Meet the Mother/Daughter power duo, Keela Johnson and Brooke Johnson Eagle. These two ladies took the publication industry between Iredell and Forsythe counties by storm several years ago by developing a number of incredible brands that give voices to a number of communities across North Carolina.
This 3-way interview gives you the chance to learn all about LKN Magazine, Forsythe Woman, and many more publications enjoying circulation through the counties. They also break down the building process of their new website. One of the latest services provided by Next Wave Services.
Looking for ways to get involved with the community and other women in your area? Check out:
BC Babbles (00:01.67)
Good morning and welcome back to the digital wave writers podcast. I'm your host Brandon Cassiano. And this morning I'm joined by two very versed individuals within the publications realm. Please welcome to the show, Keila Johnson and Brooke Eagle. And I'm going to turn everything on my end down so we don't have random noises disrupting our conversation.
Keela Johnson (00:19.798)
Hi, how are you?
BC Babbles (00:22.706)
Good morning, how are you two this morning?
We are great.
Keela Johnson (00:25.934)
Great, we're great. We appreciate your patience and getting our schedules all aligned.
BC Babbles (00:31.502)
You know what? I'm happy to make sure everyone is good to go. We are nice and settled So the fact that you two are on is good enough for me
Yeah, we're excited to be here.
BC Babbles (00:41.978)
All right, so between the two of you, you guys are involved in a number of publications. Brooke, I know for you, both of you work for or are involved with the LKN Magazine, but there's also an expansion into the fourth site area with a couple of other publications as well. So talk a bit about the publications that you're involved with and kinda what your role is with them and what the history of those publications are like.
Sure. So, um, this is Brooke. I, Keela is my mom. We're a mother daughter duo. And to try to make this story as short as possible. Keela was laid off from a corporate job or chose the early retirement package from a corporate job almost 20 years ago now. And she had no publishing experience whatsoever, but got a wild hair to start a local women's magazine.
BC Babbles (01:28.626)
here in Forsyth County in the Winston-Salem area. And so those are our first magazines that we started were Forsyth Woman that she launched and then Forsyth Family, our sister publication, launched a couple of years later. I always kind of saw how much she loved doing the magazines and her passion for it. So I always kind of planned for this to be my career path as well. And I took over the magazines. I've been working with the magazines.
BC Babbles (01:49.246)
since they started pretty much I was in high school at the time so not full time till college but or till after college but um she successfully ran these magazines and made them amazing with no experience which is so incredible and uh in 2020 her and my dad moved uh to the lake norman area and she was planning to retire and retirement life just didn't really go with her personality so she decided to launch a public
BC Babbles (02:34.705)
launch a publication down there. So LKN magazine was born in September of 2022. And she's killing it down there. I'm so proud of her.
BC Babbles (02:43.155)
Yeah, there's definitely a lot of conversation surrounding the publication. I'm also in the Lake Norman area, so it's definitely a name that I've heard floating around in a number of different conversation circles. So congratulations on that, Keela.
Keela Johnson (02:58.478)
Thank you, thank you. It's been a ride and I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's, retirement just was not, I should have known and everybody called it but me. No one was surprised when we went down that road.
BC Babbles (03:12.778)
Well, I'm happy for the revelation for you. It seems like it's definitely been quite the worthwhile development and project for you since then. So that's so cool. And so we're talking about, you know, magazines here. Obviously it's the magazine publication industry has been through quite a change as many different publications have been over the past, you know, just decade alone. So talk about what kind of strategies were available when you both initially hopped on into that realm.
and how you've seen that change over time and like either new demands or new avenues that you've decided to explore to continue circulation awareness and just get those brands out there.
Yeah, that's a great question. So when mom launched the magazines back in 2005, social media didn't exist. That's been a huge shift that we've kind of been that we love, but we didn't have much of a choice. But you have to be on social media as a business owner. So social media has been a big aspect of that. And kind of as I was thinking about this podcast, I was thinking about our website, of course.
BC Babbles (04:05.159)
BC Babbles (04:16.007)
And when we first launched the magazine, me and mom both have terrible memories, unfortunately. But I know we had a website, but it was very, very simplistic. Our website is a great example too of how much we've evolved and grown. We've added things to our website. Like, of course, all of our content is on our website in a blog style format. We have a flip book.
Keela Johnson (04:30.434)
BC Babbles (04:36.063)
We just recently incorporated digital advertising onto our websites. We have an interactive calendar of events. We have an interactive map where you can type in your zip code to see where you can pick up a physical copy of the magazine. Yeah, so these are all things that kind of slowly we've added over the last 18 years.
BC Babbles (04:56.414)
BC Babbles (05:02.779)
Oh nice, that's useful.
