Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

New content system for Syntagma

We’ve been experimenting with a new system of content production here at Syntagma. Apart from our team of proven, regular authors, we’ve been driving newer sites from a small base of in-house writers — people who also work in some capacity for us and have expertise in specific fields.

It will be coming on-stream from next Monday, July 2.

The reason for this new approach is that we’ve adopted a tighter focus for the Syntagma network, specializing in certain areas we know to be effective revenue-earners. We can better manage such a team from within, rather than relying on a sprawling web of freelances across the globe.

Of course, we’ve still got some writers spread around the world, but these are authors who have proved reliable over time. In other words, we will become more like a business producing print magazines in structure, than a typical blog network — a model we’ve been moving away from for a while now.

We’re closing the Allusionz network magazine on July 1, and will be using our three remaining portals as the base for a variety of new activities, not all conventional or expected.

As a small, compact business, we have great flexibility of manoeuvre. We don’t have to stand still or follow the rest. We won’t.

New sources of finance mean we are tentatively moving away from the cash-flow-techniques model we’ve adopted thus far, although we will never go down the venture capital route for reasons given here many times.

So there will be new energy and new blood next month here at Syntagma.

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Syntagma mid-year reorganization

June has been a month of heroic reconstruction here at Syntagma. It may not seem like that at first glance, but we’ve reorganized the place from top to bottom. We’ve also brought in a number of professionals to help out and, in some cases, write for us below the radar as part of specific Syntagma Teams.

This is a new system for us. It gives us a powerful in-house team for the first time, but without massive cost implications. I’m hoping it will move us in a different direction in the year to come.

We’ve also returned to Syntagma Media as our main name, with Syntagma Digital as the operating company.

Along the way some things had to go. The Allusionz network magazine — our poorest performer — will be put out to grass when its advertising contracts run out at the end of this month. Some of its sites have been moved onto LifeTimes magazine. They include : Marshall’s Art NYC, Steve’s Publisher’s Diary, Our Man in Stratford and Jazz Groove. Also Classy Classical and a rejuvenated Stage Latest, which will now concentrate on the West End and Broadway, plus ticket sales ads. Sad to lose so many sites and a few authors, but it’s a business and one can’t be sentimental about it.

We’re also hoping to spawn an offshoot of Syntagma Media in a new direction. We’re waiting on negotiations on this one. There may be some opportunities for existing, and other, authors in the new project. More later.

Essentially, we’ve distilled the Syntagma inventory down to its most profitable core in response to the awkward fact that “blog” networks are not being bought out anymore. The second half of the year should see us expanding out again from a sounder base.

So, after the fundamental change in market conditions in recent months, we’re now optimized for the new opportunities. In many ways we’re better placed than our competitors. The huge success of the Glam network — announced this week — reinforces our decision in going for retail as the future of Web business. But, we are still keeping our powder dry and our independence intact. It’s all to play for, and we are very well positioned for new developments.

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Network Magazines to Open Up

We are now actively working on the next planned development of our network magazine concept. This involves opening them up to suitable sites/blogs outside the Syntagma Digital inventory.

The move will allow external sites inclusion in our rolling feeds, plus graphical representation on the portals and participation in the Editor’s Pick of the Posts. In addition, they will become recipients of any magazine-wide advertising deals we negotiate going forward. Involvement will not change the ownership, hosting arrangements, or running of outside sites in any way.

We are currently looking at the technical and monetary aspects of this proposal and will reach some decisions over the coming month. Inclusion will be open to all four of our network magazines :

Allusionz — Arts and Philosophies
LifeTimes — Lifestyles and Celebrities
21st-century Phi — Sciences and Future Technologies
(Coming Soon) Moneyizor — Money Matters and Small Business.

In the meantime, site/blog owners who may be interested in this proposition can email me to register an interest and be involved in the early stages of the arrangement. The email address is in the footer.

Update : In an interview with 901am, the conversation continued :

How will you split the revenue with participating sites?
We’re currently looking at a 70/30 split in favor of the client for all new magazine-wide advertising. That beats what’s on offer elsewhere, at least to my knowledge. It also has added advantages in terms of traffic.

What’s your goal with adding more sites to the various network magazines? Are there any milestones you want to reach, and where will it lead eventually?
The goal is to use the increased page views from the extra sites to secure better advertising for everyone aggregated in the magazine, including our own authors. It makes sense to maximize the use of the content platforms we’re creating in a way that benefits everyone involved. As for milestones, the system is totally expansible with no limits that I can see.

External sites and blogs will get exposure on our content platforms, traffic back, and 70% of new advertising revenue generated on contributing sites. Owners pay nothing, and virtually do nothing for all that. It’s got to be one of the best deals around.

