Freelancer and Contributor Meeting

On Monday January 8, 2024 First Paw Media held an informational webinar over Zoom to discuss the freelancer and contributor program for the company. 

You can watch a recording of the meeting here: 

Episode Notes:


60 minutes




Broken System


The Current System


Lead Times

Q & A


Introduction and welcome


Exploring, celebrating, and sharing dog-powered adventures.


To build up, inform, connect, and celebrate families and communities.


Mushing Magazine has been around since 1988. Mostly a bi-monthly magazine but has had a couple of different owners, the COVID pandemic and supply challenges hindered it.

Print publications must fight declining subscriptions and ad sales, attract younger audiences, and compete against an avalanche of free online content while remaining authentic.

When you combine the services and you add in video-on-demand courses and all the premium content, I felt like this was an offering for consumers that truly could be a foundation for their active lifestyle world.”

Mushing and First Paw Media already have a solid social media presence. Its podcast and YouTube page have several million downloads and posts a steady stream of content.

Mushing Magazine still has a loyal base of print subscribers, and the digital assets have a wide following worldwide.

Shift revenue from 70 percent ads to 70 percent subscriptions in just three years. Just converting 10 percent of free visitors to this website to members will meet this goal.

Plan to reduce the frequency of the print publications, we will not discontinue any. There will be much more digital content that will cater to the social norms of today’s media consumption.

Mushing Magazine has always been a bi-monthly print publication, but with the printing challenges, it has been behind in the release of the magazine. We plan to put about 40 percent of the online content behind a paywall.

Bundling its print and digital assets is aligned with its readers’ interests. “Most of the audience is not just doing one activity with their dogs, they are doing three or four activities — like bikejoring, hiking, and other dog sports,”

“Our goal is to be the home of dog-powered sports, and our idea of including our Adventure Dogs Club could transform our readers’ interests. It is not uncommon for dog mushers to compete in other sports like dock diving, Rally, and even barn hunts. Our readers love the outdoors, and what better way to incorporate other activities you can do with your dog.


58% women 42% men spread pretty even among the age groups except more than 20% are in the 25-34 bracket which is typical for most ad metrics

Top Cities:  As of January 8, 2024 


Whitehorse CAN

Madrid Spain

Oslo Norway

Top Countries  









Sweden reaches about 3000 visitors a day. 70 countries in the last 28 days

Podcast channel (all) about 55,000 downloads a month

Most valuable asset. We are the home of dog-powered sports and there is no better search function for our sport than this domain.

Behind-the-scenes work of categories and tags

IE: Podcasts, Adventure, Races, People, Culture, etc.


Print Subscribers: 1000. Increased about 14% since December 4. Mailing list of about 6000 yet to import

Facebook followers: about 10,000

FB visits 6,000 in the last 28 days with an increase of 2.5k%

Facebook Reach: 44,500 up 2.8K%

New likes and followers 161 up 403%


Freelance Contributor Photographer and Podcaster Call to Action

“We have to take care of our contributors, whether they are full-time or freelancers, those are the people who make it all happen. Storytelling is, frankly, what it’s all about.”

A Broken System

Media companies tend to leverage a “gatekeeper” attitude against content creators who are struggling to make ends meet,

Media brands take advantage of freelancers by making them believe it’s an “honorary right” to have their work published, when in fact “it’s the amazing content that helps those brands thrive in the first place.”

That arrangement is short-sighted and unsustainable. Everyone must put food on the table, including the creative class, and as we’ve reported before here at First Paw Media, exposure absolutely does not pay the bills.

To fix the problem at First Paw Media, and for Mushing Magazine in particular, Forto says he wants to make his organization “the best possible beginning game and end game for anybody that wants to thrive in the category and spend their time creating content.”

“If you’re a great content creator, I don’t care if you’re 15 or 75, If you’re a great storyteller, you should get paid. And you should get paid a market rate that is fair and allows you to feed your family.”

Since many of the industry’s best creatives have become skeptical of working with media brands, We believe it’s necessary to publicly announce this kind of news.

“The media and particularly, our own, First Paw Media company needs to earn their trust, and that starts with making public promises—and keeping them.”

“We could have done this quietly, but if we want to attract the best people to our platforms, we must be a bit public about it.

Some people stopped writing for publications because they weren’t paid or weren’t paid enough. That is not the case with Mushing Magazine’s previous owners, but in the media and creative space generally. To get people excited about working with us, we need to do something public. Now we’ve got to follow through.”

As a first step toward eliminating “long legacies of not treating people well,” Forto says First Paw Media is exploring new tools that will allow it to “pay freelancers more easily and quickly.” Permanently righting the ship, he says, will take time.

Sections for Freelancers/Contributors


Race stories range from on-site race reports and journalism, breaking news, stories from the trail, Q & As with mushers, and fun, useful events/activities lists.


Adventure stories range from long reads to profiles of trips and expeditions. We are always looking for writers with a knack for great storytelling about life on the trail.


Gear reviews are the lifeblood of our sport. Stories will include honest, unbiased reviews of the current trends in gear used in the field. These can be written reviews or videos.


Much like our racing stories, our people category can include Q&As, profiles, interviews, and more.


Cultural stories range from historical events to interviews with people coming to your city to speak.


Mushing fully believes that this sport is all about the dogs! Stories range from breed profiles, fiction, long-form storytelling, historical accounts, and our infamous Super Dogs section.

