The case of Russia: How our magazine got up on the App Store on a shelf with GQ, Men's Health and Maxim

I want to share a story of how a small independent magazine has its niche in the App Store next to the giants of the world print. This article is about the fact that everything is possible, the main thing — to believe and to work hard on your project. I tell how he came to the idea JORNL and how to realize it in life through a series of mistakes that almost cost the life of the magazine. The idea of this journal came to my mind when I first time picked up the iPad. Since childhood I dreamed about your own log.

I already had a little experience with Internet projects — Ive run several websites on different topics, but none of them can be called successful. Even more difficult to do the magazine from the website. Rather, this electronic newspaper — no cover, navigation spoils the look and all the pages look the same due to the fact that the sites are built on templates. The app on the iPad — is another matter. Then there is the cover, and turns on the entire screen, and page navigation, and the ability to customize each individual article.

In General, a complete delight. Unfortunately, at the time of the release of the first iPad had no money, no understanding, no available technical solutions for the creation of his magazine, but the idea is firmly lodged in the brain. After graduation it became clear that its time to act. I was quite familiar with Adobe products, especially InDesign and Photoshop, worked as a graphic designer. In the Adobe Creative Cloud, which was bought by me during my studies, entered the product under the enigmatic acronym DPS.

As it turned out, it was exactly what I was looking for. Digital Publishing Suite is everything you need for make magazine for iOS. Without thinking, I subscribed somewhere for 350-400 euros a month. Fairly inexpensive in order to fulfill the dream. In parallel, I gathered a team.

Together with the editor we came up with headings and initial ideas for articles. I developed the design concept, 15 days spent on the layout of the first issue. Some days it took to create the app using DPS — required many things, including security certificates, icons of the future application, description, stubs at boot and so on. In General, it was difficult to understand when she has no experience, but the Adobe customer service was on top, explained everything to me promptly and even fixed one of its bugs. I chose advertising business model.

I had several reasons. First of all, mens magazines in the App Store were few, and they were all paid. I wanted to stand out, to win positions in the store and the location of readers at the expense of free. Secondly, my experience of Internet projects suggests that people are not willing to pay for content, and the cost of a normal website to WordPress so slight that I can live with the ad money. It seemed that the app will be the same.

10 days inspection from Apple, and the magazine in the store. It was amazing to see his dream actualized. The mood has deteriorated badly the next morning when he woke up, I saw a strange email from Adobe. Its essence was as follows. Your 400 free downloads is over, be please kind enough to pay us lots of money.

The company did not advertise that for every download of log reader will have to pay about 40 Euro cents. Even customer support are unable to tell me more about this tariff confusion. To my horror there was no limit. The first issue was actively shaking, and completely free. To ensure the health of the magazine, I had to buy the downloads for a few hundred euros.

I started looking for a way out. In just a week I managed to completely pereverstat the magazine under a new engine from the company MagPlus. Unlike Adobe, they provide the ability to place rooms on their own servers, which significantly reduces the cost of the case. Was quickly signed a contract, created a new app, and my credit card went a new subscription in the amount of $ 450. Thank God, an agreement with Adobe DPS was terminated on time, and the adventure ended with no waste.

On MagPlus we have lived for more than a year. Overall, this is a good system, you can do an unusual layout in 2 layers, the background, for example, is fixed, and the text glides over it. A cruel joke played with me the carelessness and haste. In the contract it stipulates that Im supposed to get 500 GB for downloads magazines for free. Unfortunately, I dont understand that this is a one time service and not a monthly bonus.

So, not much worrying, I posted the numbers directly from them. This continued for several months until he came the first semi-annual invoice for hosting. In total I had to shell out several thousand euros. At that time we already had advertisers — mostly dealers of major car brands. Each number has already been downloaded more than ten thousand people, and we are firmly entrenched in the top 3 mens magazines in the App Store.

In December 2014 we never had enough advertising contracts in order to pay for itself. I already drank this glass of champagne, when it came black Tuesday — Euro more than 100 roubles apiece. In one day we lost all our advertisers. All. Instead of payback we went on a $ 0 turnover.

But I was ready for something again goes wrong, so I didnt panic and started to think. After talking with another publisher who had more experience in our hard work, I came to the conclusion that money out for money. It was decided to introduce a paid subscription. Fortunately there was a sufficient number of readers, plus the good positions in App Store. It was scary, but the other way was not simple.

Besides, it solved a number of problems — no more need to chase advertisers, actually doing a B2B, and you can devote all the time working on the product, as it should be present B2C business. We have created applications for in-app purchasing for subscriptions and individual rooms. It was Christmas. Before the holidays, Apple has rejected our application because of errors in the design and happily went on vacation. Publishing fresh accommodation had to be postponed to early January.

On the first day we sold for a few hundred euros. This is probably the best feeling in the world when you realize that people really are willing to pay money for something that you and your team have created with their own hands. This is proof that your product is doomed to live that it has value and it is a demand. We still could not reach payback accumulated debts. It was decided that it was time to reduce costs.

I had to cut royalties to authors, the question arose about changing the engine, because it was important every penny is a magazine sold in rubles, and MagPlus wanted dollars, which increased the project cost almost in 2 times in comparison with last year. Even before the very first magazine I stumbled on the Internet on free engine BakerFramework, the sources are on GitHub. Then this implementation seemed too complex and confusing, and the possibilities of the system, and designs were not up to par. After years of experience I have developed an understanding of how it should look and work the app. Baker was taken and fully processed under these representations.

Then over a month we spent on it to create the Converter, which could convert all releases from MagPlus in HTML format. Had to disassemble their packages made up of clippings of images created by the plug-in to InDesign. And output the algorithm of how to put them together in a new format. Converter managed to do it, but when it became clear that, firstly, it is illegal to use reverse engineering, and secondly, the format MagPlus disgusting. Its essence consists that are created in InDesign, the layout is cut into individual images, including text and other elements.

The layouts had to be created and adapted to meet 12 units (including 4 for Android). The magazine for the tablet could weigh more than 400 MB. I thought it was stupid, and I decided to abandon the idea of the Converter. We manually adapted several numbers under the new format, in fact perevertov them again, but was pleased with the result. The templates allowed to make one layout that adjusts to all screens automatically and weighed up to 10 times less.

It is possible to significantly save on hosting and CDN. The first time the app checks with Apple, and we froze in anticipation of a wave of negativity from readers, but it was better than I thought. Almost nobody noticed the difference, and we were able to save 10 thousand dollars a year (considering that there are already two magazines). Now we have the ability to completely control the application itself and the backend. We add new features, decide what we need and not content with what offers us a specific engine.

For example, we have implemented a personal account of the user and the system of rewards for attracting new readers. In the summer we also launched JORNL Woman and “JORNL Business Fun”, but the first was closed after 2 months, as it has not reached the desired indicators. “Business Fun” is also gaining momentum, but is a worthy younger brother of the main journal JORNL, gradually gaining subscribers. JORNL and to this day often is in the top 5 mens magazines in the App Store and is cover to cover with the likes of GQ, Maxim and Mens Health. And let the niche is quite small, but we are proud of our product and our team.

We develop the magazine and excited about our intimacy with each of his reader.


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