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

Ziza Bauer of Darling Magazine // Behind The Blog Scene


I'm sensing great things ahead for 2015 and one of my goals is to continue to bring you a varied cross section of bloggers and kick ass creative women from around the globe, sharing their journeys, blog/biz advice and always a bit of witty wisdom. I'm so proud to be kicking things off with our Wednesday, Behind The Blog Scene series with an ultra cool magazine - Darling Magazine - that I have long admired and was lucky enough to sit down with online editor, Ziza Bauer to talk about their girl powered mission and the art of being a woman. Totally onboard with their vision and hope their empowering words inspire you this week...

Describe your blog in 3 words… 
honest, beautiful community.
What is your blogging manifesto?
It really is summed up in our Darling mission statement found here. But to paraphrase, Darling is the art of being a woman. We lead women to create beauty and embody love. We believe women are not only interesting, but original. Not only good enough, but exceptional. And not just here, but here for a purpose. Not only do we strive for that in our print issues, but with our online blog as well!
Top 3 blogging essentials? 
As online editor my must-haves for a work day are: a detailed calendar, a good pen (for notes and scribbles), and some sort of snack (usually trail mix!).
My biggest blogging moment/milestone was....
Though this isn't about the blog per se, this year we saw the launch of our Darling Dinners here in LA, which have been huge successes and sell-out within hours of being posted online. The women we've met and the stories we've heard have been SO encouraging. Anyone who thinks putting a bunch of women in a room together would be catty or fake certainly hasn't been to one of these meals!
My dream collaboration would be?
We'd love to see Darling and our #RealNotRetouched campaign discussed on a media outlet such as The TODAY Show or Good Morning, America. 
Right now I'm listening to... 
I'm a nerd at heart, so love classical music to keep me focused and in the zone while working. I usually end up listening to that or early jazz in my car and at home as background music, too. It tends to spark the most creativity for me. 
Best piece of advice to a newbie blogger? 
It's cliche but true: be yourself! And to add onto that, be inclusive! Reach out to others who are in a similar starting place as you and build your own network, encouraging each other as you grow. That's really the best part about online communities -- they are made up of real, supportive and like-minded people. 
If I wasn't blogging I'd be...
Traveling, or reading a book about travel ;)
Behind the scenes of my blog looks like... 
My desk is always a mess! Which is funny for me because I consider myself extremely organized. Somehow though, there is always a new product, prop from a photo-shoot or a PR mailing that ends up on my side of the office... and it just stays there.
This year I'm most excited about... 
The continuation of the #DarlingMovement with more video content. We have a few ideas for some really great short films that we hope will encourage, inspire, and spark change within individual women as to how they see themselves and what it means to be beautiful. 

Darling Magazine

Mission statement lettered by Angela DuncanDarling Dinner photos by Morgan Ashley Photography

In The Press // Why Did You Start Blogging?


I thought a lot this weekend about blogging. I've had this obsession with listening to podcasts while talking long walks and I listened to one particular series that had me revisiting my own reason for blogging. Have you ever taken a moment to stop and think about why you started? The moment, the sense of determination that motivated you to sit down and write that first post? I still remember the exact place I was sitting when my first post went live. It was a thrilling, nerve-wracking and surreal experience and although no one in the world was reading it, I knew that I had just started something special.

That first post is a powerful moment in any blogger's journey and when the team at In A Designer Home asked me to be a part of their latest issue and share my blogging experience I loved every moment of taking a look back and sharing my own story.  Here's the most recent issue - but most importantly I'd love to hear your own story below. Share with us how it felt the first time you hit publish...

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