Five Questions With Betches Editor-In-Chief Sara Levine
Five Questions With Sara Levine, Editor-In-Chief Betches.com
By Chloe Cornell
Sara Levine, Editor-in-chief of Betches was my boss this summer for my internship and she was amazing to work with. In my opinion, working at Betches was an ideal situation – you are surrounded by funny, smart people, it is literally your job to watch reality TV and keep up with pop culture, and you spend a lot of time searching for funny memes!
Considering we here at Girl Tribe write for our own online magazine and Instagram account, I thought it would be worthwhile for our team as well as our readers to hear about Sara’s education and experience that led her to where she is today, before we got into the actual interview. Here’s her backstory in her own words:
Sara: I got my BA in Creative Writing (and French Studies but I hardly use that now) at Emory University. I graduated in 2013. Internship wise, I was all over the place—I interned at a watch start-up and at a small film studio as a screenwriting intern. I started my actual career (the one where I would actually receive a paycheck) in music, running the box office operations and PR for a boutique music venue in Decatur, Georgia, called Eddie’s Attic. It was at that time that I started working as a freelance writer, writing for publications including Scoutmob, Bustle, and Betches. I got a job working as an Assistant Managing Editor for a luxury lifestyle magazine (Modern Luxury), where I was working before I moved to NY to work for Betches full-time.
Chloe: Betches.com has so many different components – daily betches sup emails, online content, podcasts, instagram memes, etc…what is your role specifically? How do you stay on top of everything?
Sara: I have a lot of roles! First, I determine and manage the editorial schedule—how many articles will be published per day and which articles specifically. Obviously it’s subject to change if breaking news happens, but I generally go in with an idea of which articles will go up on any given day. So I will proofread those articles and source imagery for them (often with the help of interns). Then once an article is published, I will promote it on our Facebook and Twitter, usually by finding a funny meme or photo to accompany it. If one doesn’t exist on the internet, I’ll make my own!
I stay on top of everything by doing one thing at a time, immediately as I need to do it. I don’t say “Oh, I’ll come back to this later” if I can help it—something always comes up, and it’s easy for things to slip your mind when you’re doing three things at once. If I can’t do something right away, I keep a running list, on paper in a notebook, of tasks I need to finish and cross it off when I’m done. I also keep a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet of all my editorial content—whether it’s already published, just a draft, or a future idea for an article. But writing things on paper is really the key for me—I need to see it written down in my handwriting.
Chloe: Obviously it is important to be funny in order to work at Betches. What other qualities and skills are important for Betches.com or for a career in media? What areas of study and experiences would you recommend for someone interested in pursuing this career?
Sara: For a career in media, you need to be able to think and move quickly—news breaks all the time and you’ve got to be flexible. You have to be prepared to drop what you’re working on if something crazy happens!
I think a major in journalism, creative writing, or English would help if you want to pursue a writing career—though it’s not necessary at all! As far as experience goes, start writing as much as possible. The great thing about the internet is that there is basically an unlimited number of websites you could potentially write for! Read as much as you can, and when you find a website you enjoy reading, reach out to an editor and see if they need writers. You might not get paid at first depending on the site (I started out doing unpaid submissions), but eventually, when you build up enough of a portfolio, people will start paying you for your work. That’s when you’ll really take off.
Chloe: Are there any other brands or people that you look to for inspiration? How do you decide what you are going to write about? Is it based on what you and your team are interested in or do you get feedback from your followers?
Sara: I really like Jezebel, Vulture, and The Cut—their headlines are always geniusly succinct and on-point. I also think Teen Vogue is doing great news coverage right now. I also enjoy reading Cosmo and Refinery29.
I decide what we write about in two ways: keeping a pulse on pop culture news and brainstorming interesting lifestyle topics. Pop culture articles are harder to predict, and are usually written in the spur of the moment as news breaks (but not always). For lifestyle content (that’s things like fashion, beauty, relationships, etc.), I work with a team of freelance writers who will pitch me article topics. We also, in the Betches office, have biweekly brainstorming meetings where we’ll go around the room throwing out article ideas.
The great thing about Betches is that we are our audience—we write about what women our age want to read, because we ourselves want to read those articles. For instance, a few years ago you would never see wedding articles on Betches. Now, as we and our audience are getting older, we’re writing about things like affordable wedding dresses, ways to cut costs, what to really expect from a bachelorette weekend, things like that. Before I even started working at Betches, I read the website every day (okay, multiple times per day—I was mildly obsessed).
We, of course, take into account what our readers respond to. We always try to give our readers more of what they like seeing and less of what they don’t, and diversify our content to accommodate the growing reader.
Chloe: More and more outlets are editorializing the news and people are saying that society is becoming more divided as a result. As a company, do you discuss your political views and determine how you want to present information? Do you think your humor, political views or both are what attracts your followers?
Sara: We do actually have our own political news vertical, called The ‘Sup. We have an email newsletter that goes out Monday through Friday that gives a rundown of what’s happening in politics, but it’s written in a funny way that makes the news easier to understand.
Chloe: Are there any specific plans on the horizon that you can tell us about? Programming, books, TV, etc.?
Sara: We wrote our third book, When’s Happy Hour, which comes out October 23rd. It’s going to cover career advice, but in our signature honest, no-frills way. We’re also launching two new podcasts, When’s Happy Hour in September (which will be about career advice, unsurprisingly), and Not Another True Crime Podcast. The latter I will be co-hosting, and we will cover crimes, conspiracy theories, cults—all the weird stuff that keeps you up at night.
If you don’t already follow Betches on Instagram and subscribe to their newsletters and podcasts, you must have been living under a rock, but now that you are out, go immediately and sign up. They are hilarious, informative and essential for teenagers and young adults! You can read more about the new book When’s Happy Hour in this issue’s Recommendations.