Each Monday, we are posting a blog to help our readers get to know the media just a little bit better.
With a TWIST!
No, we aren’t posting story pitch tips or media lists, but instead great stories from the media themselves about their lives, their work and other little known facts! Think of it as your first “networking” opportunity of the week!
He’s even been good enough to have our own Alison write some articles for the magazine from time to time.
So, Josh, time to share!
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
People often ask me how I got started in the magazine business. I kind of stumbled into it, really.
I was working in real estate, dealing with raw land in rural areas and investors. I’d buy a large parcel of 100 acres or more and split it up into smaller parcels, bringing in power, roads, water and other improvements, and then resell the parcels at a profit. The very first parcel I purchased was located in Willcox.
I noticed what looked like a field of dead plants across the road from the parcel and asked what they were.
“Grapes” was the answer, and they were not dead but dormant for the winter.
I said, “You mean like a vineyard?”
Immediately, my selling strategy changed as did the tagline in my ad. I added in “Across from a Vineyard,” figuring it would get more phone calls than “Across from some cows.”
I was fortunate to start this while the real estate market was still going strong. I used the vineyards as a sales point to great advantage. We did bus tours with investors through this wine country area.
Then, as everyone knows, the bottom fell out of the real estate market and investors disappeared completely. I owned thousands of acres of “vineyard land” still and had no buyers. I figured I needed to find end users immediately. I had to find someone that actually wanted to plant a vineyard and start a winery. I thought that if someone was looking to start a vineyard, they would begin by visiting the other vineyards and wineries in the state to get some tips and information, such as, “where should I buy land for a vineyard.”
I began researching to compile a list of active wineries. What I found was that there was no accurate list of wineries. Some websites listed wineries that were out of business for over 10 years, others that had been in business for four years or more weren’t even listed. I set out to get a current, updated list and had the idea right then. I would print a brochure with an accurate list of wineries and their contact information and put all of my real estate listings on the back.
I also included some articles about what was happening in the industry, such as Dick Erath (famous vintner from Oregon) buying 200 acres to plant vines next to all of my land. I thought I’d throw in a couple more articles and call it a magazine. It was eight pages and we printed 10,000 copies; our distribution network was all of the wineries.
We called it Arizona Vines & Wines – 2008 Edition. To my surprise, we sold out!
So, just like that, we were now in the publishing business. Because of the narrowly- focused niche of Arizona wine, we are now up to 68 pages with some fabulous advertisers. We publish 20,000 issues per quarter and now offer an online version and additional items and data on our website.
Our Fall 2010 issue – out in September – will be in nearly 60 Barnes & Noble bookstores throughout Southern California, Nevada and Arizona as well as all of the Borders, Bashas’ and AJ’s in Arizona.
I have to say that my wife, Rhonni, is the real star of the show. Not having any background in publishing, writing, photography or anything related to a magazine (other than being literate), we went out and bought an expensive camera and an expensive software program. She taught herself how to use both.