Print editorials are becoming more and more apparent with the advent of better self-publishing tools like MagCloud and Issuu. Not to mention how easy it is to submit to the places with Kavyar. Some would say this is great, more ways for people to get noticed and to have their work seen in print. Others would say these are scams that are just using your photos to create a profit for themselves.
Here’s the thing… It’s a little of both. Depending on the magazine of course. But with this over-saturation of print magazines out there, how do you know if it’s worth it? I want to discuss the pros and cons, from my point of view, whether it should be good to get your work published in these independent magazines.
The Roundabout Scheme Theory
You’ve heard of a Pyramid Scheme right? Where one person has 5 people paying him and those 5 people are all getting paid for by 5 other people and so on and so forth. Well in a Roundabout scheme, you never have the same customers twice. You’re constantly funneling customers in and out of the system.
Why is this an issue with editorials? Well this is just a theory, but there are some magazines where they try to pack as many editorials into a magazine at once because they know there’s going to be at least one purchase per editorial. So that means if they make $10 profit off each magazine and they sell 40 magazines to people, that’s $400 they made by switching out pictures in a pre-made InDesign template. That’s not a lot, but that could be an extra $4800 a year for this.
The thing is it’s never only 40 purchases though. A lot of magazines will create multiple iterations of the same issue or multiple issues per month. That way they can create more content with photos that may meet a certain standard they set, but they aren’t photos the magazine would post on their social media or anything like that. So instead of only having 15 editorials in 1 magazine, they have 60 editorials in 4 magazine editions and potentially quadruple their profits.
I really don’t think most (possibly all since this is just a theory) are this way, but I know personally I don’t buy these magazines unless I’m in them. So why would other people? It’s definitely possible, but I haven't met anyone who does. These magazines go for around $20-$25 so for someone to pay for one monthly would mean they’re doing something right.
And let me just say, good for them. I don't blame them for doing this. If you have 50K+ Instagram followers and hundreds of submissions for editorials through Kavyar, why wouldn't you do that? Most of these seem like side-projects for people and they're not full-time jobs so if they want to push more editorials then that's great. It's only positive for them. They didn't create the blown out of proportion hype of being in print, so why not make a little more off of it? If that was me, I'd do the same thing. It's just that people value it so much they don't realize that being in there means almost nothing. Unless you are one of the best photos, you're not going to be shared on their page (the only real positive of editorials) and it's not going to change anything.
Glorified Pinterest Pages
If you go to Lucy's Magazine or Ellements, you’re just going to see a fantastic set of images that are original and exclusive to them. They fit a theme and a specific look that both magazines like. But that’s it. I use these pages for inspiration and for posing and lookbooks for the models I work with. But that’s it. I had a webitorial (editorial posted solely online) posted on Lucy’s Magazine that garnered 4700+ likes when shared on Instagram, but that didn’t change anything. I didn’t get 4700 new followers. Some people, maybe. Probably. But I can’t tell my grandkids one day about how they posted one of my photos on their page and it changed everything for me. All it did was help validate the idea that people enjoy the work I do, they just didn't know (or care) it was from me.
And of course that could just be me. Maybe my work is actually just shit and people went to my profile and were disappointed. At least that's what my lack of self-confidence tells me.
LucysMagazine.com 🌸 ___ Photographer: David Justice @davidjusticephoto Model:Mary O’Neill @m_oneill_ MUA:Alysha Diva @alyshadiva @maccosmetics Orange Eyeshadow @BeccaCosmetics Highlighter in Opal ___ #Photography #instafashion #followme #love #inspiration #like #pretty #beauty #beautiful #lucys #lucysmag #LucysMagazine #art #model #models #style #magazine #Photo #MAKEUP #makeupaddict #makeupartist #lips #lipstick #eyes #eyemakeup #sexy #confident #instagood #flowers #wow
This one is pretty simple. You’re not getting paid to get into these magazines. In fact you’re kind of paying them if you buy a magazine after it is released. I think I’ve seen some magazines that pay you if you make their cover, but that’s it. Out of all the cons, this one doesn't matter really. But it's worth noting other people are making money off your work.
A goal for a shoot
I hate doing regular test shoots. Seriously. Oh just bring 3 outfits and we’ll shoot on this grey wall and then go outside and shoot at this table for this coffee shop. No. Why. I don’t want to shoot the same thing 30 times with every model in the city. That’s incredibly boring. If you just want to shoot portraits, then this is for you. Shooting for an editorial where you have to plan the looks, get a makeup artist, get a designer, find locations, all of that. That’s what I enjoy. And the fact you have this end goal that isn’t just photos for your Instagram or portfolio, it motivates everyone involved. People stop thinking about what the shoot does for them and they think about what is best for the end-result. And it gives you a reason to do the shoot besides just because.
When you’re starting out and you don’t know many people, having a magazine (or anybody) say “we like this” can be incredibly validating. It makes you think your work is getting good or at least visually to a point where other people like it. All of 2017 for me was about trying to get published. But when my photo got put into Lucy’s Magazine’s Instagram, I was excited. It just meant that what I was doing was good and I was on the right track. It meant that my retouching was good enough for Lucy’s Magazine and my work was interesting enough for their viewers. I knew my life wasn’t going to change, but it motivated me because it was the most validation for my work I’ve ever gotten to that point.
And that's important. If you don't have that or someone who you can really trust who can tell you this is actually good work, then you're sort of just lost. You can put out work, people will say they like it, but do they really? Are those spam Instagram comments? What does this person know about photography/retouching? Why should I care about if they like it? It's not the same as if a magazine tells you, hey you meet these requirements, you fit in with this work that you already like.
Print is cool
Who doesn’t like print? Print is awesome. It’s great to see your work there. It’s fun and for people who aren’t into fashion/beauty it shows them that you’re doing something more than just taking pictures and posting them for random people on the internet.
So here's the deal. Print is great. It's fun, it's exciting to see when it comes in the mail to post a boomerang of you flipping from the cover to the page where your editorial starts. But just because your photos have tear sheets doesn't mean they're the best thing in the world. It just means your work met the standards of a certain magazine.
Getting in a user-submitted editorial magazine is not the same as being in a subscription-based magazine like Elle or Vogue. And no, not Vogue IT which is just a user-submitted website and the same as everything else. I'm talking about magazines where you're contracted out to do work for them. That's much more different than these.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt to be a part of these magazines. Just that you shouldn't make it your life goal. Know what you're getting into. Use it as a goal that shows growth in work. Once Lucy's Magazine publishes my work, that means my retouching and style are really coming through. That's basically it. Any more and your expectations are too high.
You can also use it as a reason for a shoot like I do. Sometimes I need a reason to shoot that's more than just my Instagram hasn't been updated lately and editorials do that for me. It gives me a reason to shoot and a reason to push my work creatively.
So basically just know what you're getting into. Understand that at the end of the day, having your work in a user-submitted editorial is cool, but it's not a life-changing goal.
*What magazines are actually worth it
I know this isn’t a part of the article, but if you need to know if it’s worth it to get your work published in their magazine, just check out their previous work published and their engagement levels. Someone like Lucy’s and Ellements has thousands of likes per photo with real comments from people and not just people saying “WOW” or “This is great! Check out my page for cool stuff like this!”. And that’s what you should be looking out for. If a page gets 100 likes per photo, but they have 20k followers.. Something is up.
Also it doesn't hurt to see what they're actually publishing to decide whether you want your work next to theirs. If a magazine is going to publish poorly edited photos with bad lighting, is that something you really want to put your photos next to? Usually if you go to where they are selling the magazine you can read the entire issue or at least the preview it.
Another thing to look out for is how many versions of an issue they are releasing. If a magazine is releasing 6 versions in 1 month, it means they have a lot of submissions and they're probably not as selective. Which hey, if you just want to be in print go for these. But it's definitely not as validating when you get into a magazine and find out you're in the middle of version 3 of 6.