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: How to create a webzine: Help/Advice
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Aug 23rd 2011
This is a bit of a long one (apologies):
1. I purchased a domain name earlier this year, originally to run a tumblog and advertise some music events. In the end I didn't need to use it and I have decided I don't need to clutter the web with another tumbler- (I basically use my Facebook as this now, mostly posting links, pics, small articles whilst ranting and abusing my 200 "friends" instead of uploading hundreds of pictures of myself in various dimly lit nightclubs trying to look like I'm having a fantastic time).
2. I just graduated with a first in Literature. I have always wanted to be a journalist and write professionally at least part-time- so in addition to my day job I am going to embark on a Diploma in Journalism. (This allows you to do some work experience and build a portfolio so that there is a small chance you may get some kind of employment in the future).
3. I really want to get the basics of website design and try to create a webzine (I prefer the term e-zine but Wiki defines this slightly differently) and have started playing around with Dreamweaver to create headers and page links etc but some brief research has informed me that apparently this is not the best way to produce what I want as it cannot be easily modified. Apparently it would be better to master a CMS like maybe Joomla as it is more convenient to alter entire layouts and backgrounds. I briefly tried to download and use this program but literally stumbled at the first hurdle (SQL blah blah). Seriously, I consider myself very PC literate and tech-savvy but this stuff is just a whole new level of boring and complicated.
3. So basically I need advice. I would love to collaborate with some like-minded individuals on a webzine, the format would be:
I guess the criteria would be minimum 400 words, maximum 2000 ish (estimates) on ANY topic that is interesting and well written. Preferably topical with a focus on Literature, comics, technology, politics, art, film, music, travel, photography...you know entertainment, culture etc.
Open to submissions of comics, fiction, videos, music, art and photography.
So that is it. If you can offer some guidance or would like to collaborate in any way then please let me know. Please feel free to berate me for my retardation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I think this is the only place I can receive relevant input. The domain name is just hovering there with no purpose...
Aug 23rd 2011
Why would we berate you? That seems like a kind of dickish thing to do.
A couple of people here started a pretty awesome webzine called Weaponizer. I definitely suggest you seek them out and pick their brains (if they're willing, I mean, I'm not advocating non-consentual brain-picking here) about the challenges they faced in getting their site off the ground.
Aug 23rd 2011
Good luck, be fresh, uplifting and hold strong, it is easier to give up then get readers. That is all I can give you. There are much better minds here for that stuff though.
Aug 23rd 2011
Admittedly I'm a bit of a code monkey in my day job, but I've always felt knowing about the underlying technology is helpful. It probably wouldn't hurt to learn the basics of HTML etc. How sophisticated do you want your site to be? If it is a content content/navigation/read only thing, you should be able to hack one together without much difficulty and get something up there. That way people can go and tell you what they like/don't like/want. Then throw that site away and hope no one remembers it when you use whatever it is you decide to use (and you'll be in a better position to evaluate your options because you'll see features and say "Goddamn, I wish I could have had that when...") to make your fancy 2.0 site. If you go anywhere with this, eventually you'll want something that isn't available out of the box from any of those do it yourself kits and you will either need to build it yourself or hire someone to do it. That's when your hand coding experience will really pay off.
If you want fancy interactivity from day one with users logging on and posting whatsits and stuff, you've got a much more uphill battle.
Or so says the guy who's only made it to step 2 (minus the part where I generate any traffic to my site). Good luck.
Aug 24th 2011
Dreamweaver's definitely a bad idea. Learning a CMS from scratch takes a lot of time, which you'd probably prefer to spend writing/publishing/promoting/other important webziney things. It's VERY boring and complicated.
I'd go with Wordpress or Movable Type for anything that publishes regularly - the format is pretty simple, and you can edit the way it looks and functions easily (if you have some coding experience already; if not, it's a good way to learn). I'll give you an example: www.mondomagazine.net is on Wordpress, and it does the job.
