Written by Amy Steadman • Published 11th October 2012
Back in March of this year Katie and I attended a Gorkana Breakfast with Easy Living Magazine in which relatively newly appointed editor Deborah Joseph announced the plans she had started to put in place for the magazine. Fast forward seven months and the success of the magazine is so great that The Guardian secured Joseph as a lead interview this week.
Easy Living posted its highest sales for two years between January and June this year, and considering Joseph’s first issue was published in February this year it’s safe to assume that she is the reason! Her main aim was to attract a younger audience. The magazine had not had a redesign in 8 years, and she felt that readers had grown with the magazine over that time. But Joseph did not want to risk losing her loyal readers either. She added a style section and an extra fashion story, appointed a new agony Aunt, dropped a lot of the content about children and has added a sex section. Of the new racy but sophisticated section she says:
“The whole phenomenon of 50 Shades of Grey – it’s my readers who bought those books… Nobody else seems to be doing it in magazines for the slightly older reader.”
Joseph has also changed the cover stars somewhat. Replacing the likes of British tv stars – Tess Daly and Kirstie Allsopp with Hollywood stars such as Scarlett Johansson and Charlize Theron. But Easy Living is far from becoming a ‘celebrity’ magazine. Instead, Joseph adopts a sensible approach: “When we do research, people say they don’t want too much celebrity, but if you don’t put a celebrity on the cover, your sales drop. Our readers don’t want it to become a celebrity magazine, but when you’re on the newsstand and everyone else has a celebrity on the cover and you haven’t you miss out.” It is interesting that (a much younger monthly magazine) Company has recently addressed the same issue. At another Gorkana Breakfast, we learned that the Company reader is not concerned with celebrity. Is this really the case? It will be interesting to see if the sales of Company magazine reflect this. With so many publications to choose from it is certainly a way to differentiate. And it’s most certainly an admirable standpoint. But is it that the reader wants to appear to not be concerned with the celebrity? Is it that some have become disheartened by the celebrity-obsessed culture in the UK? I’m not sure that we can say for sure.
Easy Living also boasts a new website, which claims 71,000 monthly unique users. As for whether Josephs believes magazines will survive in print, she says: “Absolutely. If you look at how many women’s magazines are selling every month, it’s phenomenal, but I do think it has to be multidimensional – there has to be an iPad version, the website, you have to appeal to people on different media platforms.” She goes on to explain what it is about a printed magazine that makes it special: “I still love a [print] magazine. There is a luxury in sitting in the bath or on a train and reading a magazine.” And we have to say that in the PHA Fashion & Lifestyle team we have to agree. It’s just not the same reading it on an iPad.
Deborah is now off on her maternity leave, and we of course, wish her all the best. And our message to the Easy Living team – keep it up!