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March 5, 2010

Behind the Scenes at The Inside Source with Meredith Barnett

As part of our March inFOCUS program, we talked with Meredith about her super interesting role at The Inside Source, eBay’s digital style magazine. (You can learn more about Meredith and why we love her or the March inFOCUS program here).

We are so impressed with her ability to leverage so many of her past professional experiences into the perfect enterprising position!

Tell us a little about your role at eBay’s The Inside Source (TIS). What are your primary responsibilities as Editorial Director?

As the Editorial Director of TIS, I oversee the product, both from a macro and micro perspective. From a macro perspective, I drive the articles we post, the language we use, the topics we cover, the people we hire...From a micro-perspective, I manage and set the editorial calendar, work with existing group of freelance contributors to refine story ideas and schedule articles (approximately 15 articles/week), work with a designer to determine visuals and line edit and post every piece of copy on the site!

I'm also fairly involved in the strategic and marketing side of the site. I've secured press coverage (check me out on Fox & Friends), worked with writers to get incoming links from bloggers we've written about and helped set up content syndication opportunities and giveaways.

How did your entrepreneurial experience equip you for this position?

I feel like my past work experiences have all led me towards my current position.

My first job out of college was in marketing at White + Warren, a women's knitwear company, where I learned about the fashion business from the inside--how sales are made, how inventory is managed, etc.

I then worked as an editor at Lucky magazine. I learned a TON there...but I think the biggest takeaway was an unrelenting focus on quality, of content in particular.

I got my MBA at Harvard Business School, which gave me a framework for seeing businesses in the big picture--not just my own role.

Then, I co-founded Store Adore (www.storeadore.com), a web-based guide to boutique shopping around the country and online. There, I experienced being an entrepreneur, which has helped me tremendously in my new role. (Even though TIS is run by a huge corporation, it's still an entrepreneurial venture in many ways.) I learned about digital media, particularly the challenges of building traffic. I got tremendous experience being the editor-in-chief of an online publication,which is essentially what I do now.

Then I worked briefly at Lifetime Networks, where I was Director, Digital Media. That experience taught me about how larger media organizations approach digital content businesses.

That all brought me here, where I use what I've learned in all of my previous positions. And I'm still learning every day!!!

Are your writers also independent contractors? How is this relationship unique from a traditional staff situation?

I have a long term contract, while my writers are freelancers who work on a per-article basis, so it's a little different and a little more flexible with them. They are fantastic! All are professionals who have worked at/contributed publications including Lucky, Cookie, Domino, People, Forbes and more.

The benefit of working with freelancers for me in this role is that I have license to try working with a variety of people. And if things don't work out, I can easily move on. I can also attract quality contributors who I might not be able to hire for full time positions.

The downside is that at the end of the day, all of the heavy lifting for producing the site falls on me. I can't force anyone else to stay late at the office to add links to an article or copy edit!

What are the most challenging parts of your role?

Balancing everything -- the daily editing of articles, the planning of future editorial calendars, the constant emails and communications back and forth over details...I think people would underestimate how long it takes produce one high quality 500 word story.

What are your favorite things about your position?

The caliber of the people I get to work with -- at eBay and at Edelman (eBay's PR agency, which I work with closely) as well as the amazing crop of writers I've brought on.

I'm super proud of many of the articles our team has turned out.

Among them:

A Q&A with Vena Cava designers Sophie Buhal and Lisa Mayock, who count an octopus preserved in a mason jar among their favorite eBay finds; an interview with Liz Lange and her sister, who reveal a shopping list replete with vintage designer finds; a report on the steampunk fashion trend with a roundup culled from eBay’s 4,200 steampunk-related items; a series on home micro-trends (we call them trendlets), a recent article on Christine Lemieux, the founder of Dwell Studio, and a recent profile of Judy Aldrige of popular blog Atlantis Home, who then wrote a very flattering article about the article on her own site.

I’m also immensely proud of our just-launched $100 Spring Shopping Guide

You have found several entrepreneurial and enterprising roles for yourself. What has been similar in each of them? Where have they allowed you to shine?

I love trying to build a business or figure out a concept that hasn't been done yet -- as opposed to stepping in the shoes of a job that someone else did previously.

What are your goals for The Inside Source in 2010?

More traffic, more great content (cool profiles, unexpected trends), more buzz about the site, more video...I’m looking forward to watching the site grow, and to having it become an even larger player in the online fashion/media space. I’m confident we can ge there!

Stay tuned...more to come about this fascinating woman. Also remember that you can meet Meredith at a ladies lunch on March 24th!

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