Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Welcome Kate Schlicher, creator of North County Kids Magazine! Tell us a little about yourself, Kate:
I went to college at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo. I actually started school as Nutrition major, under the College of Agriculture. Cal Poly requires that students declare their major when they apply, so Nutrition seemed like a fun major . . . when I was 18! Needless to say, by my second year I decided that I didn’t want to work in a hospital, or become a registered nurse or dietician, so I needed to make a change. Growing up I was the ultimate journal-er. Always writing down my thoughts of the day, and even bringing my journal on road trips and drawing a line along the page to essentially create a topographic map of all of the bumps on the road. I changed to a Journalism major with a concentration in Public Relations . . . much more “me”.
I graduated and worked at Walden Media, a multimedia entertainment company in LA. I worked as a marketing intern around the time they were working on Nim’s Island. Great experience and company, but I didn’t see myself in the “LA life” forever. I became a freelance writer the next year for a couple of online magazines then worked for a parenting magazine in the SF area in the marketing department. My goal was to work for myself, so I learned the ins and outs of the magazine world and decided to start my magazine, North County Kids Magazine, in September 2012.
My sister and her family live in San Diego and I always wanted to make it down there myself. Right out of college, I nannied for my 3 nephews and learned a little bit about the parenting life in North County, San Diego. I found a niche, and filled it! I’m now living in Encinitas and about to marry my amazing fiancé, Ryan, in August!
When did this creative dream begin?
It began when I was having a hard time working for someone else and wanted to take control of my life and happiness. The magazine was born on September 1, 2012.
How did this project/idea get started?
Like I mentioned in the first answer, I found a void in the world of publishing for families and parents in North County. There wasn’t a resource that complied all of the family friendly events, activities, and resources (camps, school, indoor play places, art classes, music classes, gyms, etc.) in one place. North County, San Diego is one of the most family-friendly communities that I have ever seen (possibly minus the idyllic place I grew up, Lafayette, CA)! It boggled my mind that nobody had put everything in one place, so I decided to do it myself. I have to give some credit to my fiancé Ryan. I grew up thinking you graduate college, become an intern, become a full-time employee, work in a cubicle, then an office, and finally the corner office . . . then you retire. Ryan has always had an entrepreneurial mindset that helped encourage me to break free from the corporate/office world, and start my own business.
What makes your project stand out from the crowd?
North County Kids Magazine is a very high quality (thick, full gloss and full color paper) family magazine that combines not only educational, but also very entertaining features. For example, each month we include a “Celeb Tracker” page and “A is for App” page. Parenting magazines can be so stale and boring, so I wanted to appeal to the modern parent looking for things to do with their family, and also a little current and celeb entertainment. My goal was the see North County Kids Magazine used as a road map for parents, and also a great beach read! I also keep all writers and content local. Lots of magazines include generic articles such as “What Allergies to Look for this Season!” and “What to Pack on Your Next Camping Trip.” These subjects are sought out either on the Internet, or through medial advice. There is no need for a local magazine to print just generic info. Let’s keep it local!
What are the goals and intentions of this project?
My goal is to educate and entertain the families of North County. I want it to be a one stop shop for what to do this weekend, what recipe to make tonight for dinner (that your kids will actually eat), what summer camps are best, and what celeb moms have to say about their parenting styles.
How does your project create community?
Since starting North County Kids Magazine I have been beyond flattered and humbled by the sweet notes I have received. My favorite sums it up: “Honestly, I don’t what I what I would do without it. I am raising ‘two under two’ and thanks to your site and magazine, we are not only surviving, but thriving.” That’s more than I could have ever asked for.
Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
Only start something you really love. If you have that base, no matter how hard some days, weeks, months are, you will know in your heart that you are doing something that you love. Don’t start anything for the hopes of a fortune. Also start to “follow” some of your favorite business owners on social media. The small business community is generally very supportive and it’s good to learn from each other and see different experiences.
Each month we use an editorial calendar, which dictates the direction of the issue. Typically these monthly themes center around a holiday or a special event in the month. For example, the June issue is a “Summer Kickoff” issue with a Summer Camp Guide and several summer events coming up in the area. I am lucky to have several local parents as monthly contributors; for example, we have a Mom-to-Mom Book Review and Down to Earth Dad blog feature.
What’s been the hardest part about getting it off the ground?
The hardest part was gaining enough recognition by the community to in-turn receive advertisers and loyal readers. There is a positive to being a new publication, in that you are recognized as something new and different and therefore picked up. However, after that you have to prove yourself and your product as being sustainable and beneficial to the community.
What have you learned?
I have learned to be very persistent.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about starting a project?
I think the biggest misconception about starting a project is the fear of rejection or failure. Once you get over that mindset, you can focus on being productive and making it work!
What are some ways you promote your project?
We promote the magazine through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram), through our website, and partnering with local businesses for events. Of course the best form of promotion is providing a consistently great issue month after month!
Creating something is one skill. Marketing and promoting it is an entirely different skill set. How has that gone for you? Shocked by the amount of work marketing takes? Or pleasantly surprised?
I still have so much to learn about this subject! I am learning a lot about SEO and driving readers to our website. Since we are print-based, that is my main focus right now. Our website has our digital issues and some other articles, but I didn’t want to jump in and spread myself too thin. We are a local, print magazine . . . therefore that is my focus for now!
Any marketing mistakes you would avoid?
Stay focused on your target demographic. Don’t cast your net too wide. Use your time and resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. Some partnerships and opportunities don’t make sense so don’t be afraid to say no. Always consider your opportunity costs. The best way to learn about marketing is to ask people in your industry, who have succeeded, if they have any advice for you. Typically people are very open to helping others.
What advice would you give someone else who has a creative dream like yours?
Research it, learn about it, ask people about it, then do it! Start something that you love, and can continue to do during the hard times and the good!
Where do you see this project in five years?
I hope to increase our page count and distribution each year. Our goal is to be the number one print publication catering to the wonderful families of North County!
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your creative dream, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.
Q: How does it feel to work for yourself?
A: Better than a big slice of chocolate cake!
How can we find your creative dream come true? (website)