In this article, we go into depth about why we stopped Mulberry Magazine production and how the format of The Mulberry Journal is much better for our readers and us.
By Grace Koelma, Co-Founder of The Mulberry Journal
When you start something new, there's a certain feeling. Maybe you know it? It's that small, hard, knobbly uncertainty about where your little plan will take you. That strange combination of a desire to shoot yourself three years into the future and see where the venture ended up, mixed with an urgency to run as far as you can away from it.
The fear-excitement-curiosity paradox can best be summed up by a wonderful quote I read recently by Steven Pressfield in his book 'The War of Art' (which is a great read, by the way).
"The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it."
I can tell you right now, when I published my first issue of Mulberry Magazine, I was scared. That's why I stuck with it so long.
First things first
While we're being honest, here's a few other things you should know right off the bat...
We've always tried to be really transparent in our endeavours with Mulberry Magazine. We've made typos and stuffed up a couple of times, and we've owned it, publicly and behind the scenes.
We've always made it clear we're a family-run venture. This isn't a huge, big-corporation publishing company but rather a boutique gathering of ideas published by a full time mother. If any of it looks fancy, it's because I'm crippled by perfection. I will work until insane hours just to get a font pairing right. (Yep, I'm one of those people!)
The Editor (me, Grace Koelma!) is a young(ish) mother with a dream to show the world how wonderfully freeing and life-changing life without school can be. A desire to give hope to the people who are searching for options outside of the traditional school structure. And to provide encouragement and information that will help them decide whether this journey is worth pursuing.
We're transparent because we appreciate it in others.
Photo by Light Heart Photography
Mulberry is a home-grown family venture
We first started Mulberry in August 2015 with a tiny baby, while I was a full-time stay-at-home mum. Looking back, I don't know how I crammed it in, yet I remember how desperate I was to keep my mind sharp as a writer and editor, and create a fresh, beautiful resource that was (then!) sorely lacking in Australia. Thankfully, it seemed others found it a helpful resource too, and our community grew as time went on.
But time, and a relatively huge change in circumstances (in a nutshell: selling most of our stuff, renting out our house and setting off on our global trip as digital nomads with toddler in tow! Phew!) meant that Mulberry Magazine had to change with us. It was too tightly linked not to evolve as we did.
Re-defining what Mulberry looks like
After we left our home and family, we visited Perth. There, I spent time with my good friend and co-Mulberry-conspirator, Jess Pilton, and felt things falling into place (though she and I didn't know it explicitly at the time). Jess and I held our first Mulberry Mama Meet, which was a wonderful time to meet other mums, and that, too, gave me a lot of food for thought about where I wanted to take Mulberry, and how I wanted to broaden it to serve more people.
Our first month of slow travel - staying in Bali for 4 weeks - helped Eric and I to work out our schedule with working and minding Leo.
It quickly became apparent that the way we had been doing Mulberry Magazine wasn't going to work while we were overseas. And since we were planning on travelling for at least 18 months, we had to look at a more sustainable long-term option, and so we made the decision to stop publishing Mulberry Magazine as a quarterly digital download.
Other reasons (the specific details of which I won't bore you with) meant that designing and publishing each issue as a PDF by myself made it hard for me to build a team to help carry the load, and simply put, after editing, designing and releasing seven 100+ page issues, I was one tired mama.
Introducing The Mulberry Journal
Front and centre in all our decision making has been the desire to bring information, resources, stories and ideas about what a life without school looks like to families all over the world. And I'd been worried that something was missing in our approach to publishing PDF downloads.
- We had been receiving occasional feedback that many of our readers would misplace the PDF in iBooks/Kindle, or run out of time to read it all.
- Many people wanted to share an article easily with friends (particularly if their family was featured) but couldn't link on Facebook easily since it was a paid PDF).
- As parents, we read most of our content on our mobile phones, on the run, between appointments or while the kids are playing in the yard happily for a brief couple of minutes.
- Some people found the login and downloading process confusing, and because issues were only released every 3 months, they would forget how to download in between. But there was no way we could publish 100-page issues monthly. We kept thinking...
Why you'll love our online version
We decided to take Mulberry to an online space to help:
- Deliver mobile-friendly, easily searchable, great articles
- Spread the word about home education further (and perpetuate a more positive image)
- Make it more easily shareable online for our readers and contributors
- Cut down production and design time to make it more sustainable for us as a family
- Not restrict ourselves to 3-monthly releases, but rather, deliver great articles every week
Whichever way we sliced it, stopping the PDF publication and finding a new model seemed like an obvious win-win. And so we took a deep breath, and put the wheels of change in motion.
What will happen next?
All future content will be published on this website. You'll be able to read it for free, anytime, and download the resources too.
You may see some old articles floating around here too, but most of our early content in Issues 1 through 7 will remain as a paid download (except for what we published in the free mini issue). Our back issue bundles will still be available anytime via the original Mulberry Magazine Shop.
One last thing...
All that remains now is to say, THANK YOU for reading this far. If you have, I'm willing to bet that you're one of our good'uns, our loyal followers that read every edition. We really hope you guys enjoy reading in a slightly different (but still awesome format!) on The Mulberry Journal. Maybe you'll even consider joining the community and becoming a contributor!
Here's to a childhood without school and helping people to see how possible it is...
Grace is the Editor of The Mulberry Journal and when she's not reading submissions, divides her time between hanging out with her simultaneously delightful and headstrong 2-year-old, running multiple ventures, writing and travelling full time with her little family. You can follow her travels at @darelist.family.
Congratulations… I can’t imagine how hard yet enlightening this journey has been for you. So excited to be able to dive in deeper and more often. Love what you’ve started. Thanks for all you do.
Thanks so much Crystal – it has been a long journey but such a fulfilling one, and we are really excited for this new season of Mulberry and being able to reach even more people through this site. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your process Grace! Love the new site and thoroughly enjoying reading through the articles xx
Stoked to have found this resource Grace and hopefully will become a contributor too. We decided we want to unschool our Litlte Miss before she was born and it remains a burning desire everyday. She is three now, we’ve evolved to see it as worldschooling and we’re currently slow-traveling in Asia indefinitely. We’re starting a podcast soon and would be keen to have you as a guest so you can share your story.
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