Why I buy £4.99 craft magazines

  • 5 min read

why-I-buy-magazines

I was visiting a crafts sale when I overheard a woman selling her goods talk about craft mags.

‘Oh, they’re so expensive,’ she said. ‘I’ve stopped buying them!’

It was over a month ago now, but that conversation is still stuck with me. I’ve even asked other crafters what they think of the price of craft mags, and it seems like most of us find £4.99 too expensive.

But is it really?

Magazines are the result of dozens of people coming together to create a colourful, cultural, digestible bite of their chosen topic. I love them. Editors, writers, photographers, designers, and makers are all involved in making just one single issue.

magazine-contributors

Most of us skip right over the contributor’s page, but it puts the amount of work involved into perspective. This issue of Mollie Makes has over 50 people listed, and if you look them up you can see they are mostly small businesses or even working solo, with beautiful work. Lots of them don’t get to work on their passion full time.

Crafting is a close knit community. Many of the people who make and even sell handmade also love buying handmade. Supporting craft magazines means supporting the crafting community. Just this one issue of Mollie Makes supports 50 people alone.

But what really got me was that someone selling crafts was complaining about the price.

How can you expect fair prices for your work when you’re not willing to pay fair prices?

[highlight bg=”#8fbb54″ color=”#ffffff”]How to Save Money[/highlight]

I love magazines. So much, in fact, that I read at least 10 different titles regularly. If you assume it costs £4.99 per magazine, that’s £50 a month to buy them all. (EEK!)

When you break it down, it’s still good for what you get. Ten magazines at 100+ pages each means 1000+ pages of inspiration, tutorials, goodies, and a ‘free’ gift or three. Dozens of tutorials, interviews, recipes, reviews, event listings and inspiring articles are all there in easy-to-consume bites. And if it’s different magazines with all different contributors, there’s easily at least 200+ people involved.

But there are ways to save money and still enjoy the wonderful work crafting magazines do for the handmade community.

  • Swap with a friend.
    If you have friends interested in the same mags, trade copies. It means you both get twice as much to read for half the price.
  • Use the library.
    Check to see if your library has copies of the magazines you’re interested in. This is great for magazines you don’t buy every month and for reading back issues.
  • Support the magazines in other ways.
    Following magazines on Twitter, Facebook, and on their own blogs can go a long way. Commenting and engaging with what they have to say goes even further. I’ve talked about validation before, and trust me — even a big magazine office still needs it.
  • Recommend magazines to friends.
    There are so many magazines I didn’t know about until a friend recommended them to me. If you find something new or out-of-the-way, recommend it. Everyone knows about Good Housekeeping, but does everyone know about Cereal?
  • Buy digital.
    If you have the right device, most magazines have digital subscriptions you can take advantage of. The best part is that it usually knocks a couple £££ off the price, too.
  • Subscribe.
    It seems obvious, but I used to avoid subscribing to magazines because of the initial cost. I tried to pretend I wasn’t buying the magazines off the shelf every month anyway. If that sounds like you, just subscribe! It means you get some happy post, too. If you’re really pinching pennies, you can subscribe when your favourite mags have insane deals on. Six issues of Country Living for £12 with a gift, anyone?
  • Ask for them.
    If your friends and family know you’d love a magazine subscription, you’re more likely to get one as a gift! No brainer, right?
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simplycrochetdownloading

Judging the worth of a magazine has a lot to do with perspective. We’re used to low prices on magazines, so we expect to get them for low prices.

I buy magazines because I love supporting the work of the editors, writers, photographers, and (in the case of crafting magazines) designers and makers involved. A £4.99 magazine costs as much as a couple lattes or a paperback novel from the sales rack. Is that really too much?

And, I hate to step on a few toes here, but sometimes it isn’t that something is too expensive. Sometimes, we’re the ones being too cheap.

