EVELYN ATIENO IS THE NEW FACE OF MODERN MEDIA
How the University of Baltimore student used social media to make “Affinity Magazine” a success Bri Griffith, Carlow University
Evelyn Atieno is the founder of “Af finit y Magazine,” an online publication writ ten by teenagers for teenagers. Her goal was to encourage young people to write about real life—dark experiences, pop culture, feminism, social justice, politics, gender and sexual orientation, and to promote inclusivit y. “I had stacks of ‘Teen Vogues’ in my room,” said Atieno over the phone. “The out fits [featured were] $600. What teenager can af ford that? This is ridiculous. This is not real life.” What ’s more, Atieno didn’t appreciate adults writing for and pandering to teenagers. Thus, “Af finit y Magazine” was born because of one simple question: Why can’t teenagers write for themselves while discussing adult topics? Atieno began laying the foundation for “Af finit y” when she star ted a blog in Februar y 2013, at only 16-years old. A few months down the line, she began publishing monthly print issues, covering topics like “tips for freshman” and “graduating high school.” Today, Atieno’s “Af finit y Magazine” is a website where content is uploaded daily. In just one year, over one million people have viewed the website (currently averaging 120,000 views a month), and the verified Twit ter account has nearly 33,000 followers. Atieno group chats with 177 teenage writers and 4-5 editors—the acceptance rate is 34 percent for all new applicants. “Most magazines where you contribute [your work], you don’t know the other writers,” says Atieno. “My writers, we talk ever yday, collaborate and help each other with ar ticles.” Though they are responsible for one ar ticle a week, the writers are constantly reminded, “School comes first. Mental health comes first.” “Af finit y is more than a magazine,” says Atieno. “It ’s a movement. It ’s dif ferent: Teenagers [are] writing
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about serious issues, like what ’s [currently] happening in Syria, but condensing it in a way where ever yone can understand,” said Atieno. In order to gain followers and verification on Twitter, Atieno conduc ted research. She said, “People will say they’re going to star t something, and they don’t do research. You have to figure out your demographic. Who are you going to sell to? How are you going to appeal to them? ” Atieno quickly realized her demographic was teenagers who are interested in feminism and social justice. She took to Twit ter to find those people. “I followed [teenagers] who [t weeted about] social justice. I know people are into ratios: Not following as many people [in comparison to followers]. Why though? If you want people to notice what you do, you should follow them so they can see,” she says. As anyone on Twit ter knows, verification on Twit ter is one of the best signs that your message is reaching your audience. “I signed up,” says Atieno, referring to the form you fill out to apply for verification, “but didn’t think about it much. Two weeks later ‘Af finit y’ was verified. People take us seriously. The verification helps [because] ‘Af finit y’ is the underdog in a world full of so many teenage magazines. [Critics say], ‘Since they’re 16, I don’t believe them,’ but we know what we’re talking about.” According to Atieno, “Af finit y Magazine” has been cited on Mic.com, “The New York Times,” “Slate Magazine” and “Huf fington Post ” as a source. Atieno’s social media success continues to grow, as does her confidence as a student and writer.
Name: Evelyn Atieno School: University of Baltimore Major: International Affairs Year: Sophomore Age: 19 Why She’s Famous: Creator of “Affinity Magazine” Twitter: @TheAffinityMag (33K followers) Website: www.affinity magazine.us
NOVEMBER 2016 //