The Evolution of an Independent Boutique Magazine
A letter from the publisher
One of the things that I love about the sky is that it is constantly changing. I love the possibility of change. And it’s a necessary part of life in all things. We all change. We never stay the same. Now in my fifth year of publishing SKY (10 years in total), it is time to evolve with the times, and the realities of our daily lives.
My founding intention for SKY was to create a magazine that would inspire us, and tell the stories of people living in their vision. This continues to be my intention.
SKY is an entrepreneurially driven independent magazine, owned and operated by yours truly and created with the help and vision of two amazing entrepreneurs and artists, Greg Huszar, photographer, and Amber Moon, Designer. SKY has built a strong brand and following.
Over the past four years, SKY has changed. When I first became the publisher, SKY was a 100% cover to cover advertorial publication. The print run was 32,000 and it was mailed (for free) to homes in high income neighbourhoods in Regina and Saskatoon via Canada Post. The cost of producing a single 16-page issue was approximately $16,000, and that cost was shared by the advertisers in the magazine.
I brought something new to the table. I am a marketer, business strategist, journalist and a professional communicator. So I introduced the concept of strategic story telling to the pages of SKY, and personally worked with each contributor / advertiser to hand craft their message with their brand and desired outcomes in mind. I created a digital platform for SKY to move it from the mailbox into our readers’ hands more eloquently. I also added a marketing and social media component for the businesses that supported SKY, personally promoting them, their businesses and their products on the SKY social media platform.
In 2014, I began looking at SKY from true magazine perspective, since that was my intention from the beginning – to create a magazine that tells the story of who we are through the eyes and experiences of the inspired. I looked to Magazines Canada for a model, adopted the policies and made editorial changes to the extent that I could based on the financial implications of the print environment. I submitted application to become part of Magazines Canada but the financial business model and the choices that I had to make accordingly that were driving the magazine created limitations, so I was not able to take SKY far enough and make the changes that Magazines Canada would have required.
However, I continued to evolve the model to strengthen the magazine, moving to a 70/30 split on advertising versus editorial. Since 2014 the front cover space has not been available for purchase, and has been created out of SKY’s editorial vision.
SKY does not sell advertising. We sell spaces in which to play. With each space, I work directly with the client to define how that space should be used. I have been the sole strategist and writer. I have also created a social media platform to market my clients post print, and into the digital world of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other amazing places.
Our last issue, Winter Reimagined, the cover was a harbinger of change, with a woman walking and turning her back to convention. The image was gifted to SKY by Lisa Wicklund, designer.
As a business strategist, I see that the world is changing. That dollars are getting tighter for businesses to spend in print, that the market is already over populated in terms of advertising that people are rejecting “flyers” in their mailboxes.
The print industry is changing too, and the cost for an independent is becoming prohibitive. Twenty years ago, when I was in journalism school with Jim McKenzie, the now deceased professor who taught me more than I could appreciate at the time, the web had just begun to show itself. It was unknown as to what it would be. Our classes would ruminate on the business model that was going to drive the World Wide Web, and how that would translate to the journalism environment. I just have to look at my own life to know and understand the impact of the way we distribute, share and assimilate information. It is a function of two things: less time and more access to information literally at our fingertips.
I love print magazines, indeed I subscribe to my favourites. I love the feeling of paper in my hands, and I love the way a new magazine smells. But on my coffee table right now is a stack of magazines that I have not been able to read. What am I doing when I sit down? Reading my emails. Checking my Instagram feed. Posting. Communicating. Reading. My phone has officially become part of my life and business. Readers are reading online more and more. Is there a place for print? Yes, but it is becoming an individual choice to print or not to print.
SKY is a boutique business, owned and operated by a person like all boutique businesses. Boutiques are famous for their service experience and individualized attention. And so must be we, to be successful and relevant to our clients. From a business perspective, my clients want to stand out. They do not want to be lost in a sea of advertisements, stuck somewhere on page 68 in an inside corner. They want to be seen. They want to be shared. They want to be marketed. And that’s what I do, passionately.
So it’s time that we called a spade a spade. The magazine has to evolve to match the value proposition for all concerned – our readers, our clients, and our very viability.
Inspiration is what SKY is all about. And possibility. And exploring new places. SKY is about being seen.
This issue, I am so pleased to share our first “magazine” featuring a strengthened editorial vision to inspire and raise the profile of the inspired and the visionaries who are changing the world on a daily basis.
I am so honoured to share the story and the work of Brenda Rossow-Kimball, a woman who works tirelessly to improve the lives of people with complex disability. Brenda is also a guest contributor in this issue.
Read the issue on your tablet, and share it with your friends and family. If you do choose to download the PdF to print, please keep the planet in mind.
Sincerely and without further adieu,