My Award Profitable Weblog & Journal Makes $114K/12 months

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Hi there! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?

I’m Caroline Rowland, the founding editor of 91 Journal. The journal is a biannual print publication that focuses on artistic interiors and way of life whereas championing small unbiased companies. In addition to the print journal, now we have an award-winning weblog and a quarterly ezine that goes to our mailing checklist subscribers, inspiring all year long. We additionally host on-line workshops for artistic enterprise homeowners.

The journal has grown from what was initially a free-to-read on-line publication to a print journal that’s stocked in unbiased shops all over the world. Our readership varies because it relies on what our print run is on every difficulty, however it’s normally 3000+ and the web site receives over 27K web page views a month. I used to be additionally shortlisted for Houses & Interiors Editor of the 12 months on the BSME (British Society of Journal Editors) awards final 12 months which was an enormous honor. I came upon final week that I’ve been shortlisted once more this 12 months which is fantastic information!


Our Particular Anniversary Version was printed in June 2021, celebrating 10 years since I launched

What’s your backstory and the way did you give you the thought?

I grew up in a small village in Northern Eire and after college, I went to artwork school and had goals of being a trend photographer. After a 12 months of learning trend pictures in London, I spotted it wasn’t for me so modified my diploma and studied Photographic Arts. On the finish of my diploma, I spotted my ardour was in pictures AND publishing, so I started working in London, first for Getty Photos after which for the Monetary Instances as a photograph editor.

Whereas my job was artistic on some degree, I nonetheless craved extra creativity and began an interiors weblog in 2007 and likewise ran a web-based store promoting classic homewares for a few years. I used to be continuously shopping for interiors magazines, however I began to understand the mainstream titles weren’t thrilling me anymore, and I began to surprise about creating my very own.

Whereas doing all the pieces your self as a start-up saves cash, it’s typically advantageous in the long term to outsource the duties that you simply aren’t so expert at.

I’d realized hundreds about publishing throughout my time on the FT, so I made a decision to try creating a web-based journal. I had seen a couple of on-line magazines popping out of the States and Australia, however there have been no UK-based ones, so I believed I’d give it a strive. I had constructed a little bit of a artistic community by means of my weblog and store, so I had others inquisitive about contributing and even managed to safe a small quantity of promoting income for the primary difficulty. I quickly realized that this was what I used to be keen about and will see it rising way more than my on-line store, so I closed that shortly after launching the journal.

Take us by means of the method of designing the journal.

The journal existed solely on-line for 3 years, I then took a 12 months’s break after I had my daughter, after which in 2016, I got here again to it and determined it was time to ramp issues up and get the journal into print. At this level, I made a decision to get a crew collectively and make use of the abilities of others relatively than depend on my sketchy design and subbing expertise.

For those who disappear and don’t be in contact together with your viewers often they may neglect about you, they may transfer on and discover one thing new. Preserve displaying up.

Every journal begins with concepts – the crew brainstorms round a theme after which we give you a ‘dream’ lineup for the options. We then begin contacting individuals we want to function and commissioning writers, photographers, and illustrators.

As soon as the phrases and pictures begin to are available, the copy and pictures are edited, after which they go to my designer for structure. Whereas she is engaged on these, and my promoting supervisor is concurrently engaged on filling the advert slots within the journal in addition to securing on-line sponsored content material, normally with small unbiased manufacturers who we really feel are consistent with the journal and our ethos.

I’m continuously reviewing layouts in the course of the course of, however then as soon as they’re full, I am going by means of with a fine-tooth comb, making edits, altering photos, and so forth. Lastly, we put together the file for the printers and it goes off to them. To finance the print run, I take pre-orders and subscriptions for the difficulty, so as soon as it arrives, I’ve loads of packing to do! I nonetheless ship out web site orders myself because it retains prices down, however I do use a distributor for getting the magazines to our stockists throughout the UK and the world. Our stockists’ community has grown through the years, each by means of contacts our distributor has, retailers approaching us immediately and typically we contact shops we’d prefer to see the journal in. It sits significantly properly in unbiased dwelling and way of life shops the place the merchandise they promote mirror the kind of content material we function.

In between the manufacturing of the journal itself, I’m additionally having to maintain on prime of our twice-weekly weblog content material and the manufacturing of the quarterly e-zine. That is achieved with the assistance of my editorial crew and a large community of contributors. Having a big and supportive artistic group across the journal is what has made it work – I may by no means have achieved all of it single-handedly.


