Monday, 21 March 2011

An interview with... Anna-Belle Woollcott, Editor of

Years in industry: 9 

Editing the huge female lifestyle website that is is no mean feat - and that is exactly how Anna-Belle Woollcott spends her days. Anne-Belle talks to Your Beauty Industry about the importance of SEO in online publishing, the vast skills required to edit a lifestyle website and her top tips for making it in online journalism.

Tell me about your career background and how you ended up at

I started my media career while I was still at university. I did two weeks’ work experience at RWD magazine which turned into a part-time permanent position. I worked as a features writer and fashion editor for the magazine up until I graduated. I went freelance for a little while before landing the role of Editorial Assistant at Metro.

At Metro I worked my way through the departments (general editorial, picture desk, accounts, features, web, Editor’s office) gradually climbing the ladder. I learned how all the different elements of a publication come together and honed my writing skills but what I really learned was that I wanted to edit. It was a fantastic experience but after six years I was bored and frustrated waiting for my next opportunity to progress so I threw the towel in.
"I’d sent my CV on spec a year earlier and received the standard 'we’ll keep it on file' response. I didn’t think they actually meant it!"
I accepted a job offer in Amsterdam working as a copywriter, packed my bags and left the media world behind me. But I missed it. A year later, I was offered the chance to interview for the editorship of I’d sent my CV on spec a year earlier and received the standard “we’ll keep it on file” response. I didn’t think they actually meant it! I got the job and moved to Paris to train. At the beginning of 2010, I relocated to London and took over as Chief Editor.

How do you manage to edit such a huge website, covering so many different lifestyle areas?
With difficulty! I often liken it to a Salmon desperately swimming upstream. I have a small team both here and in Paris to help me and we make use of freelancers who know their SEO.

What are the main differences between online and print journalism?
SEO! It means search engine optimisation. How you write affects whether the search engines will find your article and ultimately how many people will get to read it. It’s a completely different skill to print writing.

What does a typical day consist of for you?
There really is no such thing. I do something different every day. The only consistent part of my job is yelling at BT! Generally, I plan the site’s direction week-by-week as well as month-by-month. I edit freelance features as well as in-house features and news. I do quite a lot of picture research and editing, as I also function as the creative director of within my editor role. I write as much as I can. In addition, I do lots of behind the scenes work such as strategy and number crunching.

What’s the most difficult aspect of your job?

Keeping so many balls in the air. It’s a non-stop juggling act.

And what are the perks?
We get to try lots of lovely products and services but for me the greatest thing about working as an editor is the chance to turn yourself into an armchair expert on literally anything. I feel like I learn so many new things every hour, let alone every day, just by reading, interviewing and researching. Because of journalism, I know how to land a Boeing 777, tile a bathroom and lose weight 18,000 different ways.

What would your advice be for anyone wanting to break into online journalism?

Educate yourself on SEO, start a blog and experiment. If you can get articles on your blog to appear on the first few pages of a search engine’s results then you’re very valuable to online editors.
"Learn as much as you can about SEO and keep updated with any changes Google and Bing make"

What are your top 5 tips for anyone wanting to become an online editor?
•    Get lots of online work experience
•    Learn as much as you can about SEO and keep updated with any changes Google and Bing make
•    Read every online article with an editor’s eye: Why did you look at it? How did you find it? How well was it written?
•    Start your own blog and practice
•    It’s not essential but make sure you know a bit about HTML. A working knowledge of tools such as Dreamweaver and Photoshop will also go a long way.

Who inspires you?

Stylist editor, Lisa Smosarski. She’s done fantastic things for women’s magazines.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

My mum told me I could do anything I wanted as long as I worked hard. Mums are always right.


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