Dear BRINK Magazine: Lessons From the Editor 3

This post is in a series of posts that originated here. They consist of Q&A lessons between myself and the editor of AfroElle magazine out of Kenya. The intent is to provide lessons in business form the things I have learned from publishing my own magazine for almost five years. Here is the third Q&A, lesson 3.

Hi Kyle,

I'm probably going to be saying thank you with every email- so bare with me. I was just thinking the other day while processing your email- this is the first time ever, in four years someone has told me the truth about this magazine life. The first time! So thank you!!

That last email had alot of gems. So will answer it by the points. This will be a looooooong email  and will probably be all over the place so hope you understand:-)

1. Interns

Is it too late to make a call for Spring interns and does this take 6 months? We don't have Spring here but most of my readers are from US so i need to been on that timing. I was thinking of getting a total of 5 interns according to the current needs- social media, graphic design, public relations and marketing, 2 bloggers. Is there something I'm missing or should i add more. I've wanted to get a social media person for a long time, thing is trust. How sure am i that they won't post anything that does not show the best of my brand or that they won't do something shady? How did that work for you? Did you have any agreement written down? Secondly, when it comes to PR, i realize that people know the brand but don't know the person behind the brand. That's been intentional on my side for a while since i like being the person behind the scenes but i feel like its time people knew more about the editor, so I'm hoping the PR person can secure features and publicity for that.

The kind of internship I'd want for them is one full of experience and something that won't be too stressful to manage on my side. What set apart your interns and how was the application process, what should I look out for, what should they have in terms of experience- blog etc?

Btw, did you ever have an assistant intern? pros and cons? I could really use ALOT of help.

2. Advertising- I hear you! Thank you for your honesty. I will change up the rates and simplify the kit. I've been so scared of put them high and loosing out but then again i realize if the rates are too low then they might think something is wrong. "Advertising is about their brand, their company, their words. They talked, I listened." I'm going to take those words with me everywhere.

In the beginning i used to give free ad space- I hear you on that, I will approach some top fashion brands about that and hope the other small brands will see and reach out

3. Events- I haven't held any events at all. Because I'm the only staff currently in Kenya and the rest scattered around the world and because I work from my small corner of the house, I'm not there yet. But I want to get there, I want to get out of my comfort zone (cos its out of my zone) and get the magazine out there. What i will do for sure is buy some printed copies and walk around with a couple and network. I'm hoping for the 5th anniversary coming up next year, that i will have an event somehow.
Can you kindly elaborate more of getting free sponsors on board for an event.

Side note: Since the magazine covers women's issues. Someone once suggested if i could go the non-profit way, get organizations focused on women to pay for sponsorship. What do you think about that?

4. Relax, Relate, Release (heard that from an episode of A Different World when one of the characters, Whitley was going to see a therapist)

I hear you! I feel like taking a break is what I have never done. Prior to that i only get 5 hrs of sleep the week before and afterwards its scheduling tweets, then emails and then back to the magazine. And i'm going to take your advice seriously. It can wait. I use both tools, were you scheduling tweets before the issue release?

Btw, you had an editorial calender, how ahead of an issue would you work? (i feel like that line is not grammatically correct -_-. I'm currently working two issues ahead to give me more time. I wasn't as organized last year. Actually i'm trying to be better.

5. Magcloud

Every issue, i get people asking for print copies but the magcloud copies are so expensive. Is it something worth exploring. Would you buy directly from Magcloud and resell at a slightly higher price? What percentage of your readers bought print?

Please feel free to share the Q&A on your blog, believe you me, every editor starting out or in the beginning stages needs to hear your advice. I say that with all honesty, I feel like I'm in class -learning every time you communicate.

Btw, did you ever take Journalism in school? What are you currently doing now that you are on break from the magazine? I would like to pursue a MA in magazine journalism not sure if its worth it on not.

You are a blessing, thanks Kyle!

Talk soon and have a great week ahead. I've just remember after hitting send- under internship, what did you use to manage your team? You mentioned having Brink time for each where you discussed their work, so how long before evaluation? what tools did you use to manage the team- Google calendar? In other words, how do you manage a virtual internship and virtual team?


I'm so glad your finding something from these emails, even if it's just support. I have two screens open and now I'm going to go through your list.

1. Interns - Remember, this is YOUR company, YOUR brand. You don't have to play by any rules but the rules you create. So while most students will have a classic "spring, summer, fall" schedule, some might not. So definitely look for those interns now. You'll probably find summer interns ready to go now and who will sign up for credit and will also be willing to start early. It will probably only take a few weeks, not six months. If it takes six months, that's not worth your time.

Also, five interns might be a lot. I'm speaking form experience. One summer I had five interns and it was too many. In hindsight, what I should've down was had one or two and given them more responsibility. Not all interns will be like you and you might end up spending some good time educating them on the role they play. The design intern might be really hard to find and a diamond in the rough. But you could lump marketing, social media and pr together. Have that one person work every Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday is marketing and Thursday is pr and both days are social media days.

