Putting it all together – creating SUP Mag UK

We’re now half way through the year and July’s SUP Mag UK recently dropped in digital form. As I write print copies are winging their way to lucky recipients. But what does it take to put a magazine together?

SUP Mag UK - April and July issuesApril and July editions

A friend flippantly remarked how easy he thought the whole process might be, at which point I laughed knowingly and just nodded. Afterwards I thought it might make a fun blog post to describe the process and give a breakdown of the story so far.

Starting off

SUP Mag UK was the product of a meeting of minds. Those who know me are probably aware of my history with surfing, windsurfing, stand up paddling, snowboarding and my involvement with digital and printed outlets based around these disciplines.

During the tail end of 2013 it had become startlingly obvious that SUP was here to stay but the UK’s burgeoning scene was lacking something – a collective voice and soap box. I’d been discussing the idea of a magazine for a while, with various parties, but so far nothing had materialised.

Fatstick 12.6ft stand up paddle boardThe time is now for UK stand up paddle boarding

Meanwhile Pete Tranter and Anne Egan (both of whom have years of magazine production experience under their belts) were looking for another challenge. The success of their sister publication The Paddler (a celebration of all paddling disciplines and something else I contribute towards) continues.

With stand up already on Pete and Anne’s radar the three of us getting our heads together, to formulate a plan o attack, was impeccably timed. After downing a few ales, having a yarn and batting some ideas about the concept of SUP Mag UK was finally agreed upon: ‘To produce a digital and (limited run) print magazine highlighting stand up paddle boarding’s UK perspective.’

And so it started…

Number one

As with any new business convincing prospective partners, supporters and a readers is always going to be tricky. After all there’s no proven pedigree – although our team’s collective experience should lend credibility.

SUP Mag UK issue 1Screen shot of SUP Mag UK – April issue

Firstly we had to establish an online presence and raise some awareness. One of my other areas of expertise is social media and having decided on a name for the mag, publishing dates and fine details, I set about getting some digital engagement.

Even though this was being conducted in winter (the UK’s down season for watersports) we were pretty chuffed after reaching 1000+ likes on Facebook in just a few weeks. Gaining decent levels of traction on twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn was a bonus – the future looked bright.

While stomping our digital footprint Pete was beavering away creating SUP Mag UK’s website and styling. Anne was busy tapping up brands, companies and associated SUP industry types for support and by early 2014 we were cooking on gas.

Content curation/creation

The next step, for me, was curating enough high end content for the launch issue – April’s date was looming fast.

With any magazine, digital or otherwise – especially when concerned with a highly visual sport like stand up paddling – it’s not only important to have engaging and interesting text, the shots/photographs have to be killer as well. Gathering together high quality stoke inducing images, even in the wake of a great story, can sometimes be tricky.

SUPM issue 1 collageSUP Mag UK issue one pic collage

With most people being able to ‘rip’ pics straight from social media sites it’s pretty easy for authors to group together an assortment of accompanying images. Unfortunately most don’t realise low resolution depictions just won’t cut the mustard when published – pixelated images were the last thing we wanted.

Therefore a bit of toing and froing between contributors is par for the course (with any editor) to make sure we get the best content/article/story possible. In this day age, with so many distractions, responsibilities and commitments it’s a time consuming process so thanks to all for having patience and sticking with it.

Testing times

One of the trickiest sections to complete is the Gear Shed (reviews). It’s imperative any review we publish has credibility – we therefore insist on laying hands on each product and using in relation to SUP.

Tez Plavenieks testing RRD iWave 8ftPutting RRD’s iWave 8ft through its paces on a Croyde wall

It starts with contacting brands/companies and asking what products they fancy featuring. We’re not strict on the gear we include – a more relaxed approach is a better way of doing things. Kit reviews are pretty new to the UK market and we’re keen to steer clear of head to head testing – we want to give a view of what equipment can do and avoid negatives. Hopefully this comes across in the write ups?

