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!
So, Rebekah, time to share!
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
Besides the fact that I feel completely out of place when considered part of the media? Well, lots actually. I created the Arizona Builder’s Exchange about 2-1/2 years ago out of a desire to read the sorts of information I publish, but I couldn’t find anything out there that put it all together in the way I was looking for. AZBEX is a twice a week electronic newsletter for the design & construction communities in Arizona. I track everything from projects bidding to bid results, articles about projects in planning & development, legislation affecting those industries, etc. But that’s pretty boring to the blogosphere!
The fun story is how this monster got started…
I was working as a project engineer for a Top 10 general contractor, and knew I was moving to Phoenix from Oregon. It was painfully clear that my transfer wasn’t going to go through and I needed a job, but learning a new market from halfway across the country was tough (I should mention I was very pregnant at the time).
I had one basic question – who’s got the work because they’re the most likely to hire me as an engineer. When I couldn’t find a specific source of information for design and construction (like the one in Oregon), I hymmmed and haawwwed about it for a couple months and started to think things like , “What if I did something like that?” Being the engineer that I am, I ran a ‘worst-case’ scenario.
I came to the conclusion that if I tried I would: a) give it everything I’ve got; b) blow through my savings; and c) if it failed, I would KNOW who to go hit up for a job. I finally said. “Well, if that’s the worst that can happen, IT’S A GO!”
At this point, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Never having published anything, my idea of a well-written piece was an iron-clad contract that would never make it to court because it was well thought-out, accurate, and had the correct terms included. Contracts are sexy, just ask any general contractor.
I laugh at myself when I actually do write an article now– sometimes I think it’s atrocious – I write like an engineer - blunt and concise, lots of bullet-points and tables (still trying to work a table into this blog, but it might not happen). My readers don’t seem to mind.
I produced the first 10 issues for free, mainly because I didn’t have the funds for market research. I didn’t even know what market research was. I had to learn everything about marketing, sales and business operations from the school of hard knocks… I’m still attending, don’t think I’ll ever graduate. I remember having an epiphany that when publishing, everything I do is content marketing (I read a book that had content marketing as a chapter, that’s the only reason I even know that term).
Around Issue 4 I had people calling to be “put on my list.” I had my first job offer by Issue 5, someone said “I love what you’re doing, you should come and do that for me.” I politely declined; I needed to know if it could stand on its own.
Fast forward 2-1/2 years: I’m still in business (thank goodness)! I now have three additional staff members, one of which is a writer. We each have a background in the design or construction industry, which is a bit unique I think. Aside from my writer’s freelance experience, no one has any knowledge of the media side of things, which is cool on the one hand – we have no pre-sets of how things should be. The downside is we have no experience in publishing so I sit there scratching my head sometimes on what is likely very standard stuff.
It’s been such a wild ride; more late nights than I could have imagined, but totally worth it. Talk about a new level of work-ethic and accountability, holy cow. I wish I would have paid more attention to all things business in college. But I’ve found that when I really put my mind to it, things work. I hit a very narrow niche, but in a lot of ways I hit it dead on. My current distribution is close to 1,000 local industry professionals across 250+ subscriber firms. I’ve already more than tripled my readership this year and will likely double it again by the end of the year.
Next up for me: world domination! And enjoying my oldest son’s first year of kindergarten.
Completely useless and random facts about me: