Alongside munching on fresh and-so-delicious vanilla madeleines from Noisette Bakehouse and imbibing a delicate floral gin cocktail from the Grub and Grog Shop, I also sat and listened to the talk from the creative team behind Betty magazine who had travelled from London to Leeds especially for the event. And how brilliant to have such an event outside London! I’d love to see more. Because I’m a passionate supporter of independent magazines, I took plenty of notes, and thought I’d share a few of them with you.
Betty is described as a magazine for girls of all ages. It’s got a really friendly, vintage inspired feel to it, and isn’t weighed down by endless advertising. Published twice a year, it seems to be a genuine, and supportive alternative to to mainstream women’s magazines, who I feel are becoming more and more of a negative influence in many ways. You won’t find diet tips in Betty. You will find a varied collection of articles including fashion, longer form articles (in the Summer 2014 issue, an article about a grandma that I just loved) interviews with intelligent, funny women and scrumptious recipes. It’s exactly what they designed it to be; like having a conversation with a great friend.
Plus, in print form, it feels and smells great. Very important to us tactile folk…
So, what did I learn from the Betty team?
Follow your passion. Betty was started as a ‘zine while editor Charlotte Jacklin was still at university. She wanted to make the kind of magazine that she couldn’t find. Betty is a still a reflection of that early passion.
Understand your industry. Don’t be afraid to move between roles once you’ve learned all you can in a particular place. Charlotte has worked in many fashion marketing roles which gives her a good understanding of the industry she works in as well as brand collaborations and advertising.
Strong branding doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work to develop the brand and tone of voice you want. Once you’ve got it, make sure you’re consistent.
Team up with people who complement your skills. Charlotte was approached by her creative director, Charlotte Melling, while Betty was still a small hobby and persuaded to turn it into something bigger. Designer Liam Hine now works on Betty magazine and brings his graphic design skills to the team.
Know your audience. The team at Betty have done a lot of work in understanding their target audience. This very much applies to blogging too. By researching and understanding who buys your magazine—or reads your blog– and what they like about it, you can ensure that you continue to create content that you know they will love, which will keep them coming back for more.
Done is better than perfect. The first printed issues of Betty are less polished, with the team admitting that they had a lot to learn about creating a print magazine at that point. But the truth is, regardless of that, they made it happen! Learning from previous work will help you to improve, but you have to start somewhere, not wait for perfection.
Keep it simple. By keeping magazine and blog layout simple, the content will shine. Betty is a lovely thing to read now, and something that will be evergreen and deserving of a long-term place on your bookshelf.
Once you’ve established your brand, try new things. Betty is starting to move into creating products in collaboration with other brands, the first of which were a set of London travel cards in partnership with Telescope.
Sending in submissions. Betty receives heaps of submissions from writers, photographers and people wanting to contribute. Some tips for people pitching: remember the ‘feel’ and tone of voice of the magazine you’re submitting to, and make sure your work is a good fit. If you’re a photographer, send an appropriate portfolio of work, after checking the brand guidelines. Magazines have strong branding and aesthetics that you’ll need to match. A writer can pitch something original, but again, make sure you remember the appropriate tone of voice. And good luck!
I really enjoyed this event, and, despite not being in the target demographic for Betty (because I am *cough* nearly 40…) I really like the magazine and learnt a lot from the editorial team, so thank you to them for coming up North to see us…