The media hasn’t provided much by way of entertainment for Women. Case in point: Hollywood Exes. Content providers seem to believe that women are craving drama, catfights and the excesses associated with the celebrity lifestyle. Thankfully, Serena Watson and Lindsey Day have created online magazine, Made Woman Mag, to as Lindsey says, “Provide progressive, positive content that’s still fun and interesting.” What started out as a newsletter distributed among friends, has grown to become a full source of online entertainment with nearly 1,200 followers on Twitter and over 1,000 followers on Facebook. These two University of Southern California grads managed to build something wonderful from scratch. They even plan to turn MWM into an online social network for young female professionals. (See their IndieGoGo campaign video below)
I had the opportunity to interview this dynamic duo to see how they turned a newsletter into a trusted online resource for women on the move.
What were your first steps as collaborators?
First we defined the roles we knew we would need. Then we wrote a detailed outline for our business. Our mission, goals, company philosophy… We took a 30,000ft view of the company. Not just where we were at that point but where we wanted to go. We had to work hard to merge both of our dreams and goals into one plan. The outcome is a brand we feel will support huge growth in multiple areas. There is a lot in store for Made Woman!
But of course it all starts with the content. We knew we wanted people to connect with our unique tone and interact more with our brand. So we put a lot of thought/discussion into crafting something we think is completely different from everything else on the internet. All of our articles are honest, witty, useful, and relevant.
Serena is absolutely right; defining roles early on was so important to the flow and forward progress of the magazine. Since Serena has a communications background and I studied business, it was pretty clear who should handle what, which helped. As far as the overall direction of the magazine, we were blessed to really be on the same page from the start. We had a clear idea of the tone and style we wanted to convey, so we jumped in there and researched to make sure there was a market for what we wanted to offer. At that point, we focused on our branding and making sure it would be immediately clear what Made Woman is all about.
Have there been times where you’ve had doubts about MWM? If so, how’d you overcome them?
Well, I’ve never had any doubts about MWM as a company or a brand. But personally, I have a lot of competing interest in my life. In addition to the magazine, I work fulltime for Sony Pictures Imageworks Interactive. I love my job a lot and it takes up a lot of time. I also shot a full length indie film during the time I was working on Made Woman. So yeah, I have a lot going on! But I balance it all by realizing that I am living my dreams! I love every aspect of the work I’m doing so I really can’t complain. I focus on balance and managing expectations. But everyone in my life is very supportive so that helps.
Like Serena said, I’ve never had doubts about the company itself. I think that’s the greatest thing about our partnership: we’ve both gone through tremendous struggles in our personal and professional lives since we started the mag, but we’re both beyond committed to this project. There’s no going back or cutting corners. So having that understanding is crucial. In challenging times, it’s just important to do something. Having consistent forward movement is important and keeps things from getting stagnant. That, and getting used to sleep deprivation!
What are your favorite aspects of MWM?
I love that Made Woman is a collective of amazing, inspirational women. This began as a business venture, but it has grown to be much more than that. It has opened us up to connecting with movers and shakers of all industries, from remarkably different backgrounds. It’s exciting and empowering—for us and our readers—to find that you’re not on this journey alone, that there are so many women choosing to really go for it, who aren’t settling, and who are working to fulfill their wildest dreams. You can’t put a monetary value on that.
Do you think the world of online publishing provides the opportunity for diverse and higher quality content? What are the pros and cons to online publishing?
Definitely! There are a lot of wonderful blogs and online magazines out there doing their thing. Writing things that wouldn’t be possible in a corporate owned print mag. But the downside is that everyone thinks they are critic. You see a lot of people using their forums to just tear people down. I think that if the power of online publishing is harnessed correctly, it can change the world for the better.
What’s been the greatest asset in increasing readership?
Social media has definitely facilitated our growth tremendously. Through Facebook and Twitter we were able to get the word out about our content and find new (wonderful!) writers. There are so many social media sites out there it is hard not to get lost or feel overwhelmed. But we picked the sites that were best for us and came up with specific plans for each. We saw huge increases in readership once we had a cohesive plan.
If you could give yourselves one piece of advice at the beginning of this venture, what would it be?
I think it would be “don’t wait, just do”. We spent a lot of time at the beginning worrying over each step. We didn’t realize that it would be easier to fix a mistake than to get back all that wasted time. Of course it is important to do your research and to make informed decisions. But it’s also important to move forward in order to see progress.
I would also say not to underestimate yourself. Sure, there may have been (and still are) a ton of competitors, and there was a lot to learn about the technical aspect of things; but along the way, I realized that I knew more than I gave myself credit for. Trust in your skills and abilities and don’t downplay them.
What does the future look like for MWM?
Made Woman is more than just a magazine, it is a lifestyle brand and networking platform for young, female professionals. Using the funds we raise from our Indiegogo campaign, we plan to launch a networking calendar so that young professionals can find great events and make real life connections. We also plan to launch a mentor match and job search functionality. Later, we will also host our own networking events and seminars. Basically, we want the useful, fun, and connecting aspects of the site to translate into the real world.
I am so thankful for my family and friends. Without them I would not have been able to accomplish any of this. I’m also thankful that I am able to see my dreams come true more and more every day! So blessed!
I, too, am thankful for the support of family and friends and for the opportunity to even do any of this. So many have come before us, whether our ancestors striving to provide a better life for their children, or those who have fought to secure our basic human rights. And I’m humbled every day that people are connecting with something I would work on for free. Thanks for having us!
I can honestly say Lindsey and Serena have gathered a wonderfully diverse group of female writers. As a contributor myself, I’m happy to be a part of a magazine dedicated to providing positive content for women! Most importantly, If you’re looking to embark on a huge project, I hope you’ve learned one thing from these women, begin small, end big, and start now!
Made Woman Mag: www.madewomanmag.com
MWM on Twitter: @madewomanmag
MWM on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madewomanmag
MWM IndieGoGo: http://www.indiegogo.com/MadeWomanMag