Before that glossy magazine hits the shelf, a lot of work takes place behind the scenes. Freelance writers are hired, stories are edited, photos are chosen and sorted — and all of these elements are compiled using editing software. Losing the final version of a feature story, or misplacing a commissioned photo, adds further time and effort, so it's essential that publishers back up everything to keep the production schedule on track.
After spending 15 years as a teacher and three years as an editor for a local real estate magazine, entrepreneur Ryan Waterfield founded her own creative magazine, FOCUS. The quarterly magazine features “a smattering of stories that mean something to those people who either live in or visit the Rocky Mountain West,” Waterfield explains. Distribution is growing, and FOCUS will soon be distributed throughout Sun Valley, Idaho, Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Park City, Utah.
While a print magazine may not immediately scream data protection, each story, photo, and page layout represent a document, jpeg file or InDesign mock-up — essential pieces of data necessary to compile the final (printed) product.
As a founder and editor of FOCUS, Waterfield commissions writers, freelance photographers and researchers for each issue. She also writes stories herself and works with the artistic director to prepare the magazine for production.
Waterfield uses Excel spreadsheets to keep track of writers and their pay rates, which is especially important to stay on budget.
“If I only have 'x' amount of dollars left to commission a story, I may not be able to use certain writers,” Waterfield explains. These spreadsheets are also key to keeping track of who is writing each story for an issue.
In addition to writers, Waterfield tracks email addresses and information for about 30 local photographers. For each issue, Waterfield sorts through hundreds of submissions before selecting final photographs. An in-house employee then creates and stores all of the information for FOCUS’s large freelance pool.
Although Waterfield eventually plans to save the magazine’s files on an external hard drive, she currently uses popular file-hosting service Dropbox as the primary backup method and to share and review files with freelancers.
When Waterfield first started FOCUS, cloud-based storage wasn’t a big trend yet, so she says she chose next most convenient method: online file sharing. Everyone in the office uses their own account, and freelance photographers create folders to share submissions, uploading anywhere from 5 to 100 photos at a time.
FOCUS uses Google Docs to handle administrative tasks. The sales team tracks a list contacts for potential advertisements, and Waterfield uses the service as a way to get contracts and forms signed. “It creates a living document that everyone can update, which is really useful,” she says.
Waterfield also stores files on her local computer, using a small external hard drive to create even more space. In the future, she plans on investing in a much larger external drive to safely protect all of FOCUS’s files in a separate location.
Biggest Data Disaster
Producing an issue at FOCUS involves a lot of moving parts, but Waterfield says she has not run into any issues losing essential files at the magazine.
“However, my desktop is generally a mess,” she says.
Once Waterfield starts writing a story, taking research notes or creating a page in InDesign, she will save the documents both to her local computer and online. In the future, as FOCUS develops more of a web presence, Waterfield believes she will start looking into other cloud-based options.
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