A Day in the Life: Publisher of a Community Magazine
Spiridon is a graphic designer from Germany working in print media. He is designing books and magazines and is mostly known in the creative community as the founder of the Firestarter Magazine and the designer of artbooks like TEGN by Even Mehl Amundsen. We wanted to know what normal day looks like for Spiridon so here is A Day in the Life: Publisher of a Community Magazine.
I used to work in a publishing agency for touristic media, creating travel guides and magazines for flight companies. When I realized that I had almost no time with my newborn son, I made the decision to go freelance to have more time with him. Ironically after a few years I am at the same spot, working probably too much and on too many projects at the same time. So my daily routine might be a little chaotic and varies often :)
My morning usually starts with either sleep an hour longer because I worked a little longer the day before or I bring my kid to kindergarten. We usually have breakfast together before he leaves the house since I freelance from home and my wife works from her home office too. This gives us liberties that other parents we know simply don’t have and my son is profiting from it.
So after he goes to kindergarten, I usually take care of emails and social media, which takes a while since I am working with many clients at the same time and manage several social media accounts for different projects.
This is the time to take a true break, picking up the kid and sitting together at the table to talk and do what families do :) I also use the time after that for calls and to check out on which project to continue.
After lunch, I start working on the books. Depending on the workload it is either one or many and I do it in a manner so that the clients get regular updates. When that is done I take care of Firestarter which means that I call companies about sponsorships and affiliations. I also take care of the forum, new posts on the community page and all sorts of maintenance.
Since many of my clients and colleagues work on the other side of the globe this time of my day means communication and solving problems. Most of the replies to my emails that I wrote throughout the day, I am getting during this time. Of course I cannot always reply since that would mean actually working all the day, but as a freelancer it is hard to make that decision every day, every time.
Working on your own IP, in this case Firestarter, next to the books and magazines and other print jobs that I am handling, means that I am spending my free time to build something from scratch, so rules don’t apply here. I also believe that there is no real room for choices when you try to finish the work that usually is made by an entire team of people, all by yourself, which means managing over 50 people per edition, communication with clients and sponsors and readers and also do the layout and development work in print and web.
But like I was told: if it was easy, everybody would do it :)
When did you decide to create Firestarter?
The decision to create Firestarter came in early 2017, when I realized how often it happened that people traveled long distances to meet people from their field of profession, but had no idea that there was a similar event in their own country, sometimes even in the next bigger town. So after thinking about it for a while and speaking to some event organizers I decided to work together with Marko Prpic of IFCC to bring out the first magazine. The idea was to include IFCC content- so a small booklet of 80 pages and A5 sized was given to 400 attendees of the event. With the feedback I got, I decided that the next edition had to be way bigger and from there we went to 160 pages in A4 for the Playgrounds event. After that we stayed over 180 pages and weren’t associated too strongly with one specific but with all 20 represented ones (we started with 7 events at IFCC 2017). The growth showed that there was a demand, so I kept going since early 2017.
What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
I would say to find sponsors that could help to pay the contributors. It was hard enough to find enough companies and studios that were willing to finance a totally unknown product. But considering its growth I guess the idea was good enough to make them see how much could be done with it. Still there is practically nothing left for the people creating the content, even though they never asked for any compensation, but it would just feel batter to not be THAT guy. Even though I haven’t made any profit with this myself I believe that the potential of this idea is huge, and this year will ultimately show what will happen with Firestarter.
What is your favorite part about it?
I love how connections are made through this network. I don’t know how else to say it, but introducing people to each other and walk away and a week or month later seeing them exchange comments on social media like they have been friends forever is just great. Even better if the connection is made on a professional level and a company starts sponsoring an event because they learned about it through Firestarter. It also seems to be in people’s bucket list to have a publication. I try to maximize the possible outcome of every article. With an interview the portrait artist, the interviewed person and the interviewer get their article, which is just great.
What is your ultimate goal? With the magazine and you?
I would love to see it become important enough that it can sustain itself and just keep enabling people like it is doing it already. I think a community oriented project which is appreciated and supported by the very same community, can have a cultivating impact on the network and the way people think and feel about being in this together. Helping each other with no intention of getting the help back. It is quite an altruistic and socialistic concept, but I see it working on a small scale already so if it turns out that I can keep doing this, enabled by the community, it would be a real goal to achieve.
We are adding features to the page and forum every week. most things that were just an experiment are already quite successful. We ask what people want all the time and listen very carefully. And even if sometimes I don’t see how something could work, we enable it by trial and error and get educated. I don’t always see the use of something until the people show it to me on the fly.
What needs to happen at this point is that the readers and users show their appreciation of what we are doing throughout the year. We have the portal, the forum, the podcast, the daily warmup sessions and of course the magazine, and it is proven that it works since 2017.
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