Owner and Editor-in-Chief for Blake Magazine, Hervé Godard has +12 years experience writing and editing for international fashion, jewelry, and lifestyle magazines as well as networking to promote his brand to attract models, investors and readers.
How does your job fit into the marketing process? Blake Magazine was officially launched in November 2007. I write 80% of the material in Blake Magazine, and I promote Blake Magazine to get the magazine known for advertising investors. This involves a lot of networking and meeting with the potential advertisers.
I also propose rates and advertising packages. For example, in addition to advertising space, if your product and company’s history has an interesting story, I’ll propose a saga and write articles about your product and company. An investor could buy some advertising space, and end up walk away with a 4-page article talking about the history of their company. These kinds of offers aren’t done all the time. I only propose this when there is really something interesting to write about.
I regularly receive press packages from companies, and I do read them and use certain elements from them, but after that it’s my own way of writing. I always try to keep a critical eye in everyting I write. And as often as possible I try to meet the owner(s) and the people in charge because often times there’s an interesting story behind how the company or clothing line came into existance. Perhaps two people who normally should never have crossed paths, but somehow did and it turned into the company they represent today. I find that much more interesting then a simple press packet.
I also handle the model castings, the clothing, and I handle all of the artistic direction at the photoshoots. Due to my demographic, I don’t shoot classical models. Very few of them come from actual model agencies, most of them are guys I find during a street casting or guys who contact me from out of nowhere. I often place the backstage behind-the-scenes photos of the photoshoots on Facebook playing around and having fun. Interestingly enough, looking back at all the men who appeared on the cover of Blake Magazine, 80% of them were not professional models, and at least half of the 80% signed with professional model agencies after appearing in Blake Magazine.
What’s your favorite advertising campaign?
Also, I’ve always enjoyed the Dim underwear ads.
How long did it take until Blake Magazine became your principle source of income? It took 3 years, but in the press industry this isn’t normal. Normally it can take up to 5 years. But I accomplished this in 3 years because I chose a different format. Yes, there were blogs and webzines, but five years ago when Blake Magazine was launched as an online magazine, it was the first web magazine in France where you turned the pages like a print magazine. It was the first men’s magazine written like modern and fashionable men having a conversation over coffee. Additionally I don’t often use classical models. It didn’t exist before.
How did you grow Blake Magazine so quickly? Firstly: networking. I attribute 100% of Blake Magazine’s success to networking. I chose to launch Blake Magazine using Issuu, and I emailed a link to the first issue of Blake Magazine to only 120 people, who then forwarded it to their friends. In 2007 Blake Magazine was sent uniquely by email. Today, Facebook represents an enormous amount of traffic to the website.
Secondly: Blake Parties. The first Blake party was our one year anniversary house party. Everybody brought a bottle of champaigne and they were stored under ice in the bathtub! 80 people showed up for that party.
3 months later I decided to host another Blake party for fashion week. By then so many people had talked about the first Blake party amongst themselves that bars and clubs and journalists began contacting me with offers and introducing me to even more brands and sponsors!
Thanks to networking I’ve never had to pay for advertising space, bar locations, open bars, or gift bag giveaways for Blake Magazine and the Blake parties. 100% of Blake Magazine’s success is due to networking. So many brands have offered to sponsor and be associated with the Blake parties.
Why did you choose to go into print? Since the beginning the Blake Magazine website was simply a platform for the online magazine. Launching a paperback magazine was interesting from the standpoint of advertising because in Europe, and especially in France, there is a real taboo with paper magazines. In France, you’re not considered a real magazine unless you have a paper edition magazine. This is absolutely horrible when you consider that the amount of work it takes to launch an online magazine is the same as a paper edition, it’s easy to feel a little devalued.
This is why for the 4 year anniversary for Blake Magazine, I decided to publish a paper version of the magazine. Since then I’ve published 4 bi-monthly paper editions. Right now I’m considering reverting to a quartly publishing for the four seasons in addition to the bi-monthly online magazines. I’d love one day to publish a high-quality paper version made from 100% recycled paper with bio ink, completely biodegradable.
There will always be paper magazines you buy and then throw away, but I’m certain that the future of paper will only survive if you do exceptional things that your readers want to keep.
