SilkFair

Craft Magazine goes online only – but now we can really get involved

Posted on: February 12, 2009

Diane Gilleland from CraftyPod asks some interesting questions when reporting the news that CRAFT Magazine has stopped publishing a print version, and will now be an online-only magazine.

She points to a report that says that 525 magazines had to close their print business in 2008 because of a failing economy, increasing publication costs and decreasing advertising reveune. The last year was actually just the continuation of a much longer downwards trend in the print industry since the advent of blog-based online publications – this post goes into the technicalities of the business space

I certainly feel that crafts-related magazines – more than ones for any other topic – benefit greatly from having a printed out version that you can hold and feel. Quite often people cut out patterns they like for their scrapbooks or to use to compare their own works. So in that sense it feels like an even bigger setback to see CRAFTs magazine end its print version.

At the same time  – though – I think this is a great move, and would result in many much better and richer interactions between its reader community and the publishers.

Diane asks:

Without the cushion of advertising dollars, how will we consumers take a more active role in supporting the people who make the things we love to read and watch?

What do you do to support your favorites?

This is where those opportunities for richer interactions come to light.

The thing is, printing and distribution is only a fraction of the cost-structure of the magazine that it can reduce byending its print business. Content production, copy, creatives and graphics, story sourcing and publishing can all be improved by bringing the readers community in to become a part of the content.

The traditional view of magazine publication has been the magazine staff is ultimately the team responsible for proving the “insight” in the content that brings in the readers and participants.

But with social media, one possible new view is to recognize that insight is being created everywhere – from blogs, to twitter, to conversations all over the web ; and to ask “How can we bring these conversations to the forefront of our magazine, to bring in all idea-makers who are creating new insight or new techniques from wherever they are and enable them to connect and share through our publication”

Or in other words “Who can we partner with today outside of our staff to add significant continual value to both parties?” where the second party can even just be regular readers.

Let me give some examples to illustrate what we mean here – and here I mean any magazine in general, not CRAFT magazine.

If you have an active blog that complements that magazine (side note: check out the Craftzine blog which is awesome), you could convert that into an authority blog… you would essentially be inviting new articles to feature on the blog from within your community, and have a vetting process to ensure quality. But this enables thought leaders from among your readerbase to also be recognized and to share their best-practices and insights and new techniques with the rest of the reader community.

Ideas the move participation out of simple contests and towards more involved crowdsourced movements can also to bring the relationship betwen the magazine and its readers closer…. perhaps the front-cover of the magazine could be designed by a reader or community member, his work and portfolio getting featured inside the magazine as well. 

The magazine could even connect with buying and selling platforms such as ours very easily – the ecommerce platform could help create and maintain a special section for the magazine that highlights some of the best craftsmen and sellers and items from the month… we would  be happy to do this because it helps us fulfill our commitment to promoting and helping the small businesses that choose to set up shop with us, and the magazine benefits with additional realestate to use for advertising.

New types of advertising models can also be created between the magazine and readers which reward the readers for their continued readership, for their role in promoting and distributing the magazine content, and for their continued participation.

 

I’ll leave by saying that these arent new – I know atleast one example of a print magazine from a developing country in Asia from the 1980’s (that runs to this day). Being a magazine focusing on the agricultural sector, they were able to reduce production costs by completely sourcing all ideas from their readerbase, who were all farmers. They asked the farmers to share any new technique they used to get better crop yeilds, and aggregated all the best new ideas into the magazine and distributed that back to farmers all over the country. It was a brilliant way of disemminating new techniques.

The only difference between then and now is that now with the internet being what it is, its just a lot more easier to connect with each other with open minds and figure out how to help one another to create value for each other.

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