(NEW YORK) Cosmopolitan.com’s new top chick, Amy Odell, says she knows what millenials want: A little fashion, a lot of J-Law, and a whole bunch of cats. Will they take the click bait?
BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV
Why did you leave Buzzfeed?
Troy Young was leading the relaunch of Cosmo’s website, and he wanted to make it huge and really awesome. He planted the seed over breakfast and it sounded like the coolest job ever. Also, I was a big fan of [Cosmo EIC] Joanna Coles.
Did you accomplish everything you wanted to do there?
No, but I was also only there for a year and a half, and you can only do so much in that time. I didn’t have the resources there that I have here. It was definitely the right thing at the right time.
So, what’s your plan for Cosmopolitan.com?
I want it to feel like you’re with a group of young women going out for happy hour after work—like your smartest, funniest, most insightful friends, whether they’re talking about sex or what they did Friday night. We’re doing more service, plus a lot of original content that wasn’t there before.
Who’s your target audience?
I want every millennial woman in the world reading us.
What about older readers?
I don’t think that my mom cares too much for the site actually. She thinks it’s a bit racy. At least that’s how she explained it to her friend when she thought I wasn’t listening.
What’s your daily post quota?
We don’t have a quota. We want to put up posts that are worth putting up, not just post to hit a quota. But if an hour goes by and nothing is posted, I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?! It’s the internet! Something always has to be posted!’
Are your readers also reading Cosmo in print?
I’m not sure what the exact overlap is, but when we ask them to take a picture of their cat reading Cosmo, they have the magazine. #CosmoCat was so successful we decided to do it with bunnies. Then, we did it with fish. We figured if we could do bunnies, we could do anything.
How BuzzFeed-y! The comments on Cosmopolitan.com can get pretty nasty. Does that bother you?
You’re always going to have trolls, and since we’ve grown, it’s definitely increased. I don’t mind if people critique, I just hope it’s a thoughtful critique.
What’s your strategy for dealing with vitriol?
The first post I did at The Cut got a ton of hate. I was really freaked out and I called my parents. My dad said, ‘You’re talking to thousands of people, they’re just writing anonymously, and it doesn’t matter what they say. You just can’t take them seriously.’ Now, nothing bothers me.
You’ve become immune?
Well, the stuff that matters is what your editors tell you. To work in this business, you have to get used to your ideas being shot down.
How are the stats looking since you took over?
When I started, it was 12 or 13 million uniques a month, and Troy wanted to get to 20 million. I was at a New Year’s Eve party, standing there with a drink in my hand staring at my iPhone, and at 10 p.m., we hit 20 million.
How often do you check your stats?
All the time! Every web editor needs to look at their numbers. I definitely pay more attention to traffic now than I did at BuzzFeed.
You’re adding lots of video. Will we be seeing a lot more of you?
Yeah, I like doing video. I can show up, sit and talk, then it gets edited by someone else. Editing someone else’s work takes more brain power.
You’ve started live streaming your staff meetings. Please explain!
We thought it’d be a really fun way to engage with our audience. The first #CosmoLive trended on Twitter in the U.S. And we’re just in a room together talking about new ideas. People are inherently interested in reality-type shows, and in seeing how magazines are created.
We hear you’re also getting fancy new digs.
We’ll be around the corner from Hearst in the Sheffield Building. We’ll all sit together. No one will have their own office.
Is this how you saw your career panning out?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be Barbara Walters, then I wanted to be Anna Wintour in high school. Now, I don’t know.
What else are you up to?
I sold my first book in February of last year. It’s humorous essays about working in the fashion industry. Agents approached me about doing books when I was at The Cut. I had a proposal almost ready to go, and then an agency reached out to me on Twitter and asked if I was interested in writing a book.
How do you find time to write?
I have no life! I write on the weekends and do Cosmopolitan.com during the week.
What do you think about The Cut nowadays?
I think it’s great. I was the first person at The Cut. Jessica Coen, who is at Jezebel now, taught me the ins-and-outs of blogging. I just wrote so furiously all day to get the feed up. What it’s grown into is really cool.
Could you ever imagine leaving digital now?
I can’t. There’s constant feedback! Beyond the fact that it’s the future of where media is going, I’m just addicted.