So I’ve been running a magazine for about 3 1/2 years now. Bilingual. Monthly. Free. 36 pages. 8000 copies. Ostensibly island-wide. I have what seems to be a loyal readership and lots of people tell me how grateful they are that I continue to do this work for Taiwan. It’s nice, warm-hearted stuff and it make me feel pretty good. And I absolutely love doing it.
Trouble is, the thing is going to ruin me.
The magazine in question (Highway 11) is financed entirely by advertising. I have tried to keep rates as low as possible but most people balk at our prices (those that do buy are almost unanimously happy with the advertising).Our rates, as far as I know, are some of the lowest on the island.
However, paper prices are through the roof and distribution costs about a third of my printing cost. Printing and distribution alone are setting me back over NT$100,000 per month. I’m never able to consistently cover that cost with my advertising. With winter on the way (low season) things could go from bad to disaster in a hurry.
I like what I do. I think I’m reasonably good at it, but I’m just having a hell of a time trying to make it work as a viable money-making (or at least not money-losing) business. I have entertained the thought of shutting the print version of the magazine down and moving strictly to the website but the site doesn’t generate the hits that would be necessary to lure advertising in any REAL quantity. True, I could spend more time ensuring more people visit, but I’d want to make the transition seamless. And websites aren’t the same as a magazine, really.
There are people who are adamant that the print version is the commodity worth keeping. I can’t charge for it (the quality is simply not good enough to make people pay for it and I don’t have the capital to invest in some sort of jump to that level). I’d love to keep it, myself. I really like doing it and it beats the hell out of teaching but without the long-term advertisers/investors necessary to keep me from going broke, I’m getting fidgety about the future.
Sorry for the randomness of this post, I really don’t know where to begin or end on this topic. What I do know is that I’ve gotten to a point of indecision about the mag. Do I continue on, and hope that it’s reputation lure more and bigger advertisers in the near future (and in the meantime, taking some pretty heavy losses), move to only a website (eliminating print and distribution costs) and compete with any number of competing websites that get thousands of times more hits that we do or pack it in altogether.
I know someone is going to suggest government support and we are going to make an attempt to get some sort of government funding for this, but that takes time and I don’t really want to rely on the government for survival. Absolutely any suggestions (or follow-up questions) are welcome.