Personal Blog

2018 Career Highlights

Going into 2018 if you would have told me that by the end of it, I would be the Head Editor at a national publication, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Here’s why: we are constantly underestimating ourselves. We are underestimating our worth, what we are capable of, and the breadth of what we are able to accomplish.

So this post is dedicated to acknowledging my wins from this year, and hopefully inspiring you to recognize your own triumphs. Sure, it’s great when other people talk about how great we are, but it is just as necessary for us to recognize our own greatness.

I started out in 2018 as an Editorial Assistant. Still getting used to the lay of the land, but already knowing I was being underutilized. But I put in my time, I put in the work, I did the thrice weekly newsletters, I called literally over a thousand people to verify their information for our annual buyer’s guide issue, and I continued to develop my network and produce the most viable stories for the magazines.

Then my Editor (Sergio) resigned. He’d had enough of the toxicity having been there three years, and found an opportunity through a fellow ex-PenPub employee. (Side Note: what’s great about working is PenPub that all the past people who have left due to the work environment are so incredibly supportive and empathetic, and so willing to help you in any way they can because they know what you’ve been through.)

However, being only three / four months into the job, I did not catch this for what it was. I took his resignation as an opportunity to move up the ladder. The thing you have to know about the Editorial Staff at PenPub is that typically, there are only three Editors, and no one usually lasts longer than a year. Like clockwork, they circle through. So when Sergio resigned, all that was left was Jack and I. Jack had been hired two weeks before me, which I knew meant he had ‘seniority’ over me, even though I knew I would make the better Editor.

I got the Assistant Editor position. It was still a promotion, there was still more responsibility and even some monetary gain, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I was at the top. Mainly because I knew that I would be the most efficient person to produce these magazines. But, being Assistant for two-and-a-half months gave me the chance to really learn the role of Editor. To continue to develop my network, and fold in Sergio’s contacts into mine. Plus, we had the biggest issue of the year coming up in June, where the magazine would be an extra 30 pages or so, and would be passed out at one of the biggest builder’s conference of the year: PCBC.

While Jack had the ‘role’ of Editor, and I was still somewhat obscured in the shadows, I foraged away. We needed 7-9 viable features to go into the book, and 20-something columnists. Per usual, I didn’t trust anyone else to be able to get this content out, and since I was hidden under my umbrella of Assistant, I was able to work diligently to get the content we needed. I secured all of the features, and over half of the columnists. This was one of my greatest accomplishments to date. Even better, I managed to sell reprints on half of them (the only thing that will get you any praise in this office – more money!). Meanwhile, we had hired two new Editorial Assistant’s – thank god, cause I could not write all of these features and stay sane – Brianna and Shea, and I was able to assign them to write some of the features, and do some of the grunt work (widgets, PR, newsletters) that I no longer had time for.

Then, two days before we went to print, Jack my Editor, resigned. I knew it was coming, I knew that soon the torch would be passed, and this time I had a better idea of what to expect. This sent us into a flurry of activity, changing the masthead, replacing his name on any stories he had written, as well as his Editor’s note.

But we got through it, and Jack moved onto bigger and better things, and I got the position I had been craving for over half-a-year now. When the publisher found out that Jack was leaving, he actually tried to say that he would be the Editor now. That I hadn’t been there long enough to take over the role. I shut that down quickly. Remember? Jack had been hired a mere two weeks before me, and I had essentially already been doing the role since Sergio had left. Thankfully, it didn’t take much to convince the publisher that I deserved the position.

So I took over. I put in the work. The process of developing the magazines became smoother, we were not only on time but ahead of schedule, and the content was getting stronger and stronger. As I became accustomed to my role, I started to get more comfortable pushing the boundaries of our publication. For example, previously we had never featured D.R. Horton, America’s number one homebuilder, because they had refused to talk to us. But I knew that was the builder I wanted to receive the Builder of the Year award for 2018. They deserved it. They statistically built the most homes – but they had publications lining up out the door to talk to them, and again never have they interviewed with us. I told my publisher I wanted to feature them. He laughed a bit, acknowledged it was a good idea and sent me on my merry way with an obligatory – if not condescending – good luck!

Meanwhile, while chasing down the biggest homebuilder in the country, I also had to fill the pages with other award winning builders. Luckily, the second biggest homebuilder in the nation – Lennar (who also was refusing to work with us until I came along and begged them) has a media representative I’m on very good terms with. I lined up the two biggest homebuilders in the country for our December issue of B&D and I’m damn proud of it.

On top of getting all the columnists my publisher requested, and curating content for a full TWO OTHER MAGAZINES. Landing D.R. Horton is easily the highlight of my 2018. Never would I have imagined at the beginning of 2018 all the high-level people and companies I would be able to interview and talk to, and I think I was able to not only because my position set me up for success, but also because I had a ‘why not’ attitude. Why should’t these builders talk to me, why shouldn’t I call every single of their branches until somebody bites. Honestly, I think I just annoyed them into complacency – and I think that is half of what journalism is about.

2018 was a whirlwind of the year, and when you work in the magazine industry on a cyclical schedule, it goes by even faster. And what you have just read is a small snapshot of the ups-and-downs of my 2018, but I won’t bore you with all of it. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities it brought me, and the people I was able to meet and connect with. I’m confident that 2019 has just as much growth and opportunity in store for me.

Until next time,

Abby Pittman




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