Hard goods aren’t the only products we want to give exposure to – after all stand up paddlers need other ‘stuff’ for their SUP adventures. Accessories, clothing and gadgets, that suit the stand up lifestyle, are all worthy of inclusion. We want to present a rounded view of what’s available – in particular smaller brands or those new to the industry.

Flymount SUP test with Tez PlavenieksFlymount testing

Off for a float

Once kit has landed it’s time to actually use what’s at hand. This is where the review process becomes even harder. Unfortunately we’re at the mercy of the UK’s fickle and changeable weather. The law of sod usually plays its part – the sea going flat as board just before we need to test a high performance surf SUP. A degree of travelling is therefore required to accomplish some ‘tests’ and being ‘on it’ in terms of forecasts is a must.

Photographing each bit of gear can also cause headaches. Hooking up with willing snappers during decent conditions doesn’t always work. Modern day technology, such as on board action cams and mounts, has become a God send – roping the wife into photo duties is also a useful strategy.

Coming to life

Having gathered together each issue’s content it’s then a case of editing before aesthetics maestro (Pete) waves his magic design wand. Bringing the actual mag to life is an art and Pete is super talented on this front – we’re sure you’ll agree.

During the course of a few weeks Pete will put the jigsaw together, keeping me in the loop with PDF proofs and suffering my OCD where changes are concerned. The amount of tweaks we go through, to get to the end product, will seem painful to many but it’s something that has to be done.

Last waves of summer - SUP article in The PaddlerContent example from The Paddler – SUP Mag UK’s sister publication

It isn’t just a case of editing text to fit templates either. Making sure fine details, such as prices of review kit, contact details are correct, tying up images with words and giving credits where they’re due is endless.

Fine tooth comb time

Nearing the final stages of the mag I’ll usually do a final check and sift with a fine tooth comb. This usually results in a few more minor changes before final sign off.

Tez Plavenieks - content creator, writer, editorTez in the ‘office’

Pete and Anne are also experienced at this editing lark and they’ll once over before ‘press’. Then it’s just a case of pushing the green button, uploading the digital copy to Joomag and pinging PDF files to the printers.

Get social

Most who follow our social media streams will be aware of content curation – sharing and retweeting info relevant to the UK SUP fraternity. As we head ever closer to drop dates I’ll ramp up self serving posts to help build momentum and awareness – after all, we want as many people as possible to know about SUP Mag UK.

Stand Up Paddle Magazine UKSocial media teaser pic collage

Teaser posts of mag content, behind the scenes photos and other relevant material will all go out in the hope of getting engagement.

Drop zone

Once the digital mag is uploaded it’s a case of getting access for our advertisers and supporters. Between Anne and myself everyone is contacted and made aware the issue is live.

Anne then gets readers and subscribers their login details (or print version once off the press). It doesn’t stop there though. With every mag drop comes more promotion.

Mr Tranter with issue two copies of SUP Mag UK Pete modelling July’s SUP Mag UK printed version

Over the last few months we’ve been visiting industry types and attending events – Anne has actually taken up racing and uses this not only as an excuse to improve her paddling, she’s also on the case shouting about SUP Mag UK to anyone who will listen. If you’ve met Anne then you’ll be aware how infectious she is!

The story so far…

After a short period of respite the whole process starts again – in fact it’s a never ending cycle. It’s necessary to have a back log of material for each issue so we’re not caught short – even with just three magazines in 2014.

As we head speeding like a bullet towards September’s third and final instalment we’re super stoked with what we’ve achieved, the support received and it’s all looking sparkling for 2015. The UK’s SUP scene is thriving and from the feedback we’ve had there’s a thirst for a platform highlighting this addictive sport and its view from our backyard.

Once again I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone that’s been on board and up for it. Have no fear: 2015 is going to bigger and better for all of stand up paddling in the UK and we haven’t even capped off this one yet!

SUP Mag UK issue two coverSUP Mag UK July 2014 cover

If anyone wants to contact me about SUP Mag UK then please do so by email tez@standuppaddlemag.co.uk – always happy to have a natter.

About Tez Plavenieks

Content creator - SEO - social media. Windsurf - SUP - snowboard - surf - kayak - drums - art
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