Hi everyone! I’m Mackenzie from Design Darling and I’m thrilled to be filling in for Ally today. The design trend that I’m loving most right now is the rise of online magazines. Women who got their big break in blogging have found a way to foray into publishing, producing original content that attracts advertisers and readers alike. Consider this your cheat sheet to the crème de la crème of online publications and feel free to add your two cents by commenting below!

Who: Former Domino market assistant Michelle Adams and photographer Patrick Cline
What: The innovator
When: Launched in October 2009
Where: Lon(don)n(ew)y(ork)
What I love: A well-curated “Market” feature, industry icons like Bunny Williams and Lilly Pulitzer, daily blog with illustrations by Caitlin McGauley, comprehensive gallery, available in print (but for $35 per issue), links to everything.
What I don’t: Lack of reader interaction on Twitter.

What: Lonny‘s eclectic little sister
When: Launched in September 2010
Where: Based in San Francisco
What I love: The most content at 265 pages, tons of blogger-contributors, open launch parties, and major buzz on Twitter.
What I don’t: Slow online gallery.

What: The old-fashioned rookie
When: Launched in January 2011
Where: New York / San Francisco
What I love: Only magazine that comes out monthly, best use of Facebook, pretty portraits of blogger favorite Anna Rifle and fashion darling Lela Rose.
What I don’t: Text-heavy. More portraits and fewer interiors spreads make for little “blog-able” content.

When: Launched in February 2011
What: The celebrity connection
Where: Boston / Houston / Los Angeles
What I love: Innovative features like “One day with…” and “If I got this invite, I would…”, plenty of blog links, and funny girls Chelsea Handler and Jamie Meares in the impressive premiere issue.
What I don’t: Unattainable brands and high price points give off a “look but don’t touch” vibe.

I think it’s great that each magazine brings something completely different to the table and I look forward to keeping up with all four publications as they continue to improve and innovate. Do you agree with my take on each one’s aesthetic and main attractions? Which online publication is your favorite thus far?



Rachel (Little Bits of Lovely)

Great post Mackenzie! I think Rue & Lonny stand out as having the best content, but I feel Matchbook has definitely struck a chord with readers with their philosophy of the classics being ‘shaken and stirred’. For a magazine nut like me the more online glossies the better I say!


Terrific round up. They do each offer something a little bit different. I don’t mind a little aspiration with my inspiration, or even just aspiration (I don’t think everything has to be within everyone’s price range) but non reader interaction online and on twitter does indeed bother me – one of the appeals of online mags is the accessibility of both content and authors and when one disappears it does become less attractive.

a perfect gray

excellent piece, Mackenzie. loved your take on the magazines. Won’t it be interesting to see where our favorite print magazines are headed as well…and how/if they will be influenced by the new, on-line publications…?

thanks, enjoyed it very much…donna


Mackenzie this was a great post. I agree that there is such a big surge of the online glossies and I love having a library of excellent reading and inspiration at the tap of a button. Let alone all the fantastic blogs as well!

Eco friendly and stylish! Way to go!!

Thanks for a fab guest post.

x Charlotta


Great thoughts on all of them!
I really enjoy reading Rue the most. But I have to admit that the other three are so close! I love the new trend of online-magazines and hope that if there are more to come, the quality and love put into them will be just the same!

Crystal @ Rue

Fantastic round-up, Mackenzie! Thank you for including Rue and thanks to everyone for the great feedback! We are so thrilled to be part of this dynamic conversation and inspired by the goal of always giving our readers more of what they love!


travelkate @ Travelmoon

I love all of these online magazines for different reasons. I liked to hear your view on the differences. I also like the Australian magazine Adore and can add them to those above that I loyally follow.


Mackenzie aren’t you an intern for Rue magazine? In the print world, there’s fact-checking and on-page copyediting (by real copy editors who use an actual style guide–not people who think copyediting is merely proofreading), and absolutely no weird work by an intern who is pretending not to have ties to Rue. It’s called integrity, people. I have yet to see an online mag with a healthy dose of integrity (also considering the fact that they pay their contributors peanuts, if at all).

