As a magazine editor with over 20 years’ experience, I bring a high level of expertise to the publishing experience. Here are just some of the magazines I have edited over the years either in-house – as managing editor at Hardie Grant Publishing in Melbourne and John Brown Publishing in London – or as a freelance editor:
Australian Medical Association (SA Branch) – Best State AMA Magazine 2012 and 2013
The Age wine magazine
Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia
Spice Girls and 19 Management (UK)
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
From magazines to content writing and editing
When I started working in publishing in the 1990s, custom magazine publishing was booming. And while custom magazines are still around today, they are kind of like the godfather of content marketing. While much of what the two marketing tools have to offer remains the same, much is different as well. Here’s how I got started on the journey from custom magazines to content marketing.
Editor in the making
I fell in love with magazines as a child. I was obsessed with Dolly, then Tiger Beat and Seventeen – and I’d even pore over my mum’s Women’s Weekly. I applied for a job with Dolly magazine as assistant editor when I was 18 – I thought my passion might win Lisa Wilkinson, who was editor at the time, over, despite my lack of experience. It wasn’t to be. So instead, I went to university and studied English and Psychology, and later, to RMIT in Melbourne to do a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing.
Custom magazines in London
When I moved to London, I went for a job interview at a small magazine publisher’s right on the Thames River, in a converted boathouse. I remember walking in, sitting in the racing car front seat which served as a couch in reception, and eyeing up the cool-looking receptionist in ripped tights, mini skirt and heavy eye makeup. This was where I was meant to be. I knew it.
I didn’t get the job, however. The job was assistant editor on the Virgin Inflight Magazine, Hot Air. I couldn’t believe it. The job was mine. I literally howled. Instead, I took a job editing crosswords for Bauer Publishing.
It WAS meant to be
Three months later I got a call – it was John Brown Publishing. The person they had chosen for the job – because she’d worked on London Time Out magazine, while I was just an Aussie ring-in – had not worked out. Did I want the job?
That was the start of my career as a magazine editor. I went on to edit Livewire magazine for InterCity Trains (later Virgin Trains), SPICE magazine for the Spice Girls and 19 Management (yes, I got to meet them, and David Beckham), Classic Cigar magazine, a magazine for Budweiser – and many more.
By the time I left to come back to Australia five years later, I was managing editor across a range of titles. I’d also worked with some leading graphic designers, been apart of an award-winning team, and worked under the launch editor of Esquire UK. I’d also worked for one of the most maverick publishers in the world, John ‘Jazzy B’ Brown, and learnt a whole bunch about magazine publishing.
The return to Australia
When I came back to Australia, I took that knowledge to Hardie Grant Publishing, who were just setting up in Australia. Custom magazine publishing, though huge in London, had yet to take off in a major way in Australia.
Hardie Grant were setting up a book division as well as a custom magazine division. Having met Fiona Hardie in London, just before we both returned to Australia, it was the perfect scenario – I could ease my way back into working life (after coming home via India) and work part-time for a while as managing editor of the brand new custom magazine division.
The art of the pitch
We had no titles in the early days, hence I only worked part-time till things took off. It was all about pitching for business at that time.
Working closely with Fiona Hardie, I learnt the art of the pitch – which I’d also been exposed to in London, but with no magazines on our books at Hardie Grant, we had to pitch hard. And just like that, Hardie Grant took off. Clients in those first few years included Ansett, Mercedes-Benz, the Art Gallery of NSW, Coles, CPA Australia, and more.
I was ecstatic when, out of the blue, we were contacted by Clemenger’s Adelaide office (Clemenger was one of the original investors in Hardie Grant, having seen the opportunity to diversify into a new area). It seemed National Pharmacies was wanting a new magazine. We flew to Adelaide and pitched a magazine called Vital Health, which we developed the concept for. They loved it. I went on to edit that magazine for six years, and when I went freelance, I continued to edit it.
The transition to content marketing
I still edit magazines today – medicSA for the AMA. I also edit and ghostwrite books. And I have adapted my skills to content writing and content editing. While the skills are somewhat different – much about them also remains the same.
In the end, it’s about loving what you do, knowing your customer, and making sure your message reaches the right people in the right environment and frame of mind.