Six months since its inaugural issue, Airplanista, a free online magazine focusing on aviation topics, continues growing beyond all expectations. Its founder and editor, Dan Pimentel, recently talked with me about the magazine and its future.
Airplanista was started by Dan after he began to look for a new venue to present his aviation writing. He maintained a blog for over 6 years when, after seeing his readership stall at about 100 unique hits per day, he began ‘thinking about a better way to present my writing.’ The name came to Dan one night as he was blogging He was surprised that a search on the internet turned up zero hits on the term ‘Airplanista’ so he eventually trademarked the name to protect it. Once the first issue was released, the name seemed to be accepted by readers and mentions of it on Facebook and Twitter have steadily increased.
Dan has stated that the magazine has grown ‘beyond my wildest dreams… each month, we have grown 20-35%.’ The inaugural issue had a goal of reaching 1,000 readers but instead ended up with over 11,000. Because of this success, the magazine has allowed Dan to make additional contacts at all levels of the aviation sector, meeting and interacting with CEO’s and Executives of various firms. In his interactions with aviation industry professionals, he has received positive feedback on the magazine that will hopefully lead to further avenues for continued growth.
Given the tremendous growth and interest, when asked if the magazine will stay free or become a subscription based magazine, Dan responded that he was planning on launching a new optional paid subscription system with the April issue, which is coming April 1, 2011. The magazine will still essentially be free but Dan said that an optional subscription section ‘will give paid subscribers access to a private section offering special deals and premium content.’ He compares the subscription to a public broadcasting type system, with the magazine still being free to view, but payments helping to support production and provide a year’s access to special deals and content. The cost is expected to be minimal and taking advantage of one offered deal a year, the ‘subscription will be paid back several times over’ according to Dan.
Airplanista was invited to become the beta tester for a large new digital publishing platform. The service is only in light beta at the moment. On April 4th through the 6th, at the Publishing Conference and Expo in New York, Airplanista will be the platforms launch partner, featured at their booth for the roll-out.
The magazine is viewed by Dan as a way to allow more writers and photographers to present their content. It is nearly ‘impossible to break into the big established aviation print magazines,’ so Dan felt the need to provide a new venue to present these up and coming and knowledgeable writers and photographers to the industry. He described the project as sort of an aviation ‘community hall, like the flying club building off on the edge of the airport, where pilots come together to chat and tell stories.’
For now, Dan is the only editor and designer of Airplanista, compiling and organizing the many articles and photos he receives from contributing writers. He does plan on eventually bringing on staff to assist as the magazine continues to grow but for now, he is balancing the work with being the President and Art Director at Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design.
Even with having to balance the two workloads, he wanted to continue publishing positive stories. Airplanista was formed as a way to provide these positive stories showing successes within general aviation and pushing both general and business aviation. Dan wanted to also help inspire and bring in new student pilots by offering inspiring stories and photos. It’s an idea of ‘Pilots helping pilots, an attribute of this community that I have always been most proud of. Airplanista is my way of doing just that, helping other pilots to get their message out there, to be heard.’