Meet Anna Taylor, the editor-in-chief and creator of online magazine Pink & Black. I had the pleasure of contributing to the magazine in the summer of 2010 and had a great time honing my editorial skills while learning from Anna! Read on as Anna shares with us the story behind Pink & Black as well as how the maintains the publication today.
I started Pink & Black the summer following my freshman year of college. I guess you could say I felt inspired. A journalism student with dreams to someday work in a big city for a big name publication, I knew I had nowhere to go but up.
I began contributing for some online websites that year and saw what the process was like and how fun it was to see an idea get turned into a published work. It’s a really motivating process to contribute online, especially when your name is on the screen. I quickly decided I wanted to start my own online space and allow my many ideas come onto the screen. That’s when I created a WordPress account on a whim with the domain thepinkandblack.wordpress.com, only because pinkandblack.wordpress.com was taken. (Rule #1 when starting a blog or website, give it a unique name so you can have the good domains). I had my iTunes library on shuffle and when Tyler Hilton’s “Pink and Black” came on, I held onto it. Probably not the best approach but for some reason that was better than anything else I thought of.
I really had no intention of it then but that sad little website with a handful of written posts by me, that I used as a creative outlet for my interests, eventually turned into a piece of hard work that would offer something to cyberspace and to some budding careers.
Pink & Black is celebrating five years this month. It’s a number I never imagined seeing when I started it, but I’m so happy I never quit. I reached out to That Working Girl to share some of my experience throughout this very exciting ride. But I’m going to be completely honest and say there’s a lot of work that goes into having an active website and a lot of pressure to stay on top of the industry standards. Even though we have not met all of our goals, Pink & Black and its staff have come a long way since 2010. Here are a few things I’ve learned during the process.
Teamwork makes the dream work
After a few weeks of writing and publishing content that first month, I realized I would not be able to publish enough content frequently and cover all of the different topics I wanted by myself. I made the decision to open the website up to other aspiring journalists and make it an online platform for teens and young adults. I submitted a posting to Ed2010.com and received my first query the same day the posting went up. And then I received several more. It was such an exciting feeling to read emails from other girls who had the very same passion and interests as me.
At first I was very particular about what went onto the website. I created all of the assignments and let the writers choose which one they wanted to write for the week. They really didn’t have a lot of say-so.
Eventually, the staff changed and I welcomed editors, but they still did not have a lot of control over the website because it’s not exactly easy to work with people from all over the country when you can’t meet with them in person. I just held onto the hardest responsibilities, if you will.
I participated in a business competition following my last semester in college where I pitched Pink & Black to some judges. Think Shark Tank but on a much smaller scale. Although I didn’t place, I did receive some great feedback (and a little prize money for participating) including one point I’ll never forget. One of the judges spoke with me after the competition and told me basically that I can’t run Pink & Black by myself and do everything. Sure, there are writers who contribute and help by providing content but for the business and management side of things, it’s not possible for one person to be the editor in chief, managing editor, publisher, advertising director, creative director, etc. I was also one of the few people competing alone at that contest. Everyone else had a partner or a team. After that experience, I immediately limited my responsibilities and shared with the editors more of what I do, how I do it and gave up some of the responsibilities. I’m still working on this.
You get what you give
I don’t want to share how much time I put into Pink & Black because it’s definitely an embarrassing amount. It’s a lot less time now than when I was in college because I didn’t come home exhausted from work at the end of the day then. But maintaining an online space really does take a lot of time if you want it to be successful by your standards. A couple years into P&B, I decided to give it a fresh look. I had experimented with some themes WordPress offered but I really wanted to take it to the next level. That’s when I chose to relaunch it. I transitioned from WordPress.com to .org, I gave it a very polished facelift and added some new categories for us to cover. This move took it from being a blog to a magazine and I think set a new standard for us. Not to mention, it allowed us to showcase and deliver content in different ways that before.
Don’t worry about numbers
Sometimes when we reach out to a company or business about a collaboration for the website, they will ask for some numbers associated with Pink & Black, i.e. unique monthly visitors or the amount of Twitter followers. While these numbers can be impressive, they’re not something to stress too much over. Especially not at first. It can take a lot of time to build your audience so worry less about the numbers and focus on the quality of the content for the readers you do have. The larger numbers will come in time.
Consistency is key
I read it all over the web: consistency is key with blogging or websites. It’s really true. In order to gain trust in your readers, and brand your content, you must stay consistent.
Pink & Black has not been the best example for consistency. We’ve had days where we will post one story, two, three, four, or none at all. At the beginning, I really don’t think I even had consistent times when we would publish the content. That will confuse readers. Set your publishing times and days and stick with them. Your readers expect that and likely read the web the same time(s) each day.
These rules also apply to social media.
Find your own system
I’ve tried several different approaches to Pink & Black’s operations. I have had editors for each section, I’ve had no editors other than myself and I came up with all of the story ideas, I’ve had the writers pitch their own ideas, etc. I finally feel confident we use a system that works well for everyone.
Google Drive is boss
Other than WordPress, there’s one other major online resource Pink & Black relies heavily on: Google Drive. About 90 percent of the communication done between myself, editors and staff is done through email so we do a lot of collaborating on Google. We share documents through Drive for pitching content ideas, contributing to group pieces such as P&B Shares and updating staff information on a spreadsheet. Google Drive is also how some writers submit their drafts and we have done editing with notes on their documents in the past.
The money doesn’t come early
Some bloggers and online lifestyle websites make it look so simple to earn money working online, and maybe it does come easy, but it takes time and work. Pink & Black probably went a full year, maybe even two, before earning its first penny. I wasn’t doing it for money then and still don’t rely on it as a big money maker today. But, most of the money spent for the website such as the theme, plug-ins, domain renewals, etc., all of it was paid for by the website’s earnings with minimal coming from my personal bank account. There are certain avenues with money Pink & Black has yet to venture down but how we are currently making money is through Google Adsense, affiliate links and sponsored posts. It’s not a lot, but if the site can pay for itself and have a little to grow with, that’s good enough for now.
There’s so many more topics I’d love to cover about Pink & Black, what it’s done for me personally and how far it has come but my main takeaway is to always remember the reason I do it and why I started it. That’s what keeps me going, no matter how high or low traffic is one day.