Canine Health

Our canine health stories would be perfect for a veterinarian looking for freelancing or contractor assignments. So many stories fit in this category, from sled dog veterinary care to long-form stories about canine health, genetics, exercise physiology, nutrition, animal husbandry, and more.


Mushing is fortunate to have a talented group of freelancers we work with on covers and feature assignments. We are particularly interested in race photography and European photographers who can showcase the sport outside of the United States.


Mushing prides itself on providing award-winning podcasts to those who love the sport and lifestyle of dog mushing. We always seek talented podcasters who can showcase the sport with their spin

Webinar Creators

While not a section in the magazine or on our site, The next phase of our rollout will include an e-learning platform called Mushing (second quarter 2024) We will be seeking content creators that we can partner with to provide courses, webinars, etc.

Ideas might include Canine health topics, leadership, informationals, etc. Our plan, but we are up for ideas, is to host the program on our site and we will do all of the backend and share the revenue with the creator. This can develop into a passive income for you.

At our dog training business, we have an online course on a platform very similar to this and it has dog owners around the country using it, while it is very expensive, almost $1000, another course could easily earn you a nice income even if it is sold at $29.00 or even less. The key to this is you can earn money on the live webinar and residuals (passive) after.

Other ideas for sections

Trail bites, video/short-form video/documentaries, puzzles, comics, online-only content, “influencers”…

Affiliate Program

We just rolled out our Affiliate Program. Here we are going to create a special code for people to use when they check out. If they use your code say it is JohnSmith, you will earn 20% from each new subscriber to Mushing+. We will payout each month based on the sales from your code. The potential is unlimited, but we will only accept a set number of Affiliates each year and the closing date for the first round is April 30, 2024.

The current system:

Rates, Rights, and Payment

Mushing Magazine’s plain language agreement with contributors

We purchase the first serial rights for articles and photos. Please advise us if the submitted work has been previously published elsewhere, including on the Internet, and where and when that publication took place. The author retains the right to a second serial publication only after the newsstand “display until” date for the issue in which the article appeared has expired.

Articles that have appeared verbatim on any website will not be accepted. Stories that have been posted in another form online are considered previously published and will be paid at a lower rate than unpublished stories (to be determined by the editor based on overlapping content and exposure).

We review articles and outlines on speculation, and you may contact our editor for feedback before you begin writing.

We recommend that all article ideas are approved by the editor before they are written.

Article rates are $.10 per published word. The exact rate of payment for articles and photographs will be determined by the editorial staff of Mushing Magazine. Published articles will be paid up to a maximum of 2,500 words.

Photograph and artwork payment rates run from $15 up to $165 (Mushing Magazine cover).

We also reserve the right to publish articles and photos on our Internet site and social media.
All photos submitted to Mushing Magazine must contain proper photo credits and captions.

Submissions in the form of a Press Release or other publicity announcement from an organization or individual are not eligible for payment by Mushing unless otherwise negotiated in advance.

Payment is made within 90 days of publication unless a written agreement is made between Mushing Magazine and a writer or photographer. An affirmative response to a query proposal does not necessarily mean the resulting article will be published, nor does acceptance or tentative scheduling guarantee publication.

To maintain consistency and accuracy throughout the entire magazine, we use AP style in all spelling and punctuation.

We require that the photo source/ photographer is identified for proper photo credit. We also require captions provided to each photo that describe who is shown, where, in which event (what day of the event in multi-day events), the date and a short description of what’s going on in the photo.

Photo Rates:

Cover: $165
Back Cover: $75 Two-page spread $50 One-page: $45

Half page: $35
Smaller than half page: $15

What we propose:

$100 minimum for submission plus 10 cents a word. Payment within 30 days after approval of submission. NOT after publication.

Photo rates:

Seem to be on par with a magazine of this size but we are open to suggestions.


This is where the real money can begin to come in. Currently, earn about $2000 a month on dynamic (inserted ads–explain) and our own ads.

Production: split of 50-50 if you create a show on our channel.

Variables include audience size, willingness to market, etc.

Lead Times:

Magazines notoriously have long lead times, some having it at a year or longer. We just had a call with our printer today and they are going to work with us in 2024 for the following schedule:

April 30, June 30, Aug 30, Oct 30, Dec 30.

For freelancers/contributors, we need a minimum of 30 days lead time from the publication date. Photographers will be the same.

We have scheduled a meeting with our printer in October for the 2025 schedule and lead time and we will be on track with a more consistent printing schedule at that time. The reason for the long wait that is the printers order the stock for the magazine ahead of time, put it in the production schedule and everything flows from there. Much different than a newspaper with much shorter runs.

As we said in our initial press release when we took over it is not our goal to remove the number of issues but decrease the frequency. What does that mean? Maybe two large issues a year like an Iditarod/Race recap issue and a Gear Review. Issues in the fall and 4 issues quarterly versus bi-monthly.  We still want a print magazine but as all of you know the future truly lies in the digital format, especially with social media.

Before we go to Q&A all freelancers/contributors/affiliates will be contractors and will receive 1099’s at the end of the year. Remember, if you are new to this, this makes you a business so that there can be deductions for expenses!

VERY important NOTE – As we all know AI is a huge boon in today’s industry. As a college instructor I have access to AI-checking tools and absolutely NO articles will be accepted that have used AI. ORIGINAL work only.

Q & A



Thank you for attending. If you have any questions., please feel free to reach out at