It’s been a while since I’ve interviewed someone in the business (publishing), and Vahe Arabian actually reached out to me first to be featured as a digital publishing expert in an interview on his site. You can read my interview by clickingHERE. And since I felt so honored, I wanted to respond in kind and feature him and his work on my blog.
It’s an exciting time, as ever, in digital publishing, and Vahe is taking advantage of the ever-changing landscape by building a network for those in the industry and interested in joining it. So, check out my interview with him below, and then go check out his site and join the growing network!
Tell us about your startup–State of Digital Publishing & Seek An Audience. Why did you start it and how did you start it?
When I was in university, I had the opportunity to intern at a startup comparison site (now Australia’s leading one that has also expanded overseas) and it excited me to see how they were building their audiences and brands.
Deep down, I knew I wasn’t as passionate in the topic(s) they were publishing, and so I continued my career in SEO & Content strategy consultancy within startup agencies. After 8 years, I’ve decided to pursue my digital media/publishing career and business through the inception of the State of Digital Publishing Network.
The State of Digital Publishing Network consists of State of Digital Publishing, an online publication which aims to provide professionals perspectives and actionable news/insights within the digital media and publishing industry, whilst Seek An Audience is the community supporting discussion, collaboration and discovery of new media and technology.
State of Digital Publishing originally started out as a blog, and I decided to start it for self-development purposes, but since switching to it full-time, I am genuinely trying to build it as a dedicated digital media/publishing editorial brand. Other brands also focus on media and advertising or just digital publishing (book publishing and design), but there are enough developments within this space worth covering it alone.
Within the first few months of State of Digital Publishing, I was surveying people for feedback and came to the conclusion that people were going to dozens of sites in order to find practical information for their day-to-day issues or skill gaps. In addition, the respondents were keen to having a network of contributors where they could ask advice 24/7. And from this, Seek An Audience was born.
Why do you feel it’s important to share the State of Digital Publishing and Seek An Audience?
I know how editors and digital media/publishing professionals are under-resourced and “time poor” (Going through the ropes myself currently!), so now, more than ever, it’s important to slow down and really focus on being practical in your audience development efforts.
The skill gap is widening between leading and smaller-sized digital media/publishing brands and startups, due to historically relying on paid media for growth. There are many things each side is doing that the other isn’t across, so it’s important to have an intersection where both sides can meet.
It’s not there yet, but I strive for the State of Digital Publishing Network to be this intersection.
You interview many people who are involved in digital publishing in some way. What are some takeaways or even common threads you’ve found so far?
It’s really interesting to learn about the interviewees’ background stories and how they got to where they are today.
What I found some of the common threads and takeaways to be are:
How people can similarly shape their careers based on lifestyle factors or prioritising on family first. This was especially apparent with female editors who have families.
The creativity and flair of responses from professionals working in larger media publishing companies and how their networks charged up engagement on State of Digital Publishing.
There are so many niches that people specialise in that I didn’t reaslise i.e. Gay Travel. So awesome!
The majority of respondents work remotely with basic tools and workflows (particularly Slack). So anyone can do it–it’s all about mastery and persistence!
In terms of the passionate problems professionals are trying to address, professionals who work in media publishing companies tend to focus on audience growth or team management problems, whilst remote/self-employed based editors focus on self-promotion or a passionate product or writing project they are working on.
The majority of respondents advised professionals starting out in the industry to get their work out there and practice writing ASAP!
These people are genuinely passionate in what they do and I’m fortunate to have profiled them (and you as well, Tamar!), especially considering that I have no prior history in working with any of them.
What would you say the state of digital publishing currently is?
It’s a mix of publishers trying to genuinely find the right content subscription model, with a focus on properly executing media distribution strategies (catering and publishing unique content on platforms instead of pushing it out) whilst automating basic roles and site features that can strengthen the overall content/product quality. All of this is aiming to to develop more sustainable businesses that rely less on advertising.
Last year gave publishers a shock in the system as advertisers experienced further decreasing revenue from advertising with the rise of ad blockers and fake news, but more platforms are providing publisher centric features to help build subscribers within their environments and encourage premium publishing. Snap, AMP and Facebook Instant Articles distributed media strategies have seen mixed results. There are also innovators like the Washington Post who already have AI written 800 general news stories and The New York Times creating an editorial bot to moderate user comments, removing once-required roles.
