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Women of the web
Megan chats with women (all over 30; in fact aged 31 to 50) in local media who have moved from print to web and who form the new face of publishing.
I have been sitting next to these wonderful writing women (is that the new 'www'?) lately at beauty and fashion launches and I seem to keep hearing a common thread about them making the jump from a traditional job at a print title to being self-employed and having a website, with all the pros and cons that it entails.
I also liked that we are all older bloggers who are all over 30 and not teens. I found this fascinating and knew our Thread readers would too.
So, I chatted to Leonie Barlow, Milly Nolan, Jenna Moore, Lulu Wilcox, Tracey Strange and Anya Brighouse about their blogs and websites.
1. What is your name and your own background?
Milly Nolan (pictured left) says, "Although I studied law, my dream was always to work on a magazine so after university I followed my passion, and began by working as an intern on various magazine titles in Sydney, which led to my first job at Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine. This was followed by two years at Wallpaper* magazine in London and more recently, MiNDFOOD magazine where I was the beauty and fashion editor for four years. I have recently left MiNDFOOD to found my own business, a boutique online wedding gift registry called Mildred&Co.
Leonie Barlow (above). I've spent the last 20 years working in magazines both in New Zealand and Australia. For the last thirteen years I've been lucky enough to edit some of New Zealand's top selling magazines including New Idea, CLEO, SHE, Fashion Quarterly and The Australian Women's Weekly.
Anya Brighouse (above). My background for the last 10 years (as well as raising 3 children) has been interior design. I have managed a bit of magazine styling and writing, and for the last 4 years I have been fashion/film/book writing for THREAD.
Jenna Moore (above) has been working in the print magazine environment for about 18 years. She was the beauty and wellbeing editor at Next magazine for nearly 10 years, the beauty and fashion editor and the beauty editor at New Idea (in the 90s and from 2008-2011), and also a freelance editor and stylist. In addition, she founded the annual Breast Cancer Special Report in Next magazine in 2001 and as a result co-founded Pink magazine (now owned by Annah Stretton) and co-wrote the book: 'In The Pink: a guide to breasts, cancer & living well' with naturopath Lani Lopez.
Lulu Wilcox (above) holds a fashion degree and is a fashion stylist for print, TV and catwalk. Lulu was the head stylist at MTV Australia for three years before coming home to New Zealand where she continued as a freelance stylist. She was also the fashion editor at New Idea for 2 1/2 years, finishing up in May 2012, to spend more time with her four-year-old daughter Julia.
Tracey Strange (above). I trained as a journalist and have been working in print for over 30 years now. I started off in general news and then progressed to business writing, editing a business magazine before becoming deputy editor of the now defunct More magazine. I went from there to edit Style magazine (also no longer) and then to Sunday as fashion and beauty editor and then Fashion Quarterly and Next as beauty editor. I'm currently style editor of NZ House & Garden and fashion and beauty editor of NZ Life & Leisure and Your Weekend, which means I do a lot of styling as well as writing.
2. What is your new website, what's it all about, and when did it / will it launch?
Milly Nolan: Mildred&Co (www.mildredandco.co.nz) is a boutique online wedding gift registry launching in August, which sells everything you could ever want for your home - indoors and out. From cake mixers to barbeques, bed linen to art work, each piece is carefully selected for its high quality and unique design. For those couples that want larger items, or desire the honeymoon of their dreams, guests can contribute towards a 'wishing well' to make it possible. To choose their gifts, the bride and groom can meet with a style consultant at the Auckland showroom over a glass of champagne, or select their desired items online from anywhere in New Zealand.
Leonie Barlow: It's a fashion and beauty blog called The Style Insider (www.thestyleinsider.co.nz) and is launching on 30 July 2012 - I can't wait. In a nutshell, TheStyleInsider.co.nz talks to the fashion voyeur in all of us by taking its readers inside the closets of New Zealand’s most influencial style setters. TheStyleInsider.co.nz gives its readers insider access, intelligent commentary and a daily dose of fashion and beauty inspiration. It’s fashion surveillance at its best!
Anya Brighouse: The new website is www.beautifulbedlam.co.nz and it should launch by the end of July. It will be just all the beautiful fashion and style that I love with some interiors love mixed in. It's quite funny that I love a black palette to dress in and a colorful palette to live in!
