BWS Turns 20|
It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Rosie and I, with the help of our two sons Si and Tim, launched Blue Water Sailing. In April 1996, we rolled out the first edition. It was a 16 page, two color newsletter with three holes down the spine so readers—there weren’t many to begin with—could keep each newsletter in a three-ring binder. (We sold those, too.) The subtitle of the first edition was “Solutions for Offshore Sailors.”
Our office was on the third floor of our home. We had no employees and for the first year, and until we got the cash flow working right, Rosie held a full time job to keep groceries on the table. It was a boot straps launch but the subscription mailings we sent out in the first 12 months were very successful and the circulation numbers climbed and the business began making sense.
In those early days, we did not take ads in the publication. But gradually, as more and more people became subscribers and more and more companies in the sailing marketplace discovered these readers, the interest in advertising mounted. It was a big decision for us to start taking ads. We looked at the business, we looked at the marketplace, we looked at each other and we decided to make the leap.
By this time we had a small staff and we continued to grow. With advertising, we started printing the magazine in color and on glossy paper. And we continued to grow the circulation until we reached 50,000 in 2008. We knew we would always be a niche publication so we are very happy to have passed that threshold.
In 2006 we launched Cruising Compass, the first e-newsletter for the cruising market and it was greeted warmly by sailors all over the world who had access to the Internet. This month—April 7, 2016—we will publish our 500th edition of Cruising Compass. We are now sending it out for free to over 30,000 opt in readers every Thursday morning and that number grows each month.
In 2007 we responded to the growing popularity of multihulls in the North American market by introducing Multihulls Quarterly. The magazine is sold on newsstands across North America and is mailed to the BWS subscriber base four times a year. The multihull market is still expanding and we are pleased we can be a part of that growth.
Over 20 years we have seen the world of media change. Print is still an important part of everyone’s reading life because there is nothing like a bright colorful story or review to inspire you to dream about boats and sailing. And the Internet is rapidly adding new and interesting ways for people to gather information; it is an amazing tool that empowers sailors to do research, collect data and make purchasing decisions. At Blue Water Sailing, we have grown and evolved but we still offer “solutions for offshore sailors and cruisers”—the monthly BWS, the quarterly MQ, the weekly Cruising Compass and the websites that go with these titles. To all of our readers and advertisers, many thanks for being our partners through years. Here’s to 20 more!