Raw Material

E-Zine Advice

"Have fun, write well, be smart, sound like a human being, entertain yourself as you would have others entertain you, play fair, offer information (as opposed to the ho-hum rant), ease up on the graphics and try, try, try to write without sarcasm. The reasons and routes to a zine are hairpin and oblique. Once you've got a reader or browser, offer them reasons to stay. Frames are not reasons to stay, long download times aren't reasons to stay and brassy opinionating doesn't mean a thing (lots of people have balls. So?). If you can explain your zine in a sentence you have a fighting chance."
George Myers Jr., LitKit

"Everyone I know who has done a Webzine has wildly underestimated the time and the hassle involved. Those who promise a daily edition are lucky to last a week or two before slacking off; those who promise weekly updates drift onto a two-week, or month-, or two-month plan and begin to resent the 'duties' involved in what started as a labor of love. Decide at the beginning if you even want to do an e-zine. You might do better to think of what you're putting together as a plain old Web site — one that you can update whenever you damn well feel like it."
David Futrelle, dimFLASH

"Have a few prolific contributors. Give them a schedule for their columns and have them supply the first two or three. As you publish, always stay one column ahead. That way, when the day comes when someone flakes (and someone will), you'll have enough ammo to get you through."
Benjamin Serrato, 15 Minutes

"Commit yourself to slow but steady improvement. Analyze what makes other Webzines work and learn from them. But don't clone them. Also, don't put your zine up and abandon it. Show visitors that you're checking in and adding material on occasion. My visitor count was flat during periods when I let cobwebs grow on my site. When I add to it at least once a week, I see that at least some visitors return for the possibility of new content."
Jim Romenesko, Obscure

"Don't post everything from your paper version online or you're not giving anyone an incentive to seek it out. Leave something for those who enjoy reading on the toilet. If you can get interactive, do it. Whether this be a poll with a simple e-mail response form or a quiz, it makes the site a lot more fun than just pages of text."
Rod Lott, Hitch

"With my first Webzine, Traffic, I followed the model of a print magazine: a "cover" that led to a few articles or a table of contents, six departments, and a navigation scheme that broke articles into pages rather than letting them scroll. Unfortunately, having all those departments made it hard to get a sense of momentum in any one of them. I thought I would update quarterly, but it was stupid to do it that way on the Web. Having all those departments also made it hard to get a sense of momentum. So I created a weekly with no graphics, no animations, no sound, no video, no cover page, no departments, just one article that anyone who comes to the site sees immediately."
G. Beato, Soundbitten

"Don't be intimidated. Whenever you get freaked out and start to think that little untechnical you will never be able handle frames, animated GIFs, or Java scripts, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. Remember that geegaws and slick graphics are no substitute for soul. The Coke page may load fast. The BMW page may have whirling photos. The Zima site may have a refrigerator interface. But underneath the gimmicks, these sites are full of boring drivel. As long as you have something important — something urgent — to say, it doesn't matter if you publish in black text on a gray background.
"Even the guys who produce the big corporate sites know this. They know that you—with the hilariously funny story of your divorce or the wrenching account of your sex change — might be able to get more hits on your site than they can. That's why so many advertisers' sites try to copy the look and feel of zines; that's why the makers of Buff Puff had to create a teen magazine about facial cleaning products. On the Web, content is king. And you've got the content, baby. You've got it."
Pagan Kennedy, Pagan's Head

"Simplicity can be beautiful."
Darby Romeo, Ben Is Dead

"A lot of folks who start e-zines think that just because it's up there on the Web, people will just start flocking to it by some strange force of nature. A Web zine is no different than a paper zine: You have to do a ton of self-promotion to attract visitors, and that means more than just submitting it to Yahoo and Lycos. It means exchanging links, exchanging banners, and plain old networking (the people kind, not the computer kind). Like a paper zine, you have to get your e-zine reviewed. You must send your zine (in this case a URL, not a collection of pages) to other e-zines and paper zines.
"It's obvious to me which Webzines had a lot of work put into them. In the paper zine world, that 'messy' concept is acceptable. On the Web, unorganized, messy zines are completely half-assed. Planning and design play crucial roles."
Dave Palmer, DIY Search

"Learn as much as you can about the technology, or work with someone who knows it. Think about things you can do in a Webzine that you can't do in a print zine, and figure out the best way to make that happen. For instance, a music zine might included digitized music samples, or a place for users to add their own reviews. It's important to think 'out of the box'; don't just think about what you've already seen in other e-zines, but about what you'd like to see in yours. Surf the Net and look for tools — there's a lot of free cool stuff available."
Celina Hex, Bust

return to main

external sites open in new window
report new or dead sites here