What’s a misconception clients have about the industry? That we earn enormous amounts of money and that we don’t really work. Working in the press industry is a job you can only do if you have a passion for it.
For models, the modeling industry has to be one of the most difficult industries to work in because, when you think about it, whether you’re a male or female model, your job is to be perfect because it’s perfection that you must exude to sell the millions of products that bring in billions of dollars for the brand.
Nature is such that there are very few people who have the natural gift of natural perfect beauty to be a model, but society has changed alot. We’re no longer on that search for the perfect beauty. We’re on the search for a certain form of beauty and character that doesn’t conform with definitions of beauty from the past. Because to spend 8 hours standing in front of a camera in an over or under heated studio or shooting location – posing in a bathing suit in the snow – you have to be able to do that kind of job.
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned from your experience? Nobody is irreplacable. Never think to yourself that “I made it!” because you can be on the top of the world today and lose everything tomorrow morning. Always question yourself. With every new issue of Blake Magazine, I try to publish it as if it were the first edition.
How did you learn so much about your demographic? Using software, when your IP address connects to Blake Magazine, I know how long you read Blake, I know how many pages you viewed, and how much time you spent on each page. I know if you like the sports section over the fashion section. I know everything! I know if you spent less than 30 seconds on a page, you probably only looked at the photos. If you spent one minute, you’ve read at least the titles and descriptions of the photos. This allows me to adapt Blake Magazine so that every issue is more and more targeted to it’s readers. This is something that a paper magazine could never hope to do and can only rely on surveys and questionaires.
Secondly, I know my readers because I maintian a very active facebook presence and I talk with them everyday. Above all, I know my readers because I meet them face-to-face nearly four times a year during the Blake Night Parties.
Thirdly, after publishing of each issue of Blake, I get hundreds of emails from readers telling me what they liked and didn’t like about the issue.
Fourthly, last year I conducted a quick online questionaire over 4 editions and found that 20% of my readers are actually females who browse for gift ideas for their men and because they like the models. I thought that my readers were younger. In fact the 20-30 age is a minority and the majority of my readers are in their 40s.
In the beginning Blake Magazine was 25% fashion, 25% sports, 25% accessories, and 25% lifestyle. Today, thanks to these analytical software, 50% of Blake Magazine is dedicated to fashion because that is what my readers are interested in.
In my experience, a fashion magazine shouldn’t judge it’s readers by saying “If you aren’t wearing this shirt or suit, then you’re left out.” Instead, I feel a fashion magazine should propose what could be popular fashion. If afterwards, the reader prefers to remain in his or her blue jeans and t-shirt, then go ahead! A good fashion magazine should accompany it’s reader rather than giving orders.
Have you ever been sued or had legal trouble with a party or an issue? Like any other publication there have been errors in Blake Magazine, but never any legal problems or people who no longer wanted to do business with me.
Most of the time, if you handle yourself transparently, apologize for your mistakes, and offer to make any wrongs right, people can’t be angry with you afterwards.
For the magazine, I send the final draft to my advertisers and the people I’m writing about before the issue is published with specific instructions that if they want any corrections, the corrections must be submitted BEFORE a certain date or else it’s too late and the final draft will be published as is.
What’s an advertising campaign you’ve worked on? I recently did a facebook contest for the line of clothing Carnet de Vol and got +12,000 responses! Carnet de Vol was very satisfied. +16,000 people saw the contest across my Facebook accounts alone.
Also, I create teaser photos to post in forums and across the internet to direct people towards Blake Magazine. The one below references an article written about men’s swimsuits.
I have a small advertising budget, any advice? Consider non-aggressive advertising such as under-site advertising – the little pop-under ads that appear under the parent window. Afterwards, your reader either clicks on it because it is of interest, or they close the window. Personally, I don’t mind those kind of advertisements. It’s the aggressive pop-up ads that annoy me.
But like I said, I’ve never had to pay for advertising. I rely on networking. But networking is a full-time job in itself. I spend 4 hours a day (2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening) seven days a week building the Facebook pages, commenting on photos, answering emails and responding to comments. It’s extremely important. That’s how you stay close to your readers. It’s not complicated to see when you look at the statistics and see that you have 2,500 people who are visiting your website and 800 of them have shared or are leaving comments.