Thursday 5 July 2012

How to Get Your Products in a Magazine

One of the best ways to promote your handmade products has to be getting them featured in a magazine or newspaper, doesn't it?

Well, to be quite honest, sometimes it produces a mad rush of orders for you and sometimes the response is much slower.  However, each mention widens the number of people who notice you and it can't help but increase your credibility.  It always looks good to be featured - and it gives you a little confidence boost too!

With that in mind, here's a quick guide to some of the things that can help you get your work in a magazine.  Bear in mind that I'm in the UK and this guide is aimed at the UK market.  However, I think much of the advice here will be useful in other countries too.

It helps to remember that magazines are always looking for something new, currently relevant or different to fill their pages - if your product is all three rolled into one, it's going to be a big help.


Your Images

Before you start on your quest for publicity in print, make your product photos the very best they can be.  This doesn't mean you need to pay a professional photographer (although if you can get a good deal, go for it) - you can improve your own photography and editing skills quite simply:
  • take lots of photos and pick the best
  • use natural daylight instead of flash
  • use a plain white background (or even better: if you know how to do cut-outs, you'll be a journalist's best friend!) unless you're a professional stylist and want to do lifestyle shots.  Lifestyle shots are less likely to be used on shopping pages, though.
  • crop and edit your photos to make them brighter and clearer
  • read a book about product photography for more information

Shopping Pages

Most magazines have shopping pages, with product photos along with information about where to go to buy that product.  These are the pages you're most likely to get featured on (and they're a great place to be, because they subtly suggest your product is worth buying) so pay attention to what sort of things they are featuring.  Not all magazines are going to be suitable for your product.

 shopping pages

Start off by thinking niche markets.  Cats, caravans, knitting, sewing, crochet, gardening, chickens, computers, dogs, babies (and more) all have something in common: there are whole magazines dedicated to them.  If something you make is of interest to their readers, the magazine may well be interested in featuring that product.  Niche markets are often easier to target but their reach is smaller.  However, if your product is one that is aimed at that market, it could be very successful for you.

 niche magazines

You don't have to leave it at niche markets.  Bigger magazines may feature you too, although it can be harder to find the journalist you need to approach - in this case it probably won't be the editor.  Bear in mind that for a small business where one person is making all the products, it can be hard to keep up with the demand that can come from a feature in a large-circulation magazine - another reason to start with the niche magazines.  They may be all you'll need.

Contacting the Magazine

In the first instance, study each magazine carefully and decide who your best point of contact is. You might find more information online, so check the magazine's website too.  Write a short, polite and friendly email telling them about your product.  Attach a low resolution (sized for the internet) image and a link to your website.  Leave it at that.  They'll either be interested or not - so don't hassle them with follow-ups or phone calls (although a lot of people recommend you send just one follow-up email a week or so later).  Don't send lots of images: one or maybe two is enough.  You can always email them again in a couple of months with a different product (which I think is preferable to a follow-up email using the same product).

If they're not interested, don't take it personally.  It might just be that your product isn't a good fit with everything else they're putting in the magazine - they often work with themes. Or maybe they've already got something a bit too similar.

If they are interested, you'll probably get an email back (or they may phone you) asking for a high resolution image (they may want the item posting to them so they can photograph it themselves, although this is increasingly rare).  You'll need to be ready, as they're often in need of that image urgently.  Deadlines are always looming!  A high resolution image means 300 dpi, and if you don't know how to make your images that size have a look at this tutorial..  It's easy, I promise, and you don't need to buy anything to do it.

Other Ways to get your Products Featured in Magazines:

  • Sign up with a PR site like UK-based Press Loft - be warned, they're not cheap.  However, they do special offer introductory no-obligation trials, so be sure to ask first.  This special offer will give you a taste of whether it's worth you paying for a subscription.  Journalists can download your high-res images and the advantages of this approach are many: 
             - you'll upload your images just once
             - you don't need to contact journalists or editors
             - you'll see journalists' email details so you can contact them directly
             - you might get published in magazines you would never have considered approaching.

 wine o' clock clock available here

After taking up Press Loft's special offer, my wine o' clock clock ended up in the Metro free newspaper, which wasn't even on my radar.  I was flooded with orders (this was three weeks before Christmas), which was really exciting, fabulous and awful all at the same time.  I had to stop accepting orders a few days later as I was worried I wouldn't get them all made, packed and posted in time for Christmas.

