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21 Secrets Digital Editors Never Tell

I've been a digital girl since 2006. Here's what you should know if you want to work online.

1. You cannot just do one thing. In print media, your job description is your job. There is a person for each task, whether it’s graphic design, section editing, or feature writing. Everyone has a role, and there is a process for everything. When you work online, responsibilities become blurred: you need to write a story, upload it to a CMS (Content Management System), source and resize photos, and troubleshoot any HTML glitches that might occur. Oh, and don’t forget: You also need to promote the article on at least 3 social media platforms, while tracking Google Analytics to see if it’s performing well. It’s one big beautiful mess. But you LOVE it. 

2. You have to learn (and unlearn) something every day. Facebook changed its algorithm? Great, now your social media strategy is ruined. There’s a new app in town? You have to download it, stat. The digital world is for people who can adapt to change. If you cannot handle this, you better quit.

3. You will work with a lot of twentysomethings. And they are crazy, obsessive, passionate, and the best multitaskers you will ever meet. They probably have 20 tabs open, so they cannot keep a conversation longer than five minutes without jumping to the next topic. "OMG, did you see that OTWOL kiss?! And have you heard Adele's new song?!"


4. You will be obsessed with Google Analytics. And by obsessed, I mean you will download the app on your phone and check your real-time numbers when you wake up, while you take a dump, and before you go to sleep. Sometimes, before making out with your boyfriend.

5. You have a love-hate relationship with the internet. Oh internet, you are the reason why I have a job. But you never give me a break. Fuck you. OMG please don’t crash my website. I love you.

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6. People always tell you that you’re so lucky you can work anywhere. That’s partly true, but it’s also the reason why you hate taking vacations because you will end up working, anyway. Long weekends are the bane of your existence. You’d rather have zero holidays than schedule a gazillion stories in advance for Christmas break.


7. You either really love it or really hate it. I know people from print who've tried digital and hated it, and digital friends who fell in love with print. I have respect for both, but I am in awe of print peeps who’ve gone digital. Kudos to you, girl friends. It ain’t an easy transition. If you aren’t prepared, it will eat you alive. (P.S. You are NEVER prepared, btdubs).

8. You can’t not know basic HTML. Your CMS is bound to screw up, and you need to know how to troubleshoot weird characters, skewed layout, and embedded multimedia that don’t pop up. I’m not talking complicated code—just super basic stuff like knowing how to manually center-align a YouTube-embedded video when the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor doesn’t work. (Admittedly, knowing how to manually center-align a YouTube-embedded video sounds complicated BUT IT ISN'T).

9. Reading haters’ comments will make you lose faith in humanity. You really, really, really want to answer back and tell them they are sad human beings who do not deserve the internet, but no, you ignore their posts and just go about your day like nothing happened. There is no winning this. You cannot please anyone. Nothing you write is good enough. You have horrible grammar. Your photos are awful. You're getting your beauty stuff wrong. You cannot style or spell. Nothing is good enough for the haters. 

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10. Everyone has to carry his or her own weight when it comes to meeting the website targets. You’re given a number to hit by the end of the month, and everyone needs to know what it is and what they have to do to meet it. No slackers allowed! 

11. People are always going to jump to conclusions about you working online, especially if you have a magazine counterpart. “Why aren’t you in print?" and "Do you also write for print?” are questions I always get. There are people who still think that digital is second-rate; it is your job to prove them otherwise. Hey, it’s not a competition; it’s symbiosis.

12. You won’t be able to live without The Cloud. Whether it’s Google Docs, a messenger app, or Dropbox, your team’s operations will depend on it.

13. You will need amazing people who do amazing things. My grad school teacher told us in class: “If you suck at math, hire the best mathematician.” As an editor, I love hiring people who can teach me something new, and who can make up for my weaknesses.  That is how you survive in digital. I do not know everything, but I learn something new every day. It is extremely humbling and gratifying.


14. You will make a lot of mistakes. That’s why you need team members who can tell to your face that you made a typo, or you selected the wrong image. Appreciate it, and welcome it. With all the multitasking you do, you’re bound to commit errors. Like I said, it’s teamwork. And no one is ever better than anyone else.

15. You must know your numbers. Since you can track everything online, it’s your ammo when it comes to selling yourself to advertisers. Knowing your analytics means being in control of your brand and the possibilities your audience reach may bring.

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16. You will run out of ideas. Which is normal, considering you publish hundreds of stories every month. The trick is to find a new angle for an old topic. What is extraordinary about something you take for granted on a daily basis? Write about that. We at Cosmo.ph have been covering Hot Hunks every year, so we've gotten so immune to naked men. That is why we came up with Hot Hunks...In Slo-Mo! Exhibit A: Atom Araullo; Exhibit B: James Reid; Exhibit C: Kirst Viray.


17. People think you write fluff. Why, yes, we do come to work and write about sex positions and penises and the Kardashians. But we also write about things that are socially relevant. Like the transgender Pinay, Geena Rocero. Or Kat Alano's open letter about rape. There's also fallacies about suicide. How about that time we published a story on how you can avoid being a victim of the "Laglag Bala" scam?

18. You will be asking help from a LOT of people. This includes your content marketing team, SEO guy, social media girl, and programmers. P.S. Your programmers probably secretly hate you, because every time you approach them it’s about Error 502. IMHO, they deserve much more than what they’re given credit for. When you have time, show ‘em some love.

19. You’ll barely have time to do anything else. If you’re managing a website, doing long-term non-online endeavors is basically a death sentence. Whatever free time you have should be spent on yourself, not on work. Otherwise, you’ll burn out.


20. If you're a graphic designer for a kickass website, your graphic designer friends will tell you, "How come you're still using Photoshop? Why don't you use Illustrator?" Uh, hello? Photoshop isn't for doing layouts, okay? #PhotoshopNoobs #LongLivePhotoshop

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21. You will want to quit when you don’t hit your targets. It’s like, “What else do you want from me, INTERNEEET?!?!” Then you crawl to your little dark corner and cry.

But then you check your Facebook newsfeed and see your friends share that story you just published. And you never told them to.

Turns out you did something right, after all.

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Jillian Q. Gatcheco is the editor-in-chief of Cosmo.ph. Follow her on Instagram.