Oh, this is an easy one. By far my favorite feature is My First Favorite. One thing a lot of media sites could do more of is celebrate writers and writing, which is what this is all about — but it does that while providing a syllabus, basically, for a self-taught course in the great magazine classics. And almost everyone, I think, has an immediate answer when you ask what their first favorite magazine piece was, or the early story they remember reading that made them think, ‘Wow, I want to get into the magazine business.’ Mine is Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” for Scanlon’s Monthly. What’s yours? [“Up And Then Down,” Nick Paumgarten’s New Yorker piece about a guy getting trapped in an elevator for 41 hours. It’s riveting.]
So far we’ve had the aforementioned Megan Greenwell on Marjorie Williams, Cincinnati Magazine’s Justin Williams on John H. Richardson’s Abortion Doctor piece for Esquire, Outside Editorial Director Alex Heard on a Garrison Keillor short story for The New Yorker (in a beautiful piece that also covers a lot of what Alex faced as a struggling wanna-be writer in the early ’80s), and Wired’s Brendan I. Koerner on Lynn Hirschberg’s profile of Suge Knight. I love every one of them. We have several more in the works, and I encourage others to consider what their first favorite was.
What’s your funding structure? And, what’s the end goal: profitability? Hoards of grateful young freelancers? Selflessness?
The goal is to just bring in enough to keep the lights on, to cover the costs of domain name renewals, hosting, etc. That doesn’t take much, and I think we’ll be able to make it up with the cheap network display ads we’re running on the site, referral fees for magazine subscriptions (we’ll be offering some at a discount to First Bound readers in an upcoming feature), and posting on the jobs board ($10 for a 30-day posting), so that we can keep it free and open for everyone.
How long did it take you to get it up and running? How much do you plan on updating it?
I actually bought the domain name about two years ago and then sat on it. I’ll get to that someday, I would tell myself. But my professional life was busy: I launched a couple of new things at The Atlantic, then went to Outside and built up their digital team, then transitioned to Pacific Standard. I couldn’t find the time. I eventually made it Twitter- and Facebook-public so I would feel obligated to hit a deadline and, when hundreds of journalists signed up for a newsletter I hadn’t yet created, I thought I better follow through.