April 2015—October 2015
Forager Magazine: A case study in digital magazine publishing
Forager Foundation is a Canadian non-profit organisation with a mandate to preserve and promote traditional cultural practices surrounding food and the environment. Since 2013, the foundation has been working with community development initiatives to creates community garden spaces, educational materials and conduct wild food tours. The purpose of these programs is to reconnect people with their roots and foster a better appreciation with the natural world.
The Foundation’s team had the idea to turn their digital content into a more meaningful digital experience. They decided to launch a new online magazine, but didn’t know where to start. Digital publishing was new to these environmentalists and anthropologists, so they scoured Google for magazine software to bring their idea to life. After a few weeks of planning they came to realise they didn’t have the expertise to tackle this project alone. Putting together a professional digital publication was going to be a huge undertaking. Professional content, high-quality photography and a good user experience were needed to keep up the level of quality that the foundation’s other programs were known for. Extra help would be needed if this was going to be a success. In came Forager.
The Forager publishing team started off by researching other magazine publications on major newsstands to give Forager Foundation a better idea of what they wanted their magazine to sound and look like. A comprehensive style guide was created to guide each article and requests were sent out to potential writers around the world. Content creation was the main hurdle to get over with this new project. Since it was a new publication, getting the writers to commit to volunteering their time and skills to the foundation was a process. Using the foundation’s professional network and other sources such as LinkedIn, a collection of commissioned articles was put together that gave the magazine a well-rounded feel. By getting a few key individuals involved, Forager Media was able to convince all the writers needed to fill the magazine cover to cover with articles that furthered its mandate.
Forager Media’s designers used their keen magazine publishing software skills in Adobe inDesign to craft the template that Forager Foundation would use for each subsequent issue of their new flagship publication. To ensure that each article had its own feel, our designers took the text and photos for each and created several versions to present to the foundation’s team for approval before it was added into the main magazine’s structure. The focus wasn’t to make a quick fluff publication that could just be scanned over on a mobile device, the foundation wanted something for readers to really sink their teeth into and explore each topic in depth.
The finished product of this new publication was published on Forager Foundation’s website as a pdf file download, and it was also listed with two online publishing platforms, Joomag and Issuu. By listing with these two sites, readers could share a quick link to the magazine or a specific article on their own social media and help the foundation reach more readers. Praise came from Harvard academics and Indigenous leaders on the quality of the reading experience and the style of the magazine.
Page views of the magazine continue to rise and with its interactive content. Readers are easily able to click links and reread their favourite articles. Forager Foundation was happy to have found a partner that offered a digital publishing solution like Forager Media. Many magazine publishers are able to offer one portion of the services that Forager Media was able to offer the foundation. The design is easily replicable for future issues and, with a style guide on-hand, the in-house team can manage to publish each subsequent issue themselves.
We were excited with the idea to launch our very own magazine, but had no idea how to turn it into a reality. The Forager Media team was able to help with everything from recruiting writers, editing and digital publishing. They turned our dream into a reality!
Erika Driedger, Chairman at Forager Foundation