House of Coco founder Laura provides tips on how you can start your own online magazine.
Prior to creating ‘House of Coco’, what resources did you use to develop your industry knowledge?
Google was my teacher! Everything I needed to learn about the world of publishing was at my fingertips via Google. I read a lot of books too and went to a lot of events that were aimed towards publishers.
I also had the owner of one of the biggest publishing houses in the world reach out to me after he saw me on Dragons Den. He offered me advice and showed me around his massive office in London which was massive inspiration to me and helped me realise where I wanted to take the magazine in the future
How were you able to work with team members in different countries? How are you able to keep creativity alive?
I have 25 team members around the world. From our designer in London to our writers in New York. We’re on different time zones but the easiest way to keep up to date with the team is in our private Facebook group.
I keep the team updated on event invites, opportunities and we have a weekly update to share stats.
I have regular meet ups with our Deputy Editor, Sam Johnson because he’s also based in Leeds with me. We have creative chats and plan each upcoming print issue and then we share everything that we discuss in the group.
As we’re primarily a travel magazine, it makes sense that we would have a team all around the world. All of our writers get to travel for the magazine to work on our content. For example, in the last month alone I arranged for one of our writers to visit Mauritius, another to head to India and plenty more of the team had adventures as far as the Philippines and as near as Iceland. I believe that sharing the travel opportunities with the rest of the team, instead of doing everything myself, helps to keep their creativity alive too.
In your YouTube video ‘Life of Laura’ you mentioned you were on Dragons Den, what did you make of the experience and is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I was on Dragons Den in 2013 to ask for investment to take my then monthly Leeds magazine to an international market. I was shot down and told that it would never work. The producers of the show convinced me that I was going to get a positive outcome so I wasn’t prepped for the negative feedback. So, what I would have done differently is be prepared for negative feedback. It was very naive of me to go in there not preparing for the worst.
Have you experienced any setbacks in your career? If so, how did you deal with them?
On the back of Dragons Den, I was approached to be a media partner for the Clothes Show, alongside Cosmo and Elle magazine. Obviously, it was a huge opportunity and I was more than happy to get on board. Sadly, the audience wasn’t right for my publication and instead of making the £50-100k that the organisers told me to expect I actually made £5! I had to leave the event on the second day and cut my losses and close the company down. So, my first magazine went into liquidation but what I learned from this was not to put all of my eggs in one basket. I shouldn’t have taken the word of the organisers that I would make the amount of money they told me without doing my own research, but I was young and I’m glad I made those mistakes back then.
The way I dealt with this was I just had some time out to work out what I wanted to do. I knew that getting a job and working for someone else was never going to be on the agenda and so I picked myself up and started again. When you have setbacks and failures along the way, you just have to keep things in perspective. I still had my health and nobody had died. Plus, the greatest risk you can take is not taking one.
What resources would you recommend to people interested in running their own online magazine?
House of Coco is a print magazine but we do have our daily updated website plus you can also download the magazine in the App Store.
But if anyone was looking at launching an online magazine I would suggest first finding your niche. Then work out how you’re going to monetise it. Next, build the infrastructure, will you use WordPress for example of will you use a something like issuu.com. Then plan your content, will it be daily, weekly, quarterly for example. Content is king so you need to make sure you have something new regularly to keep your readers interested and wanting to return.
Finally, work out how you’re going to develop your audience. Will it be subscription lead, will you launch a newsletter, will you run competitions etc.
How often do you invest in your professional development?
My personal development is more important than other development. I work on my mindset and development every day. I read a new book every single week, I don’t watch TV, I don’t read the news and I keep any negative influences to a minimum. If my mind isn’t right then the business will suffer. I need to make sure I always have my A game.
I go to seminars and motivational events to make sure I’m always working towards becoming the best version of myself. This, in turn, means that the company gets better and grows.
People often contribute their success to a book/film/person, who has had a positive impact on you as an Entrepreneur?
I have read a lot of books that have influenced where I am today. I loved reading ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy when I first started out because it helps to break down big goals into small daily steps that eventually compound into great results over time.
I also watch a lot of motivational speakers and really fell in love with Les Brown. I listened to him every day for months and he teaches you all about releasing the greatness that we all have inside of us. I would say there’s loads of positive influences that I have had along the way, the list could go on!
The House of Coco reader lives free through fashion, beauty, art, and travel. A free spirit, pushing the limits in the name of adventure.