Making notes

Like A Local Magazine: in process

photo credit: Silvia Sala via photopin cc

I haven’t written much about the Like a Local Magazine here or anywhere as it really just hasn’t seemed real to me yet. With it being a totally online endeavor (except for a VERY limited print release), it make the whole idea even harder to envision. But there comes a point after you’ve decided to jump into a crazy idea feet first when, after all of the initial excitement and fervor has died down, you realize you actually have to produce something. So that’s where I am and I wanted to let you guys into the madness a little bit because, frankly, it’s exciting!

The idea of the magazine originally came about during the Russky and I’s continual “so what would you do if you could do anything?” discussions during the early days of our freedom. I really enjoy writing but frankly when the idea of a travel magazine popped into my head, I was surprised. I had honestly never contemplated it consciously, but my subconscious had apparently been keeping it at the forefront, ready to brandish it when I had unlimited free time. So there it was.

The actual concept of the magazine came from my general relationship with travel magazines and blogs – and I hope other people share these sentiments so we can make Like a Local a success. What it boils down to is that there is just an overwhelming, chaotic amount of information in most big travel magazines or blogs. Glossy magazines cover locations all over the globe, usually with (what I feel) a skew toward older people and an unreasonably high price point. The big travel bloggers aren’t much better. One day they’re writing about ziplining in Costa Rica and the next about the street food they had in Vietnam. With a few exceptions, I never feel like I get much more out of either than a quick Google search might reveal to me.

I gravitate toward blogs where someone has a long-term connection to a country or city and can provide me with more information than just regurgitating a guidebook. So in comes Like a Local: beyond the guidebook. We’re going for free or low-cost adventures in just one city per issue and collaborating with locals and long-term expats to give you fresh ideas for your future trip – and great stories for everyone, even if you’re not planning a trip there. (Side note: if you want to see this concept done with infinitely more grace and culture, check out Boat magazine. Their focus is more on the arts rather than strictly tourist, but is AMAZING.)

Like a Local’s first city obviously had to be Moscow, a city near and dear to my heart over the past four years. (And one I’ll be returning to in a few weeks, it seems!) I’ve had the luck to get some amazing people to write for our first endeavor, like Anna, Sarah, and Rhea (among others!). I was also incredibly excited to snag Ksenia as a photographer – check out her Instagram, it’s beautiful! I’ve also roped in the Russky for the big task of putting everything together as our designer. (By the way, this time we’ve gone with a test design from Graphic River, but hope to be working with Kate at some point! I just didn’t plan ahead well enough this time!)

I have to be honest: I don’t know where I’m going with all this, except to give you all a little more information about our superproject and gush over the amazing collection of people I’ve met in real life and online who not only agreed to help me with this madness but in fact approached me first. Seriously: people are great.

OK, I’m wrapping this all up, I swear. I have a bit of a request/question for you all who may still be reading: Like a Local magazine has some great content and we need to make sure that content gets out to as many people as possible. I’ve got several people/organizations I want to approach, but do any marketing geniuses have any bright ideas about how to get a magazine more exposure? I’m a bit stuck in my bloggy ways and I’m not sure how to market an online magazine as effectively. Any thoughts will be much appreciated and rewarded with love and affection!

And if you have no intimate knowledge of Moscow or magazine marketing, that’s totally great too! Sit back, relax, and get ready: we’ll get to your neck of the woods soon enough!

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  • Anna

    Very exciting! I have no promotion or marketing tips (I suck at that) but wanted to mention two things. One, if you ever do a New York City or DC issues I totally have a lot to contribute, and if you’re back in Moscow so soon, we should meet about the project I’ve been mulling over and need to develop further when I get back from Crimea.

    • Polly

      I’m definitely thinking DC at some point!

      I think I’ll be back in Moscow mid-July, pending visa stuff. I’ll let you know, though, I’m definitely interested.

      • Jonelle Hilleary

        Polly- Congratulations. I’m so excited about your “Like a Local” mag project! I wish you all the best! ( “R U Coming?” Yep, I’m all signed up!)

        Better yet, my area of expertise is in communication- outreach and marketing. (I worked on a travel mag start up for the AMEX travel office in Baku and wrote for an international mag as well.)
        If you still need marketing/PR ideas, let me know. I’m here in D.C.

        Good luck!