Design Darling

Hi Jaymie — I am an editorial intern for Rue (and certainly don’t pretend not to be) but Ally and I both feel that my guest post was written in all fairness with the utmost integrity in mind. As my post indicates, I think all four publications (Rue very much included) have strong points and room for improvement.


Well, Mackenzie, you didn’t identify yourself as the Rue intern in your post, which you should have done in the first line. This is what I’m talking about. The Web is a free-for-all—anything goes, including integrity, right out the door. Do you think if you worked for Elle Decor they would have you round up a cheat sheet of all the print shelter mags to publish in the FOB section of the next issue? Do you know what an FOB section is?

Intern at a print mag (or two, or three) and really learn the ropes, design darling.


Jaymie: Thanks for your comment.

I don’t know if you’re a regular reader or not but if you are you know that I’m a big proponent of print publications and I actually share some of your thoughts. In fact, a friend (who is a writer) and I have been having an ongoing conversation about the state of publishing for a while now and it sounds like we’re not alone in some of our concerns.

Having said that, when Mackenzie proposed this post and knowing that she was an intern at Rue, I replied that it would be great as long as it wasn’t biased and I think she did a good job of highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of all four magazines. But in light of your comment, it may have been better to have stated her connection in the post and that’s my fault.

Thanks again for weighing in. Like I said I agree with a lot of what you said and I appreciate you taking the time to share.

Mandy of Kini Style

I couldn’t agree more with your summary! Rue is my favorite at this point. I was impressed by High Gloss, but everything I liked in there was so expensive making it was hard to relate to.


Jaymie: It looks like we were commenting at the same time. I’ll just repeat that I should have asked Mackenzie to state her connection in the post. I give my guest bloggers total freedom but it is my blog and ultimately the content is my responsibility.

Design Darling

To clarify for anyone who might be interested, I intern for Rue. No one at Rue asked me to write this post or any other.

I am a fan of all four magazines and read each one for different reasons. All opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone, approved by Ally before she published the post.

This post has nothing to do with print publications so please politely drop the non sequitur.

The Zhush

Great post! I am a big fan of online magazines. Lonny had me at the first issue, and now I think the more the merrier! I love that we can easily access the fabulous mags from Australia, and vice versa. I also adore Anthology and Sweet Paul. To be able to go out on a limb and start a magazine from basically nothing but a blog seems amazing to me! Love them all, great “cheat sheet”!


Great round up. I think each mag has plenty of pluses and minuses but I love and read them all! The more the merrier in my book! All magazines have something that sets them apart and makes them shine….I love the variety. I can’t not read a magazine printed or online.


You are dead on with each description! My favorite right now is definitely RUE, the ladies do it up right over there!


Mackenize, great roundup for those who are aren’t as in-the-know about online mags.

I have to say I find it annoying to see online magazine editors constantly engaging and RT’ing every compliment they get. I absolutely understand the benefit of doing so (to a point), but I long for the days when magazine editors maintained some mystique.

I also can’t quite agree that Matchbook is too text heavy. As long as they aren’t producing Vanity Fair length articles, I’d be insulted to find what is basically a catalog of photos with no intel to back them up.

Also, not to get negative, but I have to agree with Jaymie. It doesn’t have to be a line in the sand about print versus online publications. It shouldn’t matter. The point is that the standard (meaning disclosure, copy edit AND proofreading fact checking) should be seamless. Period.

Kalyn Johnson

Great post! I haven’t had time to sit down and read through the latest editions of any of the 4 new online magazines. This is very helpful – looking forward to reading them this weekend.

Styishly yours,

Design Darling

Hi Logan — Thank you for your feedback. Nowhere in my post did I criticize print publications, nor would I, as I loyally subscribe to and enjoy several of them. My sole criticism of Matchbook, which I do agree brings more depth to the table than the average publication, is that there were too few pictures for my liking. As a copy writer for Rue (again in the interest of full disclosure), I understand and appreciate the importance of text to balance out imagery. That said, I would prefer a more equal mix of five-page picture spreads AND text to back it up and tell the story. You’ll notice there was less actual copy in Matchbook but several transcripts of interviews with their subjects.