I 100% understand the trust thing with social media, but the thing is, if you want to move forward and relinquish some of the control, you're going to have to lay it out on the line. However, be smart about it. Don't give them all social media passwords, just twitter and Instagram. Give them rules and consequences. Don't mince words and let them know what your expectation of them is. Also, think of this, I interned at MTV and Sony music back in the day and they gave me all their passwords for everything. So why, as a very small business, are we not letting some people in? We don't have too much to lose, but everything to gain. You're never going to be totally sure that they will post the right thing, but you'll need to monitor. That's what you're there for and I wouldn't be surprised if you're on Twitter and Instagram all the time anyway. Also, I would have my interns set up tweets in Hootsuite or another twitter management tool (do you use these tools? I think you do. If not, start nowww!) and they wouldn't have access to the official Twitter. Then, I could go in and look at the posts before they were sent out. Sometimes, I would just have them "live tweet" awards shows or things that made sense for the brand too. So I knew they were on at a particular time.

In terms of documents, I had all my interns sign a non-disclosure. This was just to be buttoned up that BRINK business was BRINK business and not their business. if you don't have one, Google "simple non-disclosure form" and alter it to make it right for you. Save it and then give this to your intern after they are hired and before they start. You must get a signed copy back. If they screw up, they're warned or fired. They don't get college credit and will need to answer to their college adviser.

You're right about the PR for the Editor. Give the intern some instruction on finding news outlets and publications that highlight what you're doing, what your goal is and what the intention of the magazine is.

My last intern was more like an Intern assistant. She was AWESOME! This is who you want. She was by my side (electronically) and she helped more than she knew. The thing was she was eager to do the work and jumped at opportunities. As I would! So someone like that is who you need and they are out there. That one person might be all you need too.

Intern management: bi weekly calls, almost daily emails. That was about it. They were always on call on the days they were designated to work. They had to be responsible for those days. You don't want the intern as your fiene, because they want them to respect you, but you need a good relationship, so they're like, your "buddy." An in-between.

2. Awesome about advertising, I'm glad that helped a bit, just as support. This is your hardest part and probably the part you like the least, so just do the best you can and always look for someone who knows more than you on this subject. When you find them, recruit them!!

3. Events. Hmm. I don't know about the non-profit thing, I don't think that's the best idea.

However, you could do events without even having a physical event. You could have an Instagram event where people tag their pictures with whatever theme you're looking for and promote and you'll publish three of your favorites. Promote it like an event, give a deadline date. People want to be published. Or, every other day on Instagram you publish/repost an image from a reader. They have to tag you or do a social hashtag and you select the one you like best and that fits with the brand. "Today's AfroElle pic comes from @soandso who demonstrates their girl power in Canada! We love this @soandso, keep it up!" Or whatever you want to see. It casts a wide net for your brand and people get excited about that. The thing is to be consistent with this kind of idea though. For examples on Instagram, look at SanDiego_CA, they do a good job.

Sponsors. This is as simple as being prepared and having a plan. Approach potential sponsors for what you need for any event. Cast a widddddde net, because many will say no. You need a venue, food, drink and a few other things. Find a local venue and let them know you're looking for space and have a next-to-nothing budget. Let them know you're willing to give them premium ad space and social media love. See what you can work out from there. Then repeat for your your other needs. You will need to be epically charismatic and outgoing and enthusiastic about the people that will be coming to THEIR venue. It's all about them and what's in it for them. But it's really about you and the magazine, but to THEM, its about THEM. I don't mean it to sound so deceitful, but everyone wants something for them and what they will get out of it. Who wouldn't?

4. Love the A Different World quote, used to watch that all the time! I think you sound as far ahead in your schedule as you can be. You're not Vogue, BRINK is not Vogue, we can't schedule too far in advance and often have to fly by the seat of our pants. I would have ideas laid out for future issues and ATTEMPT to be one issue head.

5. MagCloud. This is my favorite publishing tool and DEFINITELY changed the game for me, the magazine and how far I could take the magazine. At one point, I did have the magazine and all the issues on the BRINK website and marked up a little bit and then resold. This was a good and bad idea. The good was that the buyer didn't need to deal with a MagCloud account or feel committed to MagCloud. They could simply buy a copy from BRINK, very easily. It was bad because it was a TON of work and became a costly game. At this point, I would say just link up to MagCloud and have that be it. At least for now and at this stage. Don't give away copies for free.

Awesome about the blog posts. I'll start posting for people soon! Thank you for the kind words!

I did not take journalism in school, but I do like to write a bit. I studied marketing in school and any job I've had always had something to do with that field. Since I stopped the magazine in January, everything has been pretty awesome. I think stopping and regrouping was the best thing I could have done. This year, I've had a lot of moments, like these emails to you, come to me. I feel like that stands for something and makes me feel good about what the magazine represented. I started a personal blog in January and just talk about life and the things I'm up to, you can find it here. On April 20th, I was supposed to take five months and start hiking thru the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, but some circumstances have halted that dream and I'm going to hold onto it for next year. Despite many challenges, this year has been a really great so far, so I'm going with the flow. It still blows my mind how many people email BRINK looking to get published and many people continue to join our social media platforms even though its not operating. It also solidifies that people just want something for themselves and their work and have no real connection or concern for the publication. Like, I literally say, "the magazine is on hiatus with no definite plans to restart" and their response is, "let me know when we can work on something together for the magazine!" #SideEye! Ha! It's like, too funny.

Okay, until next time. I think we have a good weekly going here!