I really want to share the insider-tips we got from both Britt and Keith during our meeting, because; you know I think of blogging as sharing, and sharing is caring - so I really hope you like it!
We are guided into the conference room at ELLE. Britt Aboutaleb, style news editor, and Keith Pollock, an editorial director of ELLE.com, greeted us openly. All eight of us were clearly nervous to be in the presence of such talented and successful people, we actually had a difficult time getting into "now-is-you-chance-ask-whatever-you-want" kind of mood. We were of course still on a high after having eaten breakfast with the beautiful Petra Middelthon of ELLE Norway earlier that day. Luckily, Keith and Britt had prepared some general information to start with and was clearly updated on what was going on around the office.
They started talking about ELLE as a brand, and we soon realized that ELLE-employees does not consider ELLE to be just a magazine. It's a big production consisting of books, videos, advise, events, tv-shows and, of course, a general coverage of fashion.
- ELLE is much more than a brand, it's an experience, Keith points out.
Generally quite shocked just to be at ELLE, we got to ask whatever we wanted, and mostly, as a group, were interested in how we could get to work for ELLE! Surprised? No? I guess anyone in our position would ask for advise on that exact subject. Both Keith and Britt agree that experience is key, and unfortunately for me, a college-degree is almost more important than anything else. Being a high-school drop-out, I really felt like someone hit me with a car in that moment - but I picked myself up rather quickly, as I know there's still room for self-taught, passionate souls out there - like for instance the talented Viktorija Bowers.
In order to get experience, they advised us take whatever job we could get. Jump on an internship, be an assistant, anything fashion-related is better than nothing. Like Petra Middelthon told us earlier the same day; you never know who you are going to meet! Best case scenario, I think to myself; "what if I bump into Anna Wintour's assistant waiting in line for coffee? What if she needs help carrying all of the coffees upstairs?" I can't exactly disagree with myself as I daydream about spilling coffee all over Anna's desk. Keith bursts my little bubble by telling us that in the end, it all boils down to who your worked with, what you did and who you know. If I were to add a little spice to that statement, I'd say you need a generous portion of good luck as well.
To the ELLE-family, a different approach and a unique perspective seems to be very important. They think, that as a writer, you have to have your own voice, never go with the obvious story and always stay updated on what's happening around you. A well known trick is to always check out the competition before you do your own. What's their next move? And what's yours? How can you cover the same thing in your own unique way?
From personal experience, I find the ELLE-way the only way, so to speak. It may sound cheeky, but it's all about how they do it; with perspective and passion. Some of my all-time favorite articles come from the ELLE-family, not very shocking as my favorite magazine is ELLE UK. They do have an unique way of telling the most intriguing stories about culture, love, music, career and art. All the good things in life! My most recent favorite is an interview within the series of "Stylish thinking" dictated to ELLE by Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester of ‘Glee’ in the March issue of ELLE UK magazine (2011). I found that particular piece to be absolutely hilarious!
On the subject of blogging, both Keith and Britt have strong opinions, which they are not afraid to share. They emphasize yet again the importance of having your own voice, which really goes for any career within fashion and journalism. It sounds pretty simple, but in reality it's harder than most of us can imagine. Keith explains that it's an over-saturated marked, and being a blogger generally boils down to knowing and understanding the importance of being yourself. He tells us never to aim to be just like our favorite blogger; that this kind of thinking only will lead to an ultimate failure - because those spots already are filled. We already knew that, but it's nice to know that it's not just what we as independent bloggers think. Britt underlines that there is a reason why bloggers like Style Bubble, Man Repeller, Bryan Boy and Rumi are so successful, and that's because they have found their own voice.
ELLE has a great voice, I already know that - and if you've read the magazine, you probably know it as well. Keith tells us that ELLE consists of a large group of amazing writers; both stationary and freelancing. One of the main criteria of working with ELLE is to "stay true to the art of writing". That's easier said than done, if you ask me. Being in the position that I am right now, I'm finding it more and more difficult to stay confident in my writing. Having a deadline in a few hours is stressful and exhilarating at the same time. Neither blogging or journalism is as glamorous as it seems; it's hard work, long hours and generally involves a lot of coffee. Britt tells us that the news-section of ELLE.com has about 10-12 articles published every day, and editing all of these pieces is a lot of work. Then there are additional slide-shows, press-trips, appointments, press-viewings, fashion shows and just generally keeping in touch with your ever-growing network.
So, to sum up the insider-tips on how to succeed as a blogger and/or writer, as seen from ELLE editor Keith and Britt's point of view, here are the three most important ones:
- Have your own voice and be yourself.
- Get experience by working within the industry.
- Stay updated on current events and educate yourself.