This semester has been a constant rush of making, rethinking, and making again. Though Making is the final module in the BCM114 subject, it feels to me as though it’s been going on the whole time.
In OP1 (ideating), I mentioned my process of gaining contributors and beginning the design and social media side of Pine, all before Issue 1: Self was even released. In OP2 (prototyping), I reflected upon the processes of Issue 1: Self, the problems that sprouted from Issue 2: Earth, and the way I adapted to those problems, all before Issue 2: Earth was released. It’s hard to separate OP3 and the idea of making from OP1 and OP2, because making (and remaking) has been a constant process throughout all three modules. Forgive me if I repeat myself.
So, after the hassles and problems involved in the creation of Issue 2: Earth that you heard about last time, it’s finally live!
The process of designing Issue 1 seemed easy, and at the time of OP2, it was going fairly smoothly for Issue 2, too. My editor had all the written pieces ready to go, and I had sent them back to all the writers to make sure they were happy with the changes my editor had made. Most of the design was done, and it seemed to be a lot nicer and more visually appealing than Issue 1. I had a wide range of creators involved with a whole array of topics, themes, opinions, and images. Sadly, a few people had to pull out (my YouTuber friend, unfortunately). I suppose when you don’t have the money to pay any contributors, there’s only so much you can ask or expect.
The day of release came along, and I was still fixing up a few formatting problems. That’s when Canva shit itself. It froze and wouldn’t load. The rest of my browsers were working okay, and I knew I had been constantly saving throughout the design process, so after waiting five minutes for some kind of change, I refreshed my browser and it took me back to an old save file. I had to create half of it again. All I could do was let my audience know.
The day after it was supposed to be released, things went wrong again. I finished the design early in the morning, and spent the rest of the day trying to upload it to Issuu. Once again, technology stabbed me in the back.
But alas! I worked out the problem. My free Issuu account wouldn’t accept files over a certain size, which at no point was I notified about. Thankfully, Canva allowed me to download an alternative pdf version which was at a lower quality but was a significantly smaller file size.
After weeks of work and days of technical problems, I finally had Issue 2: Earth uploaded onto Issuu by 8pm on Thursday, October 17th, with only a few links to attach after I had finished work.
And then I received two messages from writers involved explaining that there had been problems with the changes that had been made by my editor, despite both writers previously saying those changes were okay. So. That was fun. In the future, I’m going to specify that all problems writers have with the changes that are made need to be bought to my attention before a certain time. Or something like that. It’s all a learning process!
I changed those things back, uploaded it again, and ta da! Issue 2: Earth was live.
Looking back, I wish I didn’t use Canva and Issuu, but there really aren’t many other platforms that could do what I wanted. Money is a thing that exists, and I don’t have much of it. I just wish there were better and easier platforms.
Once again, I emailed all my contributors:
And posted to Instagram:
And finally, I went to bed.
Over the coming days, I had a lot of people share and promote Pine.
As of today (November 1st), here are the statistics of Pine, Issue 2: Earth on Issuu.
And just for comparison, here are the statistics of Pine, Issue 1: Self:
So, what am I supposed to take from that? I really don’t know. Without paying for an Issuu subscription, I can’t see which pages had the most engagement and I can’t see a lot of the statistics. It seems, by the amount of shares, that people are enjoying this one more – enough to share it. However, there are still significantly less reads on this one.
One thing I believe contributes to the dropping reads and impressions is that I didn’t have Wollongong-based literary communities sharing it around. When I released Issue 1, I had already decided the theme for Issue 2 and I was actively asking for contributors. A lot of pages and people were sharing Issue 1 around Facebook in a way to encourage people to submit to Issue 2. However, I still haven’t picked a theme for Issue 3, which means that I’m not currently open for submissions. A lot of Facebook pages (including the organisations I work directly with) don’t want to just share and promote work. Rather, they want to promote opportunities, something I haven’t offered in Issue 2.
On top of that, by creating Issue 1: Self, it was something new, something exciting which had never been seen before. But with Issue 2, it’s not launching a new product. It’s nothing revolutionary that people want to check out. Instead, it’s the second edition to something which was cool the first time around.
So after all this, I’ve been feeling kind of down. I’ve been comparing Pine to a lot of other DAs, magazines, and zines. I know this is just a project in which I’m doing almost everything myself. I know that I can’t expect to have the reach or talent of a group when I’m only an individual. I know that I only learned majority of these skills within the last 13 weeks for this class. It still kind of sucks to know other people are doing so much better than me.
