Andrés Rubiano came to the United States from his native Colombia in 2009 and enrolled in the MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program in 2012. Discovering a niche in the digital marketplace, he created a website for young, hip Latinos that became the basis of his Capstone. AlphaRevista.com is now a major focus of his life—that is, when he is not working as a web editor for People en Español. Rubiano is also the sports reporter for the brand’s TV Show, People VIP. Did we mention that he played professional soccer back home in Colombia and is still obsessed? MS in Publishing student Natalia Mosquera interviews Andrés about breaking into the Latin American publishing market, growing his own brand, and how to love what you do every day.
What were the biggest challenges you faced the first year in the program?
Getting involved in publishing, especially publishing for the Latin American market, was my primary challenge. It was hard because when you come here as an international student, you may not know anyone, so you have to start connecting with people. My first connection was with the program director, Andrea Chambers, and my professors; they were the ones who helped me get in the field and look for Spanish-language publishing opportunities. I wasn’t looking for a position at an English-language magazine; I was seeking one in a publication that focused on Latin America. The program helped me get an internship working for a Spanish language brand, Ser Padres magazine at Meredith Corporation, and that was very important to me. I performed duties as an assistant editor and social media manager and collaborated in the re-launch of SerPadres.com.
How did your classes in editing, marketing, and other publishing fundamentals help you in your current position at People en Español?
The Publishing program provides strategies to help students perform at a high level, but if you are an international student, you don’t always know how the market behaves or what the environment inside companies really is like. By getting in touch with professors and people who are working in publishing, you understand what is going on out there.
When you are at your job, you get to apply everything you have learned in the program. I have been at People en Español for two years now. By being in a big company like Time Inc., I’ve been involved in a lot of projects where I’ve worked with very smart people who are passionate about what they do. For example, while I am a web editor, I also contribute to our brand’s TV show, People VIP, where I have a sports section. In addition, I write for the print magazine once in a while. I have the chance to participate in a number of aspects of the brand.
Does everyone speak Spanish [on the job]?
On the editorial side of the magazine, yes. But in the marketing and sales divisions, while 95% of the staff is Latino, English is dominant.
Tell us about your specific duties at the magazine.
As a web editor, I am responsible for everything that we publish on the web site during nights and weekends. My main duty is to reach a certain number of page views and unique visitors during the hours I am on duty. Everyday they give me a goal, and I have to reach it.
What’s your schedule like?
My day typically starts at noon and ends around 8 or 9 pm, from Saturday to Wednesday. We produce a lot of content during the day and then we program it to be distributed throughout the day, night, and next morning. When the early staff arrives, they have available content to keep posting on the website and social media. During the weekend, we have a smaller team, but we need to perform just as we do on weekdays. Every Saturday we have to come up with new ways to reach the goals that have been set for the weekend.
What specific challenges does a Spanish language publication face?
People en Español has been the leading brand in the US Hispanic Market for the past 20 years. As the importance of this market grows in the US, new brands have started to launch looking for a share of the pie. We need to find ways to keep innovating our content and leveraging our platforms in order to continue to be the leading brand.
Is People en Español the only Spanish language magazine of Time Inc.?
Yes, it is. People en Español is a really huge magazine not only in the US Latin market, but in other parts of the world like Mexico, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.
How much of the content is based on the English-language version of the magazine and what content is new or different?
We have approval to use content from People and we use some, but not all, of it. For example, we can use the exclusive information People gets about certain topics. But besides that, we have to find and create our own exclusive content.
We cover the Latin entertainment industry and we have reporters in Mexico, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. Our main market is Latinos living in the United States.
What makes you feel you had a productive day?
It depends. Right now, we are trying to reach goals and numbers for the website, so when I get a report the next day saying, ‘You went over the goals we asked of you, ‘ I say: ‘Ok we did a good job.’ We always work really hard, but some days are complicated, like when you write 50 stories and the traffic doesn’t go up the way you want it to.
In 2013 you launched AlphaRevista.com for young male Latinos living in NYC; tell us about that site.
AlphaRevista.com was the basis of my capstone project. I imagined it like a Time Out for Latinos. If you look at publications like Time Out or The Village Voice, there are lists of events happening every day in New York, but they don’t feature anything specific for the Latin community. AlphaRevista features events and content specifically for that audience. I put a lot of work into [my capstone project]. I asked the department for help in finding an audience for it. Andrea Chambers arranged a meeting with the editor of People en Español, Armando Lucas Correa, who wanted to see my project. While Time Inc. did not take on AlphaRevista, Armando hired me to work at his magazine as a writer. In my spare time, I continued to work on AlphaRevista.
Do you plan to extend your brand and talk to Latinas as well?
I think I am writing for guys and women, too. A lot of the content appeals to both. For example, I create a weekly agenda that includes the most appealing events in music, gastronomy, culture, and sports; topics I find gender neutral. Also, with Google Analytics and social media metrics, especially from Facebook, I know that the female audience is there, so I try to keep a balance in the content.
What advice can you give to international students who want to stay in NYC and apply what they have learned in the program?
Don’t be afraid to work for small companies because it might be very helpful. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the publication you are interested in, because you could get an interview or get to meet an editor. If you want to start your own project, just do it. And connect as much as you can with your professors and your classmates because you never know who can open a door for you.
What makes you love what you do?
When you wake up and you are excited to come to work because you have the opportunity to live in New York and work in Time Inc., that is huge. I love being part of People en Español, and learning from really smart colleagues. Is important to enjoy what life is offering because you never know what is going to happen next month or next year. Just enjoy the journey. Happiness is about enjoying what you do, even the hard times, in order to grow.
by Natalia Mosquera