It’s an exciting time to be a publisher, and I anticipate to see proper segmentation of media brands based on their revenue models within the next few years.
How can readers support The State of Digital Publishing & Seek An Audience? Where can we find you?
Providing feedback in the type of answers and case studies you are looking at will be absolutely key, as this will allow The State of Digital Publishing network to build a long-term solution for our existing and new readers.
We’re excited to be building new features and resources within the Seek An Audience community that will help existing users gain better opportunities with finding vendor solutions and network with other professionals within the space.
State of Digital Publishing will also be going down the path of covering unique stories whilst continuing our featured interviews.
So, watch this space 🙂
Vahe Arabian is the Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing and Seek An Audience. His vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, and his passion is to uncover talent and the latest trends for all to benefit.
In the modern world, many of us are opting to make our living through words. At one time, the only way to do this was through traditional publishing or journalism. Now, the ways in which we can use words to make a living seem unlimited. Traditional publishing and journalism are, of course, still options. On top of that, we have blogging, self-publishing, content creation, and more. In short, the world of freelance writing has reached epic proportions, which is fantastic news. But it doesn’t come without its issues. Us writers are a creative bunch. We like to surround ourselves with stories. But, when we’re going it alone, we have to step into the real world occasionally. In the past, publishers took care of a significant amount of legal stuff. Now, we have to do it ourselves. And let’s be honest: writing and legality don’t exactly go hand in hand, which is why we’re going to look at a few of the legal issues you need to consider to protect your work.
Copyright is high on any writer’s priorities. This is essential for protecting our work, and also ensuring we don’t get sued. The good news is that literature is protected by copyright for at least 25 years. So, if you do fear someone’s stealing your work, you’re within your rights to take legal action. In this instance, document all evidence. It’s also worth dating and keeping accurate copies of your work so you can prove you came first.
It’s also important to know what can’t be copyrighted, the main offenders being names and ideas. There’s nothing to stop other authors stealing titles. And, you can’t do much if they take your ideas. In this instance, it’d be better for your reputation to simply walk away.
You, As a Company?
Another legal matter every author needs to consider is how they plan to operate. This can be a confusing issue if you’ve never thought about it before, but it’s one you need to tackle. You could, of course, operate as yourself. You’d be regarded as a sole proprietor and would pay tax accordingly. But, if you start making a decent sum, it may be worth expanding. By becoming a limited liability company, or incorporating, you can protect yourself and lower your tax. You can find out how to start an llc or incorporate online. It’s well worth doing if you plan to make writing your primary source of income.
Libel, or slander, is also a big issue for many authors. The danger here is that a reader will recognize themselves in your work. If that happens, they could take you to court for libel which may end up costing you. To avoid the issue, it’s best not to write characters which could be seen as the people you know. And, if you are writing about people in your life, make sure to let them read copies before publishing. It may even be worth getting them to sign an agreement, just in case.
Let’s face it: book people are the absolute best kind of people. Imaginative and creative, people who like to disappear into brand new worlds between the pages of their favorite books are interesting to talk to and often a lot more empathetic than most other people. But there’s one problem with being a book person, and that is the sheer amount of books that you probably own.
We all love to look at our beautifully arranged shelves, whether you do it alphabetically or by genre or by the color of the spine, but what happens when you plan to move house? Here are some tips to help book lovers through their moves…
Be Careful With Containers
First of all, you need to be careful about what containers you pack books in. They can be pretty heavy, which means that you need containers that are much stronger than plastic bags or rickety cardboard boxes. Plastic crates can be a great idea, as can wooden boxes. You should also consider using any container that has handles, so that you can lift it up easily without being worried that it’ll fall out of your hands.
One thing that you’re probably already aware of is that books are heavy, especially big coffee tables books or books of photography or densely packed long tomes with thin paper. That means that when you’re carrying bags and boxes of books around during your move, you need to be very careful that you don’t injure yourself.
While you’re packing, make sure that you test the weight of each container – you could always just fill the boxes halfway before topping them up with lighter items like clothes. Make sure that you lift up the boxes using your knees rather than your back.
One good tip for moving is to hire the professionals. Look online for companies like My Bekins who really know what they’re doing and can advise you on the best ways to pack before doing all the hard work for you. They’ll also be much more used to handling heavy objects than you may be.
