REFORMATION TODAY: How I Created a Digital Magazine
In a departure from the general spiritual-warfare topics of my blog, I’d like to take a moment to share with you all how I created a digital magazine. I hope this will be a useful, easy-to-use guide for any inquiring minds who’d like to launch digital magazines of their own.
It’s Perry Stone’s Fault
REFORMATION TODAY (referred to as “RT” from here on out) was something I’d been wanting to do for a some time now. However, I have to lay much of the blame on Perry Stone. I’ve heard him discuss the origin of his publication, Voice of Evangelism (highly recommend!), several times. The presently high-quality issue that comes out five or six times a year and features articles mostly by him (`~ four or five per issue) as well as one by his wife, Pam, was not always the professional work that it is today! He started it as a very young man - a teenager, I believe, and with ZERO experience! If memory serves correctly, he created a small publication, plagued with errors (that were mocked by many), and sold his drum set to a man to get it published!
Well, that was before I was even born. And I knew that I had skills as a writer as well as an editor. And these days, with all of the programs and apps out there, one doesn’t have to be a graphic designer to get the layouts and so forth done in a sleek, professional manner. I knew I could create a magazine, and do it well! So I did!
I’ve written/edited for various magazines in the past: Boudoir Fashion Magazine, DENIM Fashion Magazine (celebrity stylist Jason Bolin), Extant Magazine (no longer in existence), Shulamite Women Community Magazine, Global Prophetic Voice, and Gospel Today. I wanted a publication of my own that would be a continuation of the topics already discussed on my blog; that would have a strong emphasis on the prophetic and apostolic; and would discuss topics such as prayer/intercession/spiritual warfare, the prophetic, the apostolic, revival, and last but not least, reformation. One of the words declared over my life on multiple occasions was that I am a reformer. Just call me “Martin”! *smile*
Writing from a prophetic vein was not always a liberty I was afforded in the past, and it was very restricting, suffocating to my passion and ability. I wanted to build a team of prophetic and apostolic writers, known and unknown, whose voices could be heard without unnecessary restriction. REFORMATION TODAY was the happy result.
Below, I will share some of the programs, apps, etc. that I used to put the entire magazine together, start to finish.
TOOLS & SYSTEMS
I am an intense advocate of Google Docs! I’ve lost too many documents over the years by accident using Microsoft Word so I RARELY use it, if ever. With Google Docs, I can access my documents from any location so long as there is Wi-Fi, and you can download the offline version(s) as well.
Of course, you can use Microsoft Word, Open Office, or whatever document program suits your fancy.
Canva is my lifeline!!! I use it for everything! Book covers (i.e. Judging the Prophetic, The Days of Noah and Lot, Deborah: The Ultimate Jezebel-Preventative, Blogpreneur 101, as well as my notebook covers), Facebook/Twitter cover images, email headers, Instagram/Facebook/Twitter posts, ads, digital thank you cards, PDFs, and more! Honestly, if my magazine was under 30 pages total, I could do the entire project on Canva instead of having to implement Google Slides. But y’all know I’m long-winded and the list of writers is growing, so the magazine currently sits around 50 pages.
How Canva works is that you:
- Set up an account.
- Complete the quick, initial Canva how-to training.
- Select the template of your choice. (There are now two specific magazine layouts. And if you want another size beside 8.5x11, then you can enter your own dimensions in the upper righthand corner.)
- Select your layout. All layouts are either free or $1. (I haven’t paid for a layout yet!)
- Edit the current template’s image or upload and edit your own. You can edit and manipulate these images in various ways.
- Write or copy and paste your content.
- Download your Canva document. You may download it as a JPEG, PNG, PDF-Standard, or PDF-Print. I download all documents as JPEGs. You’ll learn why in the next section.
NOTE: One thing I will say is that I learned the hard way that it’s just not that easy to edit an entire magazine via one Canva document. Perhaps if your document is ~10 pages or less, but for the lengthier ones, I’ve found that it’s much easier and less time-consuming to create/edit each item separately. So I’ll have a cover document, a table of contents document, a document for each respective article, etc. you get the idea. The problem you run into if you have them all on one document is that sometimes the layouts get mixed up. You might delete the wrong thing in an edit, and may have to redo it if you don’t catch it in time to undo (or redo) it with the coordinating feature near the upper lefthand corner of the Canva toolbar. It also, naturally, takes much longer to load.
Finally, I wanted to launch RT in 2016. However, life happened, and I wound up waiting about a year and a half. The good thing about that was there were SEVERAL more free templates to utilize this year than there were the year before, and they already had a great selection in 2016. And I currently use the free Canva, not Canva Pro, so I don’t have to pay for anything.
Google Slides is a wonder for RT!
Here’s how I utilize it:
- Open up Google Docs. (Create a gmail/Google account if you don’t have one already, and download Google Docs if you haven’t already.)
- Right click on “New” in the upper left hand corner.
- Click “Google Slides” in the dropdown menu.
- Once the document pops up, “x” out of the themes on the right hand side of the screen.
- Title your document.
- Right click on “File” immediately under the document title section.
- Right click on “Page Setup” in the dropdown menu.
- Right click on “Custom” in the new arrow up/down menu.
- Insert the dimensions that match your magazine documents on Canva. (It’ll be 8.5 x 11 unless you change the Canva dimensions.)
- Click “Okay.”
- Right click the downward arrow next to the “+” box immediately under the “File” option on the left hand side of the Google Slides toolbar.
- Click the “Blank” option at the bottom of the drop down menu that appears.
- Delete the first (non-blank) slide.
- Right click “Background” in the center of the Google Slides toolbar.
- Click “Choose” for your image.
- Click “Choose an image to upload” from whichever of your desktop/laptop folders it’s in.
- Hit “Select.”
- Click “Done,” unless, of course, you’re not.
- After this, I generally left click “Duplicate slide,” and upload the corresponding image.
- Wash, rinse, repeat.
When putting your Table of Contents together, I generally (temporarily) delete the cover image from the document so I don’t confuse/throw-off the numbering of the magazine’s interior pages.
You can always delete and/or upload new images if you want or need to.
Once your magazine is complete - after multiple, thorough editing/proofing sessions, I hope! - right click on “File,” then “Download as,” and click “PDF document” in the corresponding drop-down menu.
Initially, I planned to use Issuu like every other digital magazine user most of us know of. However, after a digital search, I discovered Calaméo, and I am so happy I did! It looks more sleek and professional than any other digital magazine platform I’ve seen to date. It has a free option (which I’m currently utilizing) as well as upgrade options ($17/month or $53/month). I believe this platform is widely used by European digital publications which is probably why it’s such a well-kept secret in the U.S.
Here’s how it works:
- First, sign up.
- Click “Settings” in the Calaméo toolbar on the right hand side. Add all of your pertinent information as well as your desired image/logo.
- Click the blue “Publish” button on the top of the site.
- Right click “Select documents from my computer,” and select the Google Slides PDF you created. (Or drag and drop files.)
- Fill in all of the pertinent [current] issue information and customize the reader window as well as any other information you need to in the window that pops up.
- Once completed, click “Publish.”
- Review the issue by click the specific publication in your “Dashboard” or “Publications” section. (On the Dashboard page, click “Read the publication.” On the Publications page, when you hover over the specific publication, you can either view it (eye icon), edit it (pencil icon), or any of the items presented in the dropdown menu icon signified by the downward arrow.)
- If you’re happy with your publication, leave it as is and share it!
- If you’re not happy, delete it. And start over. Only share it once you’re completely happy with the version you’ve uploaded.
You can keep up with the site traffic of your specific publications which gets updated every day in your Dashboard. Calaméo provides both free as well as paid (reader) subscription options. I’ll probably start pricing RT after the first year (four quarters) is complete. We’ll see.
Allow me to start by saying I look forward to increasing the standard of this particular segment as I am able.
Currently, I do a Google Image search for high-quality, non-branded images that are relevant, and work them into the magazine, and I ALWAYS give proper attribution (e.g. photo credits).
You, of course, are free and, in fact, encouraged to sign up for the stock image site(s) of your choice (or bum some credits from a friend who already has an account). There are also public domain images and other free images like those from Wikimedia Commons which I also utilized in the Fall 2017 issue (specifically in the Samhain article).
Also, in the Fall 2017 issue, the images of me on the cover, the Letter from the Editor, and my Jezebel’s Slander Teleseminar ad were all shot by my brother-from-another-mother, Kyle Ruhé, a young, up-and-coming photographer in Jacksonville, FL.
Special Note: As you may have noticed, my two issues have several images of people of colour. As a mixed, black woman, I always think it’s so imperative to provide POSITIVE images of people of colour, especially black people since there are so many negative connotations and stereotypes against us (if there are images of us!). Just do a Google image search of “pretty women” or “pretty hair” and the vast majority of the images are of white women. Black Americans, and in this case, black Christians, should be able to read a magazine edited by another black Christian with a majority of black writers, as well as see a good portion of high-quality, positive images of other black people. There’s nothing like seeing someone who looks like you doing, promoting, or advertising positive topics and concepts.
