We’re happy to introduce our March 2019 Publisher of the Month, Man of Metropolis. As a publication for the modern man, Man of Metropolis is filled with the hottest trends in fashion, culture, lifestyle and more. Follow along on social as we feature exclusive Man of Metropolis content all month long.
Tell us about Man of Metropolis.
With the upcoming launch of our Body Issue we are heading into our fourth year. We have evolved a lot since 2015. We started out as more of a men’s lifestyle title, we did some celebrity interviews, covered the culture beat, and of course included some fashion editorial. About a year in I decided that I really wanted to double down on the fashion side of things, and as brands became aware of us, and we expanded our creative network we were really able to elevate our look and feel. I owe a lot of those changes to bringing in fresh blood on the project. Those upgrades included pulling in a freelance art director for a new logo and layout and pushing hard for better styling, higher-end brands and being bullish about everything from personnel we work with to art direction and casting.
How did Man of Metropolis get started? What’s the inspiration behind it?
I started the magazine as a portfolio project in late 2014. I desperately wanted to get back to New York and work in fashion. I had applied to a few roles at some other men’s magazines in the city, but much like most opportunities out there these days, it was a highly competitive landscape in 2010 and I didn’t have any major fashion publication relationships. So I eventually landed a role at Ralph Lauren media in the e-commerce division. I started a blog on the side called, MAN OF METROPOLIS. I posted some pieces and weeks would go by, I would post again and on and so forth. Four years went by and with a move down the coast to Miami, I put the blog on hold to take on a new role as Creative Director for a tech company. This whole time I wanted to be at a magazine in New York. I was contacted by a head hunter for a luxury cruise brand and was brought in to interview with the CMO of the company. Ultimately, the chemistry was great but my experience wasn’t as competitive as the other candidates. I was left with a personal challenge to stop waiting for the opportunities to gain the experience I needed to get to the “next level” in my career, so that day I decided I was going to start a magazine.
I don’t do anything halfway. It is all or nothing. So I rolled my sleeves up and created a brand direction, had my inspiration magazines in mind and really started to create a title that I would enjoy picking up at a newsstand. I had two degrees but I had zero actual publishing experience, so needless to say anyone watching what I was up to saw a drastic evolution in our first few issues. It would have been helpful to have some experience as a junior editor at say DETAILS magazine before jumping in, but that opportunity never came along so I had to be open to diving in head first and learning to swim, fast. I actually shot a few of those first editorials, wrote almost everything and got some help from my friends on travel content. I bit off way more than I could chew, but somehow I always made an issue happen and it challenged me and grew me quickly.
What are some challenges you face as a publisher? How do you conquer them?
I think the obvious challenge is making money. We are competing with free content on Instagram for example. We are tethered to our devices 24/7. So people have been trained to take in content in seconds and move on. We have watched magazines like GQ & Vogue, these are the big ones by the way — cut hundreds of jobs in the last 2 years. The latest news from Condé Nast is that their .com sites will have paywalls by the end of the year. I think that is a mistake. Influencers and celebrities and entrepreneurs are providing fun, interesting, and viral content on social media and youtube for FREE. If I can watch what Ryan Reynolds is up to on Instagram and Twitter for free why would I pay for other fashion & culture content? My best guess is to find a way to create content in partnership with brands like Barney’s, KITH, Ermenegildo Zegna, TOM FORD, Nike etc. Why not present a brand’s new collection through the lens of our reader with our editorial teams? The stylists, photographers and makeup artists MAN OF METROPOLIS works with also work on huge client projects from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Covers to KITH campaigns, and of course so much online content including ecomm. We have a wealth of knowledge to share with brands on how we can showcase the product, what talent is right for the story, and we know how to create polished creative on very smart budgets. We will continue to focus on the creative and explore ways to continue to innovate through visual storytelling.
How do you think publishing digitally has helped Man of Metropolis?
The Issuu platform really keeps evolving and getting better, I especially appreciate the tools that help us re-package our content for social. That is where we all are every day. Most people wake up, and check Instagram, so we love being on Issuu.com as an e-zine, but we need to be where the eyes are as fast as possible. We launched our own app when we first started but you have to manually download it for android and iPhone. We would never get the traffic we get from Issuu just due to our limited marketing budgets. Needless to say our reach, impressions and readership have really grown because the community on Issuu embraces fashion and niche magazines like MAN OF METROPOLIS. We love seeing our covers on the homepage and suggested digital shelves, we are proud of our magazine and love when it reaches new fans.
What advice do you have for someone looking to start a magazine?
I have had to learn to embrace the idea of “failing forward”. I want everything to be perfect but as I mentioned earlier I didn’t have the experience or network to avoid some of the growing pains I experienced in the first 12-18 months. The best advice I would give to myself back at the start or to someone who is about to embark on this courageous journey, is to jump in on someone else’s project for 4-6 months. I say this because you will witness roadblocks and hiccups which you can then anticipate when you start your own project. If I could have anticipated 25% of the things I had to overcome it would have made the process more fun and would have saved some money.
Secondly, but most importantly, work with people who have a shared goal. Just because someone is a talented stylist doesn’t mean they are taking on a project with the magazine’s best interest in mind. Be sure to set clear expectations on day 1 from the art direction of your brand to any budgetary restrictions as well as your philosophy on collaboration. In the creative industry, there are many ways of doing things, you just want to set a process — how things will work best for your publication. Any seasoned professional in the fashion and creative industry has had to balance multiple client projects with different client needs. Your magazine is not an exception, ask for exactly what you need.
What is the best part of running a magazine?
Ah, freedom. I love being able to travel or see a movie, and start to concept a mood board or a full issue around something that inspires me. Not many people get to really lead a vision like that. It takes a lot of guts, and bringing these ideas to life takes a ton of collaboration. There is no greater feeling than to have an idea months and months ahead of a shoot and being on set and watching it happen. Sometimes I can’t be there or I have to toss a mood board to a team and let go of the idea. That is tough, but when the images come in and they are next level, I feel proud. I feel like those moments are what reinforces why I do what I do. I also get to work with really great humans. Super talented people who always share a piece of themselves with me during the process. Iron sharpens iron.
Any advice for publishers working to leverage social media to grow their brand?
The smartest thing you can do is to be on Instagram. The major publications are attempting to chase down what the platform has created. It connects you to your community of followers and allows you to engage easily and authentically. The analytics and backend are very helpful to calculate what your fans will like and what content they are looking for. It also allows you to have a pulse on the industry you are in. So for me, I follow Burberry and VMan and some really cool artist types among others to help keep my eye sharp and my awareness on trends, campaigns and emerging talent.
We see Man of Metropolis is growing, what’s next?
The plan is to continue to push for more innovative work from everyone we work with, starting with a solid concept through the layout of each issue to how we present it and promote it online. We just completed a website refresh, have a whole new kit of email campaign designs and are expanding our brand this Spring with a women’s title called METROPOLIS REPORT. Get ready. Women’s fashion is on another level.