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The Business of Having Fun: Publishing a Travel and Recreation Magazine

I’m a Believer
When I launched “Oregon Lakes & Rivers: Travel and Recreation” last year, I firmly believed these four things:
1. People travel. Even in a recession. They just travel (and recreate) closer to home.
2. People get their travel information online.
3. Oregon Resorts (my target advertisers) didn’t have the cash flow to pay for expensive print advertising, but wanted to set themselves apart from their competition.
4. As technology evolves, readers are becoming increasingly interested in getting their information and entertainment online.

Content is King
I developed my products around those four premises offering all my content to end-users for free, always and forever. These are my products, all online:
1. Facebook and Twitter
I started posting content – travel and recreation events & news – on social media platforms.
2. The Oregon Road Tripper Report
Sitting on my couch with my laptop, and my dog helping with office morale, I started writing weekly Road Tripper E-Reports and sending them to everyone I knew, and many that I didn’t (with their permission, of course). The weekly Road Tripper report contains a photo of the week, featured destination, featured camping recipe and/or gear, and an upcoming event/s near a lake or river in Oregon.
3. Website
I hired a webmaster to help me create a website that offers resources to travelers, including directories of lake and river resorts, feature stories, blogs, events, camping recipes, gear reviews and more.
4. Blogging for Others
By now I had built some credibility on my subject. When I learned that the Oregon’s main tourism website, Travel Oregon, was looking for volunteer bloggers, I pitched them The Dog Blog, which was a niche subject they didn’t specifically address. With Pippin, my Golden-on-the-Go, I’d explored many of Oregon’s dog-friendly trails, and knew how to find others. They said yes, which gives me more exposure and a link on their (massive) website (good for SEO).
5. Radio
As a result of the Road Tripper E-Report, I was invited to air short weekly radio segments in the Portland and Bend, Oregon markets. I summarize the content of the weekly E-Reports and direct listeners back to the website for more information.
6. Guidebooks
In process, the digital guidebooks will be focused on specific travel interests, such as dog-friendly adventures, geo-destinations, and Oregon’s Scenic Byways. Readers will download the guidebook/s from the website onto their own computers.
7. The Magazine
With experience in magazine publishing, I worked with freelance writers, photographers, and graphic artists to create a very beautiful, online “flip-book” magazine, “Oregon Lakes & Rivers: Travel and Recreation.” It has vivid images, engaging stories, travel information, video, and hotlinks to advertisers and other resources. See it here.

Show Me the Money
Because I had done my research, I knew that many of the resorts in Oregon were low on cash flow. So I conjured a solution that would benefit the resorts, travelers, and my company: I allowed resorts to pay for their display advertising in 100% travel trade. I then re-sell that travel trade at half price on my website. Everybody wins:
• The resorts receive the exposure – and new guests.
• The travelers get a screaming good deals on lodging.
• My company receives some cash for the effort.
• I use a “green,” sustainable way to publish a magazine.

Everybody’s Happy
Except me. The business of having fun is hard. Sales is not my core strength, so I ended up with more content, followers, fans – and bills – than cash flow. The priority for me now is to re-double my efforts in advertising sales. I have a solid media kit, and new customers occasionally knock on my door, but my challenge is to get out of my solitary writer/editor mode, go out, and ask for new business.

Still a Believer

I have several products – and a boatload of content – that is creative, keeps pace with technology and reader interests, is sustainable, and engages users. These products connect advertisers, writers, photographers and travelers with each other, using interesting, relevant and engaging information. And – looking a head – the business model is replicable in other states and regions.
Goethe said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” I believe that, too.