|Re: Cohousing Association Magazine||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Raines Cohen (rc2-coho-Lraines.com)|
|Date: Sat, 29 Nov 2003 00:34:15 -0700 (MST)|
On 11/28/03 8:38 PM, Tom Hammer <thammer302 [at] yahoo.com> wrote: >I have read that specialty magazines serving >particular niches are doing really well lately. >Wouldn't it be possible to keep ours going? I would >love to see our magazine on sale at large news stands >along with all the other specialty publications. Tom, I hear you. I'd love to see that too. But here's a bit of a "reality check". It would be great to continue to publish regularly in print, but we haven't had the resources to distribute it to the small # of members/subscribers, let alone newsstands. It requires lots of $, and staff expertise at distribution (I know, I used to edit a computer-industry trade magazine, and spent a lot of time working with the circulation professionals and seeing how much work/$ it took and how little circulation resulted... if anything, the market has grown tighter since then), not just printing/publishing/layout/editing, and oh yeah, Cohousing. And given how few professionals are making $ in cohousing development, and how little $ they are making, we (the Coho/US board) felt like it was not the most effective use of the movement's limited collective resources to dedicate so much of what's available to maintaining the infrastructure related to this ... vs. opening it up and making it easier for people to contribute from all over and advance the movement in other ways. >Physical magazines can be put on display tables, >picked up and re-read, and there is a reality to paper >publications that cannot be matched electronically. >Both venues would be better than one or the other. Our intent is to continue to create online publications in forms such as PDF that lend themselves to printing out by members and looking good on paper, although our primary emphasis will be on expanding the website and providing more links into it via the e-zine. If somebody else has a viable business plan for a venture that we believe will serve the movement, we'll lend what support we can. >It would seem to me that it would also be helpful to >completed communities to have something that people >can hold in their hands and could be left around the >common house, for example. Lots of folks don't like >spending time in front of a computer screen but would >pick up something in print. And certainly values of >cohousing units would be supported by the continued >publicity a print magazine generates. We ARE planning to continue to publish an annual report and directory of communities in print. And brochures explaining cohousing. And, last I heard, a "best of" Cohousing magazine/journal, in book form. And "print-on-demand" articles. All things which we couldn't do with all available $/effort going to produce the current print publication and stay on top of advertising/invoicing/circulation. >If we are to keep presenting the concept of cohousing >to more people, I would advocate for both venues. The >cohousing developers and architects and some >communities were advertisers in the old magazine. Even upping our rates and reducing ad sizes, as we did recently, resulted in ads paying for only a fraction of the magazine's costs (although it did help professionalize our appearance). While we think that, over time, this would increase, continuing to publish it while losing just a little less money with each issue didn't seem like a viable option. Ironically, I, the web guy, was the one arguing against moving to a solely-online format -- just because we'll be giving it away doesn't necessarily make it easier. > Did >anyone ever approach suppliers of "green" products as >potential advertisers? Stella Tarnay, a previous Cohousing magazine editor, had a lot of connections in this area based on her "day job" and did this to some extent, I believe, without fiscally signficant success. While our movement has a lot of overlap with green building and interest in products of that sort, it's a hard sell to get someone to give even enough attention when your circulation is in the hundreds and reaches primarily a niche audience that represents 0.0000001% of the housing market. Especially when that audience, with our focus on "affordability", all too often translates that into "let's do this cheaper" and doesn't spend on professionals or higher-end higher-margin products ... or even to support the movement. Since then, the efforts have been mainly to contact existing movement professionals and communities -- even doing that and managing the ads and preparing ads for publication and maintaining standards ("trafficking") is a challenge, and while the quality for this most recent issue (Autumn 2003) shows the result, it took significantly more staff time to do the work than was allocated... and there's nowhere else for the $ to come from. > What about people who are also >interested in other types of communities? Perhaps >there could be one combined magazine with a national >circulation, with one section specifically set aside >for cohousing. What about an international cohousing >magazine? Perhaps we are being too parochial to >insist on a North American publication at this point >in our history. If anything, our U.S. (not even North American anymore) focus is still too broad for most potential advertisers... most banks and builders and mortgage companies and insurers have a REGIONAL focus, so they perceive our effective print circulation of interest to them in the dozens for other than Northern California. Online, we can target much more effectively, delivering messages by region and interest and cut out all the costs of postage and production. Note that we have NOT laid off our publications coordinator, Evangeline Welch - we'll just be using her hours in ways that more directly affect the web and reach many more people far more cost-effectively. The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) does publish Communities magazine... and it does cover Cohousing, as you'd expect, given that it's the fastest-growing and most-lucrative form of IC. We are exploring increasing our partnerships there. However, note that Communities mag is not even included with FIC membership, and its focus is broad enough that much of its readership/advertiser base/content is NOT relevant to people creating or living in cohousing communities.... if anything, the stories there could scare away prospective investors/residents from us, the "conservative" end of the spectrum, what with private ownership, market pricing, individual mortgages, no income-sharing, etc. >In our home we pay $100 a year or so for various >magazines, and I'd gladly subscribe to a cohousing or >communities/cohousing magazine for $20 a year. I'm sure you would, and I would (and do subscribe to Communities) but it would take 1,000 just like us to make it effective at all. >Perhaps we need a venture capitalist to start us off, venture capitalists invest where they perceive a potential high return. Publishing in general is a low-return business, with very low earnings-to-income ratios even among the few publications that make it. I can't imagine a VC pursuing the low and negative yields we would realistically project. >or a private donor or foundation which could provide >the needed capital. This is still something we are going after, even spending $ to puruse grants and foundation $, but if we spend all our $ on operations then we don't have a balance sheet and track record that any rational foundation would support. Foundation funding is WAY down, and we haven't invested the amounts in organizational and relationship development that would be necessary to attract any of it. If you were a foundation with a choice of supporting an inner-city affordable-housing group or a national cohousing organization that mostly helps mostly-middle-class mostly-white people, which would you go for? Yes, I know a case can be made for the latter... but until we make it, money won't be dropping in our laps. > Do we have a retiree or two or >some folks who are underemployed, with a passion for >publishing in the cohousing community? We do, and even if we heavily relied on the backbreadking efforts of our volunteers (which we did even when we had paid office staff), it still wouldn't make sense to spend the $ on printing, paper, and postage. We just don't have the economies of scale to make it. As we moved to boost the circulation of the magazine by mailing to every unit in built communities, I thought we would get there, but financial realities led us to change direction sooner rather than "wait and see" if it worked. I think this is a great opportunity for us to use the technology to help the movement... and not just by putting more stuff in front of us on computer screens. Remember, our database has thousands of people, and we know of thousands more... and at most 5% are on CoHo-L. The effort put into directly supporting communities and groups getting together regionally and making calls and writing letters based on our lists and professionals and communities combining lists through our database (with proper privacy protections) has enormous potential to make it far easier for anyone wanting to find or create communities to get through the process faster and more efficiently. The Association is going to need your support to accomplish this... financially (your donation-request letters are in the mail) and in other forms. So what have YOU done for the Cohousing movement this week? Raines Raines Cohen <my initials,2,dash,coho,dash,L at my first name .com> Member, Swan's Market Coho [Oakland, CA] <http://www.swansway.com/> Where we had a great community Thanksgiving last Sunday. Secretary, Berkeley [CA] Cohousing Grabbing the baton on the contact lists. Supporter, East Bay Cohousing <http://www.ebcoho.org/> Next meeting: December 14 at Berkeley Cohousing Boardmember, Coho/US <http://www.cohousing.org/> Announcing a "Getting-It-Built" workshop in San Diego in January. _______________________________________________ Cohousing-L mailing list Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org Unsubscribe and other info: http://www.cohousing.org/cohousing-L
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