Lessons Learned as a Magazine Editor

By Marlene Srdic

When people think of magazine editors, The Devil Wears Prada comes to mind. Fashion shows, swanky events, free gifts, Champagne lunches and the designers—oh my! So. Many. Designers.

While I may or may not have a crazy beauty stash (check) had wine over my last lunch date (guilty!) and rubbed elbows with a few designers (Louboutin, Llhuillier and more!), that’s not every day life. Today, I spent an inordinate amount of time obsessing over the best title for a story I’m currently editing. Not styling a photoshoot, not getting a midday blowout for an event later this evening. Just me in my home office with a cup of tea and this not-quite-right title glaring at my screen. And, to be quite honest, that’s how most days are around here.

Yes, life running a glossy isn’t always so glossy. But for me, it’s still fun, even when it can’t be filtered through a gorgeous Instagram lens. Here are a few life and business lessons I’ve learned from running a magazine:

The Juggle is Real

If you’ve got a solid attention to detail and can manage multiple projects without a problem, managing a magazine may be for you. Or, it may just make you want to tear your hair out! Between coming up with story ideas and managing freelancers to sending out contracts, editing features, writing stories and taking PR meetings, there is an insane amount of juggling involved.

Just like any business, it’s key to have some solid systems in place—and to know when to just say “no”. Since I also run my own copywriting business and blog (yes, I promise I sleep!) being organized is absolutely essential. I use a Day Designer Mini to plan my days, 17 Hats to deal with quoting and client invoices and HelloSign for sending out contracts to my writers. These make my life SO much easier, and oh-so-happy. Once you see a few patterns in your business, it’s easy to see where a few systems will streamline and simplify, so you can have time to live your own life!

Backup Plans are Essential

In the publishing world, there’s always some last-minute fire to put out. That’s just the nature of the beast when so much is dependent upon several connections down the chain. Whether it’s a contact that’s suddenly vanished, a photo that doesn’t come in or a story that needs to be killed because it’s suddenly a real life issue (true story), something always seems to happen when you’re up against deadline.

Now, I expect it and always keep my cool. This is where it’s key to have that really dependable freelancer in your back pocket who can jump right in and help save the day. This might mean the occasional late-night/weekend hours but hey, a print deadline is a print deadline! And that’s something you never miss.

People Will Disappoint You

I’ve had writers pitch me fabulous story ideas, only never to be heard from again. Or writers with amazing credentials and horrible product delivery. Some brand reps promise quality photos only to send in what looks like something my toddler took, and some people just can’t take the criticism. When you’re working with so many independent contractors, people are bound to disappoint you at some point or another. It’s important to deliver what you promise, always be professional and always make a good impression. Because no, I don’t forget, and many others don’t either.

Marlene Srdic is the Editor in Chief of Life Refined, a private-label luxury lifestyle publication. She is also the owner of Glitz & Grammar where she creates stylish copy for stylish brands and helps female entrepreneurs with their blogging and editing needs. When she’s not whipping copy into shape she’s typically found drinking Champagne on an outdoor patio, shoe shopping or spending time with her husband and their adorable toddler son. You can connect with Marlene on her fashion blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook