Real Living: Gaining readers while other magazines falter

Real Living editor Emma Vidgen on moving from a weekly to a monthly title

Following a stint at Bauer Media’s Woman’s Day magazine, Emma Vidgen has swapped weekly deadlines for monthly ones by becoming the editor of Real Living.

After many years of being the interviewer, it was a rare occurrence for Vidgen to be the interviewee.

“It’s funny being on the other side of it,” Vidgen told Mediaweek, laughing. “I did this all day, every day for 14 years.”

At any given time, Vidgen and her team are simultaneously working on three upcoming issues. While she does not chase after celebrity gossip and news any more, her workload has not decreased.

“It’s certainly a change of pace from Woman’s Day,” Vidgen said. “I feel like I am as busy as I was, but just in a different way.

“On Real Living we produce such a massive amount of original content. I find that at any one time I have a lot of balls in the air.

“The pace of the weekly magazines was a really great training ground from that perspective.”

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Working ahead on a monthly title like Real Living is easier than it would be on a weekly print title like Woman’s Day, Vidgen said.

“It’s not quite as susceptible to changing at the last minute as it was at Woman’s Day. Real Living is not reliant on the news cycle.”

Internal research conducted by Bauer Media shows that many readers of Real Living don’t read other homes magazines, Vidgen said. This makes the title a one-stop shop for its customers’ homes and interiors needs.

“The readers are younger. They have a sense of playfulness,” Vidgen said. “They are sophisticated but are not conservative. The average reader is in her mid- to late 30s.

“She sees her interior and design aesthetic as something that is an extension of her personal style. She loves to shop, so she is very conscious of the trends and what is fashionable. She knows what she likes, but she loves to turn to a brand like ours to get inspiration and get a deeper understanding of how those trends would work in her home.”

When Mediaweek recently spoke to the editor of Bauer’s Homes+ magazine, Sue Wheeler, she revealed that the title is strictly focused on featuring Australian homes. Unlike other magazines in the category, it features homes and interiors that are planned and executed by its readers.

“We are not about the architect’s home or the designer’s home,” Wheeler said.

MORE: How Homes+ is inspiring DIY enthusiasts 

Real Living currently features a mix of Australian and international homes. Vidgen has aspirations to follow in the footsteps of Homes+ to some extent.

“In terms of what we are doing in the magazine, I will be looking to include more Australian homes,” Vidgen said. “Our readers are interested to know what is going on overseas, but they also treasure that Aussie aesthetic.”

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Once again, like Homes+, Real Living aims to provide its readers with affordable shopping finds for their next renovation project. More than 70% of Real Living’s readers earn more than $60,000 per year.

The magazines playing in the homes and renovation space have been more resistant to the downward trend in readership than other categories in the local magazine industry. Real Living’s circulation figures dropped by 12.98% in the 12 months to June 2016. However, in the same period, its emma readership increased by 1.07% to 189,000.

“There is something about homes, interiors and decorating that is very tactile. It’s something that people still enjoy in print – the experience of picking up a publication, feeling the paper, having it between your fingers and being able to rip pages out,” Vidgen said.

Vidgen believes that the popularity of renovation TV shows like The Block has helped the homes category remain resistant to downward trends in the print industry.

She said: “We are delighted to see that the shows like The Block have got such a strong following. It only means good things for homes and interiors magazines.”

Bauer Media has a tie-up with Nine to publish The Block magazine.

In 2017, Vidgen is looking to launch more events under the Real Living banner and boost its social video offering. She remained tight-lipped about any further details.

The brand is active across multiple social media platforms, of which Facebook and Instagram are the most important in spreading the brand name.

The title has more than 165,000 likes on Facebook and over 183,000 followers on Instagram.

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