The Niche Media 3-Ring: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Publishing


New Niche Media Prez Bekah Darksmith shares her insights….and yes, more to be revealed.

Coming back from last week’s Niche Digital Conference and having spent 3 amazing days in the company of some of the most talented and engaged entrepreneurs in media, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I love and remain committed to publishing.

I say it often, one of many turns of phrase I over-use (along with “worker bee”, “lone wolf”, “fair enough”, “tell me everything”, “more will be revealed”, and a whole host of other weird Bekah-isms for which I’m roundly mocked by Team Niche):

Publishing is not for the faint of heart.

As publishers, we are asked to true up the expectations of our readers with the demands of our advertisers with our own vision and true north while we also…

  • …make adjustments to our publishing strategy to respond to rapidly changing modes of distribution;
  • …develop new approaches to combat pressure on ad revenues;
  • …dive headlong into the complexity and intrigue of developing a social media strategy (and quantifying the value of that investment);
  • …build content partnerships of lasting value with our advertisers, advancing their desire for connection to our readership;
  • …create and sustain profitable and dynamic live event programs that connect our audience, our advertisers, our community and our mission;
  • …all while consistently exceeding audience expectations regarding quality and relevance of our content in print, digital and regardless of channel.

id-100331603It’s a wild circus of a time, with no signs that this media three ring will settle back into a predictable pattern any time soon. At the risk of stretching the metaphor too far, we’ve got an entire big-top arena of difficult strategic issues to grapple with every single day.

But yet I can’t think of an industry more interesting in which to invest my time, energy and consciousness. The intellectual challenge posed by the business of publishing can be daunting at times but it’s an endless fascinating work with meaty problems to wrestle on daily basis.

But that’s only part of the story, right? Passion for the business will only get you so far in publishing. At root, passion for publishing is passion for people.

For those of you who attended Niche Digital last week, you heard me and Carl recount the 22 year long story of how I came to be part of the Niche Media team. It goes like this… once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away… as a junior in college I applied for an admin job at a start-up magazine publisher. Carl B. Landau hired me with zero experience (and despite my bad mid-90s fashion sense.. Uh.. man, these photos are horrifying.)

As the first, and only, employee of Niche Publications throughout those first 4 months of 1994, I was awarded an “employee of the month” button each month (both as good-natured joke and as serious positive reinforcement). And in the process, I learned magazine publishing from the ground-up and I credit my career in publishing to Carl’s willingness to teach me this crazy business. 22 years on after a long career in academic publishing I’m back to lead Niche Media in its support of the niche publishing community. I can’t think of a more serendipitous or fitting full circle.

Because here’s the thing that makes all the hard work and sweat and tears worthwhile: publishers are an amazingly talented, dedicated crew of people. Look around at your team and you’ll see it (I certainly do at Team Niche now and 22 years ago at the start). Taking part in the Niche Digital conference last week called it all home for me over again — this is an incredible media community. And the spirit of open communication and willingness to share successes, strategies and the occasional failure is truly unique amongst publishing conferences. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m honored to be a part of the conversation with you.

As many of you know, last week’s Niche Digital was my first in my new role as President of Niche Media. I’ve come away so excited about our next steps at Niche as we find new ways to support success and evolution of your businesses.

You rock. You’re the reason that we’re here. So tell us what you need! You’ll hear from me from time to time in this forum but please drop me a line or give me a call anytime. I’d love to hear how Niche can better support your work and build this amazing community of publishers.




More about Bekah: Niche Media President Rebekah Darksmith leads a strategic expansion of  the company as it more broadly serves the publishing community. Rebekah’s 20 year career in publishing experience spans consumer; B-to-B; and scholarly and academic publishing. Most recently in her role as Deputy Director of the $22M not-for-profit UC Press, Rebekah developed strategy and oversaw operations for all revenue-generating functions within the publishing organization – marketing, sales, rights and licensing as well as fundraising. For the past decade, Rebekah has also served as a business advisor for Niche Media, helping craft content and marketing strategy for the Niche portfolio of events.


Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Check out the all new Super Niche conference, March 27-29, 2017!

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