If you like to keep your books in a certain order, make sure that you pack them in that way and that you label the boxes carefully – for instance, which shelf they belong on, or which genre they are. That means that unpacking will be a whole lot easier as you won’t have to rearrange all of them in your new home.
Finally, make sure you prioritize in your move. It can be tempting to focus on your favorite things, such as alphabetizing your favorite murder mystery novels as you put them on the shelves, but if you’re completely honest, rooms like the kitchen and bathroom are much more important to sort out first. Get the boring stuff over quickly so that you can focus on rearranging your books – and who knows, you might find some old favorites while you’re at it.
As a writer, you need to quickly learn how to sell yourself, especially if you are keen on building a career out of your craft. When you are first starting out in trying to get your name out there, it can be quite daunting. Not only because you usually have so much competition, and it is hard to know how to make yourself known or seen.
However, at some point, it becomes necessary to not worry about others so much and just focus on promoting yourself and your writing as best as you can. As it happens, there are a number of key approaches to promoting your writing, and they are all worth a go.
You need to have a web presence if you want to be known as a writer; it’s that simple. But the nature of that web presence is something which you might well have trouble molding into the right form. If that sounds like you, don’t worry; you are far from being alone. Everyone struggles when it comes to knowing how to present yourself online.
The most important thing here is that you get some hosting for a domain and build a website for you and your writing. This can be a static vanity page, a click-through portfolio of your recent and best work, or pretty much whatever else you think might work. Set it up, keep it updated, and draw people to it at every opportunity.
If you are not yet part of a writing circle, you might want to ask yourself why. Many successful and serious writers are members of writing circles, and the promotional benefits of them are long known. Generally, such groups have plenty of opportunity for allowing you to promote your work – and when those chances arise, you should make the most of them that you possibly can.
Wherever you live, there is probably a writing circle near you, so be sure to make the most of that communal feel. Join up, and you will notice what a benefit you can get from such a group almost immediately. If you find it is not useful enough, there is no obligation and you can always leave again – but that is unlikely to happen.
There is a reason that even huge multinational businesses still rely on word of mouth to carry out a large quantity of their marketing: it works. If you are not already “bigging” yourself up when you talk to others, you should seriously think about it.
No matter what, you will find that this makes a huge difference regarding how soon your work is spread and how many people know about you, so make sure that you carry out word of mouth promotion whenever you possibly can. It’s easy, enjoyable and free of charge, and people generally don’t mind you doing it either. There really is no harm in it, and it just might be the one core practice that sets your writing career well on the way to huge success.
If you are a writer, or a budding writer, than you are probably aware that you’re stepping into a particularly competitive world. No matter what area of writing you are thinking of getting into, there are many other people just like you wanting to achieve exactly the same goals and dreams.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to get ahead if you know what you need to do and what you need to focus on in order to improve your abilities as a writer. As long as you are happy to focus on your writing abilities above all else, you will be able to improve your skills to the point where the competition won’t really matter. Let’s look at some of the major elements that a good writer should focus on if they want to get ahead fast.
It probably goes without saying, but it is always worth remembering that a good writer is continually trying to understand more and more about the language they are using. A common mistake for writers is to believe that they are not in need of any further training when, in fact, their writing might benefit from a closer look at the language itself.
If you feel that your grasp of your language could be a little stronger, then there are a number of things you can do to help that along. You could use an online course such as the Effortless English Club. You could take a class in your local area, or set up a group of your own and practice together. Whatever you do, getting to grips with the language is one of the most important things you can do for your ongoing development as a writer.
Writing is all about stories, above all. No matter what genre you are writing in, or who the audience is, you are telling a story, and it is helpful to remember that first and foremost. Even journalists are constructing a specific story based on certain pieces of information, and bloggers are interested in telling you a specific narrative about the topics they have chosen.
Know stories, get involved in them, pay attention to how they work, and you will discover that you too can write stories that people will want to read, no matter what it is that you are trying to get across. This is the first and last mark of a decent writer.
It is rare that you can have a story without a character or two, and it is for this reason that you should also pay close attention to people. This means the people in your life, people in other stories, and so on. Knowing people is an important skill for a writer, as it enables you to be able to develop stronger characters.
For writers who are not in need of developing characters, because they work in non-fiction for example, knowing people also helps you to relate your words to the reader more effectively. Become a student of people; pay close attention to them at all times. You might be surprised at just how much there is to learn.