One of the reasons I wanted to start a print magazine in a digital age (aside from always just really wanting to do it), was to reach those girls who don’t always have access to a computer or as much time to spend online reading magazines. So, part of the way I was going to reach out was to make magazines available to girls in detention centers, foster homes, emergency shelters, etc.
A few months ago, I reached out the the NYC Department of ACS to see about donating some of the (many) magazines I had left from the first issue to some girls who may want/need reading material. I connected with someone there who gave me instructions on sending the magazines and off they went. I sent two boxes- the first had about 30 or so magazines, and the second was closer to 75. My contact as ACS offered to distribute a questionnaire to the girls about the magazine, so I made one up and emailed it to her. Mostly, I was trying to get a feel for a) the reader’s demographics; b) what they thought about the content of the magazine and c) how they felt about what they read.
One of the last emails I received from my contact there indicated that the feedback was great, and a month or so later, I got a packet in the mail containing the completed surveys. I was definitely more nervous about opening it than I thought I would be, but I was excited to see what they said. I had shared the magazine with teen girls previously, but sometimes, feedback is different when you give it face-to-face versus writing your thoughts down on paper and sending them. So, this was a first for me. And, well, the responses definitely did not disappoint.
Here are just a few things I learned:
1) Most thought that the articles were too long. (I did, too, and have since learned how to be a better editor).
2) A few people spent just a few minutes reading the magazine, while others spent anywhere from 30 minutes to “a few hours” reading this issue – even one reader who isn’t “really a magazine type of girl.” (!!!)
3) Not everyone could relate to the articles or took something away from reading it or even would read another issue. But a couple of girls did express interest in contributing to a future issue. (Awesome)
4) At least two girls weren’t here for the “race/ethnicity” question and think of themselves as “human.” (I kind of loved that)
As I wrap up the second issue, I remember the process of putting together the first one and I see how I’ve made certain editorial and business decisions this time around that I think will open some more doors and appeal to more readers. And on this second day of the new year, I am so grateful and thankful to the 14-17 year old readers at NYC Dept of ACS who took the time to read the magazine and offer me thoughtful feedback.
One of the last questions I asked on the survey was, “What did you take away from reading it, if anything?” And a 17-year-old responded, “I took that being a teenager is hard but there are things you can do to get by.”