Homestay e-zine hits the Net

Wairarapa couple Christine and Ian Macfarlane have published a purely Internet-based homestay publication.

Wairarapa couple Christine and Ian Macfarlane have published a purely Internet-based homestay publication.

Homestay Magazine, for which there is no printed version, provides advice and relevant reading for people wanting to offer homestay holidays - from the hard work of preparing land for the homestay property through to hints on how to take care of guests.

One reason for going solely online was to save the costs of printing and distribution, Ian Macfarlane says. These activities were also more difficult to organise from their rural base. "But we wanted to be up with the play in the era of electronic publishing. We wanted to be modern and flexible."

As an example of flexibility, if an advertiser places material in a certain issue and after publication has to change prices, this is easily done electronically, when it would be impossible in print.

He says they were horrified by the responses when making initial inquiries to Web site developers, both about the quotes for $200 an hour for the development work and the designers' discouraging attitude that various elements of the site could not be done.

"They all wanted to design a traditional Web site. I wanted a magazine," he says, where the information is organised in a straightforward, predominantly sequential way.

Eventually they found Diane Davidson of Wise Web Design.

The company, at www.wise.net.nz, is a subsidiary of the Wairarapa Times-Age newspaper. Although Davidson was at first also sceptical: "We said, 'well let's try it anyway', and she found it did work," Ian says.

The second issue is out next month. Archives of previous issues will be available on the site. The publishers have already received reader response and advertising bookings from Canada and the UK.

Christine runs the operation, but Ian is the one with the publishing experience - 30 years in print media with titles ranging from Business magazine to the local council's Beacon newsletter, and work for such clients as Air New Zealand. The publishers make no effort to preserve copyright on their e-zine. "You can extract and republish anything you like from our magazine," Ian says. An acknowledgment would be nice, he adds.

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