Also, in the Fall 2017 issue, I wanted to do a good mixture of various cultures of women which I think (or at least I hope) I pulled off well. ALL colours are important to God and should be important to us. This is something all types of ministries should be mindful of, depending on their current demographic as well as their desired demographic.
Fiverr is a wonderful site that is full of various types of graphic (etc.) freelancers from around the world who do all of their work, starting at $5. In the current issue, I used an Aussie designer named katiep. I appreciated her quick, efficient, professional work as well as the fact that she is a native English speaker. Also, she’s literally working while I’m sleeping since she’s on the other side of the world.
I’ve used Fiverr for multiple projects over the last few years. There’ve been some hits like my How I Fell Prey to Jezebel cover which daisydesigns did, and some definite misses as well. But all in all, I constantly recommend Fiverr to people.
Here’s how I used it for this project:
- Create an account. (Or login.)
- Search for the specific type of service you’re looking for (e.g. “magazine ads”).
- Narrow down your search according to your liking (i.e. category, delivery time, star rating, language, ect.).
- Compare the profiles you like best.
- Review their design samples.
- Contact the designer(s) you like.
- Make sure all of the details are clarified, and both parties are on the same page. (This is especially important if English is not their first language.)
- “Place an order” or they will submit an order option for you to accept (or deny).
- Fiverr then takes the funds from your account once you accept/place the order. (If you don’t already have payment information included in your account, Fiverr will direct you to do this.)
- Pay for the project.
- Include any details/items required by the designer.
- Review the renderings of your project once submitted.
- If you like them, accept the order. The money will then leave your Fiverr account.
- If you aren’t happy with the rendering, ask them for a revision. (Pay close attention to the agreement you made because designers offer either no revisions, a specific number of revisions, or unlimited revisions according to their prerogative. Also, some designers will revise a project anyway, especially if they made a mistake.)
- Also, if you aren’t happy, and the designer is not delivering as they should, then you can either negotiate a cancellation of the project, or contact Fiverr directly about it. (You cannot receive a refund to the card you used, but you can receive your Fiverr funds back for a future project.)
- Recommend the designers you like! They deserve it!
The only actual money I spent on this issue was $30 for my Fiverr order.
- $10 = Judging the Prophetic Ad
- $10 = The Days of Noah and Lot Ad
- $10 = Completion in 2 days instead of the regular 7
Not bad at all, huh?
And if I don’t want to pay for ad creation, I can either make them myself (admittedly not my strong point), or forgo them altogether. In which case, the cost would be $0.
So if anyone tells you that you can’t create a high-quality, much-loved digital publication with no money, they must not know about me. *wink, wink*
As aforementioned, RT will likely become a paid subscription in the future, after the first year is completed (four quarters). I promise not to charge a ridiculous price when that day comes.
Publishing a magazine can certainly be done, yet don’t think it’s a walk in the park. It requires assembling a group of writers who are not only qualified, but willing and able to submit when asked to. (Which usually requires some wrangling skills!) That is, unless you want to write every article yourself. You have to plan themes. Plan guest contributors. Schedule interviews. Wrangle writers. Write your own content. And when those articles FINALLY start trickling in, you have to edit ALL of them (or hire someone to do it). Create suitable, beautiful layouts. Wrangle writers. Create more content to fill topic/thematic deficits as well as dead space in the layouts. Proof and edit the formats/layouts. It’s hours upon hours upon hours of work!!
But it’s SO worth it!! However, unless you have a patron or consistent, notable income related to your content production, I don’t recommend doing it long-term without charging a subscription fee. It’s just wisdom. (Unless Jesus tells you otherwise.)
I’m not sure if RT will become a monthly magazine at present. Let’s just get a couple years under our belt, and then go from there. However, I do want it to continue to be a platform for prophetic and apostolic (Fivefold) voices that are known as well as unknown. While I’m sure the writing team will shift and expand over time, the voice will remain the same unless God says otherwise.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!!
What do YOU think about RT? You’re who I wrote it for! So tell me: what do you think about the content, the writers, the formatting, the quality, etc.? What are some topics and themes you hope to see covered at one point or another? Who are some writers you’d like to see published in RT? Who would you like to see interviews of?
And would you like to write for RT? If yes, hop on over here and check out the submission guidelines! I’m always looking for regular contributors as well as guest contributors. I’d also really like to be able to find a Managing Editor as well as a graphic designer! So let me know if you’re qualified or know someone who is!
Please be sure to share REFORMATION TODAY with your family, friends, peers, and acquaintances. Share with anyone you think may benefit from it. In this particular issue, share it especially with women who are either in or called to “pulpit ministry”!
And finally, consider sowing a seed into this ongoing work. It’s good ground, if I do say so myself. God bless!