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Episode 130: Women's Health Features Director Kristin Canning on Being Fascinated By The Details

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

"The people and the brands that I'm most drawn to are the ones that are really authentic."

This week on the podcast we're joined by Women's Health Features Director Kristin Canning. Kristin chats with Lisa about what makes a good story, bringing your whole self to work, advice for freelancers, and what makes a good pitch. If you're curious about the editorial process or want to learn from a professional storyteller, this episode is for you!

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Episode Transcript

Kristin: The people and the brands that I'm most drawn to are the ones that are really authentic. So like, why am I not feeling like I can be part of that too?

[intro music] This is Outside By Design. Your all-access pass to the world of creativity in the outdoor industry.

Iris: Hello, Lisa.

Lisa: Hey Iris.

Iris: Welcome to another episode of Outside By Design, and welcome to all our listeners to another episode of Outside By Design.

Lisa: This is another one that I loved. I've just been saying it, but this is… this is our best season yet. And I especially enjoyed the conversation that you are about to listen to, because I felt like I learned a lot about the editorial process, which is different and also the same as the creative process. So it was a robust conversation.

Iris: This week, we had the pleasure of having Kristin Canning on the show. She is the Features Director at Women's Health magazine. I got to meet Kristin at Outdoor Media Summit in 2021. And she was on my scavenger hunt team. And just getting to talk to her and hear her speak on a panel, I was like, “Holy shit. We need to have this woman on our podcast.”

Lisa: It's true. And then as soon as I started speaking with her, I was like, “we need to have this woman as our friend.”

Iris: [laughs] Exactly.

Lisa: She's just super cool. And it's funny, cause I kind of always thought Women's Health was more like, I don't know, a health and fitness space magazine, and maybe not necessarily an outdoor industry demographic, but I think Kristin is helping change that.

Iris: Yeah. What did you guys get to talk about on this episode?

Lisa: We spoke a lot about what makes a good story, advice for photographers and writers about how to get their features into magazines, the secret to good editing, where Kristin does her best thinking, and then how she integrates her values of openness, boldness and kindness into her work. So I thought it was a very robust issue and I really, really enjoyed it. And I hope you do too.

Iris: Yeah, let's get into it.

Lisa: Kristin. Thank you so much for being on our podcast today. I'm really excited to talk to you.

Kristin: I'm so excited to talk to you. Thank you for having me.

Lisa: The first question we ask everyone is to describe where you are and what you're looking at.

Kristin: Ooh, okay. I'm in Broomfield, Colorado at the moment. I live here. And I am in the basement of the house that I live in, which is my partner's music studio. [laughs]

And I'm not normally down here, but he has me all set up with a nice recording setup for this podcast. So as I'm sure you can see, there's lots of drums and guitars and keyboards and all kinds of music stuff down here, which is fun to look at.

Lisa: It is for sure. And the sound quality is amazing.

Kristin: Yeah. The only thing is it's the basement. So I'm like, normally I'm working upstairs, like looking at the mountains outside, which is also really nice, but it definitely is quieter. And sounds better down here.

Lisa: Yeah. Well, so you and I have never met, but you're on the podcast because you met Iris at Outdoor Media Summit.

Kristin: Yes.

Lisa: Which is amazing. And I'm so happy that you're here and yeah, she… Iris hit me up and was like, “Hey, we're having the features director of Women's Health on the podcast.”

So I'm just curious, kind of like, what is an average day like for you and… what's the intersection of Women's Health and the outdoor industry, and kind of how, how are you here?

Kristin: Yeah. So I'll start with the first part, a day… I'll look at like my average day. I'm working remotely right now. We're normally based in New York city, but because of the pandemic - some people are still there, some people are spread out throughout the country, but we're not in the office at the moment. So that's why I'm here, which is amazing. And I am usually working on editing a story for most of the day. I work on all of our long-form features, which are usually digital-first, but sometimes print things as well. And so those are like 2000 word, deep dive, long stories, and they can kind of cover any topic that we talk about at Women's Health. So it can be fitness related. It can be something in the outdoors. It can be health, mental health. It runs the whole gamut. Relationships. But anything that a Women's Health reader might be interested in. So kind of anything related to bettering their health and how that relates to being a woman.

