Interview with Valentina Todoroska, Head of Editorial Content at POPSUGAR Australia, The Latch, and Thrillist
Valentina Todoroska is currently working as the Head of Editorial Content at POPSUGAR Australia, The Latch, and Thrillist, a role she has held since January 2023.
Medianet sat down with Valentina to discuss her career and how she first got here.
You were recently promoted to Head of Editorial Content for POPSUGAR, The Latch and Thrillist, as well as a freelance editor and journalist. What does a normal day look like for you?
As I’m sure most in the media industry can attest to, no two days are ever really the same. But in terms of a typical day, it always starts with pitching in the morning and helping the editorial team set the agenda in their verticals for the day. Once the team is set up, I usually move onto forward planning like working though our coverage for upcoming key calendar dates or editorial initiatives across the sites. This might involve researching and writing content plans, reaching out to contributors, or editing and publishing content.
When I first started my role at Val Morgan Digital, I was working part-time so had more freelance availability. However given my current role, I’m now more selective with the freelance work I take as I have less out of hours availability.
Did you always want a career in the media industry?
I had always loved writing from a young age, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I considered a career in the media industry.
When I was 14, I won a Dolly writing competition and spent my school holidays in their offices working under several incredibly talented editors in the industry. I was able to see how the magazine and its pages were put together, took vox pops and had my first feature published. I remember rushing to the news agency when the issue came out, flipping through the pages frantically looking for my byline. It was definitely this experience that made me decide I wanted a career in media.
What are the main differences you have found with working freelance VS working for a media company?
The differences really are immeasurable. Working as part of a media company, you are constantly surrounded by a team and depending on the publication, largely plugged into the news cycle and the conversations of the day. You might be responsible for a particular section and working with those around you to deliver the articles that are important to your audience and using insights and data to ensure they’re engaged with.
I’ve spent a large portion of my career in media companies working with freelancers and taking pitches. It has been an interesting experience to be on the other side of this as a freelancer. You really need to enjoy working autonomously and be able to take control of your own day, manage your time, set yourself tasks and keep yourself accountable.
Constantly putting yourself out there and pitching to publications you haven’t written is equal parts scary and rewarding. Freelancing really allows you to sit with your ideas, work on your pitches and think about how you would personally approach a story. Once a story is commissioned, it’s freeing to be able to spend as much time as you like working on it and perfecting it.
What has working in the media industry taught you the most about yourself?
Working in the media industry has taught me so much about myself. Mostly that I’m more adaptable and resilient than I thought I was or could be.
When the publication I was working on closed at the beginning of the pandemic, I decided within the space of a week that I was going to freelance. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me work in a way that I hadn’t before. Having that experience has taught me to back myself and now when things don’t go to plan, I trust that I can manage the situation and achieve the best for those within my team.
What makes writing and working primarily digitally and online so unique?
Working primarily digitally and online is unique because it’s such a moving beast. You might have one plan for the day editorially and then a big story breaks and how you need to feel comfortable to change tack and be agile, make quick calls and back them.
You also need to be able to think ahead and predict where a story is going. What are readers going to be looking for next and then after that and again after that? The feedback loop is also practically immediate. You have tools to be able to see in real time if audience is engaging with a particular story, what they are clicking on and even where they are reading up to.
What’s one thing about working in the media industry you didn’t expect when you first started?
I didn’t expect to be given so many opportunities so quickly when I first started in the industry. I’m fortunate that early in my career, I was trusted to take on so many varied responsibilities which led me to gain experience in a variety of different roles and functions. It taught me the nuts and bolts of how an online publication worked as I was able to do so many parts of the job that were key to running a website around the clock.
Having this knowledge is what gave me the foundation to move into management and eventually lead teams as I had a deep understanding of what each position involved.
What makes POPSUGAR, The Latch and Thrillist stand out from other media outlets?
Val Morgan Digital is a suite of thriving media brands, but it’s also a collection of passionate communities. We speak to people who are passionate about entertainment, living life unapologetically, and people who want to know more about what’s happening today, that will help shape tomorrow.
We have the ability to interact with audiences across all different mediums and platforms as they go about their day – we might be in their ears via a podcast on their commute, then they’ll see our content on a Val Morgan Outdoor screen while at the gym, and then they’ll second-screen on the couch at home while watching TV.
We have the influence and intel of global culture, through our partners and editorial teams in the US and UK, and a unique understanding of how it shows up in Australia.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career, so far?
There are almost too many to pick one.
The most recent would have to be going to Europe at the end of last year to participate in and cover the Goop Cruise with Gwyneth Paltrow for POPSUGAR.
What are your pitching preferences?
I’m often working on editorial initiatives that are focused on a particular topic so always feel free to reach out as its often the case that I’m working on something relevant or related.
Outside of this our key verticals across the sites are news and culture, lifestyle, sustainability, travel, food and drink, entertainment, fashion, and beauty.