We’re kicking off our Interviews with a couple of questions we posed to Elizabeth Janse van Rensburg who heads up Chew the Magazine – a digital magazine on fashion, design and other creative works.
How many people are involved with Chew Magazine, and what are their individual roles?
How many legs do a centipede have? All our contributors in all parts of the world form part of our team. Officially, we are a two-man-one-woman show. I don’t believe in defined ‘roles’, the lines are so blurred.
How did you get started with Chew?
I was working in the mag industry as an art director and met with many photographers who clearly needed a platform for publishing more creative driven work.
When I open the Chew PDF, I am greeted with quite a mix of content and types of content as well. Can you tell us what the personality of the brand is in terms of style of publication, as well as the type of content that Chew covers?
Chew is the new generation rebel WITH a cause, an energetic spirit oozing a personal, edgy style and an experimental nature. It is a high quality publication with substance, which doesn’t conform to mediocrity or the traditional idea of what a magazine is.
Photography, fashion, design and journalistic features on issues relating to our immediate society and culture, from sub cultures to global warming to creative migration, form part of Chew’s content. The content is lead by what the readers want to read and see.
You’ve managed to keep a regular publishing cycle going. In the past quarter we’ve seen quite a lot of blogs and publications starting up that have not made it past the 1 month mark. What do you attribute your success in reaching a 5th edition to?
Hard work, determination, hard work, patience, hard work and 100% passion.
You guys publish on an e-zine – why is it not in a blog format? While research suggests that e-zines have lower engagement models than blogs (or other forms of publishing), your decision seems to be to stick with e-zine and not move to daily or weekly publishing. Why is this? And would you think of publishing a print edition?
A blog is like a packet of sweets and an e-zine like a low GI bag of popcorn. The one you need for a quick fix and the other sustains you for longer but both are equally enjoyable in different situations. Just as a novel and magazine have different roles to play, all of these work towards the common goal to provide and spread information. And that is power. That being said, watch this space as we have many more tricks up our digital sleeves!
What gap would you say Chew fills in the online publishing market? As mentioned in an earlier question, we have quite a number of publications out there, from Print (Design Indaba,Art SA, One Small Seed, etc) to Online (OSS, Marklives, etc) that feature the same content type, where does Chew fit in here?
Chew is a first of its kind – a downloadable magazine that people can keep on their computers, read without being online (can you say 18 hour plane trip?) and even print if they want to. There have been groups, from SA to UK, who have come after Chew and try to imitate what we do, so the question should really be, where do THEY fit into this new market of which Chew is the leader and flagship?
What is your content sourcing strategy, and in the online world how do you make sure that the content you do receive stays fresh for your audience?
In each issue I try to work with new contributors to keep Chew fresh. Many people approach me and I choose the work that is inspirational, new and edgy. I work closely with all contributors to ensure that Chew maintains its high standards that have already been set and to push it even more.
Can you give us a hint at your stats?
Over 10 000 downloads in 8 months… not bad for a brand new brand!