Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Important news about 91 Magazine

Today I just wanted to announce some changes that are taking place with 91 Magazine, and to also give you insight into the reasons for these changes, so please do bear with me, it's a bit of a long one, but I'd love to hear you thoughts on it all once you've had a read.

I set up 91 Magazine back in October 2011 and as with most things I do, I jumped in feet first, while the creative momentum was flowing fast, and just went for it. There was no huge, detailed business plan, it was just something I had the urge to try and see where it took me. I was still working full time, and created the magazine in my evenings and weekends, and was constantly overwhelmed, each time a new issue went live, at the wonderful response I received from readers, bloggers and my peers in the publishing world. Many couldn't believe how I managed to do everything pretty much single-handedly - from commissioning features and photography, sourcing images, doing all of the page layouts, editing, selling advertising, PR and marketing etc. But hey, when you're passionate about something, somehow you just find the time.

I think the one thing that shocked most people about it, was the fact that I wasn't making any money by publishing the magazine. Yes, we sell a small amount of advertising space, but I've always been adamant I wanted to keep this affordable for the small businesses I want to support, so this has only ever been enough to cover running and admin costs. I have been so blessed with the continued support of the members of my team and our contributors who have worked voluntarily to help me create the amazing content that we try and pack into each issue... and it truly is a case of - without them, this wouldn't be possible.

Two years down the line, and I've tried to continually improve on each issue and fill it full of things that I know I would want to see in a magazine as a reader - gorgeous interiors that are achievable on realistic budgets, fun craft ideas that are straight forward, and that you actually want to make and features that are well written, informative and inspiring. Our reader figures increase with every issue, so I am hoping that you agree that we are achieving this! :)

But this year, brings a pretty big life changing event for me - the arrival of our first baby is happening this July - and with this in mind, I've really had to take a step back and look at where things are going and what I will realistically be able to manage in the coming months and years. Having a passion for something, as I do for 91 Magazine, does not necessarily pay the bills and as my hubby is always saying 'babies ain't free'! I started to panic that maybe the time and effort I put into the magazine was not worth it, and that perhaps I should just turn it in and focus on my paid work... running the magazine is not the same as running my blog, there is so much more responsibility involved, and it's not so easy to put it on the back burner when I'm busy with other work, I constantly need to stay on top of things and be planning ahead etc.

The other issue I've had throughout, is that I've always hated the fact that I have never had a budget available to offer payment to our contributors or to be able to invest in the content or any other aspects of the magazine such as the website for example.

With all of these things in mind, I've been weighing up the options for a while now. The option to just pack it up and close the magazine just made me want to cry, not only because of my own love for it, but because I'd feel like I was letting down the contributors who'd put so much work into it over the last few years, our advertisers and all the bloggers who've supported us, and of course the readers who have come in their thousands to read a magazine that I've been creating in my spare room! (soon to be baby room!)

I just couldn't do it. So, the upshot of this long winded blog post and my hours and hours of agonising over the decision, is that from Issue 8, publishing next week, we will begin charging a small fee to read the magazine. It's been a tough choice to make, as I know that it may be an unpopular change as generally, we have become conditioned to enjoy material online for free, but I do hope that our readers will understand the hard work, time and effort that goes into creating each issue, and that you will agree that a few pounds - less than you might spend on a takeaway coffee or a glass of wine at the pub - is worth the enjoyment and inspiration you can get from reading the magazine.

I really do hope that with your continued support, we can to take 91 Magazine to a new level, by investing in the content while also avoiding the road of selling advertising to companies that do not fit with our brand, and compromising our aesthetic. It's a big step, but one that I hope will see the future of the magazine secured and it's development an ongoing success.

So here is a peek at the new cover of Issue 8!

91 Magazine issue 8 cover The nitty gritty of the changes are as follows: Our new issue will go live on Monday 17th March, but you can already view a short preview of what's inside here: PREVIEW ISSUE 8. The full version will no longer be available on Issuu.com (although our back issues will remain here) but via Magzter.com, where you will be able to purchase the individual issue for £2, or a year subscription (which is 4 issues) for just £7. You can either download Magzter's free app and access the magazine (and many others!) via this, or you can do so via the website. It will be compatible with many more tablet devices than before - Apple devices (iPads, iPad minis, iPhones), Google Play devices (Android Tablets and phones), Windows 8 devices and Kindle Fire. Once you have purchased the issue, it is yours to read as many times as you wish, and can be archived if you wish to save memory on your device.

If you would like to win one of 10 free copies we have available, all you have to do is sign up to our mailing list here between now and 7pm on Sunday 16th March to be entered in the draw. If you are already on our mailing list, then please email me to info@91magazine.co.uk - with the subject line "I'd like to win a free copy of 91 Magazine" Winners will be selected at random and notified on Sunday evening, and then sent a link to access their free copy on Monday 17th March once the issue is live.

I would love to hear your feedback on this change, good or bad, and what your thoughts are on buying content online. And of course if you do buy our latest issue next week, I'd love to hear what you think! :)

Lots of Love,
Caroline
xxx

28 comments:

  1. totally understandable! thanks for your hard work, and your continuing of your magazine. Id happily pay for pleasure of ready. Good luck with baby!

