Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

They Get a Head Start (And 7 Other Things Good Editors Do Daily)

By Kristin Granero

Think the biggest hurdle you’ll face in publishing is landing the gig? Think again.

While there’s certainly something to be said for getting your feet in the door, most editors will tell you that what really matters is what you do with the opportunity once you’re on the other side.

To make the transition easier for you (and your soon-to-be boss), we enlisted editors covering a range of different content and mediums to share some of their top tips to stay on top. 

  1. They get a head start.

The early bird really does get the worm. When it comes to a publishing office, you can typically guarantee some peace and quiet if you’re able to get in a little earlier than your coworkers. “I like to be the first person in the office each day. I’m a morning person and I’m most productive in those few silent hours where I can just sit at my desk and edit, write, or catch up on emails. I don’t even like to turn the office lights on where I sit because it’s oddly (creepily?) calming to work in the dark,” says Eden Univer, a beauty editor at Hearst Digital Media. Psst: Coffee helps.

  1. They know before they go (to the office).

If you’re not a morning person or have other obligations to take care of before work, plug in during your commute. “Every morning on my way to work, I catch up on industry news. I start with the Mediabistro Morning Media Newsfeed, which is an email roundup of the big media news from the day before. I also check the media section of the New York Post and always read Keith Kelly’s column. Other sites I check daily are Digiday and Fishbowl NY,” says Christine Mattheis Allyn, director, special projects at Rodale. It’s also a good idea to catch up on the news in general (i.e., The Skimm), especially concerning the beat you cover. If you work for a women’s mag, perhaps it’s the BroadSheet or Lenny. If you’re a health editor, perhaps it’s the NYT’s Health Update.

  1. They divide and conquer.

Your commute isn’t the only area where a little multitasking can go a long way. “One thing that’s saved me is having a folder in my inbox marked ‘beauty events.’ While I’m eating my breakfast or lunch, I’ll go into that folder and RSVP to events and desksides and get my calendar up to date. If I didn’t have that folder, event invitations would likely get lost or forgotten or not answered in a timely manner,” says Tracy Perez, copy manager at IT Cosmetics/L’Oréal USA. 

  1. They make a list (and check it twice).

Less important than where you mark down those RSVPs is finding a solid system that works for you. In addition to a color-coded Google calendar, Univer insists on jotting down appointments in her Moleskin. “It’s where I keep my daily to-do lists, and I whip it out all the time at meetings and events to take notes. I love seeing everything together on paper, and honestly, nothing feels more gratifying than physically crossing things off a list,” she says.

  1. They keep their cool.

And when it comes to those high-priority appointments? Do your usual prep and then try not to sweat. “One thing I’ve learned working in the world of celebrities and entertainment is you have to treat interviews as any other normal conversation you’d have with your friend. The more comfortable and at ease they feel, the more likely you are to get better nuggets of information,” says Priscilla Rodriguez, a freelance writer and editor.

  1. They play pitcher and catcher.

Christina Heiser, senior beauty editor at Webedia, points out that continuing to pitch story ideas is one of the easiest ways you can keep your creative juices flowing and stand out as a go-getter. “It’s totally OK if not every pitch turns into an article—I’ve often pitched an idea that turns into something completely different, and better! Being receptive to new ideas and working collaboratively are also great traits for an editor to have,” adds Heiser. 

  1. They try to imitate life and art.

If possible, Perez recommends timing those stories so they’re a natural extension of your everyday life. “[When] doing a story about highlights, I’ll make sure to go in for mine around the time I’m doing research so I can pick my colorist’s brain. I leave with some good tips and great hair. It’s a win-win!” she says. 

  1. They count their successes.

Remember that statistics sell. “Check metrics to see how stories are performing. Staying on top of that really helps inform new story ideas, because you’ll have a better sense of what and what doesn’t work. If you work online, using tools like Omniture to monitor page views and unique visits and Chartbeat to monitor how well social media posts are performing daily is the best way to stay informed. Meeting on a weekly or monthly basis with your team to go over top performing stories (as well as to talk about what didn’t do as well) is also something that I’ve found very helpful in previous jobs I’ve had. It’s allowed me to hone in on very specific things, like what headline wording seems to resonate with the audience I’m writing for. And if there’s a story you’re dying to assign to a writer, having the analytics about similar content to back up why you think this new story will perform well is really impressive,” says Allyn.

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