The extraordinary thing about Broadsheet – the hipster’s guide to Melbourne and Sydney – is not that its founder, director and publisher, Nick Shelton, has no background in publishing.

Nor is it that Shelton created the publication alone for the first year until he could afford a full-time editor.

The extraordinary thing about Broadsheet is that it’s an online masthead that uses its print version as a marketing tool. Shelton says: “You put something on the internet, and it can be an island. We thought, ‘Where are the people we want to reach?’ They are in cafés and bars, so we will give them a mocked-up paper to learn about Broadsheet.”

Shelton was in London when he had the idea for Broadsheet. “I was living in London after finishing uni and I would have loved an online resource about what was happening there. When I came back to Australia, Melbourne had moved on. I had the feeling that a tremendous amount was happening in Melbourne – restaurants opening, the café culture, great bars. But there was no media dedicated to it. Epicure [in The Age] comes out once a week, but in terms of resources online, there was nothing.”

The print version of Broadsheet has evolved into a publication in its own right, while still supporting both the website, and the Broadsheet mobile app, which houses Broadsheet’s big database of places to go. The print version comes out every three months. “It’s not as substantial as online, but we do different kinds of content. There are lots of illustrations and we can do long-form articles – often 3,000 to 4,000 words,” he says.

Broadsheet has now expanded to cover Sydney. Print and online carry advertisements, and the team has grown to six, with a design agency and a swag of paid professional writers and photographers – specialists in each city – delivering reviews and features on events, art and culture, food and drink, nightlife and fashion.