Our first print difficulty, this was on the launch get together at Anthropologie in London’s Kings Street


Checking proofs

Describe the method of launching the enterprise.

I really feel like my enterprise nearly had two launches – the preliminary one when the journal was on-line after which 5 years later when it launched as a print journal. At first, I assume I wasn’t taking it significantly as a enterprise, it was extra of an add-on to my current weblog and store, however the good thing about that was that I already had a readership and a buyer base who welcomed it.

At first, I printed the net journal on and had a really primary web site – this made it very low price, however because it was additionally free to learn, the one income was a small variety of advert gross sales. Once I relaunched as a print journal in 2016, I had way more of a method, fully rebranding, creating a brand new web site and weblog, and enlisting a small crew.

By this level, printers had realized the significance of working with unbiased magazines and had been now capable of provide small print runs which had been beforehand laborious to search out. To fund the primary print run (and we nonetheless do it this manner) the journal went on pre-order forward of publication, supplemented by advert gross sales. I’ve by no means had any type of mortgage to fund the enterprise.

Because the journal had gained a following from initially being on-line, we had been capable of construct on that viewers and social media was a helpful approach to unfold the phrase, particularly as loyal readers kindly shared their photos and phrases in regards to the journal.

One factor I’ve realized from launching a enterprise is to at all times do as a lot analysis prematurely earlier than diving in. Examine suppliers and pricing as a lot as doable and get suggestions the place you may.


The very first on-line version from 2011 on the correct, with print points from 2019

Since launch, what has labored to draw and retain clients?

I believe producing a fantastic high quality product that may resonate with a distinct segment group is step one. However when you’ve received that I’ve discovered being genuine, relatable, and open together with your clients (current or potential) is important. Not solely from a advertising and marketing perspective, however in your enjoyment of your corporation. Exhibiting character and fervour for what you do by means of your social media content material in addition to being constant together with your model.

I’ve tried working adverts on social media earlier than, however have by no means discovered them significantly profitable. We discover reader advice is way more helpful and we encourage readers to share photos of the journal utilizing our hashtag #my91magazine.

Promoting by means of retailers can be a good way to broaden your viewers as individuals who might by no means have found you on-line, might discover you of their favourite retailer. Constructing a powerful e-mail advertising and marketing checklist is extremely beneficial, and providing an incentive to enroll is advisable. Our quarterly ezine is a mini model of the primary journal and our mailing checklist subscribers obtain this free of charge, this has helped to develop our checklist to over 10K.

I don’t have a tendency to supply reductions typically as I don’t wish to diminish the worth of my product. As an alternative, I provide subscriptions and bundles, in any other case, I believe individuals keep away from shopping for your product at full worth as they wait till you scale back the value or provide reductions. Worth your product pretty within the first place and folks will respect that.


Screenshot from Instagram of buyer pictures utilizing our hashtag #my91magazine


Our quarterly e-zine, Search Encourage Create, free to mailing checklist subscribers

How are you doing immediately and what does the long run seem like?

As we speak the journal makes a small revenue and I now work full time on the enterprise. The enterprise is continually evolving and particularly over the previous couple of years with Covid and Brexit there have actually been challenges. My earnings streams come from direct gross sales by means of my web site, gross sales through retailers, promoting gross sales, and ticket gross sales on our on-line workshops. These have fluctuated over the pandemic as a result of issues like shops being closed for lengthy durations, however this then boosted our direct web site gross sales. As we head into 2022 I hope for issues to settle, and I’m eager to develop our distribution, significantly outdoors of the UK.

I haven’t invested so much in promoting and mixed with my prices for e-mail advertising and marketing and software program like Tailwind, the previous 12 months prices have been round £600. My expertise to this point of social media promoting has not been that profitable, so I’m focussing my efforts on constructing my group and buyer base organically and thru customer-generated content material. Our common month-to-month web page views are round 27,000, and our mailing checklist has grown to over 10.5K subscribers and our Instagram has over 43.7K followers. Our Pinterest web page is at the moment receiving round 4.7M month-to-month views.

At present, our direct web site gross sales are normally barely greater than our gross sales by means of retailers, and the direct gross sales imply my margin is larger on these gross sales. However in fact, retailer gross sales have the potential to succeed in new readers.

