A Collegiette’s Guide To Life

Jul 07, 2010 No Comments

It’s a pleasure to present a business of originality, creativity and opportunity. The all encompassing, online magazine entitled HerCampus.com was created by three outstanding young ladies. This trio of scholars (2 alumni and 1 senior) acquired their skills at Harvard University while simultaneously capturing student minds through-out the country. Windsor Hanger, Stephanie Kaplan and Annie Wang, along with their informative and entertaining articles, are reaching students on many different levels, but at the same time they are creating opportunities. Here’s how…

What motivated you to start Her Campus Media, LLC?

SK: Windsor, Annie, and I ran Harvard’s lifestyle and fashion online magazine while we were students at Harvard.  We realized that the needs we were addressing there were needs that extended beyond Harvard to a broader national scale- the need for content targeted specifically at college women that was tailored to their unique interests.

Please describe Her Campus Media, LLC.

SK: Her Campus Media LLC is the parent company of HerCampus.com.
Her Campus is an online magazine for college women that individualizes its content college-by-college by establishing My Campus branches at schools across the country.  With national content on Style, Health, Love, DormLife, and Career, supplemented by campus-specific content, Her Campus serves as a hub for everything college women need to know about today.

Her Campus is written entirely by the nation’s top college journalists.  Since joining the Her Campus Team, our writers have been offered internships with the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) Intern Program and at Seventeen, Glamour, Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, InStyle, Hearst Digital Media Teen Network, Seventeen.com, CosmoGirl.com, DonateMyDress.org, O magazine, Reader’s Digest, Details magazine, Us magazine, and Star magazine, among others.

Founded by three Harvard undergraduates—Stephanie Kaplan ‘10, Windsor Hanger ‘10, and Annie Wang ‘11—Her Campus was a winner in Harvard College’s business plan competition, the i3 Innovation Challenge, in March 2009. Since Her Campus’s launch in September 2009, the site has been featured in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, seventeen.com, YPulse.com, Jezebel.com, The Chronicle of Higher Education, ” InsideHigherEd.com, and College Media Beat, among others. HerCampus.com is the flagship website of Her Campus Media LLC.  Her Campus Media LLC also owns HerCampusShop.com.
Our Mission
Define and provide a model for the future of online magazines by individualizing content
Fill the hole in the media marketplace for media that responds directly to the needs of college women
Serve as a career launching point for the nation’s top college journalists by providing them with a national platform for the publication of their work

What school did you go to for college? What were you studying?

SK: Windsor, Annie, and I all went/go to Harvard College, which is where we met.  Windsor and I just graduated, and Annie is a rising senior.  I majored in Psychology and minored in Economics; Windsor majored in History and Science and minored in French; Annie majored in Fine Arts and minored in Neurobiology.

Did you ever think that you would own a company like this?

SK: I always knew I wanted to have a media career, but I did not know exactly what form it would take!

Initially, explain what you wanted this company to be and what you have added to the site since you first launched it.

SK: We wanted- and still want- the site to be an online hub for college women- “a collegiette’s guide to life”.  Since our launch, we have greatly expanded our local content.  When we launched, we just had one branch (at Harvard), but by this fall we will have branches at over 50 colleges and universities.  We have also increased the amount of content in our “Love” section, since this section is most popular!

Did you create a business plan for Her Campus? If so, do think it helped? Why, or why not?

SK: Her Campus got its start when we entered Harvard’s business plan competition, the i3 Innovation Challenge.  Entering this competition forced us to write a business plan and really figure out the direction we wanted this to take!  Thinking through all the pieces of a business plan was incredibly helpful and helped to focus our efforts and enable us to set concrete goals.

After thinking of the idea and jotting it all down on paper, what was next?

SK: After we won Harvard’s business plan competition in spring 2009, we spent that summer preparing for the site’s launch in September 2009.  We each worked on different tasks: I recruited writers and planned the editorial calendar; Windsor did ad sales and made a publicity plan; Annie built and designed the website.  We also did a lot of networking and talked to as many people as we possibly could to get their input!

Did anyone think it was a bad idea? How did you overcome any negative obstacles?

SK: We got a lot of positive feedback and everyone was very encouraging.  Our main obstacle this past year was balancing starting a company with being full-time Harvard students!  It was definitely a challenge.  Now that Windsor and I have graduated, we are thrilled to be able to devote our full time to Her Campus.

Did anyone help fund the site? If so, how many people and how much money did it take to start it up?

