Wednesday, June 17, 2015

They Believe in What We’re Doing

When I set out to create Mortise & Tenon Magazine, I consulted with an enormous list of people from all perspectives. I talked with woodworkers (professional and hobbyist), conservators, magazine publishers, business people, and friends. I got a lot of information about the ins and outs of running a small independent magazine. Almost all the conversations about the different aspects were resolved in consensus. This made charting my course much easier. There was one issue, however, that wasn’t lopsided. About 50% of the people said they believed I needed advertising to survive while the other half said I would be better off without it. I continued to explore that fuzzy issue and, in order of significance, here’s what came clear to me:
  1. I hated ad clutter. I didn’t want a ton of little ads infiltrating the articles, especially when the aesthetic did not correspond with the rest of the magazine. I found that a number of people I respect agreed that ad clutter was jarring.
  2. Community support was essential, especially in a niche world like hand tool woodworking. I wanted an avenue for businesses to publicly stand with and endorse the magazine.
  3. I wanted a “resource” section. It became clear to me that not all of my readers were going to be professionals well versed in all of the high quality toolmakers, etc. It was apparent that, for better or worse, people were going to be looking to M&T for resources for tools, workshops, etc.
  4. Subsidizing the print costs would be helpful. Choosing high quality uncoated thick paper with a book-thick cover is an expensive route to go. Then to do it for a relatively small run for this niche market is a bold move. (For those of you who don’t know, the first copy is about 80% of the cost. After the printer is setup, they can move thousands of copies through in minutes. Translate: small print runs = high cost)
All that considered, I decided to choose a path that addressed all those points. In the course of my conversations I came across the sponsorship model. It works like this: a like-minded high quality business chips in a small fee to be listed in a carefully curated Directory of Sponsors. This is highlighted both online and in a tasteful dedicated Directory in the back of each print issue. Next to their logos, the sponsors are given room to provide contact info and descriptions of their business. This avoids ad clutter, promotes community support, lists resources for readers, and helps make a small dent in the printing costs.

I have had a great response so far from woodworking professionals excited about the magazine. I’m honored to have such strong support. They believe in what we’re doing. It’s humbling and motivating to produce the most enlightening, instructive and inspiring hand tool woodworking magazine possible.

It is a pretty incredible line-up already and I have more confirmed but yet to be listed. I’m honored. Check it out here: 


  1. I'm waiting patiently for the presses to start running on this magazine, and I love the fact that it's not going to be cluttered by thousands of little ads. Even in magazines that I love, I always get frustrated that 50% or more of what I'm paging through is ads and not content. In the end, magazines like that might have a 12 month printing schedule but they only ever carry 2-3 months worth of actual content.

    Having been in editing and publishing myself for years I understand why magazines run that way, but as a subscriber I'd rather support the magazine by paying for the content every time.

  2. I want to thank you for your efforts to provide a outlet to the woodworking world.

  3. Sponsorship or advertising - all the same! Regardless of what you call it, you are obliged to give the paying customer value for money. But you have the power to choose how it's done. Australian Wood Review manage to keep their ads orderly and seperate from the text – no clutter. Why not talk to
    The AWR editor they have managed to keep a high quality magazine with a relatively small circulation base without compromising integrity. They are also people who care...