Thursday, 1 November 2007

Guest Speaker - Helen Gilchrist

Helen Gilchrist spoke to first year journalism students about her rise from a freelance journalist to a successful entrepreneur.

In August 2003 after working for various national newspapers, Helen came up with the idea for Stranger in August 2003 and moved back down to Cornwall in May 2004 in order to make her idea a reality.

According to the magazines website, Stranger is a bi-monthly publication produced from non-depletive, sustainable resources, presenting a mix of local and global lifestyle, environment, music, surf, news and current affairs features mixed with striking illustrations.

Since its launch in 2004, Stranger magazine has already won 2 awards at the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and Hub Youth Business Awards, which were Best Promotion of Cornwall and Best Marketing Strategy.

This is an amazing achievement, considering the magazine is still only a small independent company with four full time and two part time members of staff.

Helen also went onto say that that magazine has 30+ contributors a month including local writers and illustrators working on a freelance basis, as well as nationally and internationally acclaimed writers, illustrators and photographers.

Helen also emphases how competitive the magazine industry has become, she said, “There are 1000’s of new attempts to set up magazines, but only 1 in 3 tend to make it though.”

Since the magazines introduction, Stranger’s website has had around 400,000 hits a month.

According to Google Analytics and Stranger’s web server this equals out at least 900 visitors a day, from 83 different countries/ territories.
The highest number of visitors to the website was from: London, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield, whilst Falmouth which has the most number of stockists came in at number 38.

Helen concluded her talk by giving students practical tips and the best ways to approach editors of magazines. One tip Helen gave students was making the editor feel that you are targeting their publication specifically.

Helen said, “It’s no good submitting an article supporting open border policy to the Daily Mail and expecting a front page.”

Word Count: 336

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