For those who do not have much background about our publication, we launched Gulf Elite Magazine out of a dorm room in sophomore year when everyone else’s worry was anything but starting a publication. We felt that millennials, especially in the Middle East, lacked a voice and didn’t have a source of content that could motivate them to be the best version of themselves. With a focus on entrepreneurship, success stories and motivational articles, we launched a publication which at the time had an article a week and few dozen readers. Fast forward 3 years, we are now boasting over 45,000 readers a month, and featured the likes of Princess Lulu Al Sabah, Billionaire Hedge Fund manager Barrett Wissman and Tycoon Rashid Habtoor among others. We were the proud media partners of Arab Women In Leadership and Business Summit in Dubai and Pangea conference in Madrid to cite a few. It’s been an exciting journey thus far and we partnered with various stakeholders across the spectrum. We host sponsored content on our platform, something you may have noticed when reading about our latest piece supporting the rights of British farmers for a better pricing on their pint of milk.
Yo, let’s start a magazine. – Mohamed Amine Belarbi, The National
So what did the past 3 years, and the 1000 articles teach us? Even a couple of guys not knowing what major to pick in university, and with no background about publishing or journalism, can launch a media publication and be taken seriously. You can do and be whoever you want, regardless of what credentials you hold. You don’t have to hold a PhD in journalism to start your Gazette, and you don’t need to be a media corporation to get sponsorship deals. You don’t need to be a veteran blogger to interview royalty and you don’t need a $50,000 budget to get a couple of thousand people to listen to you. It all boils down to a simple mindset: why not?
Why not! People ridiculed us when we started, bashed our lack of professionalism, and laughed at those two knuckleheads who decided overnight they wanted to become editors. Today, I go to conferences and our logo is up there in the sponsors list. We’ve come a long way. But the true secret of building a sustainable publication is, you guessed right, a sustainable stream of cash flow. We built relationships with various PR agencies and advertisers who supply us the content and the money, making our publication a self-oiling machine that requires little engagement from our end.
People tend to judge the success of a publication by the buzz it creates, but what we came to realise later on is that the path to sustainability isn’t through Facebook likes and tweets, it’s through organic traffic and ranking high for certain keywords. Those may not translate into a like on your Facebook post, but after all, it’s visitors that matter and not a glowing Facebook page. For example, if you google “How Uber Started”, our article and infographic are among the top results.
“We are trying to differentiate ourselves from sounding like a newspaper. This is what makes us unique and so appealing to our readers – we are a publication you have fun while reading.”
The moral of it all, never underestimate what you’re capable of. All it requires to make something work is a dedication to make it happen! As we like to say, we’re no journalists, but we publish more, and we’re no newspaper, but we have a bigger audience than average. For the next 1000 article, we’re expecting to double our readership to almost 100,000 a month, but we’ll give you an update then with the exact figure!