And yeah, you can definitely plan a bigger-better-2.0 site with a CMS if you find you want to expand into an online community or something. But for now, you can be plenty professional with something blog-style as long as you learn how to manipulate that format to your advantage.
Aug 25th 2011
What allana says is definitely true - the ready-made sites can be easily tweaked and can look spiffing.
*apologies longpost is looong, and if I'm stating the obvious,forgive me...*
I started Weaponizer using Blogger. For the first year I just used their templates: each article or story had a unique URL and was simply a datestamped blog entry. The advantages were that everything was in date order, so as long content was not inter-related (like a serial), people could just scroll or click through the blog, or search by tags like author name and genre.
When I decided to start hosting serials and later, comics, I needed a more complex Content Management System (CMS), so I had one privately built and designed by
. For the next year or two, I used Dreamweaver templates which I had paid this professional web developer to design, and coded and uploaded each new page / article myself. This was time consuming, but it taught me basic html and FTP / site structure stuff I needed to learn.
Eventually we upgraded the CMS - I now have a content system with dropdown menus which autocode the pages -I just drop in text and link images. I still have to fanny about in the server once in a while, so the CMS is still technically in beta (although it works fine for myself and the site administrator, I've yet to allow contributors to upload their own stories... although I hope to one day).
The long and short of it is that Weaponizer is my passion, my hobby, and only really nascent as a business. It still costs me a lot of time and money, which I'm more than happy to invest. It's only been possible with the close collaboration and patience of a very generous and interested web ninja, and a huge host of enthusiastic, talented writers, not to mention artists and designers who have contributed photography, art, and in Paul Sizer's case, an utterly amazing logo. Still, I've yet to effectively monetise the site, although I do have a business plan and various objectives in place. I want to pay writers to submit to Weaponizer in some form, and still keep the 'webzine' (I don't like that term, I prefer Fiction Portal... ha) free to contribute to and read.
There are a plethora of excellent portals, zines, magazines, webzines and blogs that produce quality content, many of whom I've come across only because their writers also got involved with Weaponizer... The people that inspire me are folk like the incredibly prolific
, who uses his own site to churn out frankly scary amounts of quality writing... As far as running Weaponizer goes, the whole thing's been a mind-expanding journey.
So I'd say, pick your platform based on what it can do, and how easy it is to navigate once busy. Pick it according to your own abilities - make your life as easy as possible to begin with. If you have friends who are web designers, or graphic designers, pick their brains. Maybe get them involved, if they're willing. Having an awareness of even the basics of these things will make your site look and function much better.
Best of luck, and please send us a piece of writing for Weaponizer too - we'd love to have you aboard!
Aug 25th 2011
I started a webzine/blog, www.threatormenace.com, earlier this month, and it's been fun! But I was actually thinking of starting my own thread on things before I saw this one.
With regards to web design, I was despairing on this until a friend gave me a basic tutorial on WordPress, and after that happenned, we had the site up and running within just a couple of days. So you might want to look into WordPress, it's got some nice things going on.
It's odd -- our site has had a couple of articles that each generated several thousand unique visitors, as the article was linked by the game company whose product we reviewed from their Facebook page. Beyond that, we're trying to get our articles looked at with our own Facebook links, Google+, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Reddit, and get only modest results. So I'm wondering if anyone has some advice on how to build word of mouth for a site.
On a side note, if anyone's willing to look over the content we've got so far, and offer some critiques of our writing, I'd really appreciate a unbiased third party opinion. :)
Aug 28th 2011
Hey thanks for all the info peeps. I've visited Weaponizer a few times in the past linked through this board. It is a great little site; well designed with really decent fiction and art. Also @'Texture' I have been a fan of your mixes for a few years now, especially the WitchHousey compilations, of which I always keep at least one on my rotating playlists.
I think I'm just gonna play around with WordPress, throw up some ramshakle site with a bit of art/photo/fiction/articles and use it as a platform to teach myself the basics of HTML and web design.Well, we'll just see what happens. I will post a link when there is something half-decent there.
Thanks again everyone who chipped in, all the best in your own projects...
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