Everyone deserves fair prices for their work.

xxo
Anna

 

Creative Magazines I LOVE:

The Simple Things /// Cereal /// Uppercase /// Making

Cloth Paper Scissors /// Homemaker /// Simply Crochet

Mollie Makes /// Crafty Magazine /// Country Living

Handmade Living /// Knit Now /// Gardener’s World

Craftseller /// Living etc

27 thoughts on “Why I buy £4.99 craft magazines”

  1. Really great post! Sometimes it takes someone making this kind of point for you to realise the value of something.

    Can’t wait to check out these magazines :)

    Sophie :)

    1. The psychology of price can be interesting! It’s good to reflect about why something is priced the way it is, and what or who you are supporting by buying it. In my experience I get more joy out of meaningful purchases than just buying the cheapest things to get the most out of my money.

  2. I love all kinds of magazines. I subscribe to several and there are a few craft mags in there too. This is my one thing I do for myself. I love Country Living (the UK version) so much, that I subscribe to it through Amazon. While it is costly ( I live in the US), it does not stop me from subscribing. As you said Anna, there are so many beautiful pictures, stories, etc. what a wonderful magazine! When I get finished with it, I pass them along to a friend who is from England. It gives her a little bit of home. Magazines are wonderful things and I cannot imagine not having them!

    1. I love the UK version of Country Living, I feel like it has a deeper ‘country’ spirit than the American version if that makes sense? Magazines really are great for capturing the ‘essence’ of things so well. And they are great as little treats! Glad I’m not the only one who sees them that way. Thanks for commenting Patti!

  3. I’m one of the people who always complain that they’re too expensive, but reading your post I can definitely see your point. The problem with me is that I used to buy theee magazines as a treat on a tight budget, only to realise though that due to lack of time and ability I was only going to make one, maybe two projects per issue. There was also a lot of projects which didn’t appeal to me (like baby/ toddler stuff) at the time. So in the end I stopped buying magazines because I felt I wasn’t getting value for money.

    I kept all these though and funnily enough was browsing through them last night. It inspired me to try a couple of things this weekend! And when you realise indeed how many people work on these, yes, it is worthwhile.

    Just one last thing about subscriptions though, you have to be careful which magazine you sign up to, some of the craft magazines in the uk are apparently owned by a shady company which has the habit of going bust and not paying the employees. Remember a magazine called Sew Hip a few years ago? I was flicking through old issues last night and looked if it was still running, turns out it was put in administration without paying contributors or employees and subscribers were left in limbo. Very sad for anyone involved.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Dorine. There’s definitely always other reasons for not buying magazines. I stopped buying them for a while because I didn’t see myself having the time, either. The great thing about hobby mags and especially crafting mags is that info like their tutorials and advice is still useful ages later.

      For example even when I don’t have the time to read or use their advice I’m still buying a couple gardening magazines. That way I have all the issues lined up for next year! :)

      And yeah, shady companies are still a big nuisance. Luckily it’s easy to find out if a company is genuine or not with a quick Google search. It’s harder to be scummy with the internet making everything so transparent!

  4. Excellent post! I buy very few magazines, but do enjoy the occassional mollie makes, Burda & Cloth. They are much better value for money than fashion mags!

    1. Yeah, I do see crafting magazines as taking a lot of effort. Producing so much high quality content and making sure the mag is original and unique on the stand must be so much work!

  5. I love this blog post! As someone who will be going into the publishing industry I know how much goes into each page of a magazine published. Even something as simple as an art catalogue takes months of preparation and creating to make. In fact looking at it that way craft magazines are a bargain! and worth every penny.

    1. Thanks Harriet! I see craft magazines as good bargains, too. I rarely follow DIY tutorials step-by-step and instead use them as inspiration. What kind of price can you put on good ideas? Plus I find they are great for finding new crafty people to look up and maybe even connect with.

  6. Katy at Apartment Apothecary

    What a great post, I really enjoyed reading it and thinking about the issues you’ve raised. I, too, am addicted to mags (just subscribed to two more this month!) and I never balk at the price because they not only give me instantaneous pleasure but I find them so inspiring; in many ways this is priceless. Thanks, Anna x

    1. Thank you Katy! It’s good to know you’re a fellow magazine addict. ;) I just can’t get enough of them! They’re my coffee table staple. I find it refreshing to get inspiration from something that has a clear beginning and end, instead of the endless inspiration you can get from places like Pinterest which can be overwhelming!

