Conor Rees graduated from the University of Worcester with a 2:1 in Journalism with honours. His experience spans from journalism, writing, and photography, to online publications, editorial design, and football coaching.
He won the ‘Student Journalist of the Year’, ‘Best Blogger/Vlogger’ and ‘Online Innovation’, as well as being nominated for ‘Entertainment’ at the Midlands Media Awards Student 2016 for the magazine he created, 99 Percent Lifestyle.
Can you tell us more about your magazine?
99 Percent Lifestyle is a lifestyle magazine that focuses on creativity, looking in-depth at creatives, businesses and the people behind them. The aim is to inspire and motivate readers to live a more creative life by taking normal lifestyle topics and focusing on the creative side of them.
Whether that be inspiring others to create their own travel adventure, start their own business or inspire them to become photographers, filmmakers, artists, chefs or writers, each and every piece of content I write aims at helping our readers become more creative and live life to the full.
The content produced on 99 Percent Lifestyle covers a range of topics that can be associated with a typical lifestyle magazine, yet creativity and business remain the focus throughout the content.
How did you come up with the name: “99 Percent Lifestyle”?
99 Percent Lifestyle began as a university project in 2015. I wanted to create a platform that shared valuable content and advice from leading creatives and professionals in particular industries in the lifestyle world.
The name ’99 Percent Lifestyle’ signifies that this isn’t tied down to a specific category. It’s more than just a normal lifestyle brand and it signifies that there will always be room to grow and keep up with the ever-changing world around us, full of constant advancements and unpredictability.
Is 99 Percent Lifestyle still a one-man magazine?
The magazine is still produced, created and designed entirely by myself. It’s still a one-man magazine.
What are some of your favourite interviews you conducted so far?
I actually published ‘The Interview Edition’ of 99 Percent Lifestyle – a FREE 126-page digital magazine that can be viewed on the website and downloaded as a PDF for you to take with you whilst on the move. I have interviews with the likes of Justin Maller (Digital Artist), Devin Super Tramp(Youtuber), to Sam Garrett (Musician) and ‘Good For Nothing Clothing’.
Some of the more recent interviews I have conducted have been with Youtuber Steve Booker who is the cover star of Volume 2 and entrepreneur Lewis Howes which will be included in the upcoming Volume 3. Both of these interviews have really dove deep into two very different successful creatives and contains tons of valuable advice.
What would you recommend to anybody that wants to start their own publishing business nowadays?
I would say that anyone can start a publishing business nowadays as long as they have the drive to succeed and have an idea that people can buy into.
I started 99 Percent Lifestyle with no experience (other than studying Journalism at University), no following and no money, yet here I am with 2 print issues and the magazine being stocked in stores around the UK.
I began this magazine as a University project and after I won some awards at the Midlands Media Student Awards in 2016 it made me realize that there are people out there that like this type of content. I came up with the premise of the magazine and knew I wanted to create a magazine that was printed on thick uncoated paper and be a publication people wanted to keep on their coffee tables and bookshelves for years to come.
I was able to raise the money for Volume 1 and launched the publication late last year.
I was working a part-time job to cover my personal outgoings as I knew the money the business made had to be reinvested for it to work. Realistically it’s going to take a few years of hard work before a magazine brand is able to sustain itself. This isn’t the case for all publications who already have a following, have a budget for marketing or gain a lot of followers very quickly. The traction will be different for each publication but if the brand isn’t sustainable after the three-year mark then you’re going to have to look at what you are doing wrong e.g. is the market there for this publication, do I need to approach this differently.
I started this magazine very young and I would encourage any young person who wants to start a business to do so. Starting young is a great time to start before you have mortgages, kids, and other responsibilities. I knew that if I never took the risk of starting I would always have that question eating away at me of ‘what if I had started a magazine’.
But really you can start whenever you like. I have spoken to people who have started magazines in their spare time and on weekends whilst working a 9-5 job. Do your research and make sure the market is there before diving in. Taking a risk and starting a magazine is a great idea, but don’t put everything on the line. Get a part-time job or drop your hours so you know that all your outgoings are covered because realistically the magazine is going to require all of the money to be reinvested if you want it to grow as quick as possible.
If not having enough time is an issue then starting off with the magazine being biannual or triannual is a great way to balance the two. Even outsourcing tasks such as design, transcribing and social media is an option in the beginning.
Would you still recommend print?
I think there will always be a market for print. When new media or technologies come about the old media never disappears. Just look at the radio when TV came about.
I think there is a market for these premium print publications, publications that are beautifully crafted and ones they people keep instead of discarding.
What’s coming next for 99 Percent Lifestyle Magazine?
Working on growing the brand and the next Volume. I would love to grow the community and have an ongoing conversion with my readers where I am able to see and hear what people think of the content and what it has done for them.
I have some speaking gigs coming up soon too and would love to grow my own personal brand to give the magazine a human touch instead of it being a faceless brand.