How to Be an Editorial Boss

Adam Gold, Director and Co-Founder at BlueJam Media, has managed time out of his busy schedule to talk to WhatSheBlogged on how to be an editorial boss.

LB: Hi Adam, great to talk to you today, so BlueJam, how’s that going?

Adam: I’m loving it, thanks, Laurabeth. It’s been nearly two years and the business is growing really well, adding a nice range of clients from eBay in the UK and Germany to Future Publishing in the UK and the US. I’m surrounded by a great team, we really like our clients as people, and I love the flexibility of working for myself with no one telling me what to do!

LB: You developed the idea with your friend Kieran Alger back in 2015. When did you first think ‘this could be something big’?

Adam: I worked in a digital publishing role at Bauer Media and Factory Media. That means I had to look at editorial content as a business, and work out how it makes money to keep people in a job or create jobs. I could see and feel the struggle of publishing companies, who were seeing their revenue model suffering. They were making less money at the news stand, because more people are focused on their phones rather than buying magazines, and so much of the ad money from both print and digital was flowing to Google and Facebook, due to how compelling their offerings are to brands trying to promote themselves. So my question to myself was, rather than scrapping for dwindling ad revenue, how can I do what I’ve done for 15 years as a journalist and editorial person, and still make a living from it, and in fact get into a growing area? And that was looking at brands as publishers. Almost all organisations publish content now on their websites, on separate blogs, on social networks. Do they know what they’re doing as well as a publisher would? Not that often. So I could see that I could offer value there, with the strategy of why they were publishing content, the execution of making good stuff, and the distribution of how to get it in front of the right audiences. Kieran was working at a content marketing agency and thought he’d be better off running his own one, so we both had the same idea at the same time!

LB: You’ve worked with the likes of Google, Time Inc and The Gadget Show, are there any other big-name brands you’d love to work with in the future?

Adam: We have a strong tech background, which is what attracted the likes of those brands to us. However, our goal in the future is work for clients in the space where tech meets fitness. We are very passionate about creating content that promotes healthy lifestyles and habits for people, at a time when the taxpayer annual bill for people being inactive and overweight is almost £50bn a year, according to some measurements. We live that way too. Kieran is an ultra runner and I’m a vegetarian with a serious 10k running bug and partial to the odd gym visit. So at the moment we’re talking to lots of running, wearable and fitness brands about creating content for them, as it’s an area we know a lot about and we’d like to put some great messages and ideas into the public space on this topic. Look after your health, good people!

LB: You have a ton of editorial experience to date, working for Empire, Kerrang! and FHM, do you have any advice for any budding editorialists?

Adam: I love the word editorialists, Laurabeth! I’ve not used that before but I think it’s great! Yes, I have lots of advice. I regularly lecture at universities and colleges about how to get into the profession and how to get on, and I’ve run lots of internship programmes over the years. My tips are:

  • Find a mentor
  • Keep meeting people
  • Be yourself, be open
  • Show your true passion
  • Be reliable
  • Add a little extra
  • Be specific
  • Be persistent
  • Understand the business models (if in doubt, ask someone)
  • Keep asking for help and advice
  • Learn every day

LB: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

Adam: What a great question, Laurabeth. Let me think… Don’t eat yellow snow? No, my Grandpa used to say to me: “Keep going”. That’s the piece of advice I remember most regularly, and I’ve heard Kieran describe me to people as relentless, which I think comes from my Grandpa’s advice. My Grandpa stayed alive through 3.5 years as a Prisoner of War held by the Japanese, so he knew a thing or two about keeping going! I often remember a piece of advice Kieran gave me too. It was about running, and he said: “Don’t worry about running in the rain – you’re waterproof”. I had been a fair-weather runner before that, but after hearing that from Kieran I’d run through any conditions and just deal with whatever I had to deal with at the other side. And that become a good metaphor for running my own business too.

LB: You went to City University in London to complete a Postgrad in Journalism; would you say a degree is the best way to tackle the industry?

Adam: Not necessarily. I loved my course, and what I learnt gave me a brilliant grounding in the journalism industry, but the key thing over the years has been the friends and the contacts. Kieran went to City with me, and I’m still in touch with most of the class. We have all helped each other out a great deal over the years. I think it helps to have a great network of people in journalism – so get to know some brilliant editorialists! And they’ll help you find jobs, find freelance work, find people to interview, give you bits of advice on things. You can go into the industry without a degree in it, but building a nice network is so important as you learn as you go. I’m still building my network, and still learning new things every day! City was amazing in helping me grow my network, and if you do a degree then see if you can keep in touch with as many of your classmates as possible, as it will pay off in so many ways!

LB: What would you say are the 3 main things needed to become a successful editor?

Adam: You need to be fascinated to learn more. You need a passion for your audience, for informing them and adding genuine value to their day. And you need to do the right thing. The moment you try to run a story for the wrong reasons, is the moment you may as well give up. Have principles, have self-respect, and do what you believe is right – as you can have a lot of influence and therefore a lot of power as an editor, so treat it with respect.

LB: What was your first ever job in editorial and what lessons did you take from it?

Adam: My first ever job was working on a dotcom startup in the year 2000 – with Kieran! Can’t seem to get rid of him. I learnt to be massively resourceful. We had to do absolutely everything: Writing, subbing, photoshoots, designing the magazine, the ideas, the commissioning, even the printing! Whatever you don’t know, teach yourself, or find a way to find someone who can do what you can’t. Find a way to get things done well, with minimum budget and maximum quality.

LB: Is BlueJam working on any projects you can tell us about?

Adam: Here’s an article we created recently for eBay UK:

You can see that it’s had more than 180 shares and 120 comments – most of them unbelievably positive. It’s really nice creating feel-good stories like this, that cheer people up – and it’s good for a brand like Ebay to get stories like this in front of their audience and show how meaningful they can be.

LB: What’s your 5-year plan for the company?

Adam: We want to be known as one of Britain’s, the world’s best content agencies for running, fitness, health and tech. When you want entertaining and valuable information about getting healthy and staying healthy for life, BlueJam should be the first place you come to. We are having so many conversations at the moment with brands in this space, that hopefully we can build in that way, and grow a team of fantastic people beyond our existing fantastic people to deliver all this for brands. Then we can put some really good messages, ideas, positivity, encouragement, sensible advice out there into the public, and look for it to really make an impact on people. One thing I have learnt in my life (I’m 40 next birthday!) is that you can basically accomplish what you want – you mainly just need to keep going till you get there!

LB: Thank you for letting us interview you. Good luck with BlueJam, Adam!


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