An indie magazine publication by Subsail

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We'll start off this post with the notion that subscriptions are like a pre-order or bulk purchase, so customers will expect some kind of discount. There are a few different ways of giving a discount or adding incentive to your prices, which I went through more thoroughly in this recent post.

Today, however, I want to show you how some current indie magazines‚ÄĒranging from small to large circulations‚ÄĒare pricing their subscriptions, so you can see some real working examples. This kind of research will help you figure out the best way for you to price your own subscriptions.

Off we go!

Cereal

Source: readcereal.com

Cereal is a high-flying indie magazine that has grown massively in circulation since its launch back in 2012. Cereal has a simple subscription offer: get £1 off each of the next two issues. Their subscriptions do not renew, so it's like a simple 2-issue purchase with a small discount.

Pricing method: cover discount
Subscriptions: £22 for 2 issues (£11 each) non-renewing
Single issue: £12

Lagom

Source: readlagom.com

Lagom have gone for very simple subscription pricing: exactly the same as buying a single issue :) The only advantage to subscribing is that you don't have to manually make the purchase each time. Lagom run their subscriptions on Subsail, which lets them easily create renewing subscriptions.

Pricing method: no discount
Subscriptions: £10 (rolling 1 issue) renewing
Single issue: £10

Fare

Source: faremag.com

Fare are using Squarespace subscriptions and sell a recurring twice-yearly subscription. Similarly to Lagom, there is no discount; you are rather signing up to automatically receive new issue every 6 months.

Pricing method: no discount
Subscriptions: £12 (every 6 months) renewing
Single issue: £12

Pressing Matters

Source: pressingmattersmag.com

Pressing Matters is sells subscriptions very successfully (using Subsail). Their pricing is a simple £1 off each issue but what seems to work well is that they offer multiple combinations of renewing/non-renewing against numbers of issues (eg: "1-issue renewing", "3-issue renewing", "3-issue non-renewing" etc). Maybe the range of options here helps customers pick a subscription best suited to them, making them sell well; something for you to think about.

Pricing method: cover discount
Subscriptions: £9 per issue (3-issue or 1-issue options) renewing and non-renewing
Single issue: £10

Kinfolk

Source: kinfolk.com

Kinfolk is another big hitter in the indie world. Now at 30 issues and almost a decade old, Kinfolk actually charge more per issue with their subscriptions, but subscribers get extras like digital access, free gifts and a discount in their shop. It's the total opposite of what most indie magazines offer; the incentive to purchase is tied to the free extras rather than the price of the magazines.

Pricing method: bonuses
Subscriptions: $75 for 4 issues ($18.75 each) renewing
Single issue: $18

Lindsay

Source: lindsaymagazine.co

For their third issue, Lindsay started selling renewing subscriptions on Subsail. As a subscriber, you get two issues for AU$40 instead of the cover price of AU$25. Interestingly, there is also currently a chance to win tickets to a film screening event (domestic subscribers only), which is open only to subscribers.

Pricing method: cover discount, bonus
Subscriptions: AU$40 for 2 issues (AU$20 each) renewing
Single issue: AU$25

The Gourmand

Source: thegourmand.co.uk

The Gourmand, like Cereal and Pressing Matters above, has very simple subscription pricing (are you sensing a theme?). Subscribers buy two issues up front and save £1 per issue.

Pricing method: cover discount
Subscriptions: 2 issues for £22 (£11 each) non-renewing
Single issue: £12

Design Anthology

Source: designanthologymag.com

Another Subsail customer, Design Anthology has similarly-priced single issues and subscriptions but the subscription price has postage included. Overall, you'll save per issue on a subscription.

Pricing method: cover discount + free postage
Subscriptions: HKD 175 for 2 issues (HKD 87.50 each including postage) renewing
Single issues: HKD 88 single issue (excluding postage)


Do you sell renewing or non-renewing subscriptions?

When setting up subscriptions, you will need to decide to offer either renewing subscriptions or set packages of issues, or both.

From the publishers in this post, most are selling renewing subscriptions (7‚Äď2), but from experience, typically this is not the case with indie magazines.

Renewing subscriptions are very hard to handle on regular e-commerce platforms. This leads many to sell an easy product of X issues and leave it at that. This creates a ton of headaches, like tracking which issues a customer is owed, keeping addresses up to date and making sure you email only certain subscribers when you release new issues.

Subsail is here to make renewing subscriptions extremely easy and flexible. Renewing subscriptions with Subsail renew only when you release issues (not on fixed time periods) which allows you to make your magazine at your own pace.