In August, I wrote that unless Adventure Journal gets the kind of support we need from our readers, we’d have to make a change to our structure. To keep costs low as possible and allow us the editorial freedom that makes AJ what we think is the most authentic and independent outdoor title, we run an extremely lean operation. That’s our choice, and if a winning lottery ticket dropped out of the sky I wouldn’t change much. But we bring you Adventure Journal with just two employees—our art director, Joni, and me—and some amazing part-time contractors. I launched AJ in print knowing that it would never have a huge circulation (we wouldn’t want that, anyway, but that’s a case study for another day), but we are stretched thin and need more support, specifically, more subscribers.
Our journal is, we think, extraordinary. As subscribers know, it’s printed on a beautiful, heavy stock. It feels delightful in your hands. It’s filled with wonderful writing, amazing stories, incredible photography. It is designed to be more like a book than a magazine, with stories that will be readable and enjoyable for years and years.
We print in the United States on Forest Stewardship Council certified sustainable paper. We plant a tree for every magazine and product sold. We use recycled and recyclable envelopes to send mags to subscribers. We limit the use of plastic to a bare minimum. We run our operation on solar panels on our roof. We conduct all AJ business with an electric vehicle powered by those solar panels.
In short, we’re doing the best we can to make the best outdoor adventure magazine, period, with the best practices, while being transparent about how the whole thing works. And none of this happens without reader support, which means a sustaining level of subscribers to AJ in print.
Our challenges are many. We have chosen what we believe is the most ethical path for a publisher. We do not accept sponsored content. We do not accept native advertising. You can’t pay us to review your product. We don’t sell our social posts. In print, we limit our advertising to just 16 pages (out of 132). We only work with brands appropriate to outdoor enthusiasts. We limit the number of advertisers in product categories to two.
You guys responded big in August, and since then we’ve added almost 1,300 subscribers to our print magazine. That directly enabled us to hire a part-time customer service person, Beth Norby, with whom some of you have been in touch, and that’s taken a big load off Joni and me. To all of you who responded, thank you!
However, we’re still short of where we need to be by 1,200. So, what happens if we don’t get there? That’s the existential question, and I’m not exactly sure because I don’t like any of the options. But the most likely thing is that we’d either stop updating our website, put our online stories behind a paywall only available to print subscribers, or both. It costs a ton to bring you stories every day, and if we were to shut that down and focus just on print, with a small budget for marketing, we’d be in much more sustainable shape.
But none of us want that, and I doubt you do, either.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out a Patreon program, launching a new product, and talking more about the overall vision for AJ and how you can be a part of it. The foundation for it all, though, is Adventure Journal quarterly. If you want to read great writing about what it means to live an adventurous life, if you want something that you will probably end up collecting, and if you want to help support something special, please subscribe today.
Editor and Founder