The latest issue of 91 Magazine has just published this week - hurray! It's the third print edition and as always the team are super proud. We've also got an exciting collaboration alongside this issue. Illustrator Karolin Schnoor designed a set of two beautiful prints especially for 91 readers, which you can buy as a bundle with the magazine or individually. Do pop over to the shop to order your mag and check out the prints, they are really lovely!
Anyway, as promised, this is the last instalment in the 91 Magazine story. (you can read Part I and Part II first if you like) In the last post, I was up to the start of 2016 when I was getting my little team together and recommencing publishing. Laura had joined me as my deputy editor and we had a lot of decisions to make. One of the main things was whether we were going to take the plunge and get the magazine into print.
Ever since I created 91 back in 2011, independent magazines had been steadily on the rise. There were now so many on the market and there were even a few shops popping up that were solely selling indie mags. It absolutely seemed like the right time to launch ourselves into print. So we started researching printers and getting quotes and considering what kind of print run we could do. We decided that the idea to take pre-orders prior to doing the print run would help to finance it, and wouldalso give us an indication of how many copies we should print. We still do this now, and it is very much an important part of our business model, assisting in raising the cash to pay for printing. (so we very much appreciate all those folk who pre order their copy!)
As we were relaunching, I also wanted the magazine to have a complete makeover. I designed a new logo and Lucy joined the team as our designer to create a fresh new look. We came up with a selection of new features and also introduced lots of elements of online interaction. Social media had come so far since I first started out, and it is now an integral part of both our content and how we communicate with our readers. We love to get our readers involved in creativity, so our hashtag projects encourage this, and we also feature some of our favourite Instagrammers each issue as well as including some fave images from the hashtags.
The other thing we did with the relaunch was to create a brand new blog. Up until then I'd been sharing 91 news here on Patchwork Harmony, but we realised it was super important to continually create content and connect with our readers in-between issues, particularly as we had made the decision to publish just twice a year. It was such a great move; the blog is now filled with great features, with lots of guest posts from contributors too. I really hope people enjoy reading the blog as much as they enjoy the magazine.
Our first issue published in May 2016, and it really was a huge highlight in my career. I had always dreamed of this moment so I felt so proud to finally have got there. We were overwhelmed by how many lovely shop owners decided to stock the magazine too. It was also a dream come true to collaborate with Anthropologie on our first print issue. We worked with them on a feature, they hosted our fabulous launch event AND they stock the magazine in their stores! I was so thrilled to have their support as well as all of the amazing indie shops - particularly when they committed to stocking it before they'd even seen it in the flesh! I still get a huge feeling of pride when I see the magazine on shop shelves - and always have to snap a few pics!
Our first print run was 1300 copies - we wanted to be conservative as we didn't know how well it would go, but the first issue took less than three months to sell out. I think by then we had also build up a stockist list of around 50 shops, mainly in the UK, but some in Europe and even in Canada. It was quite a lot of work handling the distribution ourselves so as we started to work on the second issue, we made the decision to hand this over to a distributor. While it means less profit per copy for us, it takes a lot of work off our plate, and also means we could get the magazine stocked in many shops we wouldn't be able to reach on our own. In fact, we are excited to announce that you will be able to find the S/S 17 issue in WH Smith travel outlets - so at train stations and airports! For the latest issue, we have almost doubled the print run from the first edition, which I am super chuffed about!
Gosh, I could honestly talk about it forever! But I guess that is pretty much where we are up to now. I've actually found myself getting a tad choked up writing this post, as 91 is literally my baby, and I can't believe how far it has come since 2011. Of course, I have that thing that I think most people running a business get, where I'm always striving for more - more sales, more stockists, more opportunities - but I think writing the full story down here has made me appreciate the journey I've been on with it, and it proves that with a little bit of drive and determination you really can make your dream project come true.
I often get asked what my favourite thing is about running the magazine. I absolutely love the process - bringing it all together and then seeing the finished product. But I think my absolute favourite aspect is seeing people enjoying it. I LOVE seeing people's images on Instagram when they tag #my91magazine and I get to see it in people's homes and hear what they've loved about it. I was recently in Anthropologie and I spotted a woman sitting on a sofa flicking through our A/W 16 issue. I'll admit, I did hover, watching to see whether she was enjoying it, although I didn't pluck up the courage to say anything! I didn't see whether she bought it or whether she was simply passing the time, but I still felt such joy to see someone taking in the pages of something myself, my team and our amazing contributors had created. That's definitely what it's all about...
Hopefully that's given a bit of an insight into publishing an independent magazine! If you've got any questions just drop me a line, and of course, make sure to hot-foot it over to the website and bag yourself a copy of the new issue! www.91magazine.co.uk/buy