Darren Tong is one half of the creative team behind Alpha Efficiency Magazine. He and Bojan Dordevic produce the monthly magazine aimed at offering “insights for purposeful living.” Darren is based in the UK and also has a full-time job as a senior manager delivering change projects for a large financial services firm. Bojan recently moved from Serbia to Chicago, where he leads digital marketing campaigns for a large financial firm.
What motivated you to start this magazine?
About 18 months ago Bojan and I were writing separate blogs, both themed around “productivity” but with emphasis in different places. We found ourselves discussing, debating and – in a few cases – arguing – about productivity topics and we quickly realised that we could do something really fantastic by collaborating. Shortly thereafter Alpha Efficiency became a joint venture and we started to think about how to develop it to reflect our new combined thinking.
We knew we wanted to do something different, but we weren’t sure what; Bojan had this idea that we should launch a magazine and pointed out what Type Engine was doing (TypeEngine was in beta at the time). We looked at some of the pilot publications launching on Type Engine and decided it would be a good fit for the format and style we were looking for. Several months after the original idea we were pulling together the pilot issue; last week we put out Issue 4.
Describe your average reader.
Anybody who wants to challenge themselves to do more, live better and go about their lives with purpose can benefit from our magazine. That said we find that Alpha Efficiency tends to attract readers in the 20-40 age bracket, white collar professional types with a tendency towards more technical disciplines (what you might call “knowledge workers”). We know we have a higher proportion of male readers, though we’d love to find ways of making our writing attractive to female readers too.
How do you plan on reaching new readers?
Up until now we’ve relied on word of mouth and social media – we’re both very active on ADN and Google+ so we rely on our friends spreading the word. We’re looking at ways where we can raise awareness of our magazine for targeted audiences who are interested in productivity – this will probably centre around talking to audiences of other productivity publications and podcasts.
How do you see your magazine evolving over the next few months? Years?
That’s a difficult one! We’re learning so much as we go and the magazine has already changed shape since we launched it. We have a mantra of “each issue better than the last” which reminds us to keep pushing forwards. In practise this will mean reaching out to high-profile thought leaders in productivity and other related spheres to persuade them to contribute. As our reader base goes we’ll look at expanding the “conversational” aspect by incorporating feedback and social media interactions. We’re open to the idea of including other media such as short videos and audio, but that’s not something we’re planning to do in the short term.
How long have you been publishing? Is this your first magazine?
I’ve been writing for a little under two years, whilst Bojan has been writing for about four years. Alpha Efficiency Magazine is the first magazine we’ve launched and it’s the first time we’ve put something out for paid consumption. It’s quite amazing how the simple act of charging for your work changes the way you think about how you write; we’ve both become much more disciplined and focused as a result, setting a much higher bar for ourselves than we did previously.
How do you define the success of your magazine?
When we started we had a simple immediate goal of attracting enough paid subscribers to cover the running costs of the magazine; we achieved that in month 1 so now we’re stepping up our ambitions. The success of the magazine is really determined in two ways; by growing (and sustaining) a readership of paying customers who value the writing that we’re putting out is the principal measure, but we also want to establish a reputation as a leading voice in productivity circles with new, interesting things to say.
What other magazines do you like? Digital/Print?
Publishing your own magazine really changes your perspective on what others are achieving with digital print; Wired Magazine is the publication I read most; I’m also interested in what Jim Dalrymple is doing with the Loop. We keep an eye on the other publications with a productivity slant too!