So I'm usually, like, editing or on the phone with a freelance writer who's written something for me and kind of going over, revising something with them, changing the structure, reaching back out to sources. And then when I'm not doing that, I'm usually working with our art and design teams and photo teams to come up with how we're going to package this story and what it's going to look like visually and making sure all the components are there and that they make sense with the words on the page as well.

And then outside of that, I'm always pitching new ideas. So those can be things that I've come up with that I think we should do a story on, sometimes it's sourcing things from freelance writers or junior staff members. And so a lot of times you'll get like a nugget of an idea, right? Whether it's mine or someone else's, and it's my job to sort of build that out into what it's going to look like for a bigger story. And what the storytelling device should be, what the art's going to look like, how we're going to promote it on social, all of that good stuff.

So it's a super fun creative job, and we've definitely started covering the outdoors a lot more in the last few years. ‘Cause I think we've seen - along with, you know, many other industries - that people who maybe would have called themselves a gym rat are now like into trail running and hiking and wanting to get out more and realizing that that might be a safer, you know, better bet for them than going to the gym perhaps in these times.

So we've definitely seen an increase in interest in all of these outdoor sports in our readership. So we're trying to cover that and sort of speak to the person who is new to the outdoor space. So a big package that I just worked on recently was how to go on your first solo hike or solo backpacking trip as a woman. Especially if you're someone who like isn't necessarily in that community, or, you know, has a ton of background or experience in this even going as groups, but you want to do a big solo trip where you're camping. And that was really fun to work on. And it's exciting to be at a brand that is more like typically thought of as general health and fitness, and also be able to bring the outdoors into that, right? Where… we're not like an Outside magazine, but we're hopefully speaking to the people who, like, want to get involved in the outdoors, but kind of don't know where to start. But maybe they have been working out and they're really fit. And this is sort of their transition into this new skill or sport.

Lisa: Amazing. I have like 9 million questions for you out of that.

Kristin: [laughs]

Lisa: Okay. I think, yeah, you have a lot going on there. Okay. First, I just sort of want to talk big picture stuff and then maybe get more into like granular, like running creative teams and… a lot of our audience is heavily freelance creative-based. So maybe some advice for photographers of how to work with magazines.

But I think the question that comes up for me out of all that is, in the creative process, I think it's really important to like, bring your whole self to work and to what you're making. And so like, how do you bring your whole self to work while you're under this umbrella of a national magazine and national brand?

Kristin: Yeah, that's… that's such a great question. And I totally agree with you, especially in a creative industry, it's like, what are we doing if we're all not coming as our full selves into these jobs? And yet at the same time, it's so hard to do that. So I think the biggest thing for me is… Like slowly- like, now I feel like I'm very confident in that space, but definitely when I was younger and it was earlier in my career, I felt like I had to look a certain way on social media and like, definitely wouldn't post just anything. And I mean, there's still some of that to an extent, right? Like, I'm not going to be totally unprofessional, but I think my view of what is professional has expanded, and I think that’s also been a huge thing that's happened in the pandemic. Like we've all just had to like relax a little bit when we're Zooming into each other's homes and there's like kids and partners and pets, like, running around in the background and random noises and we've all kind of just like, had to realize that we're all humans and that's okay.

And I think just in the last few years of my twenties, and I'm 30 now, I've just gotten so much more comfortable being my full self at work. And I think that's come from just pitching some story ideas or ideas that I've had for the brand that I did feel were like a little out of the norm for us. And even if they didn't all like, totally work out getting generally good feedback, sort of just built that confidence. So it's like, you don't have to dive in all at once. You can kind of like slowly dip your toe in and reveal more and more of yourself. And as you realize that it's okay, you'll feel even safer revealing more.

