The 4 Lessons I Learned While Building a Successful Media Company from My Lounge Room

Mia Freedman shares lessons she learned while building her media companies, Mamamia and Spring.St.

Walk In Her Shoes

No matter what business you’re in, you must put yourself in the place of your consumer. Walk in her shoes. Look at the product or service you are providing from her point of view. If you aren’t able to do this, and make your business decisions accordingly, you will fail. It’s a common mistake I see people making whether they’re writers or entrepreneurs. Don’t look outwards at your audience; walk in their shoes and look back at yourself through their eyes.

Having worked my whole adult life in women’s magazines including seven years as Editor In Chief of Cosmopolitan, Australia, I always wanted to be at the center of the action. In the early 2000’s when the shift from print to online started, I knew as a voracious magazine consumer that I wanted a more dynamic relationship with the content I was consuming. I soon left my comfortable life as a senior magazine executive and I started a women’s website, a blog really, called mamamia.com.au. I had no money and very high expectations. I wanted it to be big.

Scratch An Itch

Looking around, I was baffled by the fact that in 2007, women’s websites were quarantined into very traditional silos of interest. Cooking, fashion, gossip, and parenting. As a woman, I was interested in all those things as well as politics, pop culture, news and opinion. Why should I have to go to half a dozen sites instead of one?

I wanted to create a site that had everything women were talking about today, from politics to pelvic floors. I started Mamamia to satisfy this need to create and now it’s the biggest women’s media company in Australia with a staff of more than 100 women employed in five offices around the world and reaching 4 million Australian women each month on Mamamia.com.au as well as 4 million more via social media. We’re expanding and have just launched in the US with Spring.St.

Know Your Strengths and Hire Against Your Weaknesses

Early on, I knew I needed help. I am a creative person. A writer. A podcast host. A content producer. An ideator. But a successful business needs strategy and structure to grow and thrive. Business experience. A vision. That came in the form of my husband who came on board Mamamia as co-founder about two years after I started the blog from my lounge room and right when I was starting to burn out. Together as co-founders, we have been able to grow Mamamia from a personal blog into a thriving media company because we bring different skills to the table. Our earliest hires were in areas where neither of us had experience like tech and product development and that was key, as were our differences. It’s vital to know what you can do and where you need help.

Know The ‘Why’

Every business needs a ‘why’. WHY are you doing what you’re doing? For us, our vision and core purpose has always been clear: to make the world a better place for women and girls. As a media company, we do this in several ways. We empower her with information, we entertain her (has laughter ever been more important as now?) and we help her to connect with other women emotionally via our content. This helps her to feel normal, reassured, less alone.

Before moving into the US market, we spoke to American women who told us they were frustrated by the biggest women’s sites seeming to cater predominantly to millennials. They told us they were becoming fatigued by the horrors in the news both locally and abroad and while they wanted to remain informed, they also wanted some respite and a way to consume information through a more positive lens.

With that in mind, we launched Spring.St as a destination for these women who want to be surprised and delighted by a diverse mix of content every day that speaks to them and leaves them feeling uplifted, empowered and informed. Our new podcast, Tell Me It’s Going To Be OK, launches next month and we have plans to build a network of women’s podcasts out of Spring.St based on these same founding principles.

Mia Freedman is the co-founder of Mamamia,  a digital media company that includes the website Mamamia.com.au and the Mamamia Podcast Network which produces 11 different podcasts. She is also the creative director of Spring.St

Follow Mia on Twitter @MiaFreedman and on Facebook.