Saying Good-Bye to the Magazine
And Welcoming a New Chapter
I said a silent prayer of gratitude the other morning at the USPS over the last boxes of Cottage Hill. Sold out. Not a single copy is left, and that's how my heart feels—like I gave away all I had to give.
Thankful doesn't begin to express how I feel for all the magazines brought to my life, and our incredible readers and supporters. I don't take for granted one single moment from the last five years. It may be the end of a season, but I've got so much peace in my heart for what's next.
If you ever purchased a Cottage Hill magazine, from the bottom of my heart,—thank you.
What started as a project in my kitchen, inspired by my great-grandparents, became an internationally-distributed, award-winning, multiple sold-out publication.
Since the magazine, I have coached several other independent publishers produce their own magazines and it has been so exciting to not only watch them succeed but save them from so many of the mistakes I made at the beginning. However, there were a few things I did right, that I think were responsible for our success.
3 Things that made Cottage Hill Magazine a Success
I knew my WHY. I knew exactly what I wanted Cottage Hill to be, the purpose of it being a print magazine and why I thought (and knew from extensive research) others would enjoy it. My WHY is what carried me through hard times or tough decisions.
Sometimes when we talk about our WHY, we think it has to be this grand mission statement. But, it really doesn't. It doesn't even have to have an emotional or sentimental attachment to it. You just need to know in simplest terms, why you are taking the risks and pursuing this idea. What's the bigger picture that's going to motivate you when you don't feel like going on?
I had a plan. I had a research plan, a financial plan, a backup plan to every editorial, a plan to sell out, a plan to completely fail—I planned for everything.
When it comes to planning, it's fun to focus on social media or launches, but the planning that really makes all the difference is the 1) research planning and 2) the fail plan.
Before even announcing Cottage Hill, I spoke with 80+ industry professionals as research to understand their needs, their clients' needs and their current relationship and feelings towards magazines. I polled potential readers to get an idea of what was needed. This gave me a clear plan of what to create that would succeed.
Before our Kickstarter campaign, I had a fail plan—what we would do if we didn't raise the money or if we lost the money or if no one purchased a magazine.
Have plans or backup plans, isn't a sign that you don't have faith. It means you are wise enough to know that you aren't infallible and this dream could be a lesson to something greater. Having plans lets you learn the lessons better.
I cultivated community. When you build a business, the less you think about the money or the stats, but focus more on the people...you win.
I wanted Cottage Hill to be a magazine that made contributors feel appreciated and like they had artistic freedom to create beautiful, original things. I wanted the readers to know the people who made the stories. I wanted everyone involved to feel proud, like they were part of a big team.
There is no way we could have even approached the success we did had it not been for our amazing community.
Many of you have asked, “If things were going so well, why stop?”
This was a question I asked myself for about two years, doubting my decision to let it go. But what I ultimately knew in my gut was right—right for us.
3 Reasons I Knew it was Time to Move On
When you pay attention to the needs of both you and your consumers, knowing if and when to shift in your business is crystal clear. Two years or so ago I became a mom, sooner than we expected. Two or so years ago, I did some research that showed only 30% of our readers read the entire magazine. While that is more than double of the national average, it didn't feel like enough for me.
What I needed was a business that allowed me more time in the week to be a stay-at-home mom and savor this short season. What our consumers needed was an easier way to digest the stories we share, because they are too good for only 30% of our people to actually read them. What we share is life-changing, and this method was making people miss out.
Something had to change.
You have to realize, you cannot have it all. As well-meaning as those Pinterest quotes are, you cannot have it all. I could not be a a part-time stay-at-home mom like I wanted, and start our ranch, while also taking the magazine to the level I wanted, that it deserved, moving forward. What I wanted for the magazine and motherhood conflicted. There had to be a compromise.
And if you really allow yourself to be creative, compromise can be a good thing. It can lead you to more innovative ways of problem-solving and serving.
When you know what is 'enough' it makes the compromising and/or moving on much easier. I had goals for the magazine, and I accomplished all of them. We sold out, we had a celebrity cover, we featured people I really adored, we surpassed goals and expectations. What more could I have wanted? I knew what was enough. We had achieved enough, and that allowed me to more gracefully let go and move on.
And make room for perhaps, something greater.