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Making a magazine during a pandemic, one year on...


Around this time last year, my VIP Magazine colleagues and I were gearing up to work from home for the first time ever. Even during the Beast from the East, we trudged through the snow into the office to send our monthly issue to print; I truly did not believe it was possible to make the mag happen in any other way. So, when lockdown was announced, I was CONCERNED. I remember so vividly the worry I had about the entire situation. How will we do this without our in-office server? How will we fill the magazine if we don't have photoshoots, or any content? Will people continue to buy the magazine if they're going to be staying at home!? I had a few nights of tossing and turning, knots tearing up my stomach, wondering if I was going to be out of a job, a job that I've adored now for six years.

Thankfully though, that wasn't the case. In fact, over the past 12 months, not only have we made it work, but our sales have actually *increased*. Mad. In an already precarious time for print media, I can't express how grateful I am that people have been so supportive of our beloved mag. Interested in how we have made this happen? Read on!


All Hail Dropbox

As I mentioned, we used to work with an in-office server to pull together our content each month for our designer to then lay out, and for us to read and edit before pages turn into PDFs, and PDFs go to the printers. This was the biggest worry for me, as it was how I'd always worked and I didn't know any other way. However, Dropbox has saved the day and has allowed us to work from a practically identical virtual server that we can all access simultaneously from home. As we were able to take our Macs home, which have InDesign installed on them, it has made the entire process, from filing content to subbing at the end of the month, seamless. It is quite literally no different to how we would be creating the issue in the office, except for the fact that we're not together, and now have dogs on our laps as we work (this part should always continue imo). We keep in touch constantly through WhatsApp and video calls to share ideas and updates, and it's been surprisingly faultless each and every month so far. If only I could go back and reassure myself last year!

Socially Distant Shoots

A crucial element of VIP Magazine is our shoots - we feature at least four exclusive photoshoots with well-known personalities each month. That's our USP. So, for the world to suddenly go into lockdown, and the sudden possibility of this not being able to happen...well, it wasn't ideal. But we had to make it work, end of story. So, we were resourceful; for our first issue in the first lockdown, we used outtakes from shoots the year prior, and conducted new interviews over the phone. We had celebrities do their own hair and makeup and take their own photos and chatted to them over Zoom. Then, when cases began to go down, we began to shoot again; socially distant, with staggered arrival times and masks worn. Over the past few months, I have enjoyed shoots with the likes of Erica Cody, Hazel Chu, Jedward and Sile Seoige. It's been bizarre, as usually our shoots are a leisurely event, with hugs and coffees and lots of chats and laughing, but now it's very much a "get in and out" affair. We're just relieved they can take place at all though, don't get me wrong...


Adapting Content

Suddenly, back when lockdown #1 hit, a lot of aspects of the magazine didn't fit with the new world we found ourselves in. Our social events photo section. Our travel pages. Even beauty and fashion - everyone was now living in tracksuits with no motivation to put makeup on; it didn't feel right to write about this kind of stuff back when the sh*t began to hit the fan. But it was about making small changes - featuring funny shots of celebs at home; staycation ideas to look forward to in the future; skincare to make sure we emerge from this cocoon with fresh faces; cosy clothes that we also feel good in. We wanted to make sure the content we provided was relateable, but also with a touch of glam, because...escapism! Our lives are all saturated with gloomy news, so the frivolous details of a new lip balm that has the colour of a lipstick, or the funkiest at-home style suggestions helped us as a team to switch off; and that's what we wanted for anyone picking up the mag. Plus, our celebrity interviews show our readers that no matter who you are, you are affected by this pandemic. There's a comfort for people to know that everyone is feeling the effects of all this, even if you do seem to have a very glamorous job, like presenting on the telly. We've also been sharing content on home interior ideas, advice on bettering sleep, joy-inducing recipes, book suggestions, wedding advice and other bits and bobs that are designed to help make life a little easier during this tough time. And, we decided to take this time to have a bit of fun with the look of the magazine, changing up font and design to make it even prettier to look at. We're chuffed with the final result - shout out to our designer Carl!

Teamwork

Along with the aforementioned Carl, the past year of publishing wouldn't have been possible without having a close-knit team. We're a small team; there's three of us on the editorial side of things (myself, Elle and Bianca, pictured with me above) and our commercial director Rebecca, and it means that we're all friends as well as colleagues. Pre March 2020, we were used to sitting beside each other for five days out of the week, and socialising at media events together after 5.30pm; it's like a fever dream thinking of how different things were back then now. This whole experience has made us all closer in a way, though, despite not actually having been in the same room as each other for a year. Working from home may not be for everyone, and it can be lonely at times, but all of us will agree that it's been brilliantly unifying for our tiny team. In saying that, roll on the reunion wine!


Our March issue is out now in shops for just €2.20...just FYI, like