Good luck trying to buy a magazine subscription for your friends and family. Unfortunately, gift subscriptions are almost totally overlooked by indie publishers today.
(I’ll wait while you go to your top 3 magazines’ website and try to find a gift subscription in their webshop; let me know if you find one!)
Why you should sell gift subscriptions
Magazine subscriptions are grand enough to qualify as gifts. The act of buying multiple magazines—with some to come in the future, like a gift that keeps on giving—is quite a cool thing to buy for someone you love (and to receive from someone you love!)
Gift subscriptions are also an amazing way to claim new readers and fans for your magazine. Someone becomes a subscriber (a subscriber!) without you having to directly market to or entice them.
I firmly believe that subscriptions should be the backbone of magazine revenue. Having people give you money on behalf of someone else is pure gold.
Add some sparkle to your gift orders
Make sure you treat your gift subscribers nicely! They may not be 100% familiar with your magazine so you should make an amazing first impression. Plus, they are receiving a gift, remember. So make it special! (if only for the first issue of a subscription)
Even if your subscriber is a huge fan and has all of your issues, it’s still a lovely treat to get some extra goodies, a nicely-wrapped up magazine, or even a simple hand-written note. Everyone likes to be made
Other things you could include in a gift shipment: poster, postcard, gift code for a future purchase, a back issue…
Just make them feel special.
How to sell gift subscriptions
If you’re selling on an e-commerce platform like Shopify and Squarespace, you don’t have a native way to offer gift subscriptions, but there is a simple hack.
The trick is to use the separate shipping and billing addresses in checkout to define the customer/gifter and recipient. You need to highlight this clearly in your product’s description.
It’s not a perfect solution: you need to be prepared to notice these orders as they come in so a) you can correctly add the addresses in your customer and subscriber databases, and b) remember to add the extras mentioned above.
If you’re selling subscriptions on Subsail, you’re in luck. Subsail offers gift subscriptions as a selling option and a quick toggle in your account will enable gift subscriptions.
All gift subscriptions are clearly labeled and there is a gift subscription filter so you can quickly use gift subs as a search parameter.
Go forth and gift
Gift subscriptions may make up fewer than 10% of sales* but they are an amazing tool at converting non-readers into regular readers, exposing your magazine to new people, and gaining pre-orders (aka money now instead of no money later) for your future issues. Why would you not at least make them an option in your shop?
*Fewer than 10% of subscription purchased on Subsail are gift subscriptions