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Syntagma Digital Opens The Dark Room

The newest crib on the block for Syntagma Digital is the second of Guy Adams’s three new webtitles : The Dark Room – Literary Worlds of Horror, part of our Allusionz network magazine.

Guy Adams is a full-time professional author and writer, as well as being a partner and senior editor in the British publishing company, Humdrumming.

Horror…for many years a fictional genre that has suffered from a less than sterling reputation.

If ever an argument against over-exposure exists in fiction writing then Horror is the perfect example. For hundreds of years writing about the darker things in life (both real and supernatural) was considered a rich and healthy pastime. Shakespeare was no stranger to the Grand Guignol of storytelling, Dickens was a sap for the ghostly tale…a glance at a school syllabus will see old staples as Stoker and Shelley deemed perfectly valid ‘classics’.

Also watch out for Guy’s The Hack’s Progress, which will be up and scribbling next week.

Read The Dark Room.

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Syntagma Media Projects 2007 – 2009

When I started writing about our network magazine project, it was greeted with some disbelief in the publishing netosphere. Now that the roll-out is nearly complete, folk are realizing that we really do mean business here at Syntagma.

So, being mildly provocative again — and as it’s Sunday — here’s a list of our projects going forward as far as 2009, including the till-now ultra-secret iSyntagma.

Network Magazines
We have created the portals for our three initial network magazines, Allusionz, LifeTimes and 21st-century Phi, and are now adding four new Thord Hedengren designs to all of our 50 sites. We’ve completed a quarter of them, the rest will follow over the next two weeks.

We’ve also embarked on the final step in the process, which is to aggregate our stats-capture by magazine, in addition to by individual site. The reason is that from now our advertising will be sold per network mag rather than by webtitle.

In other words, we’re moving away from 10,000 page-view pitches to a composite pitch for 20 or so similar and related webtitles. This bridges the gap between offering single sites to advertisers, or the whole inventory, which is so diverse only the most general buyers would be interested.

We’ll still carry our classified ads at the top of the posts (see here), and on a per site basis, since we’re looking for $200-$500 a month per webtitle for this space and the classifieds are running ahead of any alternatives at the present time.

Our business plan specified six network magazines by October 2007 — our second anniversary. Since our two shopping portals have been put on hold (see below), I expect we’ll now have four working network magazine titles by October.

Shopping Portals
I wrote a bit about this here a day or two ago, specifically the glass ceiling we encounted when trying to break into the big-ad retail markets in North America and the UK.

Our two shopping portals : Retailz USA and ShopShape UK required much more input than our current strength allowed when relying on own-resources. Talks with possible partners fell down because they were all stronger than we were, and inevitably had their own ideas on how it should be done.

I’m not temperamentally suited to being a junior partner in anything, so we’ve put these projects back until we have sufficient internal strength to be at least the major determiner in the project. The portals are now scheduled for late 2008 or spring 2009.

Dial Publishing
Dial Publishing was my first attempt at being an independent print publisher. It concentrated on educational books and courses, and was successful until the market went pear-shaped (see here for more details).

Now it’s being refurbished as the print arm of Syntagma Media, and will publish its first titles in the second half of this year. Two to watch are, The Syntagma Story, and Superdemocracy – The Art of Corporate Governance, both by yours truly. They will be followed by other titles by other authors.

Now we come to our biggest project of all, the top secret iSyntagma, which we’ve been researching and working on for a while under a cloak of invisibility. If you go to you’ll just see an untouched WordPress Kubrick shell. Amazingly it has a PR of 4.

To prove that my forthcoming book, The Syntagma Story is really going to be worth reading, I’ve decided to spill the beans on this rocking more-than-an-aspiration-more-an-inspiration projectile.

We’ve decided to vault over the podcasting scene completely — too much like blogging, too many amateurs, and too primitive compared with what’s on offer by the broadcasters. And it will never show a profit.

Instead, iSyntagma will launch … trumpets and drum roll … Thank you, orchestra, a bit louder next time. Will launch :

Syntagma Television

Syntagma Television will be an internet TV channel, broadcasting live TV and video from the West Country of England to a select few, niche audiences, among which will be the tech crowd. It’s a serious project and is well underway.

Just log on to or sometime in 2008 and we’ll be beaming at you wherever you are.

As a Bob Cringely reader I know of the current bandwidth problems, but also how Google among others are working on the solutions. If 2007 is the year the net collapses under the weight of video downloads (Bit Torrent currently takes more than 50pc of bandwidth resources), 2008 will see new opportunities emerge, and Syntagma Television will be unveiled in that more temperate climate.

Again, we’re going to try to do this within own-resources. If you’ve got a million bucks to invest, do not offer it to us — I might be tempted.

So there you have it. Our future starkly portrayed in all its impossible glory. One thing you should know : we revel in the impossible.

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