With print media suffering terribly under the yoke of the recession, and examples of our colleague’s craft dropping off the radar seemingly every day, my partner Steve Allison and I decided that it was the ideal time to become a publisher, and started Combustion Publishing focussing exclusively on the Web as our platform looking ahead to a now-foreseeable future where paper-based communications will be irrelevant.
It all began with our flagship magazine, a motoring titles with a familiar name to all South African motoring aficionados older than 10, Drive Magazine. This brand had been languishing for two years without a publisher when we grabbed it and converted it into an exciting new, flip-format online magazine complete with all the design elements and editorial quality expected of a printed motoring magazine, without pulping up a single tree to offer all this great content to readers across the world for no cost whatsoever.
Supporting the magazine is an appealing blog front page which acts as a repository for our archived articles, including road tests, launch features, and opinion columns, as well as up-to-date motoring news feed for our subscribers.
Drive Magazine was accepted as well as can be expected, launching into a motoring sector ravaged by recession and the tightening belt of the consumer, particularly on luxuries like motor vehicles! But the title quickly set about growing at an exceptional pace, averaging a 35% monthly increase in readership to the milestone figures we achieved as we launched our sixth monthly edition in February 2010. 200 000 hits, 50 000 pages impressions, and some 6000 unique readers per month were being drawn to this new, free online publication, and the pace of growth continued unabated.
Although a well-known title, our new team, new models and new methods are now becoming well-established in the industry we serve, while readers have come to rely on Drive for a very rare flavour of bald-faced honesty when reviewing the cars enthusiasts are interested in driving, as enthusiasts are interested in driving them. Opinionated objectivity has readers coming back for more on a monthly basis, as the stunning photography, creative design, and innovative packaging and delivery methods have slowly won consumers over to the pleasures of reading magazines online.
If you’re a petrolhead and you haven’t already, head on over to www.drivemagazine.co.za to read or download the latest issue for yourself, or even browse through our issues archives just for the sake of catching up. You’ll discover a writing style as entertaining as it is truthful, galleries of superb motoring-oriented photography and a package which is perfect for human consumption while conserving our dwindling lumber supplies.
Russell Bennett is the editor of the title, Steve Allison the Bike Editor, and Kyle Stone our over-eager junior reporter who has to drive all the 1.3-litre and below cars. Together this collaboration encapsulates raw, boiling passion for the subject of motoring in every sphere, from trucking to trackdays.
A project like this after all, bringing the advantages of the latest tech to the SA motoring industry, has to be a labour of love to succeed. Drive Magazine is a product of pure passion.