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Spring 2015


Straight Talk Insight and Advice from Four Niche Magazine Publishers

By Tim Sweeney 1


Ski Area Management (SAM)

The voice of the mountain resort industry

SAM has remained sustainable since 1962 by delivering content only we can provide. Because we make it our job to look for trends and developments in our industry, we often develop an understanding of them before many of the resorts themselves. We’ve also developed a service angle based on our position as industry experts, and we take our goal of helping resorts become more successful very seriously.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE. Our biggest challenge is staying on top of trends and providing the information our audience needs. Production keeps getting easier, and resources are not an issue in our case. Many of our readers are willing and able to advise us on content and even produce it. I find that experts within the industry are often capable writers who appreciate the editing we do. To track and manage projects, we have begun using Google Drive, which makes it easier for staff to see where they can help out when needed. We also use project-sharing services like Google Docs for projects with several contributors.

LEVERAGING THE INTERNET. SAM was never a news source until the Internet gave it that ability. One of the ways we use the website is to post three stories from each issue online, so that our online audience can get a taste of what they’re missing by not subscribing. The page views and comments that our online items generate provide a very clear window on the issues and concerns that resonate with our readers. That can lead to further reporting, both online and in the magazine.

People are as hungry for information as

ever, and in niche markets—especially those undergoing great innovation and change—a magazine can fill a real need. But it will only be successful if the company is committed to it. It takes time and effort to imagine and then generate the original, meaningful content a successful magazine requires. A magazine must create impact and leave readers thinking, “Wow, that was amazing! I never thought of that.” There’s no problem with returning to key ideas time and again, but each time the story must have a unique angle. It can be extremely useful to an association if it has a clear mission and the magazine firmly promotes that mission.

THRIVING IN PRINT. To thrive today in print takes big ideas and a willingness to see the overarching issues and address them head-on. The old staples of news and information can be handled by many media outlets, but the game-changing perspectives, innovations, and investigations are best handled in print, where they can receive the thought and consideration they require.


• Find experts in your industry to be guest writers. Be careful to let them know that their writing will go through an editorial process.

• Publish two or three of your articles on your website as “teasers” to get people to subscribe to your magazine.

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