Great roundup Mackenzie!

I’m personally a Lonny girl if for nothing else the but the quality of the photography. Now I understadn why: a resident creator/professional photographer. I also love the style / gallery / I love it all!

I’m also a big fan of Rue and warming up to High Gloss quickly – they had a brilliant marketing campaign! I agree with the featured items prices though. Not sold on Matchbook yet – too text heavy.

Julie Goebel

I actually love the honest discourse of the comments – so nice to see. The is a plethora of online magazines – those you mentioned and several others from Australia and elsewhere. Time will tell which ones hold up and continue with fair wages for employees,but for now it has been such a treat to read them all and hats off to those who have worked to hard to make them happen. My favorites have been What Katie Ate and Lonny.

Pretty Pink Tulips

Great round up, Mackenzie! I have enjoyed each of them for different reasons. And, at the speed things are moving in the online world, I’ll bet they will each evolve in their own way by the end of this year!


Logan: It seems like some mags are more like blogs in the way they interact with readers (which some people like and some don’t). Personally, I’m right there with you on the mystique thing.

Julie: I agree this is a really interesting discussion. It’s refreshing to hear different points of view!

So thanks for all of your comments, everyone!


Hold the phone. You’re copywriting for Rue *and* writing editorial for Rue? Another line of integrity that shouldn’t be crossed. (Or is this just a case of not understanding what a copy writer does? Answer: a copy writer writes advertising content, and, in an upstanding pub, they never write editorial.)

Also, in the world of Elle, Bazaar, Vogue, etc., the Q&A (or “interview transcripts” as you call them) *is* considered “actual copy”–and poignant, revealing, disarming copy at that.

European Chic

I think it is amazing that there are people out there who start their own online magazine. Not an easy thing to do, I think, and I truly admire the editors.

I wished that we here in Europe (I am based in Paris) would also get our act together and create a European online magazine featuring our yummy designs here.

Does anyone have any thoughts why online magazines are a (for now) mainly based in the USA (Or Australia or the UK)?

Design Darling

Hi Jaymie — I apologize for the confusion. We write “copy by…” for editorials as well but I should have indicated that I write editorial and have nothing to do with the advertising front. Phew, one fewer knock on my integrity!

Q&A is an excellent format notwithstanding the fact that it requires far less effort from the writer. It’s quick to read but that’s because it’s quick to write. Elle Decor, Vogue, etc. do feature Q&A but they also have writers who craft stories about the issue’s feature homes. If you read Matchbook, you’ll find that their pieces on Rifle Design, Jemma Kidd, Warby Parker, the Chelsea apartment, Rita Konig, John Derian, the Paris blogger, and Marais were ALL Q&A pieces and that’s an imbalance I’ve yet to see in print magazines.


MacKenzie-I think you did a wonderful job rounding out the magazines. If I did not know you interned at Rue, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. I haven’t checked out Matchbook and now I will! And don’t worry Design Darling, your integrity incurred no knocks at all.

Milk and Honey Home

There will end up being all types of online magazines just like there are all types of traditional mags. People know what kind of content they are going to get with they buy a Bazaar or Vogue or an Us. You can tell which of these online mags are going for sells based on fun and eye candy and those desiring to be more reputable. The cream will rise to the top.

There are places in the online market for all types, in my opinion.

Brittany @ The Aubergine Notebook

i think you did a great roundup mackenzie! i agree 100% with your views on each magazine. each have their strengths and things to work on but you did a great job of being a neutral perspective. (p.s. i knew you were an intern @ rue. it didn’t bother me at all.)


I am personally a Lonny fan myself. I love the layouts and they seem closest to my beloved (rest in peace) Domino. I completely agree with you about High Gloss. The price points for this Shoestring Girl sent my eyebrows into my hairline. I understand they are primarily for inspiration but oh my, I felt a little overwhelmed. Rue is getting better I think. I wasn’t completely in love by the end of the first issue but the latest issue was fabulous. I love Matchbook but maybe I am completely fluffy but I want more eyecandy!


Thanks so much for taking time to comment! I read every one and reply through my own comments.