Hello, Working Girl: Julia Ford-Carther of The Self-Love Formula
Meet Julia Ford-Carther, the ambitious and driven editor behind The Self-Love Formula. Julia shares with us why she was inspired to leave her 9-to-5 as a magazine editor to focus on her website, and her words of advice for fellow women who are hoping to make their passion their full-time work!
Q: What prompted you to launch The Self-Love Formula, and what is the mission and start-up story behind the site?
A: I originally started three years ago by launching a dating & relationship blog, which became the precursor to The Self-Love Formula. Looking back, getting that first site up was a fairly substantial life step for me. Trust me, I went through all the requisite pangs of self-doubt ("Will anyone read this?", "Who am I to have a voice, let alone share it?", "What if no one likes my writing?"). I probably stalled for about six months before actually going live with the site, but once I did, those worries started to fade and it became easier to publish with each post.
At the end of last year, after feeling stuck in my blogging practice for months and feeling as if something was missing, I had a brainstorming sesh with a friend of mine and decided to expand and rebrand. Thus, The Self-Love Formula debuted in February of this year. What was missing prior to the SLF was coverage of other lifestyle topics that I loved to discuss and thought were significant to my overall mission, which is to provide fun, relevant, invigorating, thought-provoking positive content for young women that cultivates a stronger sense of self-worth, self-respect, and self-love in all areas of life.
I was running it while holding down a 9-5 as a magazine editor, until recently, when I decided to leave the magazine to focus more full-time on ramping up efforts and growing the site. I knew I couldn't half-ass my way to the success I want with the SLF.
Q: How do you think that your career and professional experience aided you in launching such a dynamic and multifaceted resource for women?
A: This touches on the mission question above, too. I got into media (editorial, specifically) because I knew I wanted to change the messages women received from mainstream media, but by creating a shift from within the industry. Throughout my 9+ years as a lifestyle writer and editor (covering beauty, fashion, weddings and more), I witnessed the photoshopping firsthand, the sexual objectification, the constant reminder that women endure a seemingly endless struggle to be viewed as socially accepted or attractive, and the lack of transparency surrounding the relationship between editorial and advertising (hint: That beauty product that magazine editor is "suggesting"? Check out if there's an ad for the same product a few pages away...).
It added fuel to my already burning flame, and gave me an insider's edge. Not to mention simply the hard skills I've honed (conceptualizing and organizing a story idea, interviewing, researching, writing, editing, creating a voice that resonates, etc.) and a strong network. The best gift I walked away with though, funny enough, is my social skills. Being in this field requires that you find some comfort in talking to strangers, attending events solo sometimes, forging new relationships and building an authentic network. I've definitely come out of my shell in the process, conducting better interviews as I go, and becoming more at ease with being my authentic self both online and offline.
Q: What is your workflow like when it comes to running The Self-Love Formula? Do you have a team of contributors that helps in sourcing and posting content?
A: Right now my focus is on creating as much quality content as possible and promoting it. At the beginning of the week (a Sunday), I'll do an outline of topics for the week, making sure I'm covering a different vertical each day (dating, fashion, beauty, media, career, or entertainment). These will be a mix of Q&A's, profiles, product reviews, how-to's, advice, news, and link love. The inspiration comes from what I've read recently, conversations I've had with my friends, influencers and game-changers by whom I'm fascinated, trends, and the like.
Anyone can contribute to the site (submission guidelines here), so I'll have people reach out with story ideas, and as long as they're on-brand and a topic that I think would be relevant for my readers, they'll be accepted and published.
Not only do I produce site content regularly, but there's social media to contend with as well. When it comes to social media content, I have a daily schedule for Instagram (1 branded piece of dating advice + the day's post), and to counteract social-media-management stress, I've automated my Facebook and Tumblr content sharing as much as possible. I'm also working on developing a weekly audit of the site's archives to auto-schedule on Twitter. The Hootlet plugin is a godsend!
Q: For other women looking to start their own online publication adventure, what advice would you give to them before taking the first step?
A: You have to be really familiar and obsessed with your WHY. Why are you starting this? Who are you serving? Are you filling a void? What pain point are you solving for others? I say this because your passion will be the catalyst that sees you through the initial stages of launching, but it's your PURPOSE behind it that will carry you through the boredom of blogging, times of feeling stuck, and falling out of love with the work that has to go into making your idea come to life -- and that will happen.
Also know that, while it seems like (and sometimes there are) a million and one people out there who have already done what you want to do, there exists absolutely no one out there who has had the same exact life experiences, the same thoughts, the same purpose and mission, all being explored through your personal lens. That inherently makes your concept unique. Play that up as much as possible. In other words, we want to hear YOUR story, so don't be afraid to get personal when sharing with us your WHY. That is also where you'll find your own voice and style, which are cornerstones to developing a brand presence.
Q: Where do you hope to see The Self-Love Formula one year from now?
A: A mass self-love social movement that's memorable (aka, has a substantial and engaged following) and monetized. I'd love it to be a 360-degree media platform (written, video, mobile, social) that is THE destination for young women for all of their digital content, from news to life advice to satire. Think Elite Daily meets Inside Amy Schumer.
And I'd hope to have secured some great partnerships with major brands who are championing this shift in empowerment awareness (Dove, Aerie, Always, UBS, Under Armour, etc.) to start co-creating branded content that changes the conversation companies have with their female (and eventually male, because they're the other half of this equation!) demographic and perpetuates real and relevant representations of the modern-day female experience, women's issues and shifting social norms.