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  2. I honestly think you've made a great decision! You're so passionate about the magazine and it deserves to carry on! At the end of the day £2 is so little to read a great magazine! Good luck with it all and with the new arrival! x

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  3. Hi Caroline, of course I've loved having 91 Magazine available as free content, who wouldn't?! That said, I completely understand and support your decision to charge for the mag, you put an enormous amount of time and hard work into it and you should be rightly compensated for that. I suspect the vast majority of your readers will feel the same as well. I adore the new cover and can't wait to purchase the new issue next week! Hollie x

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  4. A tough but good decision Caroline - I'm sure all the readers will appreciate it more that they have to pay a little but the magazine is still running, rather than seeing their favourite magazine close! Good luck with everything! x

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  5. I think it is the right move, as we know, we need money to live and raise our households and families to be, and I don't see why such a good magazine should be for free anyway, just because it is online? I pay for content I want to read, so i will continue to pay for 91magazine for as long as it keeps inspiring me and entertain me. remember I don't give away my work, some of my cushions costs as much as as £75.00 and there is a reason behind that, I run a business, not a creative hobby!! so do you, so pls do not feel guilty for having to charge for a well done job!! By earning money doing what u are passionate and love you would feel more fulfilled and happy with your decisions. Looking forward to the next issue. Regards from sunny Peckham!

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  6. Dear Caroline, I know how hard these decisions can be but you are absolutely right in asking for payment. I love your magazine an surely will pay for the great work of you and your team!
    All the best for you and your growing little family!

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  7. Hi Caroline, I will certainly continue to read the magazine and support you in purchasing the item. Its a great publication, and look forward to future issues.
    Good Luck with everything

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  8. Hi Caroline,
    We met when you spoke at a Women in Publishing evening last year. Congratulations on your baby news!

    You're right, I was very surprised to hear that you were not making any money from the magazine. It's a great magazine, and I would have no problem paying for it. I'm sure many people will feel the same. Well done for making a tough, but necessary choice.

    Keep up the great work!
    All the best,
    Sandy

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  9. Great idea! Will defo be signing up!

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  10. Hi Caroline.

    I think you did what you had to do, There is no shame in making money doing what we love to do, specially such a special magazine. It's good to have it free but if we go to Starbuck and pay over US$3.00 for a cup of coffee how to refuse to pay for such beautiful magazine?
    Good luck to you.

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  11. Well done for making the hard decision that is right for you! But you don't need to apologise, I pay for magazines that are no where near as lovely as yours every month. I am happy to pay for wonderful content. I Love 91 mag and will continue to read as long as it is around <3
    Sammy xxx

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  12. Happy to pay - good luck with the bambino : )

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  13. Hi Caroline, I think that's a fab idea! Especially after all of the hard work you've put in to date, people shouldn't object. Well done for creating such a fab magazine and generating great organic growth! Good luck with the baby! x

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  14. Hi Caroline. I have to be honest I haven't had a chance to look at 91Magazine of late but wanted to pop over here to firstly congratulate you on your forthcoming baby and secondly to stop being so British and apologising was is A MUST! Every Business is in business to make money. That's the name of the game. So, stop feeling bad and embrace your very wise decision. I will certainly support you.

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  15. I think this is a fantastic idea, and you really don't need to apologise for making this decision. So many magazines disappear, and each and every one makes me sad. I think it's great that 91 magazine is continuing and I'll happily pay £2 for a copy - the content is always fab! :)

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  16. Hi Caroline, I think you're totally right to charge. Well, yes I would wouldn't I as a journalist who makes her living writing for the national press. But I think it's completely fair enough to pay for well-written and expert content. Yes, people have got used to having content for free but there's a lot of rubbish out there and I think the tide is beginning to turn. After all, £2 will barely buy you a coffee these days and people do that every day, so although I understand why it's an agonising decision, you shouldn't apologise for it. Charging will, as you rightly say, enable you to take the magazine to the next level and will allow you to make it even better. Good luck, I'm with you all the way. Kate

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  17. Absolutely support your decision - all the hard work that clearly goes into each issue is something that holds real value and £2 is hardly going to break anyone's bank. Congratulations on this next step! I will definitely be reading :) xxx

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  18. Caroline, that is as very small price for your exceptional content! Good luck with this new step forward!

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  19. I would have been very happy to see, and would expect to see, relevant adverts in a free magazine. Sometimes they are just as informative as the articles and can point you to new ideas and suppliers. The best decision is the one that sits the easiest with you! I agree with Tina - don't be so British and apologise. You deserve to be earning money for all the effort you invest in the magazine!

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  20. hear, hear! i agree completely with all these comments ~ such a brave & heartfelt decision you had to make ~ hoping that reading all this support you can now rest easy & be so excited about the next chapter ahead. XX

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  21. How do I sign up? About time my friend, your magazine is too good to be free x

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  22. This is a brave move and I really respect your decision to charge for 91 magazine, Caroline. I think it's high time that online content is valued in the same way that print is. You're thinking about your own livelihood, and you're also making the decision to put your readers over advertisers, which is a really beautiful thing. Well done and I'll pass on the word about 91 magazine to everyone I can!

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  23. A very wise decision and completely understandable - you have my support! Really liking the idea of having an app to read it through, too - I often forget to read it when it is just an email in my inbox with a link.

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  24. Hi Caroline, you should be so proud of 91 Magazine, I have no idea how you balanced a full time job while creating such an amazing and inspirational publication. Not to mention keeping up with your blog!

    I'm happy to pay £2, it's well worth it! Take care. :)

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  25. It's totally right that you should charge for it..you work hard and shouldn't feel bad about wanting to be paid for it. Your magazine is an inspiration and worth far more than a couple of pounds. I hope it really works for you and you can enjoy your baby with worrying about money xxxx

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  26. 91 magazine deserves this. It is simply gorgeous. I loved so much your new issue. Congrats!

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  28. I think your story is inspirational; it is always wonderful to see somebody who is dedicated to what they do (and does it so well), not for the money, but for their passion. Circumstances will always change, and businesses will have to adapt to fit; I'm sure many readers will be willing to pay the small amount to continue enjoying the magazine. Good luck with the changes that are coming up, not least becoming a mum! :)

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