  7. Great post! I buy craft magazines for the same reason as you and always read the contributors page! In fact I find that this is the place I usually discover new businesses or blogs.

    I think the reason people complain about the price is that they can find a lot of similar inspiration online for free such as via blogs or Pinterest. In my opinion, nothing beats a pattern or interview on paper pages though. I like to keep them and return to magazines on days I seek inspiration.

    I tend to subscribe to save money and my Sister and I usually exchange magazine subscriptions as Christmas gifts too.

    I have published a sneak peek of Crafty Magazine Issue 3 on my blog today if you fancy a nosey!

    Claire x

    1. Thanks Claire! I love reading the contributor’s page, too. In a way it’s how I tease myself about the lovely content I’m about to read!

      I agree with you about people valuing inspiration less because there’s so much of it online. The price you pay for a magazine is the price of that inspiration being condensed and a bit easier to manage. I find that much more practical in the long run for getting me to actually follow through with ideas. For example, I’m much more likely to follow a tutorial in a magazine than one that’s free online, simply because there’s so much online to distract me that it’s hard to know where to start.

      My copy of Crafty Mag popped through with the post already, but hopefully anyone else who’s curious will go take a look! x

  8. Hi there

    Like most people on here I think this is a great article. As an employee of one of the craft magazines mentioned in the post it’s encouraging to know readers still feel they are getting value for money. The costs to produce magazines like most things have risen year on year so it’s a constant balancing act between making enough money to keep a title running and pricing your readers out of the market. Without boring you all with too much detail paper, printing, transportation, gift manufacturing and a whole host of other overheads are all taken into account.

    Away from the editorial and contributors there are other staff costs to consider from art to accounts and marketing to IT. Add in the cut that the distributor takes for each copy sold (plus the cost to produce all the issues that don’t get sold) and you soon have very little of that £4.99 cover price left.

    Advertising helps with this of course and prevents cover-prices increasing further. An extraordinary amount of work goes into producing a craft magazine every 4 weeks that I’m sure most readers never consider (and why would they). Subscribing is definitely the best way to save money over the shops and has the added benefit of saving you time and effort plus the price of your petrol or bus fare!

    I’d love to know how people feel about digital versions of their favourite craft magazines. Do you think they have the same value as the printed version or would you expect to pay less (or even more)? Do you think using an ipad whilst crafting is a bit too messy or is it the perfect tool to have all your favourite projects and instructions at the tip of your fingers?

    1. There is so much overheard to making magazines that it does, yes, add up! Like I said so many people are involved who work on different parts to come together. I can’t imagine the pressure creating a new issue every 4 weeks must be like.

      As for myself, I love digital versions. Some magazines I want print versions of because I love flipping through them. Magazines that have a lot of recipes I love to keep as digital copies because it means no staining or losing pages! And I really love having dozens of issues available. I do wish digital copies were able to fit both tablet and phone screen sizes more easily, but I know how much work goes into digital copies already, especially interactive ones.

      Thanks for commenting!

  9. Anna, this is really timely for me as I’ve been thinking of unsubscribing from Mollie Makes. It’s not that I don’t LOVE the magazine, I really do, and can see the value and work put into every issue. It’s just that I don’t have time to read it cover to cover like I used to, and I’m more up for trying a couple of different mags every month, to keep things fresh and get inspiration from a variety of sources.

    I’d love a subscription that sent me two mags a month for say… £8, and rotated the magazines through craft/art/design/interiors/etc. Or even if one publishing house (e.g Futurenet who do mollie makes and other crafty mags) did this kind of subscription.

    In response to Crafter1, I actually like having a tangible magazine, as opposed to a digital version, as I am on the screen WAY TOO MUCH already! I just wish there was more flexible options to subscribing. Maybe I’m old school though?

