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Insider Interview: Victoria Drainville from Dabble Magazine

Written by Michelle Kalman on December 13, 2012

Victoria is the events & media coordinator for Kimberley Seldon Design Group, organizing exclusive events from the Designer Market to Design Express and seminars in between. As Executive Editor and Art Director of Dabble Magazine, she gets to explore her passion for design by managing features, working with international designers on home tours and designing layouts.

How long have you worked in media and what has been your career path to get to where you are today?  

I have an English BA from the University of Toronto and I graduated from Sheridan College in Interior Design. When I started working for Interior Designer (and now Editor-in-Chief of Dabble), Kimberley Seldon three years ago, the idea of an online magazine didn’t exist. I grew into the role as we developed the idea of transforming an everyday blog with regular contributors into an interactive format, which eventually became the magazine platform that Dabble Magazine is today.

How long has Dabble been in publication? What is the essence of the brand and who is your audience?  

Dabble launched in February 2010 as a free, online design, travel and food magazine. These are 3 subjects that Kimberley is passionate about. In fact, Kimberley has been taking groups of people on yearly trips called Design Express for over 10 years. She teaches the group about architecture, design, food and so much more. This year she is going to Los Angeles but in the past she’s visited Prague, Budapest, Paris, Provence, Tuscany and more. The idea behind Dabble is to bring these Design Express destinations to a larger audience, for those interested in joining the group and for those who aren’t able to attend. 

Since Kimberley already had a large following as a television personality and design guest expert on CityTV’s CityLine, we knew that design, travel and food would be subjects that our followers would like dabbling in as well… and that’s the idea behind the title. 

Our main audience is women between the ages of 25 and 50 years old. The beauty of being online is that we have followers from all around the globe.  

What was the decision to create a digital only magazine? And do you produce printed versions ever? If so – when/why?  

Originally, our intention was to create a blog, but once we adopted the word magazine, our contributors and followers were really excited about experiencing design, travel and food in a new way. After reading and researching several great online publications, we decided very quickly to adopt this format as well.  

Dabble is only available online, however, there is an option to print individual issues through a third party site called MagCloud. Because an issue is only printed when it is ordered, this tends to be expensive.  

As an art director – what has been the biggest change for you in moving to a digital design vs. print design?  

Because there is an option to print, every layout has to be designed as though it were going to print (or needs to be easy enough to tweak for print). Since the bleed and the fold don’t really matter for online magazines, there is a lot of room to be creative but we do use a template and a style guide for consistency.  

What are some of the benefits of working on a digital brand?  

What is so wonderful about online magazines is the ability to click through to other sites instantaneously. From purchasing items, to discovering new websites, bloggers, writers, stores, etc. everything can be done with a click of a button. Words and topics can be searched in the navigation bar, magazine spreads can be pinned, and best of all, the magazine can incorporate videos and other interactive tools which just isn’t possible with print. In addition, articles and images can easily be shared with friends. There’s no need to lend magazines to friends or rip out a picture from a magazine. 

What are some of the challenges of not having a print offering?  

I once heard that books feel about e-books the way stairs feel about escalators. It’s not that print becomes irrelevant; it’s just that the experience of reading is now available in a different format. As technology changes and becomes more affordable, these experiences are heightened. Who knows, maybe one day touch and smell will be part of the experience; that’s what is so exciting about the evolution of technology. We need to be open to change.   

What are the more popular/most visited items within Dabble?  

Aside from the magazine itself, contests are really a big draw for us. Particularly because we do them as campaigns as a way to get our audience involved. For example, we did a contest with Benjamin Moore where people had to tweet and post a really great picture of an iPad to win one. When something is fun, people want to participate.  

Does your blog offer more frequently published content to keep your audience engaged in between digital issues?  

Currently, Dabble Magazine is a bi-monthly magazine, but our intention is to have smaller, more frequent issues in the spring of 2013. In the past, we’ve noticed high traffic when an issue launches and steady traffic in between issues as we release new blog posts, images and contests. Our goal is to keep the momentum going by providing our followers with more frequent information and of course, more eye-candy.  

'The beauty of being online is that we have followers from all around the globe.'

How is your audience viewing Dabble? Laptop? Tablet? Mobile? What is the best way to view Dabble as a digital magazine?  

Our audience tends to read Dabble on their desktop, laptop and tablets. We are consistently trying to keep up with changing technologies and improve the online magazine experience. It is pretty difficult to read a magazine on a phone, but our followers use their phones to skim through the magazine images.   

How has Pinterest changed your daily mandates in terms of new content?  

Pinterest is a great tool for sharing images and one thing we are proud of with Dabble is having all original content and photography. Pinterest is just another great tool to get our content out there.

How important is video for your site and what are the behaviours of your viewers with video content?

Since Kimberley has a huge presence on television, our audience really gravitates to the videos on our website. It’s another way for us to engage our audience.   

What role does social media play for Dabble? How do you use it?   

We use Twitter and Facebook as a way of interacting with our followers in between issues. We tell them when a new issue will come out, we share images and blog posts and let them know about new contests and events. I think it’s imperative for anyone with an online presence to utilize these free social media tools.  


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