It’s no secret we’re in a stage where digital editors are making serious waves. Cosmopolitan.com’s editor – Amy Odell – is one of those. With a career history that includes Buzzfeed, where she launched the first women’s interest/fashion vertical, and NYMag’s The Cut, where she was the first blogger, she’s proved to be a force in web publishing to be reckoned with. We chatted with her on all things web, food and fashion…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Breakfast tacos from Torchy’s Tacos in Austin, Kale Salad from Northern Spy Food Co. in New York City for lunch, and Austin Mexican again for dinner with a good, strong margarita. Nothing drives me crazier than a bad margarita (read: tastes like lemonade).
What wasn’t happening at Cosmopolitan.com before you came on, that you brought to the table?
I think the site lacked a recognizable voice and point of view. I am obsessed with voice and wanted to find one that was funny, smart, knowing, conversational, and relatable. Also, we have more readers now (a total of twenty-five million unique visitors each month) who are regularly visiting the site.
If you could identify three things you did to grow traffic since you started, what would they be?
I hired more incredibly talented writers and editors, I aligned them on a vision for creating addictive content, and now we aim to do posts that millions of women will read and think, “These writers actually GET me.”
How has womens’ media changed since you started?
The online offerings specifically for women have expanded exponentially. I think you’re also seeing websites influence legacy media brands — for instance, magazines might be more likely to feature “plus-size” models or address a topic like thigh gap, which the internet has enabled media consumers to create rallying cries around.
What are the differences between how men and women approach the internet?
I don’t think men and women approach the internet differently, although I can safely say I’m more drawn to posts featuring Beyonce GIFs than my fiancé.
What is your personal definition of good content?
Good content is well-written, has a voice, and speaks to an audience like no other kind of content can.
In another interview, you talked about legacy brands (like Cosmopolitan) versus newer tech/media brands (like Buzzfeed). What do you think is the future of the relationship between the two?
I think the internet and web native brands will continue to influence legacy brands. For instance, in the May issue, Cosmo in print has a big beauty package around selfies that my web team helped gather images for on social media. So I think projects like that will continue to evolve, and I think magazine editors will continue to keep their eyes on the internet for story ideas, because it’s hard to talk about cultural trends or movements without looking at the internet. Another example: Cosmo print did an excellent feature not long ago about revenge porn, which originated and perpetuates on the internet.
Advice for editors at online media brands…
I think my advice for editors at any brand would just be to read all the time. Read the internet, read books, read print magazines, read the newspaper. If you work in publishing — digital or print — and you’re not reading constantly, you’re not going to be the best editor you could be.
Thoughts on editors starting in print…
It’s hard to get jobs in publishing, no matter what you want to do, so any job that gets you in the door is great. I would advise having a strong presence on social media (particularly Twitter) because all editors pretty much expect that of entry-level hires these days.