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When Helen launched her magazine three years ago, she had absolutely zero publishing experience. But after noticing a lack of publications for women interested in cars and motoring, she decided to fill the gap in the market. Enter: Driven Women.
Her magazine is wholly digital and self-funded. To help her bring the vision to life, Helen recruited contributors and a graphic designer, creating a website using GoDaddy‘s website builder tool to launch the magazine.
Driven Women is primarily a passion project for Helen, who works on the magazine at nights and on weekends outside of her full-time job. She’s put together four issues (so far) packed with content, and has built a loyal base of fans and readers.
While her business hasn’t been badly affected by COVID-19, Helen is choosing to hold off the publication of her next issue for a few months, for when people start to crave more of a distraction in their content. She’s also not able to do her usual long test drives for the car reviews that are published weekly on her website.
We caught up with Helen to chat about turning a passion project into a side-hustle, and how she manages to produce content while also holding down a full-time job.
TheLatch— Hi Helen! It would be great to learn about Driven Women from the beginning. Talk us through how it began.
Helen: Of course! I’d love to. I launched Driven Women magazine around three years ago. Basically, it’s grown out of my passion for motoring and the lack of female automotive journalists in mainstream motoring magazines. I saw a niche and decided to have a go and start my own magazine, and so far, I’ve released four issues.
TL: And how have you found the process? Did you have any experience in publishing or creating a magazine?
Helen: My background is environmental management and I have an accounting degree. I have no background in publishing; I just loved reading magazines! I’ve surrounded myself with a great group of contributors. I was able to find a fantastic graphic designer through a referral of a friend of a friend. Her name’s Annette from Clarity Studios.
Through email communication, we’re able to bring together each issue.
“I saw a niche and decided to have a go and start my own magazine.”
TL: Amazing! Is it a physical magazine or is it a digital magazine?
Helen: It’s digital-only — available on my own app through the website or on Pocketmags.
TL: How long does it take for you to put together each issue?
Helen: This varies because I’m fully self-funded, so it’s basically as I can afford to put them together. If I had to put a timeframe on it, I’d say every three to six months.
I work on Driven Women after hours, as does our graphic designer. We both have full-time jobs, so need time to pull the stories together. It is a long process. I focus on articles that are timeless and evergreen, so that you can really read any of my magazines now and there wouldn’t be anything that feels out of date. That’s something I’m conscious of.
TL: How did you go about building your website?
Helen: I use GoDaddy for all of my domain names, and I used GoDaddy’s website builder to help build the website. I just found a theme that I liked and went about putting my own website together with no formal training.
I also use GoDaddy for support if anything goes wrong. For example, if something goes awry in the background, I just ring them and I’m able to use their support team and get it fixed straight away, if not as soon as possible.
TL: How great! Nothing better than quick customer service. Has your business felt the effects of the coronavirus?
Helen: It has in the sense that I’ve been unable to test drive the way I normally would. In addition to the magazine, I’ve got my website and I review a different car each week.
So from a car review point of view, I’m not travelling as far. I would usually go on longer drives in and around the Sydney area, and now it’s best that I don’t do that.
TL: Do you have ambition to grow your website and magazine or do you operate it as a side hustle or passion project?
Helen: Oh look, it is a passion project. But you always want your passion project to grow and become a full-time income. I’ve got issue five in the wings. I’m holding off on putting that together because of the current environment.
I’m concerned that people are just overwhelmed with COVID-19 and so not wanting to engage with anything else.
“You always want your passion project to grow and become a full-time income.”
TL: It’s a tricky time. I know you’ve set up multiple domain names to protect yourself. Do you want to talk us through what your thinking was there?
Helen: Driven Women magazine is the only magazine of its kind in the world dedicated to women and motoring culture. So, when I began to set it up, I was conscious of the fact that I wanted to secure my brand. And secure it globally, for a potential sale in the future.
I’ve got the trademark registered, and from a GoDaddy point of view, I think I have 10 different versions of my domain — for example .co and .UK. I also own DrivenWomenMagazine.com and basically any IDs that are variations to my business name.
TL: Very smart to protect yourself. How did you get the idea for Driven Women? Was there something that inspired you or was it because you couldn’t find the content you were looking for?
Helen: For the last 20-odd years I’ve loved reading motoring magazines and even back in the early 2000s it frustrated me that there were no female contributors for the mainstream magazines.
One magazine would have a competition where it would take a subscriber to an annual event and I would always apply for that. And of course, it was always a man who was chosen and it got to the point where I actually stopped engaging with motor magazines for a good ten years.
After I had my kids and stopped full-time work, I did my accounting degree to keep me sane. I’d finished that and then I was getting bored so I started the first blog which is called YouDriveLikeAWoman.com. Another domain I still own because I thought it was a very cool name then.
TL: That’s very clever!
Helen: From there I wanted to try and get official test car drives. I didn’t have much luck until February 2017. I went to a motor racing event and I knew that the then-boss at Ferrari Australasia was going to be at the event. I went up and introduced myself to him.
I told him about my blog, and how I really wanted to drive a Ferrari press car. And he said, “No worries, I’ll sort you out next weekend”.
My first official press car drive was a Ferrari California, which I think is pretty awesome starting at the top. From there I was able to go to other car manufacturers and say, “Well, come on, Ferrari gave me a press car. How about it?”
I did that for about six months, and I got a few decent cars. And then one morning I woke up and my hubby came out to the kitchen and I said, “I want to start a motoring magazine for women.” And he said, “Yes, go for it!”.
I already had the name Driven Women Magazine in my head. So off I went on my little adventure.
“The long-term dream would be to have a publishing company want to buy it.”
TL: Do you have a global audience? Do you find there’s women from all around the world coming to visit your website?
Helen: Yes. So it is predominantly Australian, but it definitely has a strong presence from the USA, UK and Europe. And then Asia is the smallest audience.
TL: How do you find your audience? Do they visit your website through social or through Google?
Helen: Through social. I primarily use Instagram as my tool. I’m still small fry. I’ve only got around 1,200 followers, but I’m excited by the fact I have that many.
TL: What’s your hope for the future of Driven Women?
Helen: The long-term dream would be to have a publishing company come in and say, “We love your magazine, we want to buy it”.
Not that I’d ever want to sell right now because I love it so much, but you know, you’ve got to have an end game. The end game would be to sell it and see it really thrive. I guess I’m limited by my budget and how much money I can put into it.
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