SK: We have not taken on any investors yet and have been profitable since our launch.  We each put in a small amount of money just to be able to buy our domain names initially, but we paid ourselves back very quickly!  We had very low costs because we have free office space as a result of winning the business plan competition, built the website ourselves, and did not pay ourselves a salary since we were still full-time students.  Our main costs were filing as an LLC and buying a few office supplies!

How many people are actively involved in your site?

SK: We have over 400 people actively involved in our site, across our teams of writers, Campus Correspondents, branch staffs at our 40+ branches, web team, designers, and business interns.

How do you make money on this site?

SK: We make money through ads as well as strategic marketing partnerships.  For example, we ran a campus brand rep program for Juicy Couture, and worked with Lauren Merkin to run a Twitter-based publicity contest.  The network of college students that we’ve built allows us to connect companies with college students across the country in creative ways.

If you could change one thing from when you first started, what would it be?

SK: If we could redo it, we would do a soft launch a week before our publicized “launch date”- we ended up having to pull an all-nighter before our launch because of some unexpected web problems!

Who currently writes the content on this site and what do you look for in the writers?

SK: Our national content is produced by a team of the country’s top college journalists, who must go through a rigorous application process to be accepted as “Contributing Writers”.  Our local content from our My Campus branches is produced by a staff at each college, led by a Campus Correspondent who runs the branch.  In prospective writers, I look for strong technical writing ability, creativity (which is especially important in an entrepreneurial environment), an understanding of our audience, and the ability to take on a fun, relatable voice in their writing.

Do the writers get paid?

SK: No.

How do your writers benefit from writing for your website?

SK: The writers benefit by gaining experience writing for a nationally-recognized brand that they can list on their resume, beyond the prestige of writing for a campus publication.  They also accumulate tons of clips they can use when applying for jobs or internships.  It is often hard to break into the magazine world as a college student, since many colleges’ only writing outlet is the campus newspaper, which makes it difficult to get the kind of clips you need to apply for magazine job and internships.

After the content is written, how does the approval process work?

SK: I have a team of editors, who are also college students, who each oversee one of our sections (Style, Health, Love, DormLife, Career).  They do a first round of edits on the articles in their section, and I then do a second round of edits before the drafts are returned to the writers.  After I receive final drafts, I final-edit and format them and send them to the web team.

What is a typical day for you like?

SK: There really is no typical day!  Yesterday we filmed a promotional video in the morning, then worked on a contest in the afternoon, and I did some work recruiting new Campus Correspondents.  Today I have been doing a lot of editing, orienting a new intern we have, and responding to Feedback submissions we’ve received through the site.  New projects pop up every day, which makes work really exciting!

How often is content added to the site, and how do you determine what’s the next hot topic to write about?

SK: New content is added multiple times every day.  Since everyone on our team is a current college student, it is really easy to keep pace with what’s going on for college girls at the moment!  In addition, each month, all of the writers submit pitches that I then use to determine which articles I assign.

How do you personally define success.

SK: I think success is something subjective- if you feel you are successful, then that’s all that matters (I think the same is true of happiness).  For some people, success means making money, for others it means being famous or making a difference in people’s lives.  I think what it is that makes me feel “successful” is constantly changing, but in general, success for me is when I feel like I have accomplished something that is important to me.

What’s in the works for Her Campus?

SK: We will be launching LOTS of new campus branches (find out more here: www.hercampus.com/my-campus) this fall, as well as launching some exciting new partnerships, one with a leading magazine and one with a leading athletic-wear company.

What’s the one thing everyone should know about Her Campus, LLC?

SK: Her Campus is everything a college woman needs to know- a collegiette’s guide to life.

What do you LOVE the most about your site?

SK: The amazing team of student journalists we have working with us!

Tell us the most memorable story that has come having this company.

SK: It would have to be the all-nighter we pulled the night before our launch.  We thought we were all set at 11:30pm, and then all of a sudden an error message appeared across every page on the site.  We could not figure out how to get rid of it.  All of our publicity efforts would be beginning in a matter of hours, and the site had a huge error message on it.  We were freaking out, frantically researching how to fix it.  It was VERY stressful, VERY tense, and we ate a LOT of junk food that night.  Finally we left the office at 5am with the problem fixed, but we were completely exhausted on our launch day!

Give us your best advice.

SK: Pursue what you are passionate about!

Edited by: Bridgette

Her Campus Media, LLC
67 Mt. Auburn St
Cambridge, MA 02138
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