Canadian Magazine Industry News
10 May 2016,     WINNIPEG
ANNA Magazine enters the digital world
The last time Masthead spoke with Mari Loewen, founder and editorial director of ANNA Magazine, it was 2012 and she was holding a Toronto launch to expand her brand, after seeing success in Western Canada. Fast forward to 2016 and Loewen has launched her lifestyle platform, where her food-meets-inspiration publication will be available digitally. For Loewen, the move to the digital world wasn’t an easy one, but it was necessary.

“It’s no secret that the print business is very difficult,” she said. “We were in the position where we had grants and things were more in our favour, and almost overnight these large bodies made choices that affected—especially someone that is an independent publisher. We had distribution throughout North America and suddenly costs were extraordinary.”

In 2012, according to company info, 85 percent of ANNA's circulation was through paid subscriptions while newsstand sales accounted for the other 15 percent. Single copies sold for $10.95 and yearly subscriptions for $39.95.

Loewen said she struggled for two years, trying to make the cookbook style magazine work, motivated by readers who loved the content and expected to see it on newsstands. “[The magazine] was like a friend that they were waiting for, so we felt that pressure not only from a revenue standpoint, but we felt the emotional pressure to be responsible to our readers,” she explained.

Not wanting to be “just another magazine lost in a sea of a million titles.” Loewen and her team developed everything-anna to engage its readers, weekly. Not only can they purchase a copy of the magazine, readers can sign up for Monday Morning Inspiration, an e-note (newsletter) that contains travel, recipies, food, heartfelt inspiration, and a shopping feature.

 A snippet of ANNA Magazine's weekly e-note

To keep costs down, Loewen did not hire an outside firm to create the lifestyle platform, instead everything was kept in-house, allowing the team to have full control and the ability to tweak the website as needed. However she doesn’t shy away from partnerships, her next step for ANNA is to develop and maintain a more efficient platform that can work with a lean team and bring their readers quality content. “We’ve just been approached by a company out of New York, who works with online publishers to create platforms, which are very optimized,” Loewen said.

She takes pride in the fact that the NY-based company (name withheld while deal in the works) see’s her brand’s potential, especially since the company has an extensive level of experience in the digital world.

While no subscriptions are currently available, all 29 of the previously print-released issues will be available for purchase online for $10 each. “We’re rolling them out every month,” she explained. “Every week our intention is that we will be sharing some of the content of that magazine, which is for sale that month.”

When ANNA launched in 2006, its average reader was 45, which now presents a challenge for the publication, which will need to get those loyal readers, now reaching 60, to find ANNA online. “I think that it’s going to take a little bit of time for people to get the whole model, but very quickly I think everything is shifting,” Loewen said. “We’re seeing that our average female reader—which is still 45—is absolutely loving Monday Morning Inspiration.”

While it’s still early day’s (digital editions launched online on May 2) Loewen says the website has had 85,000 views a month, and estimates that a few thousand readers have purchased the digital issues. She’s also noticed through Google Analytics that readership is growing in Eastern Canada and Eastern U.S.— a new market for ANNA and one of the benefits of being reachable online.

“So now here we are in the digital world, just trying to learn all the tricks of the trade,” Loewen said. “We feel like we’ve just scratched the surface. “Even though we’ve been publishing Anna for 10 years, we feel like it’s just going out into the world now.”
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