Sam Wilson is the multi-talented editor for three of the 24.com websites – Parent24, Women24 and Food24. Heavy Chef got the chance to talk with Sam about running multiple websites while maintaining their distinctive brands. We also get the scoop on her upcoming position at Woolworths as Digital Editor.
What are the challenges you face when writing for online as opposed to offline? Or do you believe the differences are minimal?
I think the differences are huge. Writing online is more humbling, because you quickly realise no one wants to hear your carefully crafted 1000 word arguments and that your views on the world are not really any more interesting than anyone else’s. Print makes writers feel more special than they should, I think. Not always, obviously. But often.
Your role as editor for three of the 24 websites must be difficult to manage. Do you find that each website needs to have a separate and distinctive brand, or do you aim to mesh the online brand as one?
Women24, Food24 and Parent24 all run as separate brands, with dedicated staff and unique brand positioning. That said, we overlap a few functions, like design or project management, and share a very agile content strategy; turning over a helluva lot of new pieces each day.
As technology continues to advance, do you think online forums and blogs will change?
Absolutely. It feels that the social media game has now been won, much like the search game of old. And it’s now about figuring out how to work with leading products rather than compete with them. This differs from community to community though. And I would never deign to impose my thinking on our more committed contributors!
What interesting lessons have you learnt through editing multiple websites that you think may help others?
That there are many, many ways to draw user generated content into your offering, and you should listen to your own community rather than so-called industry experts. Because your community are your experts.
What would you say are the top three pointers to remember when writing for your target audience?
Don’t be patronising, don’t be frightened of being personal. Sharing is the most effective and honest way of getting people to share back. And over 500 words in one piece means you’ve over-written. Seriously. If you need to say more, you need to learn how to hyperlink.
Congratulations on your new job at Woolworths! What will be your new position, and is biggest lesson that you will take with you from previous experience?
I’m joining Woolies as their Digital Editor, and I don’t think any of us knows what that means yet. Which I find very exciting. My biggest lesson? Don’t impose your previous learnings on a new situation, trust that you’ve developed skills that you can use to innovate whilst being open to all that is already in place.