“Here we are in 2019 and while it may be easier to read a free digital copy or an article that your friend shares, a quality, printed publication showcasing your state is VITAL.”
How many fans does it take to keep a regional print magazine afloat?
In December, subscribers to Arkansas Life received a printed letter along with their January issue.
“Arkansas Life will soon cease publication unless a substantial number of readers become paid subscribers,” the letter from Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Life, read. The magazine had been free for most readers since 2008, but now, Hussman wrote, its advertising-based business model was unsustainable.
“In an effort to continue publication, we’re now asking appreciative readers to become paid subscribers at a rate of $20 a year,” the letter went on. “If most and enough of our readers respond to this appeal, the magazine will continue. If not, it will soon be gone like so many other printed publications in recent years.” The bottom of the paper contained a form that readers were supposed to clip off, write in their credit card information, and send back in the mail.
The letter — which didn’t include a link to subscribe online, though that is possible — seemed insufficient to the four-person editorial team at Arkansas Life. Couldn’t more be done than a printed letter from management? Jordan Hickey, who was promoted to the magazine’s editor in November, decided to spearhead a more personal approach spread on — duh — social media. The pitch: People had two weeks to subscribe to Arkansas Life or its publisher would fold it. The campaign included testimonials from writers and staffers, which Arkansas Life posted to its Facebook page each day. Skylark Cafe, a favorite local restaurant, offered a free lunch to anybody who subscribed to the magazine and brought in a print copy. In a Facebook post, the restaurant’s owners wrote:
We cannot shy away from the fact that Arkansas Life has had a great part in keeping us around for this long.
They have boosted our traffic during the cold, most dreaded months of winter, and boosted our morale during the same.
The effect is worth pausing to think about as you consider the impact they have made on our small business and we are just one of the hundreds (probably thousands) of Arkansans that they have impacted in the exact same way.
If you’ve never received a copy of the magazine, It’s filled with gorgeous photography and award winning writing that honestly, I was surprised to find in Arkansas.
They have so many great features on people, places to go and things to do and see that help us remember that Arkansas truly is a special place. We as a small business, and we as Arkansans are lucky to have them.
This is getting long and sappy and trust me, I could go on.
I’m saying all this because our friends at Arkansas Life have recently received the news that if the magazine does not dramatically increase its paid subscriptions, it will cease to exist.
Readership is certainly not the problem but here we are in 2019 and while it may be easier to read a free digital copy or an article that your friend shares, a quality, printed publication showcasing your state is VITAL.
And a paid subscription is what will keep them alive.