  • Sell your goods through a website like UK-based Swanky Maison who sell handmade home accessories and unique gifts.  Part of their promotion strategy is to promote their partners' products in high profile magazines and newspapers.  You'll pay a signing up fee and a commission, but they work hard to get products noticed - and believe me, the work can literally flood in if one of your products is placed in a prominent, high circulation newspaper or magazine.  Via Swanky Maison, my campervan clock was placed in the Sunday Mirror magazine, which I would never have achieved on my own.  Did I get a flood of orders?  Oh heck, yes.  My studio (and living room) became a campervan clock factory and I was sick of looking at them for a while.  Be careful what you wish for!

  • Follow magazines on Twitter and like them on Facebook.  Sometimes they share what they're looking for and your lazy half-hour on the sofa with your feet up can suddenly work in your favour and become productive!  Yes, it has actually worked for me and a tweet has resulted in a feature - although don't use it as an excuse for a duvet day too often!
There are of course many other ways to get featured, especially if you have an interesting life story or beautiful house!  However, if you're interested in selling your handmade products then getting them onto a magazine's shopping pages is one of the easiest and quickest ways to bring that product to a large audience.  And, apart from a little time, it's free. The feature is usually quite small, but the response and boost to your business can be huge.

I found a bit more reading for you:

Handmadeology: this one's especially useful for Etsy sellers

Wiki How

The Entreprenette Gazette - lots of tips

Good luck!  As always, if you have anything to add, please leave a comment.


Artsy Craftery Design Studio said...

I'm working towards this, to do it at least once. Mentioned your post here:

Free Spirit Designs said...

great post Wendy with lots of helpful info - thank you! x

Ali said...

Really interesting post. I'd have only thought of going directly to the magazines. Ali x

Anonymous said...

A great article - thanks.

say it said...

Great article. Very helpful, thank you.

Just had a look at the swanky maison site. Very nice. Could you give us an idea of how much you had to pay for the signing up fee and the commission? I'm a little nervous to contact them in case they are well out of my league!!

Anonymous said...

What a good article really covering the territory.
The only thing I would add is if you phone the advertising section of any magazine they will tell you all the forthcomming special features. They have them so they can hunt down advertisers. That way you can innocently groom your offer.

Wendy said...

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

Say it says: Can't remember exactly, but I think about £100 per year plus 30% of sales. I'd say contact them though - they are lovely, helpful and not at all pushy.

Handmadelives: thanks for that extra tip - I can imagine that could be really useful.

Unknown said...

What a great article! I have just come across your products as I am beginning the journey to joining Swanky Maison - I adore your clocks!

Wendy said...

Thanks Simmi - hope it was useful. Good luck on Swaky - Cath & Emma are lovely x

Thestitchsharer said...

Such a useful article. Thank you for sharing. Your clocks are fab. Ali totally love your headers photo. X

Kevin Cooper said...

Hi Wendy,
Very interesting post. What did you mean about this bit "if you know how to do cut-outs, you'll be a journalist's best friend!"

Wendy said...

Thanks Kev. Cut-outs are when the photo has been cut out around the product so there's no background - it's not the same as having a white background. Magazines use cut-outs quite a lot on their shopping pages.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting article, thank you. With cut outs, do you know what format the magazine editors like you to submit it e.g. jpeg?
Many thanks

Wendy said...

In my experience, they've always been happy with jpegs.

Unknown said...

Thanks for interesting tips and advices! Your Wine o'clock clock is very clever and funny and I think will make perfect gift for any occasion. Please visit my shop at I m sure u gonna like it :)

Verity @ Rascal & Roses said...

This is such a useful article. Thank you, it's such a minefield when you don't know how it works-even a point in the right direction can help-but your info is great! Thanks :-)

Martha said...

great post with lots of useful observations. thanks for sharing Wendy :)

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Aarathi said...

Thank you for the very helpful tips.

jhon said...

I have a finger in way too many craft pies but that's the way I like it! Hang around for Handmade Monday, a weekly linky party for crafters. a fantastic read

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