Serious women's mag disrupts publishing model

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Madeleine Dore

Rejecting advertising and championing serious issues, Womankind magazine is reshaping the women's magazine market with remarkable success.

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Womankind Issue #4 'The Power of Frida Kahlo' Image: www.facebook.com/womankindmag

Selling out in bookstores during the first few days of its launch last July, a new breed of women’s magazine Womankind is disrupting the publishing industry as it feeds the souls of a broad demographic of smart women interested in big ideas about philosophy, sociology and psychology.

In less than a year, Womankind now sits at number four on distributor iSubscribe’s list of its bestselling women’s magazine, up there with Marie Claire and Vogue and ahead of more established magazines such as Frankie. Perhaps tellingly, Womankind is listed by iSubsribe in its Fashion & Beauty section, although the magazine has a much broader brief.

What is most remarkable about the steady climb to the top for this quarterly magazine is that it got there without advertising. In the category of Fashion & Beauty – which is so often preys on women’s self-esteem in order to squeeze the advertising dollar – the ad-free magazine offers women readers a break from negative consumer messaging.

Editor Antonia Case told ArtsHub the success of the publication just shows that women are looking for something extra.

From features on the ‘The lost art of travel’, to ‘Why do Australians hate thinkers?’ the publication speaks to a broad range of women who are tired of the current market of celebrity and gossip driven women’s magazines.

‘We’ve had Marie Clare and Vogue a very long time now. Womankind  is new, it’s thought-provoking, includes a lot more art than other magazines, more literature, more poetry, more science, more philosophy – women are interested in all these topics, not just fashion and beauty and celebrities,’ said Case.

With no body shaming images of celebrities and their cellulite in sight, Womankind mindfully shifts the attention to women who are ‘changing the world or doing great things, not just necessarily women that are selling consumer products.’

Our modern view the ‘celebrity’ seems to be pinned to just one industry – largely entertainment. But there are remarkable celebrities out there in every fashion of life, said Case. ‘That is our aim, to seek these other people out.’

A new model for magazine publishing

While publications both online and off are busy experimenting with native advertising and sponsored content to survive, Womankind has sidestepped the industry and rejected advertising on their pages.

No advertising allows free reign for editorial content and the freedom to critique everything, in turn creating a more ethical magazine. This model in publishing could be likened to what we are seeing with the organic food movement.

‘It is much more expensive to grow food organically, but people are doing it because they know it is important and nourishing and good for people,’ said Case.

About the author

Madeleine Dore is a freelance writer and founder of Extraordinary Routines, an interview project exploring the intersection between creativity and imperfection. She is the previous Deputy Editor at ArtsHub. Follow her on Twitter at @RoutineCurator