Battling on

In our last issue, Barbara Cardy recounted how, in May 2001, she launched In The Buff – an erotica magazine for women. Here she chronicles her ongoing struggles to build subs through increasing her profile in the sex industry. Will scoring PR successes translate into the required levels of subscriptions?

By Barbara Cardy

December 2001

OK, need to take stock. Have made a small loss in first six months, but believe in publication and know it will succeed. But need to invest in the business, so have taken out small mortgage. Paid off all credit card debts and invested £2,000 in having my website re-designed.

Have set up an affiliate commission scheme and bombarded invitations out to loads of websites via their links pages. Has certainly driven traffic to my website and has had the benefit of me being inundated with new writers, but not a huge jump in subscribers.

March 2002

Printer is moving away from small print runs! Best quote for producing 250 copies of 96 page mag has now risen to £2.25 per copy.

Need to promote website so have created a fab sex survey with a link from worldsexnews.com through to my site. Quote from web designer for automatically analysing information is prohibitive so will have to do it manually. Will then use unique info as a press release to mags and newspapers.

April 2002

Was contacted by an adult toy retailer asking me to be their resident ‘sex agony aunt’. They seem to have the PR know-how as already have other successful sites. Will use archive Q&As for initial content. Will certainly improve my profile, so have agreed.

July 2002

German women’s glossy is very interested in having statistics from survey to publish in their mag, but as have over 3,000 surveys back in and little chance of analysing info, realise that have missed a significant opportunity.

Adult toy retailer have had a management fallout and folded! However, have given the Q&As to a reputable retailer.

September 2002

Had a leaflet designed and printed as a drop-in in someone else’s mailshot which brought in about another 50 subscribers! Am now up to 415 subscribers in 18 months which is pants! Offer 2 subscription deals: trial subscription of 3 issues @ £14.95 and annual sub at £34.95. Have brought in approx £9,500. Outgoings have been a similar sum.

November 2002

Met bloke at Erotica exhibition. Said he could get my publication into loads of adult shops and placed initial order for 50 copies of mag. Hoorah! Things are looking rosy. Also met very nice R18 film maker chap who asked me to write some ‘scripts’ for him to film! Am thinking bigger here… in each video box we could put in a subs form for my mag and also a toy catalogue with unique ordering code from which we receive a substantial commission.

January 2003

Tabloid newspaper want to do article on women who write erotica. Spent afternoon having hair and make-up done and being photographed. As a result of feature, was contacted by a psychosexual therapist asking if I would send her a copy as she thinks her clients would benefit. Has opened up another unexplored avenue and have emailed approx 300 sex therapists and Relate counsellors to gauge reactions. Had about 200 positive responses and have sent sample copies with subs forms.

February 2003

Despite having sent 50 mags to man from Erotica exhibition and several invoice reminders, no money as yet forthcoming!

March 2003

Have had a steady trickle of subs from therapists, but need to be bringing in about 20 new subs per week just to cover outgoings. Do I chuck it in and get a job as a checkout girl in Sainsbury’s? The problem is that I can only work 9-3 to fit around the school day, when really should be working ten hour days plus have skills in PR, marketing, accounting etc of which I have none.

What I need is someone else to focus on running the business side of things so I can concentrate on being an editor. Did some research and found a magazine acquisitions bloke. Have written business plan and will leave it in his capable hands to get someone to take on the title and pay me a salary.

Have written scripts for the adult films. Have also been filmed as one of the ‘sex-perts’ for several TV programmes and as a ‘resident sex-pert’ on another. Re. the latter, went for the screening, but was asked daft questions such as ‘tell us how a couple could do it in a toilet cubicle without falling over’. Give me a break! Suggested a sensible discussion show idea to producer, but all he seems to want is sensationalist rubbish to broadcast.

April 2003

Magazine acquisitions man has had several meeting with various people, but so far no one has bitten. Can’t understand why people are not jumping at the opportunity as there is no other sex magazine for women out there – it’s an untapped market and no one can see it! Am going to hang in as I know I have a brilliant idea, I just need to find the right person who can see the huge profit potential … Read the third and final instalment from my diary, next issue, to see if I make that long awaited breakthrough.