This is a fundamental but subjective topic… and at the end of the day, the right answer depends on what the reader is looking for in a sailing magazine and what level of sailing experience the reader already has…. but of course, there’s more to it than that
So let’s start with the positive elements and then follow with what readers tend not to like.
First up is the quality of the content.
A sailing magazine should feature informative articles that are engaging and relevant to its readers. The topics should be varied and could range from sailing techniques, boat handling, seamanship, boat reviews, and travelogues… to stories about sailing culture and history.
Overall, the content needs to deliver some level of Entertainment.
Intrinsically, the quality of the content in any magazine goes hand in hand with the quality of the contributors.
So a great sailing magazine will always be looking for experienced and knowledgeable contributors… including writers, photographers, and editors… who can weave all of the elements into captivating presentations.
Beautiful photography is a must-have because sailing is a visually stunning activity… and the photography should also capture the excitement and beauty of being out on the water.
In the past, a lot of sailing magazines attempted to deliver broad coverage of a wide range of topics for both racing and cruising audiences.
I think those audiences have become more specific with regard to what they are looking for… and these days, a sailing magazine should not try to serve all audiences.
Next is the question… should the content be timely and up-to-date with the latest news and developments in the sailing world… including new products, events, and industry trends?
Well if the readers are focused on racing the answer is Yes…
For cruising and bluewater sailors, valuable evergreen content that solves problems will be more appealing at about a 70% level of the magazine’s content… but it still needs 30% of spicy material to retain the reader.
The importance of excellent photography has been mentioned but it needs to be displayed using an engaging design.
A great sailing magazine must be visually appealing and also have a design that’s easy to navigate and engaging to readers.
Engagement is so very important and a great sailing magazine should always be building a strong connection with its audience. The closer a magazine gets to building a Community the more successful it will become.
Another consideration is that audiences change.
There will always be potential new readers entering the sailing world so there should always be some consideration given to being the ‘best sailing magazine for beginners’.
That’s The Positives… Now The Dislikes…
Let’s contrast the positive elements with what readers Dislike seeing in magazines about sailing.
Lack of diversity is a big one… sailing magazines need to deliver sailing-focused information on sailing but the content also needs to be diverse and entertaining.
Too many of the same or similar topics endlessly repeated can quickly become boring.
It’s the same fine line with being too technical… some readers may feel that sailing magazines are too focused on technical details and jargon.. making it difficult for beginners or casual readers to understand or enjoy the content.
The flip side of that is some readers may feel that sailing magazines don’t offer enough practical advice or tips for sailors… such as how to improve skills or troubleshoot common problems.
And finally… too much advertising can distract some readers and take away from the overall reading experience.
It’s a delicate balancing act between the positive elements and the dislikes of readers… negatives and opinions can vary widely depending on each individual reader’s preferences and expectations.
Sailing Magazine Publishers Take Note…
To deliver a great sailing magazine, you need to understand who your audience is and what they want… and regularly monitor that you are delivering on your Promise to your readers.
Magazines about sailing need to stay in touch with their audience to be able to deliver better and more valuable content.