perspectives.
Having said that, I go through phases too. In winter I tend to stay more at home, and in summer I love going for a bike ride to the office early in the morning. :)
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