Friday, 9 November 2007

Guest Speaker-Helen Gilchrist

'Life Earth Sounds Surf Inspiration'
Life is going well for producer and editor of Stranger magazine. Helen started the beautiful and inspiring magazine herself in September 2004. She mentions that the magazine is 'rootsy and raw' rather than a glossy magazine we always see. Having read the magazine Helen gave out in the lecture, I found it entertaining and rather eye-catching.
Stranger magazine is printed on recycled paper which uses sustainable printing techniques. Stranger gives articles about what is going on around Cornwall for younger people.
There are monthly publications which are actually produced here in Cornwall. They are sold nation wide, inlcuding in London and Brighton. Stranger magazine is mainly aimed at readers aged 18-35. It covers issues such as; Lifestyle and Current Affairs which are interacted in with the internet revolution. Also Skating, Dance and Music and more entertainment publications. There is articles on the 'South West vibe' which is about the young lifestyle publication nationally. There is a very high production within the magazine.
Around the country there is 150 distribution outlets, this includes; art galleries, shops and cafes. Being a small Cornish produced magazine there is a massive competitive industry, there is over 3000 titles. Every year there are around 1000 new titles that are launched, which are added in the competitive industry.
17% of the population prefer to browse the magazines on the shelves in a store rather than actually purchase them. 19% of the population love to read magazines but don't go out and buy them.
Helen produced a 'dummy' issue, this was just to show people what Stranger magazine would constist of and what the readers could expect.
Helen borrowed photographs from a magazine she used to work with. Helen had to make the dummy issue look enticing so people would conintue to buy the magazine after the first issue was produced. Helen has also produced a presentational website to go along side the magazine, you can go online and see whats new with Stranger, you can contact Helen through email or the phone and ask her about the magazine.
To produce the first issue Helen went to the Prince's Trust to sort out a loan, this was to be able to print the issues. Also, there were a number of contributions from talented people around Falmouth and other areas of Cornwall. People heard of the magazine mostly through word of mouth and wanted to get involved. The main issue with producing your own magazine is making sure you always have enough money. This is why Helen had to get a loan to start the first few issues. She didn't charge anyone for the first 7/8 issues and then started charging £1.50.
If you purchase a Stranger magazine you can see that Helen didn't want to 'annoy' her readers by placing alot of adverts in her magazine. People don't want to see adverts taking up most of the space in magazines anymore. A couple is OK because advertisment pays.
As for the website, it has 30,000 vistors a year that's roughly about 900 a day. 73.95% are new visitors, some just checking the website out, having a look to see what it is all about. The average visitor spends about 05.42 minutes on the website, and for Helen that is great. 2.42% of the visitors return to the site after logging on for the first time and that can be between 51 and 100 times a month.
Apart from only talking about Stranger magazine, Helen gave us all information on how to pitch ideas to magazine companies, where we can ask questions like; "what is it's voice/style?, What sort of features/stories does it have?, What are the regualar sections/Where would your story fit in?" These are all good questions to ask yourself and the company.
I found Helen's lecture about Stranger magazine really interesting...maybe I'll ask if she has places for work experience?
You never know!

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