Guest Newsletter – Phil Clark

Once a month we invite our member magazine publishers and enthusiasts to guest-edit our fortnightly email newsletter. The aim is to inspire others with magazine-related content, connect members and build our community so we can learn from each other.

This month our guest editor is Publishing Consultant Phil Clark. You can follow Phil on LinkedIn – remember to connect and say hello!

Portrait of Phil Clark smiling in a green field.

Tell us about yourself

I’m a publishing consultant with the aim of making my clients more money by advising them on what their best mix of revenue streams should be. I try to do this without 40-page glossy slide decks or impenetrable spreadsheets.

I leapt into the world of self-employment last year after a varied career starting as a crime reporter in a local newspaper in the mid-1990s to most recently working at the British Medical Association running their membership and marketing operations.

When I have spare moments away from work and family I hide in a room with my collection of vinyl record and CDs (yes I still own these) and books/magazines.

What are you up to at the moment?

At the time of writing this I’m prepping for the International Magazine Centre Members’ Away Day – a lovely opportunity to meet fellow members and breathe in some non-London air.  (I was not paid for this plug) – I’m leading a workshop on how to best brand yourself and the gentle art of persuasion. 

Phil Clark laughing while drinking a glass of wine outdoors.

Apart from that I’m immersed in the ongoing joys and travails of running my own business – delivering projects, hustling for new ones and (trying to) embrace the bureaucracy. 

What’s the best article you’ve
read this month?

Oh this is hard. I could go with something profound, thought-provoking or inspirational. Or on the other hand I could share this interview with a New Zealand politician which is about as car crash as a car crash interview could go.

Three questions in and it’s pretty clear the mutual loathing that emerges between interviewer and interviewee. I’m surprised the conversation continues for as long as it does! 

Article headline reading, 'Act's arts spokesman once watched a musical'.

Show us an incredible magazine cover

I’m a creature of habit so rarely browse for magazines these days – hence I rely mainly on a rolling roster of subscription/free/membership titles landing on my hallway. Covers wise the ones that consistently stand out are the Mojo (weekly music magazine) ones – the non-newsstand versions they send to subscribers are completely stripped back with just a logo and a portrait. I was particularly knocked out by their latest edition featuring Kate Bush – I don’t think there’s a bad photo of her in existence and this one is particularly striking and dramatic.

Mojo magazine cover image featuring a young Kate Bush posing in a leather jacket.

What’s your top tip for publishers?

Diversify but don’t follow the crowd. We’re being told that everything is changing and if we don’t jump on board the change wagon we’re toast/consigned to the past. I think this is only partially true for two reasons:

  • The fundamentals of publishing remain pretty similar for all types of publishers. You provide a need for an audience and build a mixed revenue model around that. 
  • The new may be the answer but it depends what the question is. If the question is – shall we launch an app or let’s do something in AI – that’s not likely to lead to a successful outcome. If the question is – here’s a problem/challenge facing my audience and I think this technology could solve it – you may be on to something.

I still firmly believe there’s a sustainable future for publishing, but the key to this is ensuring you have a healthy revenue mix (not too diverse or unmanageable mind) which is built on solid foundations and fundamentals. And don’t be drawn/distracted by the latest trend/poster child.

Whilst both of these articles are focused on B2B publishers I think they have wider lessons and wisdom for publishing in general – Rory Brown on finding the riches in niches and Andy Baker on productivity in publishing.

Graphic of a diverse group of figures speaking with their hands outstretched around a round table.
Illustration by Jedi Noordegraaf with thanks to Ikon Images. Like what you see? 
Members receive their first 5 Ikon Images illustration uses for £50 each

Questions for the community

What subject or issue would you like the International Magazine Centre Members Group to discuss and untangle over on LinkedIn?

My question is: Community is often being bandied about in publishing circles – is it just a buzzword or a key priority for you?

Need more of this in your life?

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