So I think. Yeah, just, just slowly exposing like parts of myself and… working on a magazine, too, like, we write a lot of personal essays and like, we are expected to have a presence on social media and kind of like live the brand and share a lot of what's going on in your life. And I think I've also had to tap into realizing the people and the brands that I'm most drawn to are the ones that are really authentic. So like, why am I not feeling like I can be part of that too, you know? Like it's… it definitely means you might alienate some people along the way, but you will also, like, connect with and find the people who you need to find. And they're going to like really connect with you because you're being a real person and like really sharing nuggets of your life that are really real. So yeah, I think it's just like slowly dipping your toe in and then you're like, “oh, I can just jump in and be myself. And it's, like, going to be okay.”

Lisa: I love that. So I'm a creative director on the brand, you know, agency side of things, the more commercial things. And so I love talking to people who work in editorial. And so I must ask, because I've never worked at a magazine, is it like a romcom where you have like a quirky boss and you're going to go out on an adventure and they're like, “get the story!” And then you fall in love, you know? Like, is it… is it like that?

Kristin: Yeah. I mean, there are definitely aspects that do match up with like all the movies that you've seen about magazines and journalism. Like, some of it is definitely true. It's a really exciting job and like, anyone who chooses to go down this career path - because it's definitely not easy. Like, everyone is incredibly passionate about what they do. And even if you're not working at the New York Times, like we're really into the stories that we're doing. And we treat them with that same level of gusto and wanting to go out and find the best sources and get the best stories. So yeah, I mean… and I think everyone on my team definitely, like, has big and amazing personalities and are so fun to work with. And I think you kind of, you need that if you're going to be a writer and a storyteller. And I don't mean that and that you have to be like extroverted, but just like really passionate and into what you're doing and not afraid to be curious and open and ask questions and like get into really granular stuff and be fascinated by the details. I think that's what makes a great journalist.

So yeah, all the people that I work with are incredible and so fun to be around and so inspiring. Day-to-day.

Lisa: Ooh. “Be fascinated by the details.”

Kristin: Yeah. Yeah. It's important. And it makes life more fun. Like that's what the joy I think of my job really is, is that it's like, I get to be like, find a topic that I'm really interested in and then go talk to the best experts in that space and pick their brains about it and apply that to my own life as well as for the story.

Lisa: How do you know when you're encountering an interesting story? Like, is it in your body? Is it like a flash in your mind? Like when are you like, “Ooh, that's going to be a good story.”

Kristin: Yeah. An interesting thing happens. I mean, a lot of… we'll occasionally send pitches, you know, over Slack or over email. But typically we have pitch meetings where, you know, normally they'd be in person, but now over Zoom. But we're all talking to each other and bouncing ideas off of each other and trying to build out ideas. And so it's honestly, like, it's pretty clear, like you'll say an idea and it might be crickets and you're like, “oh, okay. That's just something I care about.” You know? And... but if you start talking about something and then other people are jumping in or like, “oh my God, I've been having the same thought too.” Or, “I've been seeing this, you know, everywhere on social media” or whatever. It's like, you realize that it's something in the zeitgeist that you've like tapped into, just by… even if people aren't talking, but it's like, you can see it on people's faces when you've like drawn them in and they're interested and they want to say something about it.

I feel like those are the best stories that like, make you want to contribute your story. Like, you don't just want to listen, but you want to engage and connect over it. Like, it brings up something in you that you want to express. So, yeah. I mean, it's so it's so amazing and helpful that I have a team to bounce that stuff off of. It's definitely harder when you're a freelance writer and you're kind of just working in a vacuum to sort of pick up on that momentum. But luckily I have a team that helps me.

Lisa: And I think magazines are kind of responsible for acknowledging culture, but also in a sense, almost creating culture, right? It's sort of a balance of both of those things. How do you feel that as a director, like director-level job at a national magazine, like, what do you think is your responsibility to culture?

Kristin: Oh, wow. That's a great question, and definitely something that weighs, weighs heavy on my mind a lot. Sometimes I almost have to, like, not think about it because it would be too much pressure, but, um, yeah. When I do think about it, I mean, it's an incredible responsibility and it's an honor to have a role like this and sort of craft what stories are going to come out