Michael Aaron

Looking back, and forward again

On January 5, 2004, I walked into the office of Salt Lick Publishing on Denver Street for the first time. I took inventory on what desks, computers, software, and printers we needed to buy, and determined what staff needed to be hired. Salespeople first and foremost, to pay for what we were about to embark upon. An editor, a few part-time writers, a designer, an office manager, and drivers to deliver across the valley.

All of this was going on my credit cards, of course.

I remember the excitement of that day. The challenges ahead of us. I drafted up a copy of what the then-biweekly newspaper would look like. I’d spent way too many hours researching the best fonts to use for readability and setting the tone of what the readers held in their hand. I’d researched what layouts were award-winning without being “too much.” We came up with an editorial calendar to sell against: a pet issue, a neighborhood issue, a wedding issue, etc. We called all kinds of places, looking for locations where we could get permission to deliver. And we started looking at plans for a launch party.

We needed to sell $4,000 in ad sales to print the first issue. We set a target date of April 29, 2004 to deliver the first issue.

We did hit that deadline, even though my credit cards were starting to cry at that point.

I hadn’t worked at one place of business for more than five years in my entire life. And here I am, 20 years later, still moving ahead.

We’ve made it through some national economic ups and downs, a threatened lawsuit or two, and moving away from an office to work remotely.

We’ve also given away, with our partners, several wedding packages, have sponsored dozens of state and regional pride celebrations and dozens more local events targeted to the betterment of our community, hosted community forums and candidate debates, and helped spread the word about many local LGBTQ organizations.

I’m proud to say that the credit cards are all paid up and I’m able to pay myself a small but livable salary.

I don’t know that I have 20 more years in me to keep it going that long (I did, after all, turn 60 this year), but I intend to do this as long as you’ll have me. And yes, I am working on a transition plan to keep things going if I run out of steam and need someone else to take the reins. (Is that a mixed metaphor?)

I can look back and say I’d do it all over again if I could go back in time and walk into that Denver Street office again. I can say that I’m glad to be one of those people who likes their job.

So, as we turn to a new year and make plans to make it better than those before, I look forward to the changes and challenges and good times ahead for QSaltLake and our community.

Michael Aaron

Michael Aaron is the editor and publisher of QSaltLake. He has been active in Utah's gay and lesbian community since the early 80s and published two publications then and in the 90s.

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