The art of the #SideHustle and what it's like to make a magazine

Well I took a stab at creating a magazine using some of the old work I've created over the last year, and it doesn't look horrible (though it's a bit rough around the edges!). As someone with an interest in the print side of journalism, it was really a fun task creating this and though it's not long enough to be printed as a hard-copy, it's still a neat little project to have stored on my computer somewhere.

To be completely honest at first I had every intention of creating a magazine full of my colleague's and friend's work and printing it off to sell and give to family members, but I never realized how difficult and time-consuming creating something like this would be. No wonder magazines have teams full of people working on this sort of thing alone, not just one person working on it during his evenings and weekends. That's the art of the #SideHustle, believing in something enough to even think about pursuing it. It's a growing concept, devoting some of your time to something that's fun, that you're interested in and that could be profitable (eventually).

I tried to cover a variety of issues in this publication, but stick with the same sort of categories I touch on here, such as crime, cities and transit, as well as politics and money. It's quite a mix of different stores that I had a lot of fun writing, designing and planning, so please leave me some feedback in the comment section below and if you feel so inclined share it with a friend or two.

So, without further delay, here it is: my first — and probably final, in the near future at least — print publication, available exclusively online.

The front page was quite difficult to design, because you want something that's going to be impactful and draw the attention of people in, but that's not going to be triggering due to recent news and tragedies.

If the numbering scheme seems a bit off, that's because it is. Originally page number two was a table of contents but since this is only 20 pages long, I decided to remove that page.

Little visuals like a venn diagram go a long way for helping the reader visualize the story, as well as providing a much needed break from a sea of text.

I found charts to be quite tricky to implement because Canva, the program I used to create this, doesn't offer any sort of built-in chart building function. Forced to use a different website, I did add this chart here that shows the different fares based on distance, but it doesn't seem to visually feel quite right in the story.

Colour in print publications is an important and difficult element to think about. I tried to have a different "theme" colour for each section either as a background swatch or in the "Low and High Cities" at the top (what I like to call the "identity bar") but it was hard to incorporate the colour sometimes depending on the background and images on the page.

Text, by itself, can be a really powerful tool. Here, I decided to use large font to describe the mass shootings that happened the previous years, because though images can move a person as much as text can, sometimes it's easier for people to understand something and to "bring it down to earth" sort-of-speak when you type it out for them.

Maps are difficult in print too because people are used to scrolling around on a map to see what surrounds the place, but on paper that's not possible. This is why a description, like the one above, is so important.

Charts are a weird thing to include in a print publication because it's hard to see the numbers and to understand what they mean, but I included them here because it's more about seeing the spike in numbers than the actual numbers themselves.

Bringing an audio-based piece to print is something that took me a lot of time to figure out, and it's not exactly something I feel I mastered. I wondered if I could have included a link to the audio pieces as sort of a extension of the story, but it's abnormal for someone to have to go online to understand a story in print.

You don't have to fill a page with images and flashy designs to be effective. Sometimes just a simple image with some text does a great job of telling what a story might be about, so someone can immediately decide if they want to read it or not. However, you need to be careful of colour choices — yellows and whites can be harder for some people to see.

When in doubt, I tried to go for a minimalist feel instead of just throwing visuals in all willy-nilly. A simply coloured background block can really add a bit of "pop" to the page.

Flow charts are always fun to see in magazines, I find, because they draw the reader's attention in while adding a fun interactive element to the story. They provide an educational aspect, but can also just be fun to follow along with.

It's quite important to give readers a little sense of what to expect in the following text without making them read it, which is why I tried to include a little summary at the top of most articles when possible.

The final thing I couldn't figure out was how to address the spacing between paragraphs, debating between leaving a full space, or increasing the spacing for the whole publication so it was equal throughout.

Since this was a solo project I didn't want to have a huge list on the back of everything I did, so I opted to just leave this page blank instead.

There were several different design decisions I had to make during the process of creating this publication, and here's my thinking behind it:

Create a common theme. Even though there's different colours and sections throughout, I tried to keep the pages similar, including the use of an identity bar at the top ("Low and High + category name"), and included a common colour scheme for each distinct section of the magazine. This helps the reader understand where they are, as well as allows for consistent branding.

Keep it simple. I didn't want to add too many visuals to any single page and risk making it too confusing or complicated to follow. There's usually only one, maybe two images per page and when there's none, I tried to play around with colour blocks to make it a little bit more interesting. Sticking to the same few fonts was simple enough to do, but the amount could be narrowed down to three or four key fonts that work for everything.

Let the visuals speak. There's lots of visuals in here, including a few charts and graphs. The purpose of the charts wasn't to show actual data, which would be quite hard on paper, but to make a point. A little sentence to explain the meaning behind the chart, instead of just plopping it down and forgetting it can go a long way for the reader. Images, on the other hand, shouldn't necessarily need a caption to be understood as to why they're included.

Make it interactive. If there's one thing that people like, it's a game, quiz, or just something to follow along with. That's where the flow chart came in, providing a meaningful addition to the story while also being a little bit fun and silly.

Design for every reader. Something I overlooked throughout the design process was that when designing, you need to design with every reader in mind (digital/print, young/old, etc). There's a lot of decisions that need to be made with the audience in mind, like what fonts to use so that everybody can read them and the colour and size of the text.