Blog: Creative COW Magazine: It'll be five years, come December 19th
It seems like only yesterday but on December 19th it will be five years since we first officially and publicly announced our plans to launch Creative COW Magazine. Five years already? Time flies. At the time, it was an insane gamble but the last five years have proven it to be a risk worth taking.
When I first came up with the idea for Creative COW Magazine, Creative COW was struggling and barely making it month to month. I was handling much of the site design and maintenance, was our only salesman, and added to these duties were a myriad of other jobs that needed to be done every day. Kathlyn cautioned me that if it failed, we would have to pull the plug on the site and walk away. But I knew that if the COW was ever going to truly compete against the likes of Videography, TV Technology, Studio Monthly, Broadcast Engineering, DV, Post, Millimeter, Film & Video, Video Systems and many other magazines -- whom many industry advertisers took far more seriously than they did, Creative COW -- we'd have to meet the magazines on their own playing field.
Yes, I was aware that the magazine business was in real trouble and that many magazines were struggling. But I also knew that there was a reason that they were struggling and it had nothing to do with the cost of paper or the fact that the world was indeed changing -- something I am all too painfully aware of, I assure you. The reason that I felt they were losing audience was that they had lost their focus as to whom they really served.
At a time when many publishers are failing, Creative COW Magazine along with USA Today and the Wall Street Journal -- as well as others too numerous to name here -- are growing and prospering. Why? Because they make something that readers WANT to read.
At a time when the audience is looking for answers and ideas to help them in volatile markets and a rapidly changing world, the only answers that many publishers can come up with, is to take short-cuts. Some of our competitors have fallen to the point of running a single "feature" story and filling the rest with press releases and calling it a magazine.
We work very hard on Creative COW Magazine and Tim Wilson and I are always on the phone discussing ideas, looking at what people are talking about, what we think the members of Creative COW are interested in -- and from there, we begin the process of designing and crafting each issue. I don't use the word "craft" loosely. We don't slap down whatever we get and call it an issue. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into every phase of each issue of Creative COW Magazine: planning, development, and finishing.
Sure, some issues are clearly better than others, but I can honestly say that I cannot point to a single issue of which I am ashamed or embarrassed by. We have been fortunate to have many of the best and brightest working industry pros take our calls, work with us to craft stories about their projects, their tools and their workflows.
We have watched the audience and advertisers vote with their interest and their support. We are grateful for it and know that in order to keep it, we can't take short cuts and make the kinds of compromises that have relegated many of our competing titles to the ash heap of history because they became irrelevant to those they once served.
I once had the Editor-in-Chief of one of the top-ranked magazines in cinematography come up to me at a trade show and tell me that, "You guys have set the standard for the industry and are the team to beat." Her words, not mine. She asked how we got away with not making the kinds of compromises that she was forced to make, compromises and concessions she was forced to make to curry the favor of advertisers. I looked at her and asked: "Would you like to know the truth? I'll tell you but you may think it harsh." She said she'd like to know, so this is what I told her...
"When advertisers have told us that in order to get their business we have to do a write-up on them in our magazine, we simply ask them point-blank: 'Let me see if I have this right. You want us to make the same kinds of compromises and do the same kinds of stories that have largely crippled those magazines that survive and have killed many others -- compromises that have made them largely irrelevant to their audience and have destroyed their credibility -- and you want us to do that. Did I hear you right?'"
She told me in response: "You don't really do that, do you?" I told her that not only do we do it but that she better start doing it too, if she wanted to save both her job and her publication.
Our audience would expect nothing less from us than to get it right. Tell the truth. Tell the story. Serve the audience. Don't sell us out.
So that's what we did and what we do.
It's been a tough five years. The beginning was really tough, as we started this with no investors, no money in the bank other than just enough to cover the bills. It was all a gamble. A major gamble. One sizable misstep and we'd have been just another magazine in the ash heap of history -- and the COW itself would have been there, as well.
So, thank you more than you know for being our guide, we watch you and we listen to you and we make the magazine in answer to the kinds of things we see you asking about and discussing. You truly are our rudder and set the course that we will follow.
We jokingly and lovingly refer to you as The Body Bovine and you are our navigators in the perilous waters of today's rapidly changing marketplace. Without you, we'd have ended up on the rocks, long ago, and these five years would have never happened.
The best always,
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
Great stuff, Ron. Long live the Cow!
Video production... with style!
I love reading Creative COW Magazine, thanks for working hard so I can enjoy it.
Utah Video Productions
Check out my Motion Training DVD
Check out my Motion Tutorials
Mazel Tov, or whatever; early congratulations to the pair of you and your team.
I remember looking at copies of POST and admiring the large format and slick photography, but even though I got the magazine for free, it wasn't worth the subscription price. As an editor, I saw it and thought "oh, yay, a magazine for people that do what I do - maybe I'll find some tips in it!". And all I saw was a lot of pictures of parties and mixers, some "House and Garden" type PR photo spreads showing architecturally stunning-looking editing rooms... with no editing happening in them... and a lot of articles about who merged with whom this month, and who booked a huge deal. it was a magazine for superficial "suits". I never saw any articles that would teach me something I didn't already know, about how to edit. Either on a technical basis or a philosophical level.
That's why the COW productions, print and electronic, are such a breath of fresh air. Everything in them is somehow useful to someone. The content drove the commerce, instead of advertisers dictating content.
It helps immensely as well that the COW doesn't (AFAIK) answer to an outside board of directors or shareholders screaming for ever-higher returns on their shares, at any cost. You may or may not agree with everything Ron decides, but HE is doing the deciding, not some uninvolved external group that only looks at bank statements and not the value of what has been built. That's why print journalism has become so crippled. Iconoclastic independence may have some drawbacks, but I think it is better for long-term relevance and survival. I think Ron and his wife prove the axiom; "Do what you love, and the money will follow".
I think electronic publications can always be more open and dynamic than the traditional.
What I really like of the COW Magazine is the global vision of our business-industry-job-hobby.
There is room for anything as long as is interesting.
The "Digital Revolution" has made possible the impossible.
In a future, will be "tactile" movies. We will be able to feel the texture of the things that the 3D put at the reach of our hands. The COW Magazine will be the first to tell the story.
Being asked to write an article about what I do best - surgical video production - and to have that article published in a magazine read by thousands of industry pros - has been a highlight of my career.
Later, when the expanded version was posted to the web version of the COW magazine, and a flurry of responses were the result, including a very complimentary post from our fearless leader Ron himself, I was even more proud to be a part of this endeavour.
Ron, Tim, Kathlyn, Abe, Cowdog - thanks for all you do and for including the rest of us in your vision.
And to all my new friends on the forums and elsewhere - I would never have gotten to know so many other working professionals from simply reading one of the other trades, many of which are dead or dying.
Looking forward to another 5 years and counting.
All the best.
And to paraphrase myself, "Thanks for great reading!"
Medical Education / Multimedia Producer
the exciting thing about Cow and the first 5 years, is that it is clear that there are LOTS of areas for Cow to grow and develop. The Cow model, which is not being copied by their competitors (and I don't know why), is the very reason why Creative Cow will continue to grow and continue to succeed. And will be the very reason why I continue to read, and contribute to Cow - because there are new areas that I can learn from, and participate in (unlike any other magazine that I am aware of).
Long live the Cow.
Congratulations and Happy Birthday to the COW Magazine. It is truly an honour to be a part of such a talented and dedicated group of bovines.