After publishing 13 print points, we’re very a lot in a rhythm of how issues function, however I’m at all times in search of methods to enhance and freshen issues up. New methods to work with advertisers, new methods to promote the journal, similar to on-line wholesalers, and new methods to supply our merchandise, similar to present bins now we have simply launched for Christmas 2021.

My enterprise is small, however I consider, completely fashioned. It fits my present way of life – being a mom – because it means I can make money working from home round my daughter’s education. Quick time period I plan to proceed rising the model organically however maybe when my daughter is older I’ll contemplate increasing into extra particular editions and maybe books. I’ve additionally thought-about the thought of publishing one other journal if money and time permits.

By means of beginning the enterprise, have you ever realized something significantly useful or advantageous?

I’ve actually realized to suppose issues by means of extra completely earlier than leaping in. Taking time to plan relatively than doing issues on a whim. I do consider it’s value attempting issues out (with warning) – for instance, I’ve tried promoting the journal by means of a big excessive avenue retailer, however have since realized the itemizing charges, low margins and the dearth of non-public relationship with them meant they weren’t proper for me and my product. I used to be initially excited to be stocked in an enormous title retailer however quickly realized our enterprise values weren’t aligned and that is so vital. I now choose to have a wider community of smaller shops which have the same ethos stocking the journal.

I’ve additionally realized that whereas doing all the pieces your self as a start-up saves cash, it’s typically advantageous in the long term to outsource the duties that you simply aren’t so expert at. For almost all of companies sturdy branding and nice imagery are important, so working with a designer and photographer shall be helpful for instance.

Lastly, schedule all the pieces! Not simply conferences – duties, weblog posts, e-mail advertising and marketing, seasonal occasions – there may be at all times a lot to do, and conserving organized will assist issues to go way more easily on the day-to-day.


Our particular anniversary version is on the market in an unbiased retailer

What platform/instruments do you utilize for your corporation?

Adobe Artistic Cloud is important for journal publishing, with InDesign, Photoshop, Lightroom, Acrobat, and Spark being the primary functions we use. My web site is hosted on Squarespace which I really like for ease of use and good design.

Our major platform for partaking with clients is Instagram, and I exploit Flodesk for my e-mail advertising and marketing. Flodesk is reasonably priced however affords a fantastic design in your emails. I exploit Tailwind for scheduling pins on Pinterest which is nice for persistently pinning on Pinterest.

I exploit Google Analytics and have lately began utilizing Google Service provider to try to get extra visibility by means of Google.

I exploit a conventional journal distributor however I’m at the moment wanting into growing wholesale by means of the Faire platform which I hope would possibly open up distribution additional outdoors of the UK.

What have been essentially the most influential books, podcasts, or different assets?

Particularly for journal publishing, So that you wish to publish {a magazine}? By Angharad Lewis is nice. How you can Fashion your Model by Fiona Humberstone is beneficial when you don’t know the place to begin together with your branding.

I get pleasure from listening to Conversations of Inspiration podcast, listening to the tales of profitable small enterprise homeowners, a few of which have grown into well-known manufacturers.

The Resilient Retail Sport Plan is nice for retail focussed subjects. I additionally often go to Bristol-based advertising and marketing & branding company Studio Cotton’s weblog and Instagram as they share a great deal of helpful data round advertising and marketing, search engine marketing, branding, and so forth in a enjoyable, accessible manner.

Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who wish to get began or are simply beginning out?

Attempt to be constant in what you do. Preserve your branding and your message constant, be constant in how typically you weblog or ship advertising and marketing emails, and be constant on how seen you’re. For those who disappear and don’t be in contact together with your viewers often they may neglect about you, they may transfer on and discover one thing new. Preserve displaying up.

Spend money on the areas which will elevate your business- maybe that’s top-notch pictures, or perhaps a wonderful internet or app developer, don’t scrimp on the issues that make your model nice.

However, on the identical time attempt to keep away from getting your self into an excessive amount of debt. Check the market together with your thought initially to see whether it is prone to take flight.

Lastly, construct a group round your model, be open, genuine, and personable. I consider that individuals are transferring away from massive company manufacturers and in search of a extra private contact, significantly in terms of retail. Deal with your clients like buddies and they are going to be with you in your journey for a few years to return.

The place can we go to be taught extra?

In case you have any questions or feedback, drop a remark under!


Caroline Rowland
Founding father of 91 Journal

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