I’ve reached audiences around the world. I’ve had people from around the world submit to Issue 2, and I’ve been shown so much love and support. Only love and support.
I was recently approached by a journalism student who was doing a major project. He interviewed me in relation to Pine, asking about my process and why I created it. He showed so much love, passion, and excitement for my project.
I met someone a couple of days ago who’s dating a writer and a friend of mine. He asked what I did, where I worked, what I wanted to do. I mentioned Pine, and he was so excited about it. He literally jumped with joy. “Oh my God, that’s you? You’re Pine? That’s amazing. I loved it. It’s so professional, you’ve done so well!” He had already read both issues as they came out.
In a job interview, I mentioned Pine as part of my experience. Even the interviewers – two people which had never read it, who worked in a high-end, well-known publication – were impressed and excited by it.
When I compare Pine to other projects, I can feel a bit down. But I made it. I did this. People love something I’ve made. I wanted to create Pine to give artists publication opportunities, but I think I’m giving people a lot of joy and happiness. And that’s truly amazing.
So, what’s next for Pine?
Growing, changing. There’s lots of thinking, rethinking, and prototyping to come.
I asked a few questions on Pine‘s Instagram story yesterday and I received some pretty great feedback.
Over the summer, I’ll be launching Pine, the website, as well as creating a print zine and probably a Patreon to financially support the creation and production of the website and zine. Depending on the amount of Patreons, I might even be able to pay contributors from that money, too. Wishful thinking, hey?
Ideally, the website (run through WordPress or Squarespace) will still have monthly themes. For example, February might be Organisation in the lead-up to university launching once again. June might be Winter as the months start to get colder in Australia. It would still be a collection of artworks, images, short stories, poems, and non-fiction pieces following a theme, so don’t worry about that. As a website, Pine would also include topical and relevant written pieces, perhaps every weekend including a run-down article which talks about the events of the week. I’d really love a wide range of writers and artists involved in the website, so who knows, maybe future BCM students have a platform to submit things (or even join the team at Pine as part of their DAs).
Following the website, I’d also love to get more into content curation. One huge section of content curation is finding and sharing interesting and intelligent articles, photos, or links. I would love to do that on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram once we build a following. Rather than only share articles written by our own writers, I’d love Pine to be a place for creatives and audiences to enjoy a whole range of works. By doing this, I’d be able to expand on Pine‘s image and show that I have my foot in the door of the industry (Wagner, A 2017)
A print version of Pine would have to be made to order. Financially, I can’t afford to give the zines away for free or at a discounted price. The printing costs differ wherever you go, so a lot of in-depth research will have to be done in order to find the cheapest way of producing it.
And what about the digital zine? Well, I’d love to keep that going, too. Sadly, Issuu is just filled with so many issues (pun intended) and I can’t afford to pay for premium. So, I’ll keep it going, but I can’t use that as the core source of distribution anymore.
I’d really like to have some kind of launch for Pine, too. Maybe some day in February I’ll be able to have a launch party at Society City, where we announce that the website is live and we have printed copies of Pine for sale. All contributors would be invited and snacks would be supplied, and it would be something really fun, cool, and tangible. Make the Digital Artefact a little less digital.
As the new year approaches, I’m hoping to start applying for more grants so I can actually pay my contributors for their fantastic work. With or without this money, I’ll hopefully be able develop prototypes for these ideas, hopefully giving me a higher chance at success (Plattner, H 2010).
Either way, Pine is going places, but I don’t think I can do it alone. I have a few friends who are interested in social media and marketing, and I’m hoping to get some of them involved so that we can create a consistent social media presence with a much larger following (Williams, H 2019). Ideally, I’ll get a whole range of people involved and it will be fantastic.
But those are all just ideas. Big ideas. One important feature of our DAs is that it’s Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, and Tiny, and I think I’ve kept within those confines quite well this semester. With that being said, there’s nothing Tiny about the future of Pine.
Thanks for your support over these last few months. I love Pine, I love BCM114, and despite the tears and stress, I wouldn’t trade this semester for the world.
Plattner, H. (2010) An Introduction to Design Thinking: Process Guide
Wagner, A. (2017) How To Use Content Curation The Right Way
Williams H (2019) How Often Should You Post on Social Media?