You might have heard that I won a competition as part of Stylist magazine’s 100th issue last week (mainly because I didn’t stop tweeting, blogging and generally yapping about it). I sent in my entry, a list of the top ten funniest fictional Twitter accounts, and was picked to go and write for the magazine’s website for a day. Here’s how I got on.
I arrived at Emerald Street (you’ll recognise that name if you subscribe to Stylist’s mailing list) in Holborn at 9.30am and met fellow competition winner Stacey. We were going to be spending the day together so I was relieved to find she was really friendly and chatty. Online Editor Stephanie Wood came and collected us from reception and took us up to where the website team sit, on the floor above the print magazine folk. She got us started on our first task: scouring news sites and blogs to find interesting stories for the website.
Within a couple of hours I had my first article online. Steph had told me by email the week before that it’d be a good idea to have a look at news online before I came in, so, massive nerd that I am, I spent the whole of the night before (and even got up extra early that day) on sites like the Huffington Post and The Cut blog. I ended up writing a celebrity news story on Zooey Deschanel’s divorce and another piece about adorably funny new Tumblr blog ‘Fashimals’ which I’d read about the night before. Lesson learned: it pays to be prepared.
After a quick guide to their CMS (Content Management System – the software used to upload content to the website) and a crash course in Photoshop from Lauren, another girl in the web team, our stories were up (Stacey wrote about the new Government pledge to fight sexual violence) and we went off for lunch. This was a great chance to ask Steph all about Stylist and what it’s like to run the website. It actually didn’t seem a whole lot different to running Style and Then Some, except on a much, much larger scale of course. A lot of the main concerns were the same, like getting quality, timely articles up every day, trying to increase viewing stats and followers, boosting Search Engine Optimisation and getting your content spread via social media and other channels. For instance, in August, a Stylist online article on the 100 best opening lines from books was picked up by the Huffington Post and that pushed the viewing stats through the roof that month. I told Steph that I’d quickly become obsessed with checking the viewing stats of my blog and she agreed it’s highly addictive – she even has an iPhone app so she can monitor the stats remotely.
Me and Stacey (right) the other online writer competition winner
Back in the office Stacey and I were put to work on a ‘life in pictures’ gallery focusing on Marilyn Monroe, to tie in with forthcoming film My Week with Marilyn, in which Michelle Williams plays the iconic blonde. With the aid of Rex features and Wikipedia we compiled photos and captions to represent the significant moments in Monroe’s career and personal life. Steph explained that using the gallery format helps with SEO (because it means the keywords are repeated on every picture in the gallery) and increases the number of page impressions, which is crucial for attracting advertisers. We beavered away until 7pm but didn’t have time to complete the gallery – hopefully it will be published soon, as will our original competition entry top ten lists.
All in all, I had a great time at Stylist. Steph and the team were all really lovely and so accommodating; I learnt loads in just one day and it was brilliant that Stacey and I were allowed to get really hands on with the website. Other competition winners may have had their work published in the Made by You issue of the magazine, but I really think we got the best prize – but then I guess I would say that.
Check out the two stories I wrote on Stylist.co.uk: