Fall 2023/Winter 2024 Takeaways

Icons for All

According to Noun Project, icons—those simple graphic symbols—are some of the most universal communication tools available, crossing language and cultural boundaries. And that is why founders Sofya Polyakov, Edward Boatman, and Scott Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2010 with a vision to build “a global visual language that unites the world.” That vision is now an online catalog of over 5 million downloadable icons and symbols submitted by designers from over 130 countries. The range of topics represented is vast, and the quality is high. The Project accepts icons that abide by four stylistic guidelines: Include only the essential characteristics of the idea conveyed; maintain a consistent design style; favor an industrial look over a hand-drawn one; and avoid conveying personal opinions, feelings, and beliefs. The result is an astounding resource. Noun Project’s free plan allows unlimited downloads with each use requiring attribution; pay by icon to use without attribution. A subscription option (monthly or yearly) unlocks editing and collaboration features. thenounproject.com


What started as one small business’s homegrown solution for managing its Instagram account has grown into an industry-leading social marketing platform used to visually plan, schedule, and measure performance across today’s (7) most popular social media sites. Use Planoly’s “Idea Manager” to save and organize bits of inspiration—images, videos, links, and notes. Then create, preview, schedule, and post all of your content for every channel in one single view. Along the way, invite teammates to collaborate on idea generation, content creation, review, and approval. Try a free 7-day trial. Paid plans, starting at $11.25/ month, are driven by number of users and monthly uploads. planoly.com

[Another] Magazine for
Magazine Publishers

The Grub Street Journal is a quarterly magazine for people who make magazines. Its co-founders Joanna Cummings and Peter Houston are two career magazine media professionals based in London. Joanna is now a freelance writer and editor; Peter is a writer and one of three hosts of the popular Media Voices podcast. They launched the Journal to understand the pain points involved in publishing an indie print magazine and then to cover those issues in a “brutally honest, but relentlessly optimistic” way. What have they discovered so far, two issues in? They say, that the power of print lies in the (many-hands,

collaborative) effort of creating an order, flow, balance, and pacing of content that no other medium can provide. And that selling magazines is hard (but that great covers and relentless digital promotion help). The duo’s goal is to create a finite number of issues that will constitute a collection—a snapshot of the industry. Issues No. 1&2 are available for purchase via worldwide distributor Newsstand. Issue No. 3 is scheduled to drop in late November. Purchase individual issues or subscribe; prices subject to conversion rates. Order/subscribe: tinyurl.com/GrubStreetOnNewsstand. grubstreetjournal.com

Create Your Own
Audio Tours

“VoiceMap drapes stories over statues and paints them onto walls. It pins them to art, plants them in national parks, and anchors them like buoys in busy rivers. Then, when you come along, there they are, neatly tied together by audio walks, cycles, drives, train trips and boat rides.”

VoiceMap is a publishing platform and marketplace for creating and selling GPS-based, self-guided audio tours. Works with any mappable route. It’s ideal for regional publishers who want to create, and potentially monetize, tours of area destinations. Any type of publisher can use it to augment a place- oriented story. The platform’s easy-to-use technology for mapping, recording, and editing is backed by actual humans who will assist (to varying degrees per product tier) in the production process. Offer your tours for free or sell access via the platform and earn a 50-percent royalty. Experiment with the free Basic plan and consider upgrading to paid plans. voicemap.me

Obsessed with the Art
of Narrative?

The Longform Podcast, described on Podcast Review as a “love letter to writing,” is perhaps better described as a “love letter to storytelling.” Yes, most of the guests are journalists who are practitioners of written narrative nonfiction (books, magazine pieces, ambitious newspaper stories), but there are also documentarians, audio journalists, and storytellers of all stripes. The hosts are Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky, and Evan Ratliff— accomplished storytellers themselves who are also narrative obsessives. An hour of longform nerds talking craft with the best storytellers on the planet? Yes, please. Subscription links and an archive (of over 500 episodes), complete with show notes, at longform.org/podcast.

Mood Boards
For Inspiration

Figma is an online design tool for riffing on, sharing, and creating your best work, as a team. The cloud- based design tool works on any operating system that runs a web browser, so there are no hassles with collaborating between Macs and PCs. Work together in a multiplayer, version-controlled design file and get contextual feedback from stakeholders via commenting functions. Figma offers loads of templates (300+) for everything from defining product requirements to planning meetings to brainstorming projects. Of particular interest to magazine publishers: Figma’s mood board functionality. Drop type treatments, illustrations, images, color palettes, and any other bits of inspiration or visuals into templates and work them with your team until you arrive at a cohesive design concept for your upcoming issue. Four pricing tiers available. While developers may need an upper- tier service, the free Starter and paid Professional versions (the latter, $12/seat/month) are likely to suit the needs of most creative teams. figma.com

A Gold Mine for
Niche Publishers

The seed of the idea was planted at this year’s popular Niche Media Conference when attendees were sharing, enthusiastically and unreservedly, their trade secrets. Niche publisher Alisa Cromer decided that this entrepreneurially minded group needed an ongoing forum to connect with other niche publishers and access field-tested strategies and tech tools for growing revenue, engaging audiences, and running their businesses efficiently. Thus began NichePublisher.biz, a members-only online resource center where users can read case studies, download templates, and access live roundtables. Choose from three membership levels. nichepublisher.biz

Expect a January
USPS Rate Hike

the next biannual USPS postage rate increase will take effect on Jan. 21, 2024. The average increase per mailing class, for First-Class Mail, USPS Marketing Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services, will be just under 2 percent. Details