The second interview with an editor of a specialist magazine, offering some information and advice on breaking into the industry.
1.How did you get into the industry?
I took a rather unconventional route into publishing. I studied at the University of Leeds and while I was there had a part-time job in a small commercial art gallery. When I graduated I was offered the position of Manager at the gallery. That role involved a fair amount of liaison with corporate clients so when I subsequently relocated to London, I took a job as an Account Manager with a specialist PR company. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career but the company I was joining published a number of magazines and I had edited my school magazine as a sixth former and was interested in writing and editing. Soon after joining the business I was offered the opportunity to try out for the magazines by taking home other journalists’ interview tapes and writing them up. I subsequently progressed through the department, eventually becoming an editor. When I then moved to Glasgow I took a job as Editor of a small publishing company that published three specialist magazines. I edited all three magazines and managed the small editorial and production team. But the main reason we had moved to Scotland was to be near the mountains and I was spending a lot of my spare time hillwalking, so when the job as Deputy Editor of The Great Outdoors came up, I was able to offer both hillwalking and editing experience. I was promoted to Editor of The Great Outdoors a couple of years later.
2.Describe your role?
I am responsible for the overall editorial content of The Great Outdoors – planning out issues of the magazine, commissioning freelancers and staff to produce features and photography, sub-editing, writing, picture research and proof-reading. One of my staff was recently promoted to Digital Editor so we work side-by-side on print and digital content.
3. What does your day to day work schedule involve?
Nowadays I don’t get out into the hills for work very often but I’m lucky in that the tasks I carry out at my desk are varied. However, keeping on top of my Outlook inbox can be a bit of a job in itself! I work remotely from the rest of the company so I spend a lot of time on the phone and on email, communicating with my team. I also spend a lot of time working on individual features and making them print-ready. I particularly enjoy that aspect of the job.
4.What skills do you think are required to do your job?
You need to be organised, creative and have good attention to detail. You need a fairly thick skin as people don’t hesitate to let you know if they disagree with something you’ve published!
5.Do you think a journalism degree or work experience/internships are more important?
I was lucky in that I managed to get into my job without either – although I did do some extra work at home for free in order to move from an administrative to a journalistic role in my first job in London. Sadly, nowadays things are a lot more difficult. When people approach me for work, I’m most interested to see evidence that they are keen on writing and interested in the outdoors. A good blog goes a long way! But obviously work experience, internships and a relevant qualification are all excellent experience too.
6.Best part of the job?
When a real gem of a feature lands in my inbox.
7.Worst part of the job?
Disgruntled readers – unfortunately you can’t please all the people all the time but we do our best.
8.How would you describe the job market for this area of work in the UK?
There aren’t that many outdoor magazines and most of them have very small teams. We use a lot of freelance writers rather than having a big staff.
9. Any advice for people wanting to break into the industry?
As I mentioned earlier, evidence of talent (good writing, good photography) and an interest in the outdoors go a long way with me. A great blog is a real asset.
10. Does working in an area that you love and was once perhaps your favourite hobby, take some of the magic away from the outdoors, because you’re surrounded by it all the time.? As in you can no longer use it as an escape? (It’s just something I worry about.)
It doesn’t take the magic away but it does mean that I’m sometimes drafting an article in my head while climbing a hill… I’m not very good at switching off work anyway – I’m sure some others are better at separating work and pleasure than I am!
Check out the magazine’s website for more information.