BC Babbles (05:12.378)
Now with the shift in the digital landscape, in that climate and how fast it is, what reservations of any did you have when the time came for you to start making decisions on what new avenues to look into? Was there any concern or anything that gave you pause on, okay, what should we try, what should we not try?
Yeah, I think something that my mom and I both have in common is that we love trying new things and we're not scared of change. So we're, you know, if we hear of a new idea, we're all about it. Does it always work? No. But you never know if you don't try. So we kind of pride ourselves in jumping in and trying just about anything to see if it'll work. So we definitely, I don't think we've had like reservations about anything in the digital world specifically.
It's kind of something we knew that we would have to get into and it would have to get more detail oriented as time went by. But it's just a little intimidating since websites are so different than publishing a print magazine.
BC Babbles (06:04.714)
BC Babbles (06:20.425)
Keela Johnson (06:21.174)
And we always knew that it would be something done by professionals and not us. It wasn't something that we were interested in or had the knowledge of. So we've always had someone that had a good background. And that's been great with our relationship with Brian and his team at Next Wave. They've done a great job.
Yeah, we were big fans of delegation.
BC Babbles (06:43.619)
Keela Johnson (06:47.868)
BC Babbles (06:49.214)
So, and that's a whole process though, right? So website building is, it's definitely not a super quick thing. You know, there's initial discussions. You want to make sure the team that you're working with understands the vision that you have, understands what the necessities are. Like what does Brooke and Kiela need for this magazine to work on a website? So what did that process look like for you? What were your thoughts going in and how did the process either change or add to?
your expectations for a website or a website renewal, I should say.
Yeah, yeah. So for me, the biggest part of the initial process was spending a lot of time looking at other websites and seeing what I liked, what I didn't like, what was user friendly, what was confusing. Because I think the key I'm sure you would agree the key with any website is for it to be very user friendly, you want people to spend a lot of time on there. So we looked at other, of course, other websites in our same industry. But I also looked at just other websites in general to get
BC Babbles (07:40.936)
to get some ideas for different things to do with the websites. And I think, yeah, user friendly was key and a clean simplistic look was also really, really key for me because that's what I love our designs in our print magazines, because they're very clean, very simplistic, lots of white space. And that was really important to me for our website design to kind of mirror our print publication style.
BC Babbles (08:01.36)
BC Babbles (08:16.922)
And so since the launch of your new platforms, especially your central hub of a website for your publications, what changes have you seen in your ability to engage people or the awareness that's come from the result of this platform? What have you seen? What would have been the changes in pace for you?
Yeah, that's a great question. I think it's been nice to be able to send people links to articles, which we've always been able to do to some degree. But now we're even extra proud to send them these links to show off our website. So people that, you know, may not live in town or we may not have that particular issue that they're looking for. It's really nice to be able to direct them direct them to our website, and just extend our reach as a whole, I think has been really exciting. But and then also launching our
BC Babbles (08:54.515)
digital advertising has been something that's been really exciting for us. A little also a little intimidating to dip our dip our toe into but exciting to kind of.
BC Babbles (09:06.162)
Keela Johnson (09:11.158)
Oh gosh, yes. Also, I will say one of the greatest things we did recently, at least for LKN Magazine, we're new kids on the block and we are still engaging the community but we're broadening our distribution and we just make changes all the time but we added a subscription to our newsletter that pops up on our website and that's been great. And we love the organic growth of our
BC Babbles (09:12.574)
BC Babbles (09:34.118)
Keela Johnson (09:40.81)
newsletter people because that's how they learn about what's coming out when and that kind of thing. And so it's very organic and it's just not a lot of people signing on there just for a one-time thing. So we are excited about the growth we're getting on that.
Yeah, that's it. That's a good one.
BC Babbles (09:55.818)
It would be too, it's just been, yeah. What were you saying, Brooke?
I said that's I forgot I had forgotten about that. But that's been a really a really great change. I love we have that pop up on our on all of our websites. And it's made our newsletter subscriber percentage like skyrocket, which is awesome.
Keela Johnson (10:05.58)
BC Babbles (10:10.203)
Oh, that's so cool. It's been quite, wow, what am I trying to say? It's definitely shown itself to be quite the elevation and the worthwhile investment project for the two of you. So I'm very proud for you guys on that front. So you've seen what the changes have done and what opportunities have been provided to the publications with the change in the digital landscape for the past 20 years, and you've seen a great number of success from it.
So with all that in mind and again, with the speed in which things change in that landscape, do you guys have any kind of new avenues you're looking to tap into any new things you want to try here in the near future for the magazines?
Yeah, one thing that I'm really excited to get into is, and me and Brian have briefly talked about it, but is to make our magazines available to be downloaded onto Kindles. Because I think people reading their Kindles on the beach by the pool, people love to hold a print magazine, but definitely having that access to be able to download the current issue on your Kindle is going to be really, really exciting. So I'm I can't wait for that.
