Guest Newsletter – M.T. O’Donnell

Once a month we invite our member magazine publishers and enthusiasts to guest-edit our fortnightly email newsletter. The aim is to inspire others with magazine-related content, connect members and build our community so we can learn from each other.

This month our guest editor is M.T. O’Donnell, Founder and Editor of Scotland Grows Magazine. You can follow M.T. on LinkedIn – remember to connect and say hello!

Tell us about yourself

I’m the Founder and Editor of Scotland Grows Magazine, and the Host of the Scotland Grows Show. Both platforms celebrate all that is good in Scottish gardening and both were nominated at the PPA 2023 Awards in November as ‘Independent Publisher of the Year’ and ‘Podcast of the Year’.

I’m also a freelance writer, having written for Scotland on Sunday, The Herald on Sunday, The Evening Times, BBC Countryfile, and Kitchen Gardener, amongst other national and local publications.

What are you up to at the moment?

I’m currently pedal to the metal to get the next issue of Scotland Grows magazine live, and am in the middle of recording the next series of the podcast. 

I’ve also starting giving small group workshops on starting a podcast which are completely practical meaning you leave with a podcast plan – I love workshops which aren’t airy fairy chatter that give you lot of ideas to add to the to do list but which you never have the time to work on. I’m so happy to be adding that to the range of workshops and talks I do, it’s always great to get out from behind the desk!

What’s the best article you’ve
read this month?

I’ve finally finished reading Word on the Street 2, the magazine in a day from Magazine Street. It was like having a refresher on the Conference content and was so lovely to revisit it. It also meant I got to hear from the workshop hosts that I didn’t get to hear on the day so that was an added bonus.

[If you’re an International Magazine Centre member and haven’t received a copy of Word on the Street 2, get in touch!] 

Show us an incredible magazine cover

I loved the cover of the Halloween issue of Grub Street Journal, it was the font that just really appealed to me, it was so in keeping with the theme of the issue.

The most inspirational cover though of a magazine I read last year was edition 25 of Brand You where Olivia Marocco, the founder, put herself on the front cover – now that’s brave! The subheading under her name read, ‘Practise What You Preach’ and as she was promoting her Visibility Extravaganza she said inside the issue that she, “put herself on the front cover to find out what’s it’s really like to be under the spotlight”. Hats off Olivia!

What’s your top tip for publishers?

Publishing an independent magazine is hard, and we shouldn’t be afraid to admit that. One of the best ways to support yourself and the future of your publication is talk to those in similar positions. Until last year I hadn’t met any other female founders who were publishing, creating content, and doing the whole kit and caboodle themselves, and that can be a lonely place to be. 

I’ve now connected with others in exactly the same position through the International Magazine Centre and sharing those struggles with each other, both online and in person, has been energising.

We all need help, particularly those of us in small, independent publications – until we find out how to clone ourselves – so reach out and ask for what you need. There is bound to be someone in your network who can help, or who knows someone who can, but in our busy bubbles it is hard for others to mind-read our struggles, so you actually have to verbalise them!

Illustration by Donna Grethen with thanks to Ikon Images. Like what you see? 
Members receive their first 5 Ikon Images illustration uses for £50 each

Questions for the community

What subject or issue would you like the International Magazine Centre Members Group to discuss and untangle over on LinkedIn?

My question is: If you were only allowed to produce either a magazine or a podcast going forward, which media would you choose and why?

Need more of this in your life?

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