Melissa Thompson Maher:
Writing about the first year of GenQ is a little difficult, because it goes back more than a year, and there is soooo much material. It really starts in 2010, after Jake and I had taken over the struggling Quilter’s Home magazine, and realized there is this secret audience thriving in the blogosphere, and they’re the younger quilters and sewists some in the industry doubted the existence of. But we knew they were out there because we were meeting them in shops and classes, and seeing this influx of new authors and designers. We worked like the dickens to get QH tapping into and writing for this market. We even envisioned ways QH could be retooled to reflect the modern market more fully. And after a successful foray at Spring Market in Salt Lake City in 2011, we hear those words all editors fear: “We’re shutting you down.”
Shoot. Talk about a woman without a country. A duck without a pond. Use whatever metaphor you like, but it’s a perfect storm of compelling creative information, strong reader demand, advertiser interest…and no communications device linking the three.
Then Jake gets this brilliant idea about creating and growing GenQ in the blogosphere. And we rope two great people, Megan and Scott, into our little start-a-magazine club. I’m not sure I totally grasped what all this would actually mean when we set out—and so much has happened so fast since that day.
I do know it’s been unlike any magazine I’ve ever been involved with. In my mag career, I’ve worked mostly for business-to-business trade journals where the model is to totally milk a market (i.e. the advertisers) each year, while producing the most efficient product for the least cost. “Don’t leave anything on the table” was the advice given once at a management retreat for one of the magazines I edited.
And I clearly remember my response: If you suck it all out, how is there anything left for reinvestment in the industry? For regeneration and new growth? I looked upon my readers then as we do now: as a community that works, plays and grows together.
So when I reflect on the first “official” year tending the GenQ community, it’s a series of moments I remember, more than a grand arc of bigger thoughts…
Melissa’s Top 10 Moments in Gen Q’s First Year
1. Being out with friends late some evening, and getting a sick feeling when I realize I’m on the line for the next day’s post. Can you say sleep-deprived?
2. Trying to explain (repeatedly) to longtime print editors at Fall Market 2011 what a “blogzine” is.
3. Sitting with Jake, watching her husband, Stephen, as he builds an intricate spread sheet for expense tracking (and our eyes glaze over in tandem).
4. Taping our Kickstarter video a quadrillion times and really just wanting to inhale the glasses of wine Jake and I are using as a “stage prop” because I am brain-dead.
5. Sitting in my pjs at my kitchen table the first day our Kickstarter appeal went live, and literally screaming every time the pledge total went up.
6. Driving out to the R.R. Donnelly plant in Liberty, Missouri, with my sister Stephanie and my dear friend Beverly to pick up the very first copies.
7. Getting the best hug in the world from Amy Butler, as she told me how much she and husband David liked the story I wrote about them for the first issue. Her favorite, she said, and she gets written about all the time.
8. Walking behind a middle-aged quilter in the aisles at Spring Quilt Market 2012, listening as she explains to her middle-aged husband about this new young-ish magazine they must get for the shop. (Us. Shiver!)
9. Watching Denyse Schmidt’s staff member take a picture of our (our!) booth at Market.
10. Sitting bleary-eyed in front of the computer last night, proofing pages for the next issue, and realizing that, yes, we CAN do this again.
Thank you for the blessings, the support and the future, Q-Bies. If not for you, we wouldn’t be.
Cliché warning: It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since we launched Generation Q Magazine online! But it is hard to believe, mostly because I don’t think any of us has stopped moving, typing, shooting, sewing, talking, posting or promoting since our launch.
When Melissa and I were told that our former magazine was shutting down we were already working on GenQ in our off hours with Megan. We had to because we knew we were fighting what felt like the proverbial up-hill battle on a daily basis and while we poured all of our efforts into keeping that publication going, there seemed to be forces beyond our control working against its survival. But the core issue of why we were fighting to retain our old magazine remained our small bit of hope for GenQ: There was a growing appreciation and need for the kind of magazine content that we provide. Lifestyle coverage of the quilty/crafty world was thriving in blogs across the Internet and the followers were increasing exponentially. We knew in our core that what we could produce would appeal to this same audience in a print/digital/magazine format.
What was it about our readers, contributors and industry supporters (because really it’s the same wonderful creative beast we’re talking about here) that drew us to them? Home. Simply home. When we meet them, talk to them, play with them, break bread with them, create with them and just be with them, we are home. All of us at GenQ are creative stitchers and we each have a need to be with others who get and enjoy the special neuroses of our fabric habit. That’s what home means to us.
It was from this compulsion to be with our tribe that GenQ was born. We wanted to create a community of creativity and fun in which we could all just let down our guards and be. I think we’re doing that.
Our product is our content, regardless of delivery, and we follow some very clear guidelines as we develop our content. It must be, as appropriate:
- and Fun. Always fun!
We wouldn’t have our content without your involvement. What you like, what you don’t like, the tidbits you hear around the q-niverse, the designs you create, all are added to this package called GenQ. And for your creativity we can’t thank you enough! You, Dear Reader, followed us from the Old Place, supported us in our infancy on this blogzine, lifted us into print through Kickstarter and beyond and have bolstered us during some rough doubting moments. It always seemed that just when we’d been kicked around a bit too much, one of you would step up and tell us why we make your day a little brighter. It makes us shiver with joy, we tell you.
And personally, I just have to say, that Melissa, Megan and I have the BEST team of Q-bies who work with us and help us. Scott, Tracy, Vicki and the many friends who offer up their love and talents freely are each valued members of our tribe and thank you for what you do. I’ve read them talk about the family spirit we live by, how we help each other. I don’t know any other way to run a business like ours. We have to respect each other and help each other because life gets in the way. We all work from home, around growing families and life needs, and being there for each other is what will make us thrive. It’s what community is about, for me at least, and I’m humbled by the realization that maybe we are creating more than scads of gorgeous quilts here. Maybe we’re helping define work in a new way? Maybe not, but I’m willing to fly high with just the thought for now. And be grateful for this moment with you all.
So, for the record, we are GenQ, people, and we’re proud of it!
GenQ by the First-Year Numbers: 367 Days Since Launch
- Facebook likes: 2,183
- Twitter followers: 1,265
- Blogzine subscribers: 1,823
- GenQ Blogzine posts: 277
- Comments: 3,154
- Total unique visits: 141,975
- Total page views: 260,390
- GenQ Modern Quilters Survey, issued Sept. 2011, closed Nov. 2011: 669 respondents
- Kickstarter pledgers: 348
- Kickstarter campaign length: 47 days
- Days until Kickstarter goal was met: 9
- Kickstarter money raised: $28,450
- Kickstarter money received: $24,000 (there are fees and some pledges that did not process at the campaign’s end)
- Issue 1 print run: 7,500
- Packages containing magazines and other things mailed from GenQ HQ in the last month: about 600
- Amount paid for shipping through USPS: Don’t ask. It could fund an entire college education.
- Estimated newsstand and in-house circulation of upcoming Issue 2: 20,000 (They’re pulling us off the floor on this one, people!)