Firstly, please go check out Pine on Instagram.
Secondly, please go view Issue 1: Self on Issuu.
Issue 2: Earth will be released on October 16th. Stay tuned, my dudes.
Let’s just jump into it.
Creating Pine is more than just creating the zine itself. Rather, it’s about gaining contributors, creating an online presence, and designing and distributing the zine. When I first started thinking about the prototyping process, I thought of it on the base level of “making a zine”. It’s not that easy, and there’s a lot of trial and error involved.
Issue 1: Self
Gaining contributors for Issue 1: Self was fairly simple. I posted on UOW Students Buy and Sell, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram asking my creative friends and strangers to submit their works. A lot of BCM students wanted to help out a fellow DA, and a lot of people were interested or intrigued by the idea. I recieved a lot of love, with a total of 14 contributors.
One thing that was mentioned in an earlier lecture was the idea of online personas. It was interesting playing around with that, and working out the personas on different platforms. For example, when responding to emails I needed to remain professional so I ended every email with:
Which soon changed to:
Whereas on different social media sites I speak more fun and colloquially, sounding excited, inspired, and somewhat relatable. I’ll get to that later.
Though this is just a small thing that goes into speaking with contributors, it’s important to maintain a professional persona. The way I interact with people reflects on Pine as a whole. Nobody wants to contribute to a zine which replies with “kk thx” (Clarke, T 2018).
I had a friend from my Creative Writing degree offer to edit the written articles for me. As she’s the person I always edit my own work with, I knew she held a high standard. So, she needed editing experience on her resume, I needed an editor I trust. It would’ve been a huge workload for me, had I edited and designed the entire thing myself, so this made the whole process a lot easier.
Creation was fairly straight-forward, using Canva to create the zine itself. With little to no graphic design experience, Canva seemed to be the most affordable and intuitive option for me, and it gave a lot of stylish templates to take inspiration from.
To create a more “professional” looking zine, I picked a colour theme which was consistent throughout the zine itself and the promotional social media posts.
I exported the zine as a pdf, uploaded it to Issuu, and now it’s live!
I used Facebook and Instagram to gain a following and to update my audience, offering sneak peeks into the upcoming content.
By observing the analytics and the interaction with each post, I gained a strong understanding of the kind of content my audience enjoyed most (Hudgens, R, 2016).
Back to the online persona thing for a moment. On Instagram and Facebook, it was important to me that Pine seems friendly and approachable. More of a “party in the front, business in the back” kind of vibe with Instagram v. Email.
Once Issue 1: Self was officially released, I sent an email out to all of the contributors from the issue, thanking them for their contribution and asking them to share it with their friends and family.
A lot of those contributors shared it, too!
I shared Issue 1: Self on my personal Twitter feed, Facebook, and Instagram. A lot of the contributors happily shared my Instagram post in relation to the release, and so did a few Wollongong-based organisations that I have connections with.
I posted posters and QR codes around the University to promote Pine and call for submissions for Issue 2: Earth.
Success! Issue 1: Self had over 300 reads and over thirteen hours read time.
That’s a huge number of people.
But more importantly, the people who read it loved it. I met people at literary events tell me how much they enjoyed it, I had friends I’d met in the first year of uni tell me they loved it and wanted to help out. People thought it was professional. Generally, people fucking loved it.
Issue 2: Earth
I suppose after the release of Issue 1: Self I got confident. I figured that things were working so well, and that would never ever change.
Gaining contributors seemed like an easy task, as I had already built up somewhat of a following. After around three weeks of submissions being open, I had received around seven submissions, only one of which was visual.
My connections had shared my call for submissions.
And still, almost nothing.
The biggest issue that I’ve had while creating Pine is that it’s entirely dependant on others. While in some ways, that was the appeal of the project, it ended up biting me in the ass.
I had to change my approach.
That’s the advice that got me thinking.
So, I reached out to people. Writers, photographers, artists, people whose work I liked, YouTubers who I appreciate, all of it. Whoever I thought might have an interesting opinion
Those people were all super interested.
I posted on a zero-waste page asking for people to chat to about making less waste, which received a lot of positive responses before the post was removed and I was banned from the page.
So now submissions have officially closed and I’ve had around 24 pieces submitted, all of which will be included in Issue 2: Earth in some shape or form.
One interesting thing I’ve discovered while gaining these submissions is that not all of it is good. So what do you do when your goal is to give people a platform to be published, but some pieces maybe shouldn’t be published? That’s another factor which I should have considered earlier (Wicks, M, 2019). After speaking with my editor, we managed to find a way to include the contributor’s work: by only including some of it…
Morally, this kind of sucked. I never wanted to be the kind of person who didn’t give someone a chance. That was the whole point of Pine, to give the little guy a chance. But at the end of the day, it’s important to consider the overall quality of a project. Pine should set a (somewhat) high standard.
In Issue 2: Earth, I expanded Pine beyond just creative works, leaning more into the theme. I considered the current climate crisis and the issues surrounding it, and asked my contributors to consider that, too. Gotta make a change in the world with the platforms that we have.
The creation will be very much the same, working with Canva and Issuu to get it up and running. However, in terms of graphic design, I’ve decided to take it a little more seriously this time.
I spent some time working with another BCM student, Bec Irwin, regarding the design. She pointed out the problems for Issue 1: Self, and gave me some ideas to fix it. She gave me tips on simple things like margins, colours, and fonts, and how to make it look more professional. I’ve also taken some inspiration from magazines I personally love, like frankie.
Here are some sneak peeks into the design side of Issue 2: Earth.
For the theme of Earth, it was kind of important to include a few more colours. I think the mix of green, blue, and yellow will make for an interesting and brighter design.
I’ve also recently worked out that I can use videos and links on Issuu, which when combined with the further use of QR codes, will hopefully allow Pine to be more interactive.
Issue 2: Earth will be released on October 16th, smack bang in the middle of Global Climate Change Week. By uploading it then, there’s a larger chance that Pine will be picked up or stumbled upon in trending topics.
The distribution method for Issue 1: Self worked well, so I’ve continued to use social media to promote Pine in the lead up to the release of Issue 2. After the release, I’ll do the same thing as I did after Issue 1: Self. Hopefully this will allow me to further build my audience and make a difference in this world.
So. That’s Pine.
Despite wanting everything to go smoothly, it never will. We can’t always plan for failure, but we just have to embrace it when it does. It allows for growth and improvement.
TLDR: I created Pine by guessing, hoping for the best, and filling the gaps myself.
Wicks, M. (2019) The Ultimate Guide to Content Curation (With Examples!), SmartBlogger
Hudgens, R (2016) The 3 Most Effective (And Overlooked) Content Curation Strategies, Content Marketing Institute
Clarke, T (2018). The Complete Guide to Content Curation: Tools, Tips, Ideas, Hootsuite Blog