Third in a four-part series
There are actually some good reasons to become part of the leather press. I have complained a bit about the challenges, but there are things I like about it. And I’d love for more people to join it.
The first reason, it’s a way to give back. One thing the community can always use is information. Whether it’s about events, news or education, information is almost always a good thing. And creating a location where people can learn is always a good thing. It’s been said that journalism is often the first draft of history. This is a way for you to contribute to the community’s history.
Second, it can be fun. I mean, you actually have to go to contests and events where you see very attractive people in leather… maybe leather jocks. And take photos of them. And their asses. For the community, of course. It’s all for the community. At least that’s my excuse.
Third, sometimes you can get into events for free. You still have to pay for travel, lodging and food, but you can usually get access to the main event without paying money. However, it is expected that you also write, take photos or webcast whatever the event is. If you get press passes and don’t publish anything, you don’t get invited back.
The very first thing to do, if you do want to be a leather journalist, is to figure out what you want to cover. “Leather” is a very broad topic, so just saying “Leather, everywhere” really isn’t workable. The good news is there isn’t a wrong answer to this. It can be as broad or as narrow as you want, as long as you realize that the broader the topics you cover, the more work it takes to do it well. You can just focus on kink and gay rights in, say, Peoria, or on the Master/slave community nationwide. (There actually used to be a publication that did that, Metropolitan Slave. They have such cool stuff at the Archives.) The important thing is to be consistent and accurate.
Next, see if anyone is doing something similar. You may want to join in with them and help them rather than duplicate efforts. You could help them cover somethings they wouldn’t be able to on their own or fill in gaps. Or you may still want to do their own thing, give them a little competition. That’s actually good when it comes to the press. It forces each to do better. And doing your own thing doesn’t mean you still can’t collaborate with them at a later point. I’ve done that on occasion with other outlets myself.
Then choose how you want to start. One good thing about these days is there are plenty of choices. The simplest and easiest way to start is to start up a social media outlet. A regular Twitter feed for events you want to help promote or a Facebook page where you can share news and events. Takes all of five minutes to set up. The hardest part will be coming up with a name. Have some fun with that. I personally like alliteration like Louisville Lash or the Des Moines Dom. Midwest Kink Alliance is this type and they do help inform a lot of people.
The next level up is a blog. There are free options for this, though capabilities may be limited. The big ones these days are Blogger (www.blogger.com) and Medium (https://medium.com/). Leatherati is currently hosted on Medium and the Eagle started on Blogger. In either case, you can use your own domain to help yourself stick out from the crowd.
You can also see about writing for your local gay paper or news website. Race Bannon does that with the Bay Area Reporter.
Once you get enough traffic and support (Patreon and Kickstarter can help. Patreon now pays for hosting and social media management for both the Den and Eagle), you may want to upgrade to an independent site. Pretty much any good host will have decent rates (I’m at $8 a month for each of mine) and allow you to use your own content management system. The one I, and most of the planet, use is WordPress. It’s free, gives options for different designs and pretty stable. The Leather Journal uses, I believe, Joomla. That I don’t know as well, but they have kept a stable website ever since they changed over to using it.
If you feel really ambitious, you can do podcasting (like No Safeword at http://nosafeword.com/) or vlogging (like Watts the Safeword at http://www.wattsthesafeword.com/). That is a much bigger commitment in both money and equipment, but can be very educational and a lot of fun.
As for equipment, if you have a computer and a phone that can do photos, video and audio recording, you’ve got the basics. Seriously. Even dailies like the Chicago Sun-Times or big city televisions stations use social media and smart phones daily. Even with vlogging or podcasting, you can start with the webcam on your computer. You can work up to better quality if you want as you continue on.
As for promoting your new outlet, basically use the same tactics I described in my promotion note. They can still apply here.
One more thing. There is a fourth reason to do this. Every once in a while, you find out you made a difference for someone. Giving them a voice. Helping them reach out. Connecting people. Usually it’s just a thank you, but it can feel surprisingly good.