Jenna Moore and Lulu Wilcox: The website is www.Gorgeousosity.com (prounounced gorgeous-osity). It's all about Gems of Gorgeousness encompassing fashion, beauty, vitality and design. It covers all the genres I've (Jenna) worked with over my career. Lulu liked the concept and joined as 'fashion guru'. I've had the name in my head for years and have copped a bit of feedback re it being a mouthful. It is, but once it becomes familiar it rolls off the tongue. It would have been Gorgeousology but it was important to me to have a .com site and, as you can imagine, it's pretty hard to find a .com domain name. Funnily enough, I've had a few people wanting to buy it. We first launched in December as Vi-tality but moved back to Gorgeousosity in January. Gorgeous is one of the most popular words in the English language :-) Initially we just worked with a template form. The website proper launched on March 24, 2012. This is its second stage of development, but there is a bigger picture in mind. Watch this space!
Tracey Strange: It's called Strange and Beautiful (www.strangeandbeautiful.co.nz) and it launched a couple of months ago. It's currently focused on two main areas – beauty and interiors. The main impetus for launching it was that I wanted to blog my renovation – we're currently completely renovating a mid-century house in Titirangi – and I love 'before and afters'. But it kind of expanded from that into all the things that I love.
3. What is your goal in doing it?
Milly Nolan: The reason I launched Mildred&Co was because I noticed a gap in the market for a gift registry that was a one-stop-shop aimed at people who appreciate good design and modern decor. The point of Mildred&Co is to make sure that couples are given gifts that they really need and desire and which they will cherish forever, rather than banishing unwanted gifts to the back of the cupboard. And likewise, I think it is important that the guests attending the wedding enjoy the art of giving in the knowledge that the couple want what they are receiving. Having a gift list through Mildred&Co also saves time and hassle for both the bridal couple and the guest - these days people are too time-poor to spend hours shopping without a clue of what to buy.
Leonie Barlow: I wanted to combine my passion for fashion, beauty and social media and turn it into a new career. I believe the future of publishing is online and I've been wanting to join the blogosphere for a long time now but juggling a busy job with two young boys meant that I never really had the time.
Anya Brighouse: I find it interesting that there are many blogs/website written from a younger point of view, but those things don't always translate well as you travel through life, children, and marriage. Your dress becomes a bit more stylish than trend driven, and you know your own tastes interiors-wise better. I just want to make sure people are being pointed in the right direction to find a fabulous pair of shoes, no matter what the budget.
Jenna Moore: The world of publishing is moving to a different place, and I'd been missing working with some of the subjects I cover here. For the past three years or so, I'd freelanced and worked part time as beauty editor at New Idea. That was so I could be home for my step-children after school. But they've grown now and I really wanted do my own thing as well as something more fulfilling than being part of a big, corporate beast. And, as I've already said, I missed covering health and vitality, fashion and design. Plus where else can you get away with adding the odd smiley face to your copy! Gorgeousosity is meant to be all about having a heart and embracing the reader. It was also a goal to bring together an amazing team of wonderful, like-minded women, who are all great at what they do. The lovely thing is, between Lulu and I, that is starting to happen. It's so exciting.
Tracey Strange: I wanted to see if I could! I was keen to have a record of my renovation but now I see it as a record of what I actually do day to day (which I guess is the essence of a blog!) I also get to see and try a lot of beautiful stuff in my day job and I wanted to share it. I love shopping online and I'm so grateful when I find something new and different on a site.
4. How are you finding it different already working on the web compared to your long illustrious career in print?
Milly Nolan: So far there seems to be just as many deadlines but being my own boss is definitely a plus as I work by my own rules now! I just need to make sure I get out of my pj's each day. I don't think my love for print will ever fade and I dread the day that magazines become obsolete (fingers crossed it doesn't happen), but online is definitely where the world is heading and it is exciting to be a part of it. The options online are limitless and I am learning more and more about the benefits of the web each day. The hardest part is dragging myself away from the computer - I feel like it is attached to me!
Leonie Barlow: I only have a Facebook fan page at this stage but I'm already loving the immediacy and interactivity of it. You can post something online and immediately start to see what sort of response you are getting. I also love being able to communicate directly with my readers. And I love the fact that everything looks SO much better on screen than in print.
Anya Brighouse: Luckily I didn't have a long illustrious career in print, so it isn't too much of a change! There is just way more work involved when you are doing your own. And the editing side seriously worries me. My grammar is a bit shoddy at times.
Jenna Moore and Lulu Wilcox: For both of us, it's wonderful being able to have direct and immediate interaction with the readers, and being able to work internationally. The web is a very exciting medium and very different from print in that way. That being said, a sub editor is sorely missed! This is a start-up business so naturally funds are low, and don't stretch to having a raft of employees. Sub editors are worth their weight in gold as everybody can benefit from having a fresh pair of eyes cast over their work. When you've been working on something for a while, it's easy to miss little mistakes. Also because Gorgeousosity is new, it's very time consuming.
