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If anyone knows a thing or two about the internet, it's Amy Odell. She cut her teeth as the first-ever editor of New York magazine's fashion news site, The Cut, and moved on to head up Buzzfeed's new fashion vertical before taking over the helm at Cosmopolitan.com. In less than a year at Cosmo, she has grown the monthly readership of the site from 12 million to 23 million unique visitors (and she looks fly doing it). BoF caught up with Odell to get her take on everything that she has learned since that first job with The Cut, and we compiled the best nuggets of wisdom to share here.
1. Always stay ahead of the ball.
"I think when some magazines were saying, 'Should we have a blog?' at New York magazine they were saying, 'What's the next blog?' and now no one even calls them blogs anymore. I think he [Adam Moss] built that into the culture; to be forward-thinking about technology and the Internet and to try to be ahead of the curve."
2. Don't underestimate the value of writing for an independent brand.
"They [New York magazine] knew that the Internet was where everything was going and we know now, that is where you have to be. They stayed focused on it. Of course, being one magazine rather than being part for a large corporation… it's easier in small companies to make things happen like that. I think that works in their favour, being an independent brand."
3. Listicles are a valid form of writing.
"It's funny to me that critics throw the word "listicle" at BuzzFeed like a derogatory pie in the face. [...] It's time to stop beating up on the format and just work on making the most compelling images and writing the most compelling captions. Then, you can worry about context."
4. Stop overthinking your stories.
"Most people who worked there [at Buzzfeed] were pretty young. They were joking around and having fun all day, moving really quickly and, most importantly, they were not overthinking anything. I think legacy media has a habit of thinking really hard about everything. At BuzzFeed they are all having so much fun and I think that really shows in the content."
5. Thinking about news coverage on the internet is different than thinking about print coverage.
"You can think of news as what's in The New York Times today or what's in The Wall Street Journal. What are today's stories? It's a one-dimensional way to think about it. Or you can start with that and then ask, what are people saying about this over here? And what kind of photos are people sharing on Tumblr about it? What's the conversation on Twitter? What are people sharing on Facebook? If you look at the news in that way, it's just a different way of thinking. That's what I learned at BuzzFeed: how to think about news in the context of the Internet as opposed to just news."
6. If you want to gain followers on the internet, exercise your funny bone.
"I wanted the voice [at Cosmopolitan.com] to be stronger. I wanted people to go to the site because they wanted to read what we were saying and not just get there by accident. I said from the beginning it needs to be funny. It's the Internet and people read things on the Internet that are funny. It's the easiest way to build a following. When I said, the Cosmo site has to be funny, I thought, "They are going to hate this," but I have to be honest about what I want to do."
7. Sharable content is key. Of course.
"I try to get everyone to think about sharable content. When I worked at BuzzFeed, I saw the power that social networks have and the mobilising power the audience has, so we started just doing some simple things that can help make your post more sharable, like saying to yourself as you're writing it, 'Would I post this on my Facebook page?'"
8. Be friendly.
"On the Internet, everyone is friends with everyone. It sounds strange, but we all kind of have to work together. I have a friend who works at Us Weekly and we send each other links and say, "Hey, can you use this?" I'm always getting together with people at other sites and saying, "What kinds of content are you doing? This is what I'm doing. Maybe we can send each other stuff." All of the successful web editors are very friendly and there isn't the same competitiveness that print editors have."
· Amy Odell and the Great Media Race [Business of Fashion]
· See What the Team at Cosmo Digital Wears to Work [Racked]
· Career Advice From Teen Vogue's EIC: Stick to Digital [Racked]