BC Babbles (11:07.826)
BC Babbles (11:19.213)
BC Babbles (11:25.802)
So with all that in mind, what if you were to come across any other individuals within a similar industry as yourselves who were looking to take that kind of leap, maneuver from the more traditional marketing for their medium into the contemporary landscape, what advice would you give to them if they had reservations, if they had questions, what insights would you plan to provide?
Yeah, I would say be patient with the process. It's, you know, the cliche quote that Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was the most amazing website. It can't be built in a day. It takes time. So be patient with it and take time to really, which is painful for me because I'm not a detail-oriented person, but to really look through carefully at every single thing as you're going through it and proofing it because it's just, you can look at something so many times.
BC Babbles (12:04.498)
BC Babbles (12:13.662)
and a glaring mistake or not even a mistake, but a glaring thing that is gonna bother you, you wanna go ahead and make all the changes at once. So I think taking that time to approve and ask other opinions, maybe not too many other opinions, but some other opinions. And like I said, take notes of things that you like or don't like about other websites. We tell people to do that with their ads too, if we're creating an ad for them, like flip through the magazine, let us know or flip through other magazines and let us know what...
BC Babbles (12:51.188)
what you like and what you don't like so that we can better assist with the design of your advertising.
BC Babbles (12:57.45)
Very cool, very cool. Now I know you mentioned looking for the chance to have your publications available for Kindle readers, but as far as anything else coming up with your publications, are there any fun articles people should be on the lookout for who are already subscribed? Any cool things coming up that should get people who aren't subscribed yet hopping onto the publications? Any fun tidbits you could tease at this point?
Yeah, mom might have something to add to, but I know here at Forsyth woman in the Wisset-Sillem area, we have a tour day boutique event coming up. So we're, we're print magazines, of course, but we also love events. We, we put on a lot of events throughout the year to kind of engage with our community in a bigger, bigger way. We love connecting our community. So the tour day boutique is essentially a self-guided tour of 10 local boutiques. And
The mission behind this event is it's just a fun way to encourage people to support local business to shop local, to have fun with their girlfriends. We have a spring tour a boutique in the late Norman area and then this fall one is in the Winston Salem area. So it's definitely if you are into shopping and it's hanging out with your girlfriends and want a fun day, it would definitely be a fun thing to do in Winston Salem in October and then in the Lake Norman area in April. So
BC Babbles (14:14.871)
Keela Johnson (14:16.667)
They truly roll out the red carpet for us. I mean, they'll have wine, they'll have snacks, they'll have all kinds of fun things going on and special deals that are only available to our shoppers. So it's quite the event and people can do their, they've always asked us to do a second one. And Lake Norman and Winston-Salem are really like right at an hour at most. So people will certainly drive. We have people that drive from Virginia.
BC Babbles (14:42.823)
Keela Johnson (14:43.778)
the coast, Raleigh, all over to go to both of them. So those are one of our signature events along with Brooke does a women's conference. Brooke, speak for a second about that.
BC Babbles (14:48.17)
That's so cool.
Yeah, we have a Women on the Move conference in every March. This will be our third year this coming March. And it's a big group of ladies. We've sold out every year. It's like almost 300 women, I believe. It's crazy, but it's local speakers. It's, you know, for women of all ages, which makes me excited because there's ladies in there in their 20s and 30s and their 60s and even 70s and everything in between. So it's kind of just a way to bring women together.
BC Babbles (15:18.337)
Um, lots of motivation and inspiration and it's applicable to business owners. Um, for it's kind of for anybody. So it's a fun day. And we, again, something that people that live in late Norman or the Charlotte area could definitely, it would be worth driving up for the day. And we have, of course, like I said earlier, we're on social media. And so you can, if you want to keep up with any of our events for LKN magazine or for, for Scythe woman and for Scythe family.
BC Babbles (15:33.406)
BC Babbles (15:42.214)
We're at LKN Magazine on Instagram and at Forsyth Mags. We talk about all of our, our content, our events, all the things that we have.
BC Babbles (16:01.034)
That's perfect. Well, that brings us pretty much to the end of our talk this morning. I'm so appreciative again, to have you two ladies on with me. And again, it was worth the schedule coordination. It's about two months in the making. But I'm very happy that I was able to sit down with the two of you and get these insights on your work and your involvement with digital strategies and marketing.
I'll make sure to add your guys's contact information or your handles on social media into the description for the episodes so I can get people headed your way to check out your publications and get involved with those amazing events that are coming up. So thank you again and I will see you guys next time.
Keela Johnson (16:44.962)
Thank you so much, Brandon.