Brandon Holley – General Manager and Editor in Chief, Yahoo! Shine

Brandon Holley

The Launcher: Brandon Holley talks about starting a highly successful Web destination for women.

By Taylor Mallory

PINK sat down with Brandon Holley, general manager and editor in chief of Yahoo! Shine, former editor in chief of the now-defunct Jane and ELLEgirl. Holley and her team gave birth to the highly successful new Yahoo! channel for women earlier this year. Then, she gave birth to her first child.

Here she talks about the growing pains of launching a new site – and what to consider if you’re planning the launch (or relaunch) of your company’s site.

PINK: What were the biggest challenges of launching a new site?
Brandon Holley: Planning. When you make a website, you have to look into the crystal ball and make some bets. It’s like constructing a building. You put in the infrastructure first. Because Yahoo! has 40 million women in our demo and has been around for 12 years, we thought we knew what women wanted: to connect, start blogs and comment [which you can also do now on PINK’s new site]. And we were right. Sometimes you want an editor to tell you what the best buys are for boots. Sometimes you want your peers to tell you. So we marry the two.

PINK: What were the biggest challenges after the launch – to keep up the momentum?
B.H.: Deciding what to focus on. I had to reign in myself and the team to not launch all of the amazing things we’re thinking about. We have to build some more basic stuff before we put the deck on.

PINK: You have an impressive record in print journalism. What made you decide to move to the Web?
B.H.: Some of the things I did online with Jane were my most exciting moments, because we got right to the readers. Times are hard for print publications, and the Web is the future. Plus, print journalism has largely been defined and everything has been done. Online is new, and we’re defining how women use the space.

PINK: How is the economy affecting business?
B.H.: A lot of advertisers took a wait-and-see attitude, but we’ve exceeded some of our goals for the year. We’re not high-fashion or luxury. Women still surf the Web. And advertisers really want to get to women.

PINK: How do you motivate your team?
B.H.: By giving them ownership of their roles. For example, each editor is responsible for filling her section with fresh content and for injecting the humorous voice Shine is known for. I trust their judgment completely. On websites, more than in magazines, every single person on the team holds an area of the property – from the youngest engineer to designers to editors. And each person becomes way more important.

PINK: What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career?
B.H.: Thinking I was solely responsible for the success or failure of a project so that I felt like the magazines were my babies. And that’s unhealthy. Sometimes the best thing you can have in your career is having something go terribly wrong – like a magazine shutting down. It’s egotistical to think everything depends on you.

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