ReadingSmall business owners and non-profit board members rarely have lots of time for continuing education, no matter how much they would like to. So what if there was a way to keep up-to-date in your field, and expand your knowledge to related fields, all for free and in your spare time?

There is, of course! Trade journals. But wait, I hear you saying, trade journals are expensive. Why yes, they are, if you subscribe directly from them. But there are ways to receive journals at no cost. is the portal I use to receive magazines at no cost. (I am not a reseller, affiliate or paid reviewer – just a happy customer.) While you do have to provide a decent amount of professional information about your trade and business buying influence, this is understandable for what I get in return. They match me to journals in and around my industry which offer free subscriptions. Then they offer additional magazines that match my profile. I get emails periodically with offers, some of which are more on target than others. All subscriptions have no strings. There is no automatic renewal with a charge. I do sometimes get phone calls from publishers trying to keep the contact info up-to-date. I consider this the cost of the subscription and deal with them politely. And they do link to a site which offers free “trials”, but you don’t have to click.

I especially like that I can expose myself to related industries and skim some surface knowledge on what’s available without much time or effort on my part. I am primarily a designer, but knowing what printers and exhibitors are dealing with these days helps me when designing print or exhibit pieces.

Added bonus! Once you have given up your demographic information, publishers of non-trade magazines may also be interested in sending you publications. I have received travel magazines, women’s weeklies, entertainment magazines, and even motorsports subscriptions. Since I love magazines in general, this is a terrific perk for me.

Why would they send you free copies of magazines when they normally charge? Journals sell advertising based upon recipient counts. Advertisers don’t always care whether a reader paid to view their ad or not (although many journals will reveal the difference in the fine print). So it’s worthwhile to give away copies if it makes the publication more attractive to paying advertisers.

In addition, lots of journals are available electronically from their web sites. If you have a pda and like to read pdfs on it, that might be a great way to utilize your commute or queue time. I prefer hard copies, myself, so I opt for the magazines that will mail me paper.

Are there other ways to connect with free subscriptions – sure there are. I’m just not personally familiar with others. Type “free magazine subscriptions” into a search engine to get a list. Just be sure to read the fine print and I wouldn’t enter any credit card numbers – it shouldn’t be necessary.