Make Magazine and the secret of garnering magazine-launch media coverage in the blog age

After almost four years of blogging these sorts of things, I feel fairly confident in observing that Make Magazine has received more press coverage than any start-up magazine I’ve followed. (Perhaps Radar Magazine “start ups” have received more, but since it has started-up so many times, I’m not counting it.) While other magazine’s startups have been blog-savvy (Worthwhile, for instance), the folks at Make are providing the benchmark for how the blogosphere can help provide buzz-magic for a magazine launch.

I am not suggesting they had a “strategy” for using the blogosphere. Indeed, I think a big part of their success at using the blogosphere can be attributed to it being so natural for all those involved, from the publishing company’s CEO to its editors, writers and readers. Nothing about the use of blogs and bloggers in the launch of Make smacks of being “contrived” or “manufactured” or gimmicky. It has been merely a natural use of the blogosphere that, when analyzed, is nothing short of inspired.

For the record, I’ve said many times since the day I first heard about it, Make sounds like a winner to me. Last October, months before its launch, I blogged this about Make:

“Seriously, though. If I were someone who gives out awards for most notable magazine launches of the year, I would go ahead and pre-award the 2005 “best of show” to Make…Make magazine will be a huge success: take it to the bank.”

Here are some things (besides my earlier observation about it being natural, not contrived) that I believe helped Make generate buzz, first on the blogosphere, and now, offline.

  • First and foremost, it’s a great concept from a great publisher, executed with finese. They have over-delivered on their promise to publish a great magazine in a creative format — helping bring to the U.S., a new publishing genre in the process, the “mook” (magazine-book).
  • The editor-in-chief is a superstar blogger among the magazine’s intended audience, Mark Frauenfelder, co-founder/blogger of Boing-Boing.
  • The publisher of the magazine had the savvy to allow Mark to break the news of the magazine launch on Boing-Boing.
  • The magazine is filled with really cool articles that happen to be written by some of the most popular bloggers among the intended audience of the magazine. Folks like, well, take your pick.
  • They’ve loaded down their website with lots of blogger-centric features (an awesome group-blog, trackbacks, technorati cosmos searches, various RSS tricks).
  • Before hitting the “main stream media,” the magazine received the type of blogger coverage that is usually only seen when Apple announces a new product.
  • And, here’s a hunch on my part that I can’t document, I just “feel” deep-down at some visceral level: the cult of Mac (of which I formerly was a member) embraced early the magazine as an object of worship. Again, this is strictly a theory.