Good morning and a Happy Friday to all! I can't believe it is already Friday this week. It seems like one of those weeks that just slipped past in a blur. I have been busy here working on finally typing out our favorite family recipes for a little family cookbook; a project I have been meaning to do for a couple of years now~time sure is a slippery thing, huh? My little online business is taking off and I am having so much fun posting product pictures and telling about what I offer in BOTH of my stores on the web. I LOVE the fact that I have two stores, TONS of inventory, BEAUTIFUL products and can give you personal service all without having to store anything here at our home. The two companies are reliable, long-standing icons of the home decorating industry and very reputable! That is VERY important to me as I only want to offer the BEST to you, my friends!!!
I love the life that my Lord is leading me through. His Providence is amazing and the avenues that He has presented before me are AWESOME!!!! I am still working on my writing skills and pray daily for guidance. Right now it is really more of a hobby and I do have some story ideas in mind, mostly for family and friends. My poetry group, The Kanawha Valley Poets of WV, will be starting back next month and I am looking forward to seeing all of those sweet people again. I kind of faltered away from the group the last few meetings of this past year due to my stint with depression after losing my dad. I am ready to get back to those meetings this year, they are always so inspiring. I am still writing my regular column for my FAVORITE WV publication, Two Lane Livin' and am excited that they are celebrating their FOURTH year in publication this month. Here is the press release that I recieved from Lisa:
"TWO-LANE LIVIN' MAGAZINE CELEBRATES FOUR YEARS IN PRINT
Just when the world began predicting the death of print publications, Two-Lane Livin' Magazine was born. When the magazine was launched from a humble home office in Stumptown, West Virginia, no one expected that within a few years, Two-Lane Livin' would grow to be the largest independent publication in the state.
"When we released 10,000 copies of the first issue," said Publisher Lisa Minney, "I didn't know if anyone would want to read it. I knew it was full of topics and information that interested me, but I didn't know if others would feel the same way."
The first issue was gone in three days.
"I told her she was opening a can of worms," said Frank Minney, Lisa's husband and business partner. "I knew 10,000 copies wouldn't be near enough."
Now, Two-Lane Livin' is printed in runs of 16,000 copies monthly, 17,000 during travel season. "We found that, in summer, travelers through the state were taking so many copies that our regular readers weren't getting theirs," Lisa said. "We decided to print more during travel season at no extra cost to our clients, just to get the phone to stop ringing with requests for back issues that we didn't have."
What has made Two-Lane Livin' so popular? Lisa and Frank and both quick to answer, "our columnists." More than 35 columnists have contributed to the magazine in the past four years -- all of them as volunteers. "Some of our columnists are professionals, others just felt they had something to share. All of them have a passion for their subject matter, and that's what brought them to us," Lisa said. "I have no doubt that it is that passion -- that writing from the heart -- that connects to our readers."
As editor, Lisa never gives assignments to the columnists. New writers are given a short list of writing guidelines, but then are allowed the freedom to create and craft their installments on their own. "They are volunteers who know their topic and field much better than I," she said. "Who am I to tell them what to write?"
Two-Lane Livin' began with nine regular contributors, but now features 27 regular columns in every monthly issue. Some of the current contributors, Lisa and Frank have never met in person. "Within the first few months we started getting e-mails and phone calls from writers throughout the state," Lisa said. "Of course when I tell them our columnists are volunteers, there are some I don't hear from again, but even so, we now have a waiting list of columnists who want to contribute."
Two-Lane Livin's instant popularity, however, has not been easy to manage. "We started in ten counties," said Frank. "Now we distribute to 18 counties at more than 500 locations." He notes that distribution is always a challenge. "Ice, snow, flooding, wildlife, road construction, school busses -- all these affect delivery. Each issue is different, and delivery of each issue is different. We never know what we're going to encounter on the road."
Delivery of each new issue also includes recirculation of any leftover copies. "On average, we only encounter a one percent left over rate," Frank said. "Which equals about 150 copies a month." Those copies are instantly re-circulated to laundromats, waiting rooms, rest stops and travel centers. "We work hard to make sure that our advertising clients get every penny's worth of their money spent with us."
With industry studies showing that an average of 2.5 readers come in contact with each issue, Two-Lane Livin' has the potential to reach more than 40,000 readers every month. "But I think our readership is even higher than that," said Frank. "So many people tell me they pass their copy on to others, who in turn pass it on again and again and again."
In addition, the magazine's readership doesn't fit into many marketing formulas. "Very often, advertisers are seeking a specific target audience -- women, seniors, travelers, certain age groups, or social classes," Lisa said. "Our readership is so varied and widespread, it doesn't fit into any one of those categories. It covers them all."
Even so, there is no doubt that advertising and supporting Two-Lane Livin' has served clients well. “I have been very pleased with my advertising experience in Two Lane Livin’," said Sharon Ours of A Domestic Friend, who has been supporting the magazine for more than a year. "It is the best response I have received in any of my past print advertising experiences.”
Kevin Lake, a West Virginia author whose new novel "From the Graves of Babes" has become the best selling West Virginia ghost novel of the year and #1 ranked ghost novel on Amazon.com said, "I'm sure advertising in Two-Lane Livin' helped make that happen."
Lisa and Frank are always thrilled to hear such comments from their clients. "The support of our advertisers is what makes it possible for us to offer copies of the magazine to our readers for free," Lisa said. "We love knowing that our readers support the businesses and organizations that support the magazine. Success for our clients is success for the magazine."
FACING THE FUTURE
In a time when many are predicting the demise of print publications, what does the future hold for Two-Lane Livin'? "I can't wait to see where it takes us next," Lisa laughs. "I love being the exception to the rule, and that could only happen here in West Virginia." Like all marketers, publishers and other media, Two-Lane Livin' plans to expand on the Internet, but so far, the magazine's efforts don't always follow the current trends.
"Our web site, facebook page, twitter and digital editions are experiencing growth, but nothing like our print edition. We've discovered an appreciation for print that supposedly no longer exists." Lisa said. "In response to demand from day one, we've expanded in print to communities we never expected to reach. Even so, as high speed internet coverage expands in the state, we are prepared to meet that growing demand as well."
Lisa and Frank have both taken courses on social media, video production, audio production and travel writing and photography. They now offer advertising in both their print and digital editions; QR Codes to reach out to readers who use mobile devices; online purchasing of advertising and subscriptions; and send copies -- either digitally or in print -- to 37 states. "Who knows?" Frank asked. "Some day we may launch Two-Lane Radio or Two-Lane TV."
"I'd like to say we planned on becoming the largest independent publication in the state," Lisa said, "but the truth is, Two-Lane Livin' has had a life of its own since day one. From the very start, we've felt like we're just along for the ride."
Over the past four years, the Minney's two-lane ride has also come to include four sub-contractors who help serve advertising clients or help deliver copies; promoted over 250 regional businesses; supported more than 75 non-profit organizations; and expanded the operating budget of the magazine's local post office.
"We're a local business, supported by local businesses, so we're all about local," Frank said. "We work to keep our advertising rates affordable because a little money spent with us goes a long, long way. Not just in distributed copies and readership, but also within the communities we serve."
Growth of the magazine and its features comes in direct response to reader demand and advertising support. While Lisa and Frank have plans and goals for the publication, they have learned over the past four years to respond and adjust to what readers and clients want and expect.
"Two-Lane Livin' surpassed our expectations a long time ago," Lisa said. "It may sound unorthodox, but in a sense, we let it tell us where it wants to go and what it wants to do." The support of a new client allows the magazine to expand in their region or in the media outlet of their choice. The approach of a new columnist gives the magazine a new character. New lessons in new media make new options and possibilities.
"Just as it has in the past," Lisa said, "In the future, Two-Lane Livin' will become what our readers and clients make of it, and we have all the faith in the world in our supporters."
To support Two-Lane Livin' Magazine with your advertising dollars, visit http://tinyurl.com/supportTLL. For access to featured columns, columnist blogs, and behind the scenes information, visit http://www.twolanelivin.com/.
Isn't that WONDERFUL! Congratulations to Lisa and Frank on four amazing years of publishing one of the finest and most enjoyable pieces of monthly reading material in print! Here's to many, many more years to come!
Hope that you are all enjoying your August days and that time will stand still enough for you and your family to embrace many sweet memories as the days go by.
God bless and Stay Cozy,