The news that TVA Inc. closed Canadian Gardening magazine in spring 2016 prompts me to provide background on the business model for our Garden Making magazine. (TVA publishes Canadian Living and Style at Home, and will concentrate its resources on those general-interest magazines, closing Canadian Gardening after 27 years.)
In the magazine business, a publication that focuses on a particular enthusiast category or niche is called a special-interest magazine. Having worked myself for a large consumer magazine publisher (Maclean Hunter, which became Rogers Publishing), I understand the dynamics of competing resources for smaller magazines when there may be more potential at larger general-interest magazines.
Revenues for Garden Making
Our business model for Garden Making is based on a U.S. company, Taunton Press, which publishes Fine Gardening magazine and other special-interest consumer magazines. The model aims to generate half or more of revenues from readers through subscriptions, single-copy purchases and other content offerings.
Certainly, income from advertisers is important, but frankly by pleasing the readers we best succeed in creating an audience that is interested in and receptive to the marketing messages in the advertising. Both readers and advertisers win when we deliver compelling content that is trusted and enjoyed by paying readers. Our business model is solid.
Generally speaking, magazines that serve enthusiast topics such as gardening tend to do better when operated by niche publishers who are very focused on serving the people interested in that topic.
Audience for Garden Making
We launched Garden Making in 2010 because we think there are still many people interested in being inspired and informed about creating their own gardens and discovering new plants. To help remind us of our focus, when we needed to name our modest company, we called it Inspiring Media Inc. My business partner and wife, Beckie Fox, is a long-time editor and I’m a long-time circulation executive, so we’ve invested a lot of our knowledge and passion as well as personal funds into creating and growing Garden Making and its companion website, GardenMaking.com.
Garden Making is a garden-focused magazine. Unlike some other magazines, we don’t publish recipes or write about outdoor decorating. We aim to serve gardeners across Canada because there are not enough potential readers and advertisers to support a magazine that only focuses on one region. And, we’ve tried to appeal to two groups of people:
The baby boomers who have been gardening for a long time or who are getting into the garden as they retire.
The children of baby boomers as they become interested in gardening, hoping they can buy an affordable home with a garden one day.
We’e been fortunate to be welcomed by thousands of paying subscribers who appreciate our informed, approachable style of gardening journalism beautifully presented thanks to Design Director Gary Hall. As well, dozens of national and regional advertisers use Garden Making to market products and services ranging from seeds to soil, travel to tools, plants to planning, television to tours, bulbs to buildings, greenhouses to garden centres.
We think there is a strong future for Garden Making. Thankfully, there are government agencies such as the Department of Canadian Heritage with its Canadian Periodical Fund as well as the Ontario Media Development Corp. (OMDC) that provide financial support to help us deliver more than 80% Canadian content in our pages as well as to create new jobs and to try to tackle the ever-evolving opportunities of digital technology (think smart phones and tablets) as well as changing consumer habits (fewer stores selling magazines).
Over the past seven years, we’ve attended garden shows, mailed to targeted lists and put our magazine on sale in thousands of stores to help new readers discover Garden Making. Please email me to request a sample copy.