SL Business Magazine: A Brief History

March 5th, 2008  |  Published in SLENTRE.COM Magazine Feature Articles

by Sigmund Leominster

In February 2006, Ben Moyer, a defense contractor working in the Middle East, became Second Life citizen Hunter Glass, a budding entrepreneur with a plan. Six months later, Hunter’s periodical, SL Business Magazine, appeared for the first time. Working with a small team, it took two months for him to turn the idea in his head into a product on the web. The first six issues constitute Volume One. Now he’s back behind the publisher’s desk to launch Volume Two.

With Dalian Hansen as his Creative Director and Ute Hicks working as Editor-in-Chief, Hunter had his staff ready. “I had talented people with relative experience who joined the effort early. We were all a team. I don’t have half-cocked ideas either, so when I want to do something it’s because it has merit and is realistic.”

At 60 pages and in PDF format, the first edition was a colorful, well-produced glossy journal, boasting articles on fashion, music, investing, programming, and entrepreneurs. Advertisers bought pages, generating income for the magazine. And although some of the first articles were really aimed at people new to Second Life, the eclectic mix of topics served to set the tone of what was to come.

On a visit to Hunter’s offices, I asked him why he wanted to produce SL Business Magazine. “I first decided to do this because I wanted to create something that would help SL residents looking to get into business. I wanted to create a publication that would give them useful information, and I would be able to help, which I enjoy doing.”

The second edition grew to 80 pages and opened with a profile on house designer Keystone Bouchard, then moved to an investigation into the cost of an SL wedding and an article on mobile phone software that would allow SL addicts to see who was on line even while being off themselves. The magazine was now setting itself up as a venue for more than just all-business all-the-time.
The choice of using the PDF format for delivery wasn’t without criticism. Some readers suggested that Hunter should switch to a blog or web page format.
“You can’t convey information the way you can in a magazine layout with a blog,” explained Hunter. “People who want all of their info in blogs must not understand that the reason for PDF is for the visual communication as well as the text. We get a lot of comments from readers who say we should only be in HTML—but they still read the mag, so we must have done something right! I challenge them to do a 16-page spread in a blog and achieve the visual control.”
Anyone reading the magazine would have to agree. The visually engaging layouts and dramatic use of color would have been a real challenge using the common Internet formats.

The next four issues continued the format of eclecticism and tight visual control. But the sixth edition proved to be the final one. Hunter’s publisher’s column announced that SL Business Magazine was to be available not only as PDF but also as a daily blog and an RSS feed. However, the magazine ceased publishing.

“I was in Afghanistan working for the Department of Defense when I started Volume One. When I ceased publishing I was returning home to my family and getting ready to go to Officer Candidate school. So unfortunately, there wasn’t time for SL.” As is the case for many Second Lifers, real life intruded and forced him to focus on the real world.

I asked if he knew the circulation of his magazine. “The last magazine was downloaded 57,174 times,” he told me, “and the archives are still downloaded to this day.”
And the future? “Well, I’ve taken on a lot of other ventures. I bought two other SL-based publications. I bought an older medium-sized publication known as The Konstrukt Magazine,(www.thekonstrukt.com) and another one that is a bit smaller and underdeveloped, The Spark Magazine. I see a lot of potential for The Spark. The previous owner had a good-sized group with regular participation and lots of interested writers. It just needs some professional management to grow into the well-established general-interest publication I see it having the potential to become. I’m assembling a team to manage the different media, and I’m restructuring the back ends of the websites to make them manageable—and I’ve redesigned the SL Business Magazine site.”

Hunter and his team are ready. SL Business is indeed back in business.

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