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Working 9 To 5 As A…Magazine Editor

Aug 28, 2013

By Debbi Evans
I’m the founder and editor of Libertine, a print and digital magazine for widely interested women.  We’ve just found an office, short term, for the mad final month of pulling the next issue together.  It’s in a tube carriage in Shoreditch (where else?) and I have to say, I’m really looking forward to having a place of work outside of my flat.  I’m all for the modern trend for flexible working, and support it with everyone who works on this project, but there’s nothing like being in the same room as everyone else and bouncing ideas around.  For the next month, however, I’m still in the converted spare room, which looks as though a bomb’s hit it (I feel vindicated by this bit of research, however, which says that clutter brings out creativity).
We want to be so much more than a magazine – we want to be the first media house and lifestyle brand to completely overhaul the way women are represented in the media.  The best part of this is undoubtedly meeting and interviewing intelligent, complex, maverick women – entrepreneurs, academics, war reporters, technologists – who’ve gone out there and done it, rather than just talking about it.  These are the role models the next generation needs, rather than reality TV stars.  Because of the ambitious plans for Libertine and the fact it’s still only me full time putting them into place, however, I do sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount I’ve taken on.  At the beginning of this week, my top level to do list covered one sheet of A4 and five different areas of operation – from writing to sales and marketing, to HR and strategy – but I’ve since had Kate Mew, trusty editor at large and project manager par excellence, swoop in with a block of post-its and have a stern word about what it’s feasibly possible for one person to achieve.
So today, I’m trying to get three big things done – no more.  Like many people who work with social media I’ve developed the concentration of a goldfish, so make sure that email is closed and Twitter is shut down before I get started.  But not before a snack and a cup of tea, of course.  Today is all about revising the business plan, reading and editing first drafts that have come in for our next issue (the theme is Cities & Power, so some really exciting ideas) – at which point, I can hand them over to someone else – and making sure our iPad issues are working smoothly before unleashing them on the general public.  I’ve always worked at start-ups, so I’m used to chopping and changing, but it does mean my attention to detail gets tested to the limits.  Sometimes, it fails, and I’ve learned to be OK with that.
What I love most about working for myself is I don’t have to answer to anyone on a day to day basis – you learn to trust your judgement and it really pushes you to get better at making decisions.  A psychologist recently told me that listening to your instinct isn’t always the best policy, however, so am trying to step back and evaluate everything rationally, on its own merits, and be aware of any previous biases that might be clouding judgement.  This is particularly tricky with people – are you really hiring that person because they’re the best person for the job, or because they remind you a bit of your mate Jane and you just really like them?  I tend to see the best in everyone, chuck them in the deep end, and then get frustrated/baffled when they can’t swim without assistance.  I am working on finding a healthy middle ground here, and love that I’m always learning.
It really helps that we have a strong social message at the heart of the company – it helps drive you forward when there’s lots of competing priorities and demands.  It’s also made it easier to attract some incredibly talented people who feel alienated by women’s media in its current state and see the long term social benefits of creating an alternative.  Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a business – but I don’t see why you can’t try and change the world for the better at the same time.
Debbi Evans is a journalist and editor determined to change the face of women’s media.  She loves schnauzers, whisky and fine tailoring.  Follow Debbi on Twitter at @sheblah or Libertine at @libertinewomen. Issue 2 is available at selected London stockists, or buy online at

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