What Does a Country Living Magazine Feature Do for You?
Twenty years ago, I had a dream. As dreams go, it was far out there. One of those deep-down dreams you don’t even whisper to a close friend because of its absurdity.
Twenty years ago, I dreamed of having my home published in Country Living magazine, one of the most widely circulated shelter magazines in the United States, found on newsstands between storied publications like Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart Living.
Three years ago, I might have uttered something cliché like “dreams come true” when two New York photographers and a stylist showed up with a carload of camera gear and buckets of flowers, ready to style and shoot my home for the pages of Country Living magazine.
Three years ago, I thought that magazine spread would change my life. That maybe I, a person with a few thousand followers on IG (Instagram) at the time, would prove that somebody thought I was someone worth something. At the very least, I would maybe rake in a few more thousand followers overnight — and earn the credibility of a style icon.
The Long WaitIt sounds dramatic, but my dream quickly spiraled into what felt like a nightmare.
Two months following the shoot, our home feature was “bumped” from the edition for which it was scheduled. According to the editors, it didn’t fit the grid. They promised it would still be published. Just “not now.” Another year passed, and the editors put it on hold—again.
“We love your home, but it just hasn’t found its editorial match,” they said.
Each month that passed, I shed two decades’ plus two years’ worth of expectations and grew a thick skin to face the reality that our home likely would never be published.
People would ask what it mattered whether our home was actually published. “At least your home was chosen and photographed. That’s a huge honor,” they would say.
Three years since the photoshoot, I can say they’re right. It doesn’t matter.
How would I know?
Because my home was finally published in Country Living in March 2019. And as much as we think a little press will do big things for our platforms, it did nothing for mine. I didn’t see a bump in my followers on Instagram.
My “jobby” selling antiques didn’t boom. I wasn’t called to write about design and antiques or style for a magazine. No one asked me to speak at a conference. Nine months later, I’d be surprised if anyone even remembers (or cares) that I was featured in Country Living.
It was a blip.
What Actually MatteredAs I waited on Country Living, I wasn’t passive.
I continued to develop my platform on Instagram. Every day I would post content—styling photographs and writing captions that would engage my community. Every day I worked to connect with people in my tribe. Every day, I paid attention to what my audience responded to.
That every-day effort did what Country Living didn’t (and couldn’t) do.
As I built my platform, I built partnerships that led to opportunity. I styled a shop window display, learning some hacks for my own antique “jobby.” I styled photoshoots for Flea Market Style magazine, which helped me better style my own photos for IG (and, frankly, they were gobs of fun). I wrote over a dozen articles for Flea Market Style magazine and even was named a field editor, scouting talent for its pages.
I spoke at a reputable vintage show on styling antiques. I had record-breaking vintage sales at Randolph Street Market and was even featured on WGN (radio station in Chicago). Not to mention, my home was featured twice in Flea Market Style magazine.
I filled the waiting with doing. And the doing did for me what Country Living could not.
So, You Want Some Press?
At CZ we work with some wonderful clients, and often we're asked, “How do I get published in this-or-that industry magazine? How do I get on TV? How do I get asked to speak at this conference?”
I understand the question, because I bought into the same canard that a little press will make me big. We all want bigger, better, and more; we shamelessly grasp for it.
Without earning it.
That's right. The great irony is that press doesn’t create credibility; credibility creates press.
And that demands doing: proving your expertise through thought leadership; creating something exceptional (an experience, product, or content); and building authentic relationships.
You want to be a writer? Write. Don't look for someone to validate your writing by publishing you in a publication or writing about your business.
It might sound like I’m not grateful for the Country Living feature. I am. It was an honor. But it’s only one small piece of my creative portfolio. By itself, it would be nothing more than a memorable experience.
At CZ, we're in the business of helping our clients create memorable experiences — that are worth talking about. We want to assist in the business of doing, rather than waiting for the big feature. Because doing is how a brand is born and and how it grows over time.