Small-time Adventures in Independent Publishing

Digital Culturist – Issue #1

Back in October 2015, I started a Medium publication called Digital Culturist as a side project meant to explore my personal interests in the effects of technology on society, culture, and psychology.

More formally described, Digital Culturist is a tech/culture publication critiquing the digital age through the eyes of those who created it, publishing analytical, informed stories and essays focused on the Internet, technology, and how they affect human behavior, psychology, and social culture.

I must say that I had doubts about this project going anywhere relevant, but nevertheless, I thought it would be an interesting accomplishment to brag about to future employers.

And so began my adventures in independent publishing.

I started out by combing and curating Medium in search of stories that matched our theme in order to give my publication some meat. I found a few gracious contributors who were willing to consider my small-time Medium publication home to their stories, with some help from a fellow Medium pub editor I met in the POMQA Slack community. With this method, we picked up a few readers, but nothing too serious.

It wasn’t until we were able to get our hands on a specific story (“Stop Saying Technology is Causing Social Isolation”), which at the moment, was taking Medium by storm, that my tiny publication on the radar. We quickly racked up 300+ readers, which has grown into almost 700 readers over the past several months.

I’d say that’s a pretty significant jump for a side project that I had reservations about.

After a few months of focus on Letters from an Internet Traveler, my personal newsletter, I started to pick up on Digital Culturist again. In time with Medium’s revamp of their publication layout’s and abilities, I decided to take this project a bit more seriously.

In order to increase readership, I started to record new ways to increase engagement and other feasible ideas to make Digital Culturist a respectable Medium publication.

After much internal debate, I bought the domain and decided on making it an issue based publication. I also decided that facilitating new, original stories from various, relatively unheard voices would be the best way to go, rather than searching for and curating existing stories on Medium.

My thought process: “Why not embrace my current status in as the small fish in the big pond? What’s the worst that could happen?”

Today, I’m proud to say that I released Digital Culturist Issue #1 on Sunday, May 22. Edited and curated entirely by yours truly.

I believe the first issue was received quite well and was definitely surprised at how many submissions I received within the initial submission period.

Though I must admit, it wasn’t an easy task. I’m quickly learning that this is definitely a trial and error process; see what works, and for what doesn’t, try something else. I’ve been taking notes while observing the publishing and submission methods of other Medium-based and non-Medium-based publications.

With that said, I’m already gearing up for Issue #2.

Hopefully, the next couple of issues will create a buzz on the Medium-sphere and Digital Culturist will take off. Wishful thinking.

I know it’ll take more time than that. But I’m patient.

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