Working in TV is fun but very fickle, as anyone currently in between jobs and worrying about where the next one is coming from will know!
My advice has always been to spend those dry times working on your own ideas, your own media or art. Not only does this keep you creatively busy but it can also lead to new opportunities, or simply help to get you noticed. One TV presenter has done just that, not simply to keep her busy between TV jobs but also for the joy – and who knows, eventually financial profit – of setting up her own on-line media project.
Sam Mann is a presenter and reporter specialising in showbusiness. She has appeared regularly on ITV’s ‘This Morning’, Sky 1’s ‘Angela & Friends’, hosted Wedding TV’s flagship programme, ‘The Wedding Show’ , written her own column in the Daily Mirror and contributed to a whole host of magazines, such as Glamour and Cosmopolitan. For six years Sam was Celebrity Entertainment Specialist and Entertainment Editor for London’s 95.8 Capital FM, and hosted her own networked show Entertainment Weekly.
Shortly after giving birth Sam set up an online magazine for mums called Mumazine.
So why does a glamorous, successful TV presenter like Sam start an online magazine? Over to Sam with the answers:
Giving birth open up a whole new world to me and I saw the value of creating a place where mums could find advice, information and a fund a great stories for mums, by mums. Some of the mums who contribute are also TV presenters – such as Mel Sykes, Sarah Cawood and Alison Hammond.
I have been contributing to magazine’s for years and love writing. Also over the years I’ve been working in TV and radio I have learned loads of skills so Mumazine is a great place to use them all. I now produce, present and edit my own stuff. My latest challenge is Photoshop – I’ve got the basics now but there’s still a long way to go.
The content is ideal for me. I love being a mother. While I was pregnant and getting to grips with motherhood I wrote two books with Denise Van Outen – ‘Bumpalicious‘ documenting her pregnancy and ‘Adventures In Parenthood‘ covering the first year of being a mum. For the second book we got Denise’s Twitter followers involved and they sent their stories to me, some happy and other detailing struggles and tougher times. There’s something about mums – they want to share their stories, help other mums and feel part of a community. Mums rock!
What was the biggest learning curve setting up Mumazine?
The one thing I have never had to do is get involved in marketing. I’d happily write and edit content all day long but when it comes to making the site financially viable I’m rubbish. Luckily I have a marketing whizz on my team. I just sit in meetings while she talks technical jargon and nod.
I’m also learning slowly that I can’t do everything myself and need to delegate more.
Do you have a business plan of some sort or just playing it by ear?
I do have a plan which is ‘wing it and hope for the best’. It seems to be working at the moment. I’m lucky to have plenty of friends and contacts in all the areas of what I am doing so I’m taking their advice on board and learning fast.
But I have to be honest – if I was to walk onto Dragon’s Den with my so called business plan I’d be leaving with my tail between my legs.
Have you had to plough a lot of money into it? You can set up websites for free these days but would you advise using a website designer?
Mumazine has cost a few grand of my own savings to set up. I wanted something a bit different as apposed to a template you can use for free, I think you can tell if someone has paid a bit extra and used the skills of a web designer so I’d highly recommend it if you have the budget. It would have cost a lot more but a good friend who owns a successful marketing company has helped me to set it up. With my savings invested I can’t slack in my mind. I now have to put everything into the project as well as keep other work coming in to pay the bills. I am working a lot of evenings at the moment but because I’m writing and editing articles on a subject I am passionate about (motherhood) its more a labour of love.
Can you explain the concept of the ‘family’ of experts and contributors.
The Mumazine Family is growing each week and is made up of experts and writers who share their expertise and knowledge for free and in return get their website details included. I have been inundated by people wanting to be involved but its important for me to choose the experts wisely. When I started planning the website I thought I’d be doing a lot more writing and blogging (making the use of my background in journalism) but I spend most of my time editing content and finding pictures to illustrate the features.
What differences – or similarities - have you found between working in traditional media of TV and the new media of the internet?
I think it’s brilliant how you really can do everything yourself on the internet – there are so many mummy bloggers who post interesting blogs along with pics every day and effectively have their own mini magazine. With traditional media you have loads of people involved in the process of getting something to air or published.
With new media its even more crucial that your content is strong and relevant to your target audience, otherwise with one click they’ll be off and on to the next site.
Do you think it’s important for a TV presenter to have a second – or third – strong to their bow?
I think its important for anyone no matter what they do for a living to have a second or third string to their bow especially in the current environment. I love doing different jobs as it keeps my life interesting and they are all related. I present, produce and write – I love doing them all just as much. When I produce (I produce the film junkets and other shoots in the UK for the US entertainment channel E!) it helps because I know what the presenter is expecting of me and what I can give them to make their job easier. Its also great to work with the likes of Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic as they are so professional and brilliant at what they do.
The fact that I write helps when I’m researching and writing up questions for the presenters.
That said production companies now love presenters who have a completely different string to their bow. I was chatting to an agent the other day who has a radio presenter on his books who’s also a bio chemist – he’s in high demand.
What would be your tips for anyone thinking of setting up an online project like this?
If anyone came to me to tell me they were planning on setting up a website, I’d say go for it as long as it’s a subject you are passionate about and know lots about. It shouldn’t be seen as a way to make instant money or relied on for money either. You have to be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into it before you see any return at all.
What are you hopes for the future of Mumazine?
I want Mumazine to continue growing as it has been. We have some fantastic partnerships in place for this year and I’d love those to continue. I’m looking forward to what 2013 has to offer.
Thanks, Sam. We love new ideas and those that are bold enough to make them real.