Ask The Entreprenette

Do magazines pay for samples?

Dear Sarah,

I would really appreciate some advice. I received an inquiry from the editor of a magazine to have my jewelry included in an editorial. I have a couple of questions:
1. My understanding is that this is not akin to an ‘advertorial’, which I would have to pay for – true?
2. Should I send all the jewelry they asked for, although they indicated it would not be returned?

I would truly appreciate your feedback as I am not sure what the standard procedure is for such magazines.

Thank you,

Lisa    Studio Jewel


Dear Lisa,
Congratulations on being contacted by a magazine. I love that you use recycled metals – so press worthy – I am not surprised you have received multiple inquiries.
You are correct, editorial is free and advertorials and other forms of advertising are paid. I am a big advocate of free editorial. Magazines need designers as much as the designers need the magazines so it ends up working well for everyone.
As far as the samples go, I’d go back to them and let them know that you cannot afford to send out (all) the samples they requested (as you are a small business) unless they can return them – and let them know you’d be happy to include a return-shipping label. If they seem to squirm at that, then I’d ask why they don’t return samples. I believe in being honest and upfront about samples and if they are going to be returned or not, so you can make the best decision for your business. Sometimes for the “right” magazine placement, it doesn’t matter if the samples come back, and other times it does. Go with your instinct on this one after you speak to them again.
Just FYI, most magazines (even the major ones) don’t have the budget to pay to return samples any longer. That said, they will return them if you pay for the freight – sometimes you even have to pay both ways – but when it’s a big hit it all seems worth it.
Good luck!!
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    Written by Sarah Shaw

    There are 8 comments

  • What great advice! I love Lisa – her jewelry is GORGEOUS!!! I never expect samples to be returned, although I’ve had magazines offer to do so – but my items are not as pricey as the lovlies at Studio Jewel.

    Happy New Year, Sarah!

  • I have sent many samples to magazines, many with overnight shipping that I paid for. I always ask for them to be returned. We always include a return envelope for the magazine to mail them back.
    Most of the time, they do send them back, especially if you make it a point that you want them back. Many times I will say that they are my own “personal” jewelry.
    Always include a note when you send them that you want them to be sent back to you.
    Some magazines, like pet magazines, will tell you they will donate the items to a pet shelter after the photo shoot. I do not have a problem in letting them do this.
    Also I check out the magazines first to make sure if for some reason I do not receive the items back, at least it will be worth it for some great exposure.

  • Becky Boyd says:

    Dear Sarah and Lisa,
    I have found that there are tons of magazines, ezines, and bloggers out there who will review your products. Many of them keep the products for themselves or give them away to charity. You need to research the circulation of the magazine and make sure they address your target audience. Also find out how many unique site visitors they have each month. I often get requests from “Mommy Bloggers” for one of my clients who offers kid’s furniture, bedding, gifts, clothes, etc. These bloggers will review specific items that they can use for their kids. This only helps you as the vendor if the blogger has a big following, high search engine ranking, thousands of visitors/month, etc. So, bottom line, research who you are sending your products to. Also make sure that they aren’t reviewing a competitive product the same day or week. You don’t want your jewelry to show up on the same page as another jewelry manufacturer.

  • Vichuta says:

    Dear Sarah,

    I’m living in Thailand and have send my jewelry to Beads Style magazine for advertorial
    several times.They always send it back on their expense even I live in Thailand!

    I think it worth to try!Magazine brings traffic to your site!

    Good luck!


  • Brilliant… Brilliant … Brilliant !! I WISH I knew you in 2008 & 2009. The KEY info/insights would have totally helped me with my USA based company.

    Love your blogs.


  • I have been contacted by Marie Claire and The View. My experience with Marie Claire was wonderful- they provided the shipping number to overnight the accessories and then returned them right away. There was no guarantee they would be published but they were in the next issue and credit was given.
    My experience with The View was pretty terrible- they asked me to overnight 6 handmade costumes, each worth $200, at my expense. I could only afford to send 3, and then they didn’t use any of them and finally sent them back after a week covered with weird blue spots rendering them unsellable.
    Win some, lose, some, but I figure you gotta take a chance…

  • I have worked in PR for a number of years representing small businesses. As Sarah mentioned, for the “right” magazine it would be to your benefit to allow the editor to keep the sample. You want the editor to know and love your brand and products. If they do, they will often try to use your brand in future articles.

    Allowing the editor to keep the sample also means they have the sample easily available to pass along to other editors or publications within the company (for example Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Food and Whole Living all work in the same building and interact with each other).

    Most professionally published publications do have a policy on accepting samples or gifts and would never simply keep the sample for themselves without the intent of using it for the magazine and often though they may ask to keep the products for an extended period of time, they will return the items to you when the story has gone to print (at your cost). A different discretion my need to be used with bloggers, though most well-established blogs will operate similarly.

    Typically my feeling is any blog with 10,000 unique visitors or more per month or publications with a circulation of 50,000 or more per month will warrant a little special attention that will surely pay off in the long run!

  • Trip says:

    Great blog post, as usual. Even if you can just get smaller blogs to review your product at first, the benefits from getting quality links back to your own site can be huge, both for referring traffic and long term search engine rankings.

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