Tracey Strange: I guess I'm still keeping my hand in with print so my life hasn't changed much. I've been a freelancer for over 10 years now, which means I've been able to work from home and not have to go into an office. I knew setting up a blog as well was going to mean more work but I didn't quite realise just how much time it would consume.
5. What from your career in print do you think still applies to your new life online as a blogger?
Milly Nolan: The D word needs mentioning again - Deadlines. Without them, nothing would get done! I think everything that I learnt in print, applies to online although the pace is much, much faster. The thing with online is that you can never be too silent, so it requires discipline to make noise daily, whether it is through your site, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Leonie Barlow: I think the news gathering and writing skills from my print journalism background will definitely help. I'm sure being able to meet a deadline will come in handy too. Apart from that, online is a very different beast which I'm finding really exciting. In the last few months I've been learning a whole lot of exciting new skills from techy online stuff like Search Engine Optimisation and Google Analytics to shooting my own photos on my brand-new DSLR camera (it's not as easy as it looks).
Anya Brighouse: I still like pretty things...
Jenna Moore: Oh definitely writing, being organised, being able to meet deadlines - it's essential. As is always having the person who is reading it in mind. I know a lot of people who are working online don't come from a background in publishing and for me, personally, I have found it invaluable having had so many years of experience in print.
Tracey Strange: I'm pretty organised and focused, which has stood me in good stead. I think being an experienced writer and stylist has also helped.
6. What differences and/or benefits do you think we hold as older bloggers compared to the young bloggers in fashion? Any observations as a Gen X blogger to add?
Milly Nolan: I guess with age, comes experience and being 'older' means we are able to capture a more like-minded audience. I think young bloggers are probably better at 'banging' out a blog, whereas with print deadlines you are used to having more time to spend on an article and also are able to rely on sub-editors to correct any mistakes. Blogging needs to be more instantaneous and is also so much personal so you have to adapt your tone accordingly.
Leonie Barlow: I think being a little older gives us a different point of view from the younger bloggers. The biggest growth in social media is coming from the 30-45 age group (it's taken us oldies a little longer to realise how amazing this new world is) and I think it's much easier to communicate with the audience you naturally fit in to. The great thing about blogging too is that there is room for everyone, regardless of your age or style. Also, unlike print media, the more collaboratively bloggers work the more opportunity there is for success.
Anya Brighouse: We often know the history behind a label, and have seen what works well, and what doesn't. We understand wearablity, and buying for longevity as opposed to a short term trend. Style is way more important than simply following fashion...
Jenna Moore: Um, age and experience :-) There's got to be kudos attached to being 'older' doesn't there?! Truly, there are lots of benefits to being fresh and funky but there's also a heck of a lot to be said for having experience - it always comes back to the reader and what appeals to them. Obviously teens won't be so taken with a 30's or 40s targeted site and vice versa. The ability to relate to a more mature readership works. Gorgeousosity's readership is broad but the core is 25-54, which goes to show it's not just teenagers who are embracing online for information gathering.
Tracey Strange: I'm not sure. I think more experience generally has to help but not exclusively. Youth is a great asset when it comes to fashion! I think I'm also conscious of trying to offer someone who visits Strange and Beautiful something other than the general ramblings of my life! I kind of treat it as a mini magazine. It has to contain information and well as being something nice to look at.
7. Any other points?
Milly Nolan: As much as I love searching the web and spend hours doing so, I really do hope that print never dies.
Jenna Moore: It's fascinating that New Zealand has been quite slow to embrace the blogosphere. In the rest of world, including Australia, online is HUGE (emphasis intended :-). And we mean BIG. In our experience, Kiwis have always been told they're early adopters when it comes to technology, but obviously not in this case. We think that's changing now. We're not sure if that's because we're involved in the 'world of the web' and am, therefore, taking more note, or whether the industry is sitting up and noticing the power of the 'new influencers' as they're calling us overseas. Perhaps it's a bit of both. And it's wonderful that so many of us who come from a print career are choosing to go online. We guess we're becoming the new face of publishing.
Tracey Strange: The print world is changing. If you work in the media you really need to understand online. This is another reason why I did the blog... I needed/wanted to up-skill myself. I've been working in magazines for so long it's easy to get a bit behind the times! Two months in and I'm starting to figure out how much about online that I don't know!
2 July 2012