She proved that a city magazine can outsell any national title.
When Nicole and Scott Vogel rushed to Portland to be with their sister after she’d lost her husband to illness, their intentions were strictly personal. Completely relocated, without jobs or contacts, the former CNN and New York Times staffers were skeptical;what would they ever do in Portland? That’s when Scott Vogel realized that Portland seemed to be the largest city in America without a monthly magazine to its name, and the brother and sister team decided that they would take a stab at establishing one.
They found there had been 13 publications that had failed to get off the ground in Portland since 1980. In such a gun-shy market, the Vogels decided to raise capital and get out into the community, conducting over 250 in person interviews with local Portland residents.
"We felt like we took the city magazine more seriously than others," says Nicole Vogel. "We were much more interested in serious journalism and unique and fresh design." The debut issue of Portland Monthly, launched in October of 2003, sold 7,200 copies in the first month. It’s now in the top 10 of newsstand sellers in city magazines, selling 15,000-22,000 copies per issue. "On a per issue basis, we are the number-one selling magazine in the Portland area, over any national or local title," says Nicole. The initial ratebase of 25,000 has reached 56,000 while ad revenue is up 425 percent since the magazine’s launch.
In a time when the power of print is constantly questioned, this 200-plus page magazine has the largest editorial and art budget of any other city magazine of its size, according to the Vogels. The most recent initiative for these entrepreneurs came with the March 2006 launch of Seattle Metropolitan, on track to sell 30,000 copies in its first issue. They have also acquired Portland Bride & Groom, which was relaunched last July. Nicole plans on dipping into custom publishing and perhaps even launching a national title in the future.
VITAL STATS: In less than three years, ratebase has more than doubled and ad revenue is up 425 percent.