I'm delighted to welcome Nellie Huang and her husband Alberto to Travelblather. I've wanted to get the inside story on their Wild Junket Magazine project for months. From a standing start they have already hit the 100,000 user mark which is a tremendous achievement. So... how have they done it? I asked a few questions.
How did Wild Junket Magazine start?
It started as a way to provide more value to our readers than the usual blog post or eBook. We wanted to combine our (Nellie and Alberto) skills to create a unique product that would fill a gap in the market. With Nellie's experience in travel writing and my proficiency in photography and design, it felt like the perfect option. It was also an excellent time to launch the digital magazine as there were less than ten digital travel magazines in the market then. We also did some research and found out that more than 50% of magazine readers in the US now access content through digital sources.
What are its USPs? What makes it different?
We are a new-age magazine designed for modern, social travelers who are looking for more than just quality content. With links embedded and videos soon to be included, we provide a full multimedia experience rather than just old-school magazine content. What makes us stand out from the other digital magazines is that we marry long form travel narratives with an interactive design and format.
You're personally pretty strongly associated with the Wild Junket brand (indeed some might say you ARE Wild Junket) - do you think having a real person at the centre of the project helps people connect with it more?
I (Nellie) have spent years building the WildJunket brand, and I think that with a real person behind the brand, readers feel that there's a more personal connection. They know who we are, what we stand for, and are able to relate with us and interact with us on a deeper level. Even though we are delivering a professional product here, we don't want to lose the familiarity that our readers have with us.
What's your thinking about charging people to read your content?
We believe that payment is proportional to quality of content. That is why we pay our contributors to have the best possible content for our magazine and therefore readers in turn pay for the quality content we offer. We think this is something our readers understand and appreciate. Although this system does work, we want even more people to enjoy our work, so we plan to make our magazine free and widely available for new website subscribers. The new website which is dedicated to just the magazine, will be launched at the end of the year and all newsletter subscribers will have free access to the magazine.
So does that mean you are abandoning the subscriber model?
No. Our readers generally fall into two groups: those that found our magazine through Zinio or Magzter, and those who are loyal readers of our website. Our goal is to increase our numbers for both groups of readers. We'll keep the subscription model, but our aim for 2013 is to increase advertising revenue, so we want to focus more on building our readership rather than making money from subscriptions. So, to convert even more of our website readers to magazine readers, we’ll give them free access to the magazine if they subscribe to our newsletter. This way we’ll really build up our mailing list and increase subscriber numbers. Of course we run the risk of Zinio/Magzter subscribers heading over to the website for a free subscription - but that just means we gain another website reader - which is a good thing!
You offer the magazine on multiple platforms - why?
We don't want to limit readers to just one platform. Each person enjoys content in a different way and from different sources. There are still a few platforms we would like to get on, so we are working hard to meet the goal. As a matter of fact, we didn't intend to release print versions of our issues but we decided to offer it on the print-on-demand site, Magcloud, due to a few readers' requests. It's all about what our readers want.
What have been your biggest learnings about publishing on multiple platforms?
Each platform has its own set of rules and functionality and it can be difficult to comply with everything. But once we found a common area to work from and organized ourselves properly, it was not very different from publishing on just one platform.
Which platform has been most successful for you?
Zinio has proven to be the most successful to date, allowing us to reach readers outside of our initial fan base. They are the biggest online magazine store and also the most professional, in terms of production process and organization. This is why we have made them our default subscription platform.
How do you adapt the content to work across different platforms - is it just technical or do you edit it and write it in different ways too?
It is mostly technical. We try to be as consistent as possible so that a person reading our print issue will receive the same content from his/her iPad. And since most platforms are PDF based, the technical changes are usually easy to perform.
How do you choose what kinds of features to publish each issue?
We plan our editorial calendar months in advance and we tend to plan each issue's content around a certain theme. For example, our winter issue has a focus on winter activities featuring destinations like Iceland and Finland, but we also make sure to include other non-related destinations like Cambodia and Palestine to give it variety. Starting from our Winter 2012/2013 issue, we will be publishing on a quarterly rather than bimonthly basis, which helps us to plan things better. In general, we tend to publish articles on less conventional destinations and unusual experiences: such as a yurt stay in Mongolia or learning to build an igloo in Austria.
What's in it for advertisers? Give us your best sales pitch!
By partnering up with us, advertisers can get access to over 115,000 unique readers. Each issue receives over 1,65 million unique views over a shelf life of 3 months. These readers are mainly based in the US, UK and Canada, aged 25 to 44 years old, who book all their trips online and travel at least three times a year. Our readers love adventure and special interest journeys such as wildlife safaris, mountain treks and expedition cruises.
We have worked with several global companies such as G Adventures, Viator Tours, Lattitude, and Visit Finland. They have all found advertising on our magazine an effective way of reaching their targeted clientele.
We're also proud to share that WildJunket Magazine is a finalist in the Digital Magazine Awards 2012, for both Best Travel Magazine of the Year and Magazine Launch of the Year! We are very excited and we're confident this means that our magazine is looking at a bright future.
How can people subscribe or find out more?
There are many ways to subscribe to WildJunket Magazine: directly from our iOS Newsstand app, or via Zinio and Magzter that are available for both computer and mobile devices. You can also get print copies of our issues delivered straight to your doorstep on Magcloud.
Are you interested in writers pitching ideas at you and do you pay?
We are more than happy to receive new pitches although we have already planned the editorial calendar for the next year. We pay for contributions. Anyone interested can check our guidelines here: http://www.wildjunket.com/magazine/editorial-guidelines