        • Polly

          That’s excellent – thank you for the offer Jonelle! I may get in touch with you if that’s all right!

  • Jacqueline

    This is genius. I can’t wait to see the first edition :)

    • Polly

      Thanks! I can’t either!

  • Rhea Marie

    I’ve been thinking lately about how to market something like this! I think that, given your involvement with blogging and social networking, that’s your first (and most natural) step, to continue building and developing those connections, and interfacing extensively with your readers/followers to get feedback on what they want/feel is lacking from the sea of similar websites out there. For example, one angle you’re trying to work that makes you unique is travel advice from people who are from or have considerable experience with a city– not just tourists who have passed through or people who are regurgitating information that already exists. In this respect, you could potentially market yourselves to existing travel guides as a subsection to their city guides. Also in the longer run, I think trying to work with networks of travelers is key. The ones that come to mind right away (who very well may have something like this, but you can always argue for your uniqueness), are Couch Surfing and AirBnB. This is more big picture type stuff, because you’d need to have something solid to show them to make your case, but the more you can build you brand, the higher you can aim. I’ll keep you updated with other ideas if I have them.

    • Rhea Marie

      Something that’s really important for any business/endeavor is having a clear mission statement. This is a really thorough guide for writing your mission statement and, granted it’s meant for a more traditional business, the completeness of it should help you to organize your thoughts and goals: Knowing exactly what you are and are not trying to achieve will give you a more efficient means of planning and implementing.

    • Polly

      Thanks Rhea, for all your thoughts – this was helpful. I think you’re right and that the blogging avenue is probably the most useful to pursue at this point.

      And for your second point: we’re definitely at the point where long-term planning is useful but I agree we need several editions before we can have a solid portfolio. Still definitely worth considering specific, bigger sites as future targets, though.

  • Jade

    Such an exciting endeavor and I wish you all the luck in the world with it. If you ever do an issue on London or Sydney, I’d love to contribute. I’d also really love to feature Like a Local on my blog too, should I shoot you an email with some questions about it?

  • Em

    Cheers to your magazine journey! It sounds like an amazing concept, and I look forward to the first issue. Holla if you want some dirt on Prague! Good luck :)

    • Polly

      You’re on my list, girl!

  • Linda

    Congratulations! How exciting! And a great idea too – I wish you the best of luck with it! I probably won’t be the best person to talk to if you ever decide to do Riga though 😉

    • Anna

      No worries – if my Schengen visa comes through in the next two weeks, I’ll be coming by Riga and Tallinn to put a more positive spin on the post-Soviet space, as is becoming my MO :)

      • Polly

        We know how you do, Anna :)

    • Polly

      I can see it now: “An Utter Cynic’s Guide to Riga”!

  • Annie

    this is so exciting for you! and way to score – looove ksenia’s photos! we started a Living Like a Local column to give a quick post on local favorites. if there’s any way we can collaborate, we’d definitely be open to it. we did glasgow and have brussels and amsterdam on deck. maybe we can put a link back to your magazine for more info or something if we overlap cities..

    • Polly

      I’d love to eventually get to Brussels and then you can be sure I’ll be all over you!

  • Jenia from HTL

    Hi there — what a lovely venture! We have been traveling in Asia for about 9 months – a region that is probably the most well covered by travel blogs. But the best sources were those from locals — I have a few sources on Vietnam if you are ever over there :)
    PS: Can’t wait to read the Moscow issue, the city is near and dear to our hearts.

    • Polly

      Hey, thank you – that’s great to hear. I’ve never been to Asia so it’s definitely in the works at some later date!

  • bevchen

    You’ll probably never do Karlsruhe, but if you do I’ll try to help. Not sure my writing is good enough for a magazine though 😉

    I know nothing about marketing, so can’t help you there.

  • Angelina

    How exciting and bon courage on this new endeavour! As for your question about how to market an online magazine effectively, my question back to you is what are your objectives? By identifying this, you would then have a clearer idea of what might work to help you achieve your goals for the magazine. Happy to provide suggestions but just need more info :)

    • Polly

      We’ve got some goals we’re working towards during/after the first release. Could I send you an e-mail to chat?

  • Natasha von Geldern

    How Exciting!! It sounds like a brilliant idea for a magazine and I wish you every success. I look forward to reading more…

    • Polly

      Thank you so much, Natasha!

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