An Interview with Nellie Huang
Backpackers and travel porn fans have got a new thrill source. This week marked the debut of a digital travel magazine, WildJunket. The brainchild of travel writer Nellie Huang and her husband Alberto Molero, the zine’s creative director, WildJunket is a 100-page beauty.
The magazine’s tagline is “Travel Light, Travel Far” and WildJunket makes good on both: it adds no bulk to your backpack and features stories on locations ranging from Arctic glaciers to Namibian desert sands. Along with five destination features, regular departments include travel tips, a calendar spotlighting special events around the world, snapshots from the road, gear reviews, and even a bit of philosophizing on the traveling life. The pages are rich with eye candy and various other travel writers have contributed the stories along with Huang’s own work.
I posed a few questions to Nellie about the magazine and how it came to be…
What inspired you to create a digital magazine? Did you have any reservations about the idea?
Since becoming a full-time travel writer, I’ve always harbored a dream of setting up my own travel media company. A company that’s based on my own travel ideals. With the arrival of the digital era, most readers now favor digital publications to print media, so it seemed like the perfect time to launch a digital magazine. Many online publishers were producing e-books; we wanted to be different. And since I’d already built up a substantial readership on wildjunket.com, we decided to take the plunge and seize the opportunity. It was actually Alberto, my husband, who proposed the idea at the beginning of 2011 – he’s since left his full-time job to focus on building our magazine.
Of course we had reservations at the beginning: Would the two of us be able to handle the workload? Would we be able to generate enough income? Most importantly – would the magazine sell? We spent months researching, weighing our options and considering the feasibility; but everything seemed to point in the right direction and we decided to go ahead with it and haven’t looked back since.
What do you expect out of a travel publication and how did that influence how you designed yours?
I read plenty of travel magazines and I write for a number of them as well – so I’m very clear on what I want out of a travel publication: quality writing that really touches and inspires readers. Spreads of attractive photos and a slick design are a must too, but for me, writing is the key to the success of a publication. That’s how we designed our magazine – with the writing quality as our top priority. We’ve been extremely lucky to work with a pool of excellent writers like Candace Rardon and Abigail King to produce the type of content we aim for.
The photography is lovely. Who are the people behind the images?
Thank you! Having top quality photography is also one of our priorities. Our photos are provided by several professional photographers like Lola Akinmade and Jimmy Cheng, while most feature photos were provided by our mulit-talented writers.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to make this happen?
One of the biggest obstacles in the magazine production was setting up partnerships with online magazine stores. We had to learn a lot of technicalities in a very short time period and that was rather stressful. We’ve also had to pull all-nighters for several months and work through the holiday season, but looking at the final product, it was well worth it.
What are your hopes and expectations? Where do you want to go with this?
When we first started the magazine, we made sure our priority was to create a quality publication – we didn’t want to think about generating a profit or anything else until that was accomplished. For now, we’re happy with the huge amount of positive feedback we’ve received but we know that it’s a permanent process and we need to constantly improve to reach our goal. As a small startup, we want to take things slow and go step by step, we don’t want to be overly ambitious. In the future, we might hire staff to join our team or publish the magazine in print – who knows?
What do you want the reader to take away from WildJunket Magazine?
Everytime I read my favorite travel magazines, they make me dream, drool, and head straight to my computer to plan my next jaunt. That’s what I want our readers to take away from WildJunket Magazine – to have the urge to get off their sofas and head out to explore the world! We also want to encourage our readers to go beyond the conventional trail and seek out extraordinary experiences – because life’s too short!
Click here to visit WildJunket and get a subscription. Issues are available to be viewed as a flipbook online and downloaded as a PDF (one purchase gets you both). Along with single copy purchases you can also subscribe for 6 annual issues.