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Quick chat with Claire Isaac

You’ve been an editor for many years. What do you love about what you do?

I love so much about my job, and I always have, whether I’ve worked in print or online. At the core, I really love coming up with ideas and seeing them through to fruition –  and I really enjoy working with a team of passionate people who also love what they do.

When I first worked on weekly magazines, the thrill of covering events like royal weddings etc was huge – I really missed those all-nighters whenI left Woman’s Day after eight years there! These days I’m not in the news team, I’m in charge of the lifestyle team and editing content about health, mid-life, meno, beauty, travel and more – and I am thoroughly enjoying that less chaotic, more perfumed side of the business, too.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

I have had many highlights in my career – and they have been varied. From interviewing my hall pass Robbie Williams, to training as a flight attendant, to covering royal weddings on Woman’s Day, to cruising around the Baltic Sea, from being a part of OK! magazine launching in Australia to my time as Features Editor on New Woman and the Ansett inflight magazine… So many! To be honest, my role today as Lifestyle Director of the weeklies is my newest highlight – working with this kind of content is so great.

I really love coming up with ideas and seeing them through to fruition –  and I really enjoy working with a team of passionate people who also love what they do.

You have freelanced a couple of times over the years, moving between inhouse roles and freelancing – what do you enjoy about each?

I’ve gone between the two frequently and they both have their good and bad points. I love freelancing for the freedom but my husband told me recently that I’m so much happier since I went full time again. I don’t know if that is totally true but I certainly am really enjoying being part of a team.

I really liked being a freelancer because I loved being at home and having a flexible routine that worked for me, but the grind of finding work can be exhausting (right!?) and that ever present uncertainty over money was sometimes hard to deal with. To be honest my current role has two days at home so I’m pretty sure that it satisfies both sides of my personality perfectly! 

What skills do you think are the most important for freelancers to acquire?

Patience, calm and versatility. Also it helps to be able to pivot and write about varied topics or different types of content so you can really find a niche that works for you. Also self belief is crucial – you need to get paid what you know you’re worth, not what a client often wants to pay. 

Why do you think the Summit is important for freelancers?

Networking is so important as a freelancer – and knowing who to target about different kinds of content is also key.  I think having the chance to talk to other freelancers and editors will be so great for connecting the right people, for giving writers options they may not have thought of and for having a chance to hear what kinds of content are resonating in different areas.

I think having the chance to talk to other freelancers and editors will be so great for connecting the right people, for giving writers options they may not have thought of and for having a chance to hear what kinds of content are resonating in different areas.

The conference theme is all about futureproofing your career. What steps are you taking to futureproof your own – and that of the magazines you edit?

For me it’s all about staying across different types of content and different platforms while also essentially working in print for my day to day. That means focusing on upskilling in social and digital, optimising Canva, continuing podcasts, training in SEO etc. 

I truly believe content will win when it comes to the future – albeit across different and varied platforms. Also while we can lament the scary fall of magazines, they’re still very much alive – I believe Are Media sell one magazine every second even now. In terms of my own career at Are, they have already moved beyond just magazines to become an omnichannel content company with a host of great brands, so there is room to grow and move as that progresses. Of course, keeping up with the changing landscape does mean continuing to learn independently, but I am pretty excited to do that.

I truly believe content will win when it comes to the future – albeit across different and varied platforms.

What are your thoughts on AI / ChatGPT?

I think it has the capacity to change certain parts of our work and our world. I know it’s confronting how fast it’s moving and the way it’s modifying and learning. But I don’t think we need to think it will get rid of the need for writers all at once. It can be a good tool for research at this point – and I’m sure many freelancers and editors alike will (or do) use it to get a basic structure, sort facts etc. I don’t think it will replace the need for good writers with something to say, or take the place of skilled content creators who can do more than just build a piece of work. It’s something we will need to somehow work alongside, but I hope that we can learn to do that.

I think it has the capacity to change certain parts of our work and our world. I know it’s confronting how fast it’s moving and the way it’s modifying and learning. But I don’t think we need to think it will get rid of the need for writers all at once.

Do you think the future is exciting for freelancers, and if so, why?

I think the future is very exciting for all content creators  – there will always be the need for people who can write, and if you’re someone who loves to add a bit of personality or go that extra mile with interesting info, then I think your future looks even brighter. Even reading the most basic EDM from a bank or skincare company, for example, I enjoy those with attitude or humour, and I think companies have realised that kind of engagement is worth money. Consumer and client magazines and websites all need engaging and entertaining reading, and will continue to need that. If you’re a hardworking freelancer right now, I believe the world is your oyster.

What are you most looking forward to about the Summit?

I am looking forward to hearing what other people have to say about the state of freelancing and content – as well as have a few drinks, of course! I’m also keen to meet writers and get some new contacts, so bring it on!


Claire is a panelist for ‘How AI is impacting the print, digital and corporate spaces’ on Day 2 of the Summit.


Find out more about Claire Isaac on her profile page
or listen to this episode on The Content Byte.

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