    Jen
    The Make Box
    x

    1. Thanks, Jen! When my budget is tighter I tend to pick up different magazines as well. One lovely aspect of handmade is that it’s easy to find inspiration for it from any magazine, too. Half of my ideas inspired by magazines come from things like Country Living and even PC mags. A certain prop in a photo, a colour combination, or whatever else can inspire a make. Sometimes it’s nice to take a breath of fresh air and step away from crafting tutorials and links to more blogs to follow! I know my problem definitely isn’t too few ideas, sometimes it’s too many.

      Rotating subscriptions sound really awesome. I understand it’d skew reader numbers, but I would love getting a bit of variety!

      I’m a bit on screen too much too, but when I read mags on an iPad (usually in bed) that doesn’t count, right? Hahah! But nothing beats the smell of a new magazine. :)

      Thanks for commenting!

  10. I totally agree! Even though my budget is annoyingly tight, I love buying craft magazines. I love seeing what other people have designed and finding out about variations on my favourite crafts. I have a great deal of respect (and maybe a little bit of jealousy!) for the people who put the magazines together, keep it up!

    1. Thanks Kimmie! One of my favourite aspects are all the variations, too. It’s great to see trends from a different angle when a magazine has a clever tutorial or article about it. I hope you get some use of the money saving tips I mentioned! They’ve been great for my tighter months, too. :)

  11. Good magazines are something that I will always pay for. I will pay for them to be sent from all over the world. Just ask my husband, “Here’s another one from Denmark…” he says, as he raises his eyebrow and adds it to the stack. :) I’m especially in love with magazines like Cereal, Kinfolk, Anthology, and Uppercase – super high quality photos, writing, and paper. I love them. And I will keep getting them. And eventually, I will read all of them. :) xo

    1. Thanks Melanie. I heard about Cereal from you, actually! I love how you share all your new lovely mag finds on the blog. Some readers might be sick to death of hearing of them but not me! I’d rather get three magazines for £15 than a craft book of the same price any day. Luckily for me my husband is a fellow magazine addict or I think I’d have been sleeping alone on my magazine stacks by now! ;)

  12. Great post! Just want to say if you library hasnt got the magazine you want, ask them! Most of the time they will get it in for you. It costs a lot of money to run a magazine and they do not make as much profit as people think.

  13. Pingback: Christmas inspiration | So Many Crafts, So Little Time!

  14. £4.99 is Nothing these days, a pice of an over-hyped coffee. My parents buy me 2 subscriptions each year, 1 birthday and 1 christmas. They pay on a DD and it keeps going untill i see another mag with a great subscription gift and they cancel one of the others and switch over! Doing this only has got me well over £500 in free gifts inc a 78 piece sakura pencil set, 3 sets of Glitter brush markers and various other goodies. Every month I get new products I would never be able to buy myself on my disability benefits, those I don’t use I pass on to a local charity drive who provide families in need (essentials and little extras so they can also have birthday and Christmas presents to give to their kids!). Some people put the unwanted gifts on eBay etc but I’d rather help a families out.,
    The magazines not only provide me with new ideas and techniques but some inc free papers and most have links to online pages to print off various papers and templates.
    I also buy myself the quarterly productions of the craft kit magazines, which do cost more than I’d normally spend on a magazine, at around $12.99 each, but every single one inc gifts worth way more than the cost of the magazine. Usually 4 or 5 free ones in fact, as well as papers, templates, advice, tutorials and sometimes even special discount codes for online stores.
    The cost of these magazines are nothing compared to the cost of the individual products and a good buy for any crafter but for people like myself who are unable to get to either craft fairs, classes or the retreats (which look like such fun but very costly) due to disabilities they have been my teacher and guides. I teach myself every single technique, those I can do or enjoy I will practice until I feel I’m good enough. Being unable to work or leave the house, sometimes unable to for weeks at a time these magazines have bought me therapy, pain avoidance and happiness! All for the price of a double shot skinny super mochachino latte with extra cream and a biscotti!!

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