Last month, I put out a post on Instagram asking what people looked for when buying a magazine, and what (if anything) might put them off. It proved interesting - and heartwarming - reading. Not only have we seemingly rejected the celebrity gossip culture, we've also started rejecting magazines filled with advertising and sponsored posts. What we look for today is something much more real, filled with stories about people like you and me; something far removed from the glossy magazines that we only spend a few minutes reading before discarding on yet another pile.
Society, or at least a part of it, is removing itself from this throwaway habit, and instead is searching for publications that will stand the test of time, that can be opened in two or three years time to still provide inspiration. Naturally, given the image-focused nature of Instagram, beautiful photography was also mentioned frequently, but alongside the substantial articles and stories that set many independent magazines apart from the norm.
Here's what our magazine wish-lists look like now:
- @thefrugalcottage An eye catching/interesting cover.
- @frondandfeather Beautiful photography. Relatable, down to earth content balanced with a bit of aspirational stuff (dreamy gardens, landscapes etc).
- @niki.at.the.cottage People's faces put me off!
- @jessicacooperceramics Something that feels authentic, not salesy and full of adverts.
- @rosiehendry I look for covers featuring landscapes, illustration or beautiful photography of crafted objects. Content wise I look for a mix of stories regarding the outdoors, nature and animals, crafts and art.
- @boundbyhand I look for proper editorial… lots of lovely pictures, interviews with interesting people, perhaps themed series, and pages of things to do, too!
- @krissmacd Ideas, beautiful photography and places.
- @mooredgeinthemist Elegant design and a matte heavyweight cover. Too glossy and it feels cheap. I'd want a magazine I could keep and re-read in the future.
- @eversewdainty I love to see wonderful photography, places to visit, seasonal recipes and crafts.
- @zoepower I hate too many ads, love a mix of beautiful photography/eye candy and some substantial articles to read - otherwise it feels like one flick though and you're done in 10 mins!
- @thehyggewife It has to be aesthetically pleasing, and tell real stories about real people and not just focus on highly successful people (who aren't relatable to most). I want to see interesting people with interesting stories regardless of whether they are wealthy or famous.
- @globatris Inspiration to mind and eyes, that gives you ideas to try out; from that special botanical arrangement to new hobbies or careers!
- @capturebykaye Beautiful photographs and medium articles with lots of detail, too short and I'm left wanting more or feel I don't get value for money. Not following the in crowd or what's trendy at the moment. Seasonal inspiration.
- @catherinedanielceramics Real people, real struggles, what makes them tick, in their life and in their work/small business. And beautiful photography.
- @scrapdash What gets me to pick up a magazine are clear (not over-filtered) photos of nearly anything: landscapes, rooms capes, vignettes. What gets me to BUY a magazine is content I want to remember and refer to again. That could be a recipe, a DIY project, a list of gardening plants, self-help advice I can tack up on the cork board, that sort of stuff.
- @courtyard_cottage I look for inspiration, creativity, beautiful photographs, nature inspired, styling the seasons type content. I also love lettering. Something far far away from the raft of commercial magazines.
- @darwinboerne I'm a bit of a soft touch for uncoated stock and beautiful typography. Not too rigid a layout grid, or at least one that's so versatile it's hard to tell it's there!
Not only did comments flood in on what people were looking for, there were also a few examples and recommendations of magazines doing this well already. Here's a few you might be interested in:
- Rakesprogress - gardens, plants, flowers, people
- Ernest Journal - slow adventures, curious histories, timeless style, wild food, workmanship
- Another Escape - outdoor lifestyle, creative culture, sustainable living
- Elementum Journal - a journey of nature and story
- Taproot Magazine - for makers, doers and dreamers
Finally, it was reassuring to hear many of the comments, as they align with our ethos and the decisions we've made about the Creative Countryside magazine. For instance:
- we will be an ad-free magazine
- our aim is to be inspirational rather than a how-to guide
- the magazine will be printed on uncoated, heavy-weight recycled paper
- we'll be featuring real people with interesting stories to tell
- we'll also be including small creative businesses who share our love of nature
- our content will have longevity: it will continue to be relevant, year after year
- there'll be beautiful photographs - of course!
P.S. If you like the sound of what we're about, sign up to join our community for seasonal inspiration, magazine updates, and a free e-book on how to live a seasonal year.
Eleanor is obsessed with stories. She writes for a number of online spaces including This is Your Kingdom, edits Creative Countryside, curates #aseasonalyear and teaches at Chalk House. In addition, she is currently studying for an MA in Creative Non-Fiction Writing. You'll find her roving the fields of the Lincolnshire Wolds or planning her next rural adventure.