Four months ago, Maker Mag was merely an idea in Anne-Laure Le Cunff’s mind. She realized that while there was a range of communities available for makers, there was no singular source where people could read the latest in maker culture, and delve deeper into the ecosystem through the written word. Following this realization, she posted this Tweet, which marked the start of Maker Mag.
This week marks three months since our official launch. Even though it has been such a short period of time, we have made significant progress at Maker Mag towards fulfilling our goals. Since our inception we have been third place in the 2018 Product Hunt Golden Kitty Awards in the category “Side Project of the Year” and entered into a sponsorship agreement with Blockstack. We have also since launched a podcast, Trouble Makers, where we interview prolific makers and chronicle their experiences.
As Maker Mag has expanded further, we have had to grow our writer community to keep up with the increasing demand for indie maker content. Our editors have also had to spend more time working on quality control and managing our internal infrastructure, to ensure that we continue to provide the best content to our readers. Maintaining Maker Mag has been an exciting opportunity to learn more about the maker culture, and has created a great working environment based on strong values and shared knowledge.
Maker Mag is a community-first publication which has been powered by the work of our writer community, and the maker community at large, who have given us insightful suggestions on how to develop our publication. We are driven by our 70+ contributing writers, as well as our editorial team comprised of Anne-Laure Le Cunff, Julian Canlas, and James Gallagher.
“Maker Mag is a community-driven magazine for indie makers, by indie makers.” – Maker Mag Founding Principles.
In January, our co-editor Julian Canlas wrote an update on our progress in our first month at Maker Mag. We have made so much progress that we had to write a second article to provide a more up-to-date perspective on our work and allow our readers to better understand where we are going as a publication, and how we are implementing our values in our content.
Our writer community
Our previous update mentioned the fact that Maker Mag has essentially become a mini-community, where we provide peer-to-peer support and offer feedback on each other’s work. This effect has since grown significantly, with over 70 writers joining our community, contributing more than 100 articles to our publication since we launched.
The growth of our writer community has exposed us to a variety of new ideas and allowed us to learn more about individual perspectives of the maker psyche. We have also been able to host more thoughtful discussions about the future of our publication, in consultation with more writers, which broadens our exposure to suggestions on how to improve Maker Mag. This has allowed us to better implement our core value of participation, through developing a great community of prolific and interesting makers.
Maker Mag is also working on developing a benefits program for contributors so that we can better reward the people who spend time producing high-quality content for our publication. The program is currently being piloted with a list of exclusive discounts for Maker Mag contributors, including free trials of writing apps such as Blurt and 200 Words a Day. We hope this will encourage additional engagement in our writer community.
In fact, around two months ago we made the decision to transition over to Slack after the community voted to make the change. The overall opinion of the community was that Telegram, although functional and useful, was not able to support our increasing needs as a publication. We made a transition over to Slack and have since implemented a few shortcuts to help our editorial process run smoother, and seen a higher level of engagement than in Telegram, along with more emojis! 🙌
Maker Mag and social media
As of our last update, organic searches did not comprise a large amount of our overall traffic. However, thanks to the SEO efforts of our writers and editors, Maker Mag is now the first ranking search result on Google for the term Maker Mag as well as other relevant queries. We believe this standing will help us capture a new audience of people through Google.
Social media continues to be the most important channel of communication for us. We use Twitter frequently to update our readers on the latest content that we publish, and provide links to our podcast and publication. Social media is so important because, as a community ourselves, we value the ability to directly interact with our audience, and Twitter especially has been an important part of us learning how to better serve indie makers.
Our editorial team has dedicated a significant amount of time to developing a strong social media strategy, in co-operation with the writer community who have helped us target our content more effectively. Maker Mag has reached over 1000 followers on Twitter thanks to our writer community. We believe that this can be largely attributed to word-of-mouth, especially amongst our writers, and through engagement due to the launch of our podcast and our taking Blockstack onboard as a sponsor.
We have decided to focus on our social media strategy because it continues to be the best way to reach our audience. Makers are incredibly diverse, originating from all corners of the earth, and covering a wide variety of different skills and subject matters. Makers are also at different professional levels, with some still in education, and some in full-time work. Social media allows us to reach all of these groups and promote our value of inclusiveness, and we try hard to respond to every interaction on Twitter because the community plays an integral role in the development of our publication.
Maker Mag has also realized the potential to engage with prospective writers and sponsors through Twitter. Following the announcement of our podcast, we had a few people reach out interested in learning more about our sponsorship program and how they can support our publication in an ethical way. We have also noticed that Twitter has been the perfect medium to onboard new writers, and a portion of our growth can be accredited to our social media recruitment strategy.
“Trouble Makers” – The Maker Mag podcast
We had the idea of a podcast for Maker Mag a few weeks after we launched. Many of the writers in our community listen to podcasts and we took onboard their suggestion to finally launch a podcast. Nearly 70 million Americans listen to podcasts every year, and we thought that a podcast would be a great opportunity to tap into a new market.
We also believe that audio is a very valuable medium that allows us to explore our thoughts in more depth, as well as provide an alternative to consuming our content for those who do not have the time to read our longer articles.
Our community was instrumental in helping us plan the podcast and offered advice on the format, the tools we should use to produce the podcast, and have expressed interest in hosting their own episodes. The Trouble Makers podcast will have a rotational host each episode so that we can promote our value of community, and also allow people with subject-matter experience to interview the people they feel are insightful. The second episode of the Maker Mag podcast will feature an interview with a prominent maker, made by a member of our community, and we hope to continue this pattern from this point onwards.
Sponsorship with Blockstack
Maker Mag is an ethical publication and we made the decision to not host ads on our website or monetize our content through paywalls, tracking, or any other tactics. In order to facilitate our future growth and help us continue to provide insightful content, we realized that a sponsorship with a prominent organization that supported makers was essential.
Blockstack reached out to us in February and were interested in becoming a sponsor for our publication. We worked hard with them to develop a partnership that was ethical and acceptable to both parties, which resulted in them sponsoring both our newsletter, the podcast, and two articles a month about the blockchain. Having been involved with the maker community for a while, they make for a great, authentic partner to work with. Thanks to the kind support of Blockstack, we have been able to grow at a quicker pace and launch projects such as our podcast with more support behind us.
At Maker Mag, we value openness and transparency. Therefore, we worked with Blockstack to ensure that all content was clearly marked as sponsored and that their content would be passed through our same editorial process in order to ensure quality. This has allowed us to develop more trust with our audience, and also cultivate a firmer relationship with Blockstack.
The future of Maker Mag
Maker Mag has been growing over the last few months, and we have lots of exciting plans to help grow our writer community, and to develop on the values which were defined by our team when we started. From our sponsorship with Blockstack to the launch of our podcast, we have demonstrated a firm commitment to the maker ecosystem, and are so happy with the response we have seen from the community at large.
We are a community-driven publication that relies on support from the maker community to continue to produce ethical and engaging content. In addition to reading our stories, there is one more thing you can do to support our publication. You can also contribute to Maker Mag with an article that you have written about indie makers, and we would be happy to feature your post.
In addition, you can subscribe to our newsletter, and our podcast, and follow us on Twitter to stay updated with the latest in maker culture. We are excited to see where Maker Mag goes in the next three months, and are working hard to ensure that we are the number one source for in-depth indie maker insights and analysis. Here’s to the next three months!