The Making of a Magazine

By: Mia Pohlman, Editor

Oftentimes, people ask about our approach to creating our magazines. The truth is, we have four of them that we create here, and the process is a little different for each. Before we talk process, though, let me introduce you to each of our publications:

The Best Years, affectionately known as TBY, is for people who are retired or approaching retirement. Published once a month and inserted into the Southeast Missourian newspaper, it is an audience favorite that tells about people, events and topics in Southeast Missouri related to the 50+ age demographic. We get to meet a lot of nice folks through making this magazine.

B Magazine, our regional business magazine, is direct-mailed to Chamber members throughout Southeast Missouri. This publication covers the business news of the area, as well as applies national business topics to our local region. The six issues published each year center around different business-related themes.

flourish is our women’s magazine for women of all ages throughout the region. Published quarterly on matte paper that feels good to the touch, this publication is direct-mailed to subscribers’ homes, as well as dropped at locations throughout the region. With a focus on local women artists, community stories that relate to women, long-form think pieces that connect national and international issues locally and more, this magazine is a breath that encourages women to keep persevering in living thoughtfully, joyfully and genuinely.

mind + body, is our health and active living publication whose target audience is professionals ages 40+. We publish this one twice a year on slick, glossy paper and distribute it by inserting it into the Southeast Missourian newspaper and dropping it in waiting rooms throughout the region. In it, we focus on interesting people and their passions, as well as ways to eat, exercise and live well in Southeast Missouri.

Now that you have a little bit better idea of what we do, I’ll walk you through our process for creating flourish. I know it’s like children — I shouldn’t have a favorite — but this one holds a special place in my heart and is my favorite to talk about.

flourish magazine

The process for creating flourish specifically is one that never truly starts or stops, as I am always allowing my life experiences to influence story, photography and theme ideas. I keep a notebook in which I jot down ideas as I think of them or as people in the community offer them to me. I choose a theme for each issue based on a concept I am interested in and want to explore and then start the brainstorming process. I brainstorm best with pencil and paper so my ideas can sprawl across the page and I can draw arrows between them.

Next, I choose stories based on the number of pages we have available for content in the issue. I make up a digest with brief descriptions of each story and send it out to people in the office for feedback. Once the ideas are refined, I assign stories to freelance writers and work with them to revise and polish their stories. I also write stories for each magazine.

I love getting to meet interesting people from the community and listen to their experiences and perspectives. It is an honor to be trusted in this way, and I have made some great friends through these interviews.

At some point, we have an art meeting or two. Around a table, we — me as the editor plus our designers and photographers — collaborate to brainstorm and decide upon art ideas for each story in the upcoming issue. We often consider illustration, stock art, documentary-style photography, a studio shoot or in the case of flourish fashion shoots, an on-site shoot as options. We love the imaginative ideas Tyler brings to the table, the enthusiasm and skill that exude from Ben, and the measured consideration and thoughtfulness Jacob contributes to the conversation. Once we’ve decided on the art, we share contact information for the subjects, part ways and start making it happen.

Once the stories and art are in and ready to go, our design team takes over. Greg, Jeff and Gary make a great team as each work on different aspects of the magazine design. We work together to do rounds of edits after design, and once we decide that everything is right, Greg sends it off to the publisher. Then we begin again.

It is a delight to tell the stories of our community and create art with these talented, creative people every day. I love creatively filling in the frame of the recursive process that the creation of each magazine entails. It is a process of navigating both structure and discovery that never fails to teach me as it teaches, I hope, our readers.