Deadlines. Celebrities. Breaking stories. And a growing audience of women who are clamouring for more digital content. That’s the world of Avi Vince, Managing Editor of iVillage Australia, which is part of the Mamamia Women’s Network. Both iVillage and its sister site Mamamia have carved a firm niche in the Australian publishing landscape, driven by magazine-turned-digital-publishing supremo, Mia Freedman.
So it’s safe to say that Avi has landed herself a plum job in publishing. But it wasn’t that long ago that Avi was working in an entirely different career and industry – the charity sector. “It was always a pull between my love for helping others and my love for writing,” she recalls. “But I figured there was no way I could be a writer – I just didn’t think it was an option.”
Discovering the Australian Writers’ Centre
Then Avi discovered the Australian Writers’ Centre. “I figured that I could go to a couple courses, fill that void, and if nothing came of it, no one would ever have to know,” she says.
She completed Creative Writing Stage 1 and Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1, both five-week courses at the Australian Writers’ Centre. To top up her skills, Avi also completed Grammar and Punctuation Essentials (a one-day course) and History, Mystery and Magic (a weekend course focusing on writing genre fiction).
Time for a career change
Before long, Avi realised that ti was time for a career change. “I’d done everything that I wanted to do in that [charity] sector and I decided to think more and more about writing,” she says. “I’d always thought about writing so when I found the Australian Writers’ Centre I had a look at all of the courses online.
“My first course was the Creative Writing Stage 1, because I really was interested in fictional novels and seeing if that was something I could write. And then I went on to do the Magazine Writing course and really liked that as well. After I finished the course, I honestly didn’t think about it again. I thought that it would be a great idea that I could one day do but I never thought it would be a possibility for someone like me, who had never written, had never been published.”
The turning point
Then something happened that changed all that. Avi discovered and joined the Australian Writers’ Centre’s online graduate community. It was a turning point in her career – and her life. “It wasn’t until I joined the graduate community online before I saw other people – just like me – who had never written anything before, who had never been published, actually getting published in magazines, in websites, writing books, and I just thought ‘well maybe if they can do it, I can do it’. It really gave me the confidence to start.”
So Avi started pitching story ideas to magazine. As editors started to commission Avi, her confidence grew. “I also pitched quite a few articles to Mamamia – my favourite website – and they accepted all of my submissions, which was amazing.”
A new opportunity
After freelancing for a while, Avi saw that Mamamia was hiring. “I saw a position advertised with the Mamma Mia women’s network and …. on a whim (I never thought I would get it) … I applied,” she says. “They actually asked me for an interview and I thought ‘oh this will be a bit of a laugh, I’ll just go and have a look’. They probably won’t hire me but at least I can see where my favourite website operates out of!”
But Mamamia offered Avi the position. “I couldn’t believe it!” she says. Avi started as the editorial assistant at Mamamia and was then promoted to be a writer on iVillage Australia five months later. “Then it all snowballed from there and I was made the Managing Editor of iVillage Australia, which basically means that I edit every piece of content.”
Living the dream
It’s a career path that even took Avi by surprise. “If someone told me three years that I would be the manager and editor of iVillage Australia I would not have believed them … I would have thought that they were on something!” she says.
“I just never thought it would be a possibility that I would ever be paid to be a writer – and to be writing everyday. If someone wanted to know whether or not they should do the course, I would definitely say ‘absolutely yes!’ Then get onto all the online communities that the Australian Writers’ Centre offers, because that is the part where you start taking those skills and realise that it can be possible – and I would definitely recommend it.”