Subscribers got the link a couple nights ago, but today – it’s official. Here’s GBXM 02.04!
(We’ve also got some thoughts on how future issues will be delivered. Read on for details.)
FIRST, ISSUE 02.04
If you’d like to buy a printed copy of this issue, they’re available through our Blurb bookstore.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Now, some thoughts on the delivery and availability of issues in the future. I’d like to harness the power of Amazon for our printing and fulfillment needs. This would impact our pricing (read: “freemium”) model. Subscribers, we really need to hear from you on this!
I’ve had to personally purchase a printed copy of every issue – at full retail – before we can sell them to the public. Not that I wouldn’t want printed copies. They’re pretty freaking awesome. Thing is, print-on-demand is kind of expensive. This particular issue just set me back US$21 and change (including $4.99 shipping). We make a little over a dollar per copy. I like to think the people forking over cash for copies of the actual magazine would like to see us get some of that support.
I’d like to see the printed issues priced closer to real, actual magazines. Methinks I’ve said this at least 100 times by now, GBXM|united exists to make a difference before making a profit. Hopefully the last 5+ years have proven our commitment to gearheads like us. That said, I really, REALLY want to do this for a living. Now, I know I’m a bit of a utopian kinda guy, but positive vibes don’t pay the bills, ya know? Having just bought my first house, I called the bank and asked if I could pay the mortgage with pageviews and Facebook likes. (Hey. I was curious.) They said no.
2 WAYS TO MAKE US$150,000 PER YEAR
Ultimately, I’d like to see GBXM|united bringing in $150,000/yr. That’s just a quick, rough number representing controlling partners, Deanna and I, each making $60k gross (self-employed taxes are a bitch), with $30k left for things like site/platform improvements, events, forums, training modules, contests, and sponsorships, not to mention paying people to help us. (See also: volume print ordering and fulfillment services to significantly reduce per-issue costs.) That’s really where I’d like to see this thing go – preferably before we’re 10 years old!
You can make $150,000 a year by selling 1 customer something worth $150,000 or 150,000 people something worth $1 – or something somewhere in between. How do we make that kind of money on a magazine – without selling out to advertisers?
My experience in 2012 shows that, at $22 per copy, the only people buying copies are those featured in the issues. Some buy a couple, and a couple buy half a dozen, but most simply buy one. More transparency, we sold a grand total of 79 printed copies of Volume 1 issues. (And remember, I bought 11 of those.) Margins varied issue to issue, but let’s call it $1.50 per issue. Those 11 issues easily took us 300 hours to build, spread across the year. We made $118.50. That’s about 40 cents an hour, not counting the time it took to produce the stories that went into the issues.
We don’t necessarily have to make all our money selling printed copies of magazines, though. I’m a big fan of making a little money on a lot of sales – especially sales of inexpensive, high quality products that add real value to the lives of our customers. Other ideas I’ve had include events (see: Death Valley Adventure), online training/coaching/consulting (see: Penmanshift), and/or some kind of membership program for access to all of the above and more. Thing is, building – and perhaps more importantly, servicing – those products takes time; time on top of publishing these issues.
IT’S CLASSIC BILL AND TED
Ted, while I agree that, in time, we will be able to pay our bills and do this full time, the truth is, we will never be able to do that until we have multiple events, training programs, and a value-packed membership program for our customers.
Yes, Bill, but I do not believe we can have multiple events, training programs, and a value-packed membership program for our customers until we are able to pay our bills and do this full time.
Back to the numbers for a minute. In which of these groups do you see yourself?
Group 1 | buys 4 printed issues of Gearbox Magazine a year at $22 per copy
Group 2 | buys 4 printed issues of Gearbox Magazine at year at $8 per copy
Methinks getting our per-issue price down by 70-ish% makes it a whole lot easier to help us with our non-profit mission of helping gearheads like us build high performance machines and lives. Wouldn’t you agree?
I’ve already told you how our current print provider, Blurb, wants $21 to print and ship a copy. You know what Amazon would charge? About $6.45 + $4.99 shipping. 60% cheaper than Blurb, not counting shipping (which is the same). That kind of cost savings is HUGE, but Amazon brings other benefits, too. Print and digital would be available in the same place, on the same page, even, and it would get GBXM – and our mission – in front of a great many more people. As Bill and Ted would say, EXCELLENT!
THE PROBLEM WITH AMAZON
Amazon would make our lives a whole lot easier – yours, ours. Lower costs, faster service, help with marketing. There’s only one problem as far as I can tell. I’m pretty sure Amazon won’t let us sell the magazine if we’re also giving the content away for free. I’m not even 100% sure they wouldn’t have a problem with the individual stories being published here on the website (but I know others do it that way).
The big question, for subscribers – for anyone who cares – what do YOU think? I see moving things to Amazon as a solid step toward making the GBXM dream come true. I love the thought of printed issues being 70% less expensive, but what if that means digital issues will cost a buck or two? This is one of those situations where your feedback can really make a difference. Leave a comment below or get in touch privately. Thanks for a great 2014. Let’s make 2015 even better!
AMAZON PROS: cheaper printed issues (70% cheaper), additional sales accelerate our dream of doing more for gearheads
AMAZON CONS: no more (or very limited) free digital issues