Things are looking up for Boxx Magazine after it started 2014 overcoming key organizational and fundraising challenges. Founding partner Jordan Young decided to leave the organization to steer her career in other directions. I opted to move forward but I knew I couldn’t continue with just myself alone. While I have strong contacts in the music industry, networks with writers and photographers and a strong creative vision for the magazine, I needed help with business matters and growing the brand through strategic partnerships and marketing that could eventually make us profitable.

To accomplish these tasks, I brought on three new key figures, all of whom were already Boxx contributors. Carly Fisher came on board to be in charge of business and partnership development.  She organized our GoFundMe.com crowdfunding campaign and premiere party, is coordinating several partnerships, trained our team in new social media strategies, and is monitoring metrics for our site. She also started implementing Pay-Per-Click marketing and has provided new ideas for content.

Brett Marlow is now as our social media and brand manager and oversees our three interns. His team has organized a schedule of Facebook posts and Tweets, which have significantly grown our numbers in just a few months. Brett is also a web designer and is in charge of monitoring the site and making it more navigable. With this help, we will relaunch Boxx with a new, modernized design and layout and a new logo, which we have started to softly introduce. We also have been working to create a new tagline. While “where women are heard” was good to start, we moved to “Music Hype. Without a Type.” to have something that is more causal and conversational and leaves the terrain open for expansion.

Molly Lynch is our senior editor in charge of editing all copy from writers. Molly and I set up a streamlined system whereby all copy is due by 9 a.m. Sunday. Molly edits and creates posts for the entire week and is able to send out links and image URLs to our social team to start scheduling all our social media activity.

I am focusing on expanding our video series, which remains our most popular portal. If we’ve learned anything the past few months, it’s that organization and processes are a blessing to have now so we will be able to keep ahead as we grow.

Boxx’s greatest strength is our unique content, updated daily, including our features and interviews, album and concert and book reviews, video interviews and music videos of the day. We have also started to discuss more ways to build content with short quick hits, numbered list stories, staff playlists and community piece like “help a sista out” that will offer artists the chance to upload their demo and link to their Kickstarter or GoFundMe pages so that they can get the funding they need to complete their music projects.

We are continuing our InBoxx series (for women with roles like concert promoter, publicist, app developer, etc. that also help the industry) and Male Boxx, for male artists. Our goal is to provide the most multi-faceted way to cover the music industry and the people who don’t often get the coverage. While our goal remains covering women, we hope our new tagline and growth of Male Boxx will encourage readers of all genders and interests to come to our site.

With content squared away, our next efforts focus on increasing our audience and creating revenue. We realize one affects the other so currently we are working to build our traffic through social media and improved SEO to increase our search rankings.

The great thing about Boxx is our lack of competition; we fill a unique niche.

Once our numbers increase, we plan to reach out to key brands and start selling ad space with the help of an ad salesperson. In the meantime, we have set out to build our partnership opportunities with the Audiotree, WillCall, WXRT and local venues as well as JBTV, Fort Knox recording studios, CIMMfest (Chicago International Music and Movie festival) and Reckless Records. We’ve also applied for an official Spotify account and the iTunes affiliate program. A number of these partnerships will provide us with ways to advance our video interview series or perhaps turn it into a live interview platform

In 2014 so far, we have raised $2,175 in the first quarter, which triggered a $2,000 match from the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs program. Our GoFundMe.com campaign raised donations from 50 individuals and was profiled in Gapers Block.

We also set up a “preview party” at Jerry’s in Chicago – preview to denote we will have more of these and also a preview of our new logo. Our event was written about in Chicago’s Red Eye publication. We secured three local, female-driven bands to play a Monday night and with minus-10 degree temps, we still had about 50 people. We also had our own “Boxx-tail” drink for which we received proceeds. Both efforts helped us raise the necessary dollars for the grant match.

We plan to offer more of these events in the future, including a re-launch party, record release parties for local artists and our biggest focus on Lollapalooza. The music festival comes to Chicago in August and draws key influencers, brands and audiences from around the country and internationally. We hope to be part of the Hard Rock hospitality suite where we can set up a live video interview feed and host either a pre- or after-party showcase. In the future, we plan to tackle showcases at the other major music fests like SXSW, Coachella and CMJ.

Our legal team expects our trademark to be approved in May. They are also drafting up new partnership agreements and employee and contributor contacts to ensure Boxx is protected. We’ll also institute a code of conduct for the site as we hope to soon grow our online community and comment section.

It has been such a great honor to be recognized by the McCormick Foundation, NMWE, J-Lab and American University and we are deeply grateful for the principal funding your grants have provided.