Self Magazine's print edition fate of closing came during one of Tin Shingle's PR & Social Media Challenge group calls. One of our members declared it shockingly, and we all lamented the outlet (though the digital version will continue, and the digital director will become editor in chief). We discussed that there just aren't a lot of magazines for women over 30 anymore, and that more women are reading niche online newsletters and blogs. The discussion prompted the focus of one of our TuneUps: "New Media Outlets To Pitch Now."
Hearing the news of a major glossy shuttering is always jolting, but did this news cause one to shutter inside, shivering with fear that print magazines are tanking? What will businesses do with one less print outlet target for a feature? After reading Self for actually the first time in one year of my subscription, I'm going to say that I'm not shuttering inside, and perhaps the magazine grew too broad, with an unnecessary couture flare to it, thinning the dream of true self happiness. I'm more inspired to get in shape by Kate Hudson Fitness commercials (didn't know about the subscription brouhaha until just now) than I am by the cover of Self magazine, who despite the badass ballerina in the high-concept corset on the cover, would have remained unopened in my bathroom, had I not studied it for this article.
Self Magazine Lost Its Flow
While Self magazine may have provided answers for women about easy and healthy snack ideas and ways to improve your mood years ago, the content between its covers isn't anything anyone can't read in other print magazines or online newsletters. Worse, as a reading experience, there is no experience. There is no flow. The content jumps from a roundup of beautiful outdoor gear to recipes, to how to eat a tangerine, to ads for other Condé Nast publications, to other ads. Not that I mind ads, but for some reason, the flow just isn't there. Maybe it's in the fitness clothes, whose style is more artistic than something most women could wear, or the small-print, unbranded advertorials near the Condé Nast Collection for the "unparalleled illustration and photography collection" just doesn't match with the fitness and self-improvement message. Assigning Anna Wintour as Artistic Director didn't guarantee success, and may have helped push it off course.
Niche Media Is Rising
The lack of flow in Self doesn't mean that a print magazine can't vary and offer different content, but the reading experience is easier when the focus is more narrow. Which magazines do you save? I save cooking magazines like Rachael Ray or bon appétite for dinner ideas. Or Entrepreneur magazine for innovative ideas and the strength to continue. In the online world, you know who your favorite newsletter subscriptions are to. Man Repeller, which is one such online outlet that is very niche with a lot of loyal readers, pointed out, isn't the saddest about the closure, asking their audience if they would even read it online, and admitting they had no emotional connection to the magazine.
Online Doesn't Mean No Overhead Or That Growing Audience Is Easy
While it's great for staffers that Self.com will remain, that troupe will know that their work is almost harder than the print edition. There are fewer print editions of anything, but there are lots and lots and lots of self-improvement websites, some with tighter focuses than others. The most successful ones display strong personalities, something which magazines aren't used to doing.
Moral of the story? Pitch on, my business friends. And don't fear the death of print. It's not dying - if it's done right.