[Rambling Preable Warning: A few intro paragraphs coming up, but if you’re an architect who wants to get published then this post is definitely worth your while reading to the end]
Earlier this year I had one of those thoughts which I knew would lead me to Rabbit Hole World, but I followed it anyway. My question was, can I map the entire worlds architectural media? Can I map out all the magazines, blogs, podcasts, everything. And more importantly can I figure out who has the largest and most relevant audience. Can I map out the people behind the publications and how to contact them. Can I map out the subjects different publications cover and in some cases what their story schedule is for the next year.
Pretty crazy right, but absolute gold if you’re trying to get published. (In a later series of posts i’ll cover the whole process of getting published from start to finish, but as an example, my good friend Jolyon Robinson has managed to get published in multiple blogs, secure a 10 page spread in an Australian magazine and reach an audience of over 100,000 people in the last 3 months. Not bad for a small practice).
So I started off with a good old spread sheet, but it got big quick and while it works it’s clunky and out of date as soon as you enter the information. It’s also a one size fits all kind of solution. When you’re dealing with a lot of media you need to track who has been sent what and when, and different projects are appropriate for different publications. It all gets out of hand far too fast.
That led to trial number two, which was to use a website to hold the information. The beauty of going online is that modern platforms like WordPress have a database behind them. Perfect for this type of data collection.
The prototype was up in 48 hours and I showed it to a couple friends (over quite a few beverages) and a couple things became apparent. The research time involved in this type of project is what makes it hard. It really needs a full time research assistant. The second thing that came up was how this would make a great web platform if others could sign in and use the data too. And if it was a subscription service then this could fund the research and the programming involved.
Enter stage left, stage 3 of the project. Full startup approach. I’ll also call this, “when Nic drops off the planet for a while” stage. Check out my Twitter updates / blog posts over the first few months of this year and you’ll see they just don’t exist. That’s when I was designing, building, coding (learning how to code!), interviewing people, testing ideas, and really getting to grips with what starting a startup involves. Building something for yourself is one thing, but building software online that others can use is a whole other kettle of fish. Things like performance, security, training, and interface design become big issues. Even the intended use of the system get’s questioned. It starts off as one idea and then pivots and evolves to suit the feedback from potential users.
I’m pretty happy to say though the “crazy phase” is done and now it’s leading into the sustainable phase. Slow, incremental improvements is where it’s at. And I’ve got to say the process has been a rewarding one to say the least. It’s design after all.
Where are we up to now?
The platform is up and running, but it’s currently only open by private invite (this is called the early access phase). We’re slowly getting users onboard so we can tweak things in the engine room. I’ve hired a research assistant and data is flowing into the system. I’ve also built in features like an online version of the Architect’s Media Kit, and a campaign manager for each project. This is so the platform is more than just a big database, it’s really an online version of my “getting published” workflow.
How can you be involved.
You can find a landing page for MediaMap (that’s the name of this thing by the way) over at MediaMap.co. At the moment this front face of the app is just a place where you can add your email for updates, but what we are really looking for is architects who want to come on board. Over the next couple of months we’ll go through a make or break phase where we need a minimum of 10 architects to signup as paid subscribers. If we can make that happen then I can keep paying for research and code development. If not.. Well it was a great learning experience right? So if you think your practice may be one of the awesome folks to help make this happen then send me an email and I’ll give you a private walk through of the project and how it works. You can email me here.