Revealed At Last: Untold Secrets of Outdoor Publishing
By Larry Bozka
I am nowadays, among other things, a marketing consultant. Given my specialized background, it is only natural that I receive numerous inquiries from individuals who wish to enter the highly lucrative arena of outdoor publishing, either via magazines or new Internet sites.
To those who are ready to crank up the newest, hottest, most intriguing outdoor website in the country but believe that all of the good domain names and topics have already been taken, I have great news.
“ArizonaSaltwater.com” is currently available.
Before I reveal any more … and bear in mind, this kind of advice usually costs a ridiculous amount of money … I should tell you about the current state of publishing, particularly “vertical” publishing.
A “horizontal” website or magazine attempts to effectively fill a broad-based niche. Among the more extreme examples are Outdoor Life and Field and Stream. Those names, and all-encompassing concepts, were a big deal back in the day. There was not, after all, an outdoor-oriented publication about most every state, species and casting technique on the newsstands in the years right after World War II.
Now, however, we’re talking the new millennium, a wholly different day and age in which interests are gauged on a microscopic level and marketing is more a laser-sighted rifle shot than the shotgun blast typical of yesteryear. We have become vertical consumers, whether we are selecting our discriminating reading material or buying a searing-hot Vente cup of Ethiopian Impanema Bourbon Espresso with a touch of Narino Supremo Colombian coffee from Starbucks.
For “coffee” you have to go to deer camp.
For truly unique, “vertical” magazine concepts, you have to come to me. Well, you don’t have to, but I do have some experience in the arena. I was, after all, one of the creators of Texas Saltwater magazine back in 1990.
Texas Saltwater, the first saltwater-specific fishing magazine produced in Texas and the only one born the same year a massive Mexican oil rig burped a few hundred thousand barrels of crude oil onto the beaches of Padre Island, premiered on the stands the same month the Texas Coast was turned into a veritable polar ice sheet by one of the worst fish-killing cold fronts in the state’s history.
Other than that, things worked out great until the magazine went out of business due to insufficient investor funding and it was somehow determined that I was the guy to call about unfulfilled subscriptions.
Shortly thereafter, I became producer and host of the Texas Fisherman television show. It was a “horizontal” program, so to speak, but it was relegated to Texas and Texas only. I stayed with it, and loved it, throughout an entire season, until an out-of-state publisher called and made me an offer that seemed to be too good to be true. I reluctantly left the television show, lured by the promise of big money, a company truck and various other amenities, signed on with the publication and found out that sure enough, it was too good to be true.
I have since edited and written for a good number of outdoor publications. As a self-proclaimed visionary, however, I now feel compelled to carry the torch for the creation of ever-more specific publications to meet the needs of ever-more-demanding vertical audiences.
Vegan Bowhunter attracted a modest group of investors, until they realized that the three subscribers we eventually located would not be financially able to justify printing even a quarterly magazine on grocery bag stock. This was a mere bump in the logistical road, though, a minor obstacle if only some sage investor, looking for a massive tax write-off, had shared a similar vision and $2 million or so in up-front funding.
Furthermore, the potential investors in VB (be they start-ups or established publications and websites, all must possess snappy acronyms) could simply, through their short-sightedness, not see the obvious network expansion possibilities with similarly unique vertical titles. No truly great project, even one with such natural leanings toward massive success, becomes great overnight. The guys who were lucky enough to get in at Stage One sadly lacked the patience to see the eventual greatness of so many great ideas.
Among those … and again, out of an unselfish and noble desire to benefit society on the whole and strongly bolster the suffering economy, I am not charging a royalty to anyone who cares to capitalize upon these prime tracts of intellectual property … are Redneck Polo Player, Billfishing on a Dime, Visually-Challenged Clay Target Shooter, Trophy Grass Carp Digest ,Afghanistan Parks & Wildlife, Wingshooting for Mullet, Somalian Pleasure Boater, Fly-Casting for Small Game, Gator Noodlers’ Quarterly, North American Feral Animal Hunter, Nutria News, Amish Puppy Mill, Fishing the World’s Most Polluted Waters, Blowgun Digest, Wasp-Killer Weekly and Wading Crotch-Deep Mud.
That’s just to name a few. The latter, however, is a favorite of mine. I have wade-fished in crotch-deep mud thousands of times, and so have thousands of others. Just think of the money in the “mud shoe” concept alone, a webbed snowshoe-like piece of footwear that will keep even a 250-pound Bubba strolling with ease atop a trout-rod-long layer of quicksand-soft bay bottom.
Technically, that falls into the arena of “merchandising,” and that is an altogether different business concept that only really knowledgeable magazine and web moguls like me fully understand.
These are not just ideas; these are priceless insights conceived and collected after three decades of intense market research, field experience and no-holds-barred demographic surveys. They are the reason why, when people say “All the good ideas are taken,” I cringe, and then smile with a smugness that is almost impossible to conceal.
What they don’t know won’t hurt them. It could, though, if only they knew what I know.
And now YOU know. (Okay; you now know some of it. It is impossible to convey a lifetime of research and results into a single missive like this, and worse yet, if I did, there wouldn’t be anything left to sell you.)
Being a forthright and forthcoming guy, I will readily admit that there are other ways to get rich quick. I saw one of them late last night on the cable channel that happened to pop up when I punched the remote. It was almost enough to make me immediately quit everything I am currently working on, even my groundbreaking new book, “Catch Trophy Fish Every Time: Guaranteed.”
I don’t remember the guy’s name (he only used his first), but the product was something like “Al’s Instant Internet Millionaire Secrets.”
My first misgiving came when I realized that Al was telling at least several thousand miserable insomniacs all about it, which given the audience, of course, created a bit of a contradiction in terms of using the word “secret.” The next dubious epiphany arrived moments later with Al’s super-cool neon-colored infomercial graphics.
“No up-front expense. No inventory. No sales required. No customer service. MONEY GOES INTO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT WHILE YOU SLEEP!”
Al even provided inspiring video footage of a sexy woman in a silky white gown lying atop a king-size bed attempting to sleep, just to emphasize the point. (I’m guessing the reason she couldn’t sleep was that she couldn’t get her mind off of all the money that was flowing, at that very moment, into her offshore bank account.)
I almost went for it, being that Al’s formula translated to no work and big money, until Al asked that I send him $39.95 for my Instant Internet Millionaire video and CD guide.
Hell, for $39.95 I can publish the first two dozen copies of Arizona Saltwater, start up an awesome new website and still have enough cash left over for a large cup of coffee.
Send me $39.95, just to cover shipping and handling, and I’ll tell you how.
Edited by Larry Bozka (04/29/09 02:05 PM)
Larry Bozka Coastal Anglers
Contributing Writer/Saltwater - Tide Magazine, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, Texas Sporting Journal