Today we’re talking to Pauline Michel, creator and editor-in-chief of In'fluence Magazine, who will tell us more about the entire In'fluence adventure, from its creation to its launch in print!
Tell us everything! WhyIn’fluence Magazine ?
Having studied journalism myself, I’ve noticed that, first of all, a lot of young people (including myself) don’t read magazines anymore and that I, for one, am more of a blog reader than a magazine reader. I think it’s the same for many young people of my generation! So I wanted to blend the positive aspects of blogs and magazines by creating a format that looks much more like what readers are consuming today, something that feels personal, has attractive visuals, all while being multimedia, with sharing links. The goal of the magazine is to create content that is more like our readers, by trying to meet our audience’s needs and desires with the slogan "a magazine that resembles you".
How was the project set up?
The idea came to me in May 2016. I then spoke to a graphic designer friend, Sarah. She liked the idea, joined the project and now designs the entire magazine. I then contacted Claire of Milkywaysblueyes, explained what the project was about, she liked it and was immediately on board. After that I contacted other bloggers and received very positive answers. Things happened very fast, and we had our first In'fluence Magazine meeting in September. The first digital issue was released in early January 2017 and we’ve released three more since then.
Why did you create this magazine in collaboration with bloggers, how did you choose the bloggers?
In my case, I noticed that when I buy a magazine I look at the pictures a lot but don’t really feel like reading it. We wanted the readers to find themselves in our magazine, so I wanted to work with bloggers who write the way they speak, who use a much more personal and direct tone, and who are truly creative and skilled.
The choice of bloggers was a question of affinity with the project; it is why some of them decided to leave, as they felt it did not suit them at all. In the end, we are a team that works very well. I think what makes it so is the fact that we are very different, but we complement each other and think very well together. There is great respect within the team and, most importantly, no competition. Ethics also played a role in the choice of bloggers; we turned to bloggers with a certain ethics, and this is also the theme of our first print issue!
As far as journalists are concerned, do you think of involving more of them in this project?
Our core objective is to connect bloggers and journalists. We have editors on our team but they are not put in the spotlight in the same way the bloggers are because they are the ones with the personalized relationships. But certain articles, like the Spotted article that discusses a hashtag, are written by young journalists. The goal is to create a unique tone that will be something between blogger and journalist; I think that all bloggers are part journalists, so we really want to keep the best of both worlds: the bloggers’ creative side and the way they are always ahead of things, and the journalists’ rigor and work ethic.
How do you work, how do you choose your interview themes, etc.?
So far we’ve worked in a very different way to what will happen now after we launch the print version. We used to be a bimonthly magazine so we saw each other every two months, decided on the theme together, on who was in charge of what, etc. Now that we are going to be in print and therefore a monthly issue, we will have to be much more organized and think more long term. On the other hand, we won’t change our working method when it comes to themes, we will continue to decide together, it’s just the rhythm, the pace that will be different.
When one hears In'fluence magazine, they may picture an influencer who’s only interested in fashion, etc. But you choose to highlight real societal problems like self-acceptance, ethics, etc. Do you think these are topics that aren’t discussed enough?
We try to go further in depth. I think there are some topics that aren’t discussed enough. For example, ethics, our next subject, isn’t something that’s talked about much because people really like fast fashion. In the beginning we were more about entertainment. But now, the further we go, the more we realize that, thanks to the connection we have with our public, we can also denounce certain things. Another example of a theme is our article on the pressure of social networks, we wanted to show our audience that the life of a blogger is not just about traveling and living the perfect life, that there is a lot of pressure behind it. There are many other topics that we would like to address, such as street harassment. I think that another advantage for us is the fact that we are our own audience, we are the people we are talking to; we know what they’re looking for as we can easily put ourselves in the shoes of our readers.
Do you think the print version will be well received? You did a survey about this project, what were the results?
Since the launch of our first online issue, there has been a real demand for a print version. In our survey, 86% of people asked for a print version in addition to the digital one, which is what made us launch in print. People answered our call for crowdfunding, there’s a real interest out there. Even with an average of 3000 unique downloads, we’d rather have 200 people willing to pay for the next issue rather than 3000 downloads. We’d rather have fewer people if it’s people we’ll have with us until the end and an audience that can grow. There is also the fact that, until now, we’ve operated with no financial means whatsoever, so I think it is definitely possible for us to reach those numbers if we put a bit of money into advertising. We don’t want advertising on every other page, as is the case for some magazines; we really try to go for more personalized ads, even personalized ad campaigns like bloggers usually do.
Where will the magazine be sold?
This a bit of a jump into the unknown for me, we will first sell and distribute the magazine at our launch party. Then there will be different ways you will be able to get it, you will have the possibility to order it on our website and also subscribe through it. We would also like to put the magazine in places of interest that are close to our public, so we’re definitely not neglecting the physical aspect of it which is also very important. We don’t want to sell it in bookstores for now, as it goes against our vision.
What are your plans and what future do you envision for In'fluence?
Everything is chaos right now. First we’ll launch the print version. Then we really want to grow the website, so that it’s no longer just a place where you download the magazine. We want it to have updates, to be something people check every day.
The company will be set up, as it was not the case before. This is a big personal step for me. By 2018, we would like to expand to France because there’s a strong demand for French bloggers from our French public. One day I’d like a Flemish version, but I’ll have to find my Flemish-speaking double!
We want to thank Pauline for taking the time to answer our questions and we wish her the best! Keep up the good work!
The Comptoirs d'Orta team ♥