Joyce Chang Is No Longer Surprised by Self Magazine’s Male Readership

The editor-in-chief chats with FishbowlNY about the recent website redesign and much more.

According to the media kit for Self magazine, 91% of print edition readers are female. However, on the Web side, powered by a March 2015 website redesign, the split is much different. Here, the readership is 62% female and 38% male. What gives?

“We have a small group of Self men, which is pretty funny,” EIC Joyce Chang tells FishbowlNY via telephone. “It’s actually become something that doesn’t surprise me. At parties sometimes, guys come up to me and tell me they are secret readers of SELF, they count themselves as ‘Self men.’ Which I find really flattering.”

“Particularly in book, we have this idea of self-made, which is one of our four principles, core values,” she continues. “The idea being that self-made is a gender-neutral concept. It’s aspirational, it’s what anyone wants to be, regardless. So I think it’s not surprising that Self men get to read, online or digitally, because they don’t have to be caught with the magazine open in front of them.”

Chang says Self’s mobile audience has already increased this year by 20%. In keeping with today’s overall trend for magazines, the website was revamped with this audience first and foremost in mind. New Balance was the site relaunch sponsor.

“It’s important for Self to be wherever the reader is,” says Chang. “We’re a 24-7 motivation and inspiration channel. We want to serve users that content wherever and however they want to consume it. Our redesign has been tremendously successful. In our first relaunch day, we quadrupled our traffic and our bounce rate dropped to 20%.”

In the May issue (pictured, above), there is an exploration of autoimmune deficiency, an essay by novelist Emma Straub and a feature on parkour workouts. There is also a list of 75 Self-approved beauty products, courtesy of a thorough selection and testing process undertaken by Chang and her team of editors.

“We are a magazine of beauty junkies,” notes Chang (pictured, left). “Every day for us is sort of like a tryout for beauty awards.”

“We’re always on the lookout for new products; we’re always trying new things; we’re always having fun; and we’re always sharing with each other, and our readers, what we think is the latest, newest, best, most exciting thing.”

Instagram is now a major part of that sharing process. Chang says the magazine’s social channels have grown by more than 100% under her watch.

Chang is also currently busy with preparations for Self’s Up & Out Studio, a June 27-28 weekend event that will take place at New York City’s Spring Studios. Ticket prices are still being finalized, but capacity has been set at 3,000 attendees.

“Up & Out is one our tentpoles as well,” enthuses Chang. “It’s a multi-platform program that we do. We feature, in our pages every month, a cool, smart, successful woman and how she gets up and out every morning. It is a hashtag that we use, socially.”

“For our event, we’ve pulled together the very latest in fitness, fashion, beauty, nutrition and health, and we bring it under one roof,” she continues. “It’s like the boutique of all boutiques. One of our principal driving motivations is that we want our readers to try new things. I think the wellness and fitness space is a place of real discovery right now.”

“Fashion trends, everything, comes around again. We’ve seen so many trends come and go, but in the fitness space, that’s where discovery is happening. That is where truly new things are happening. And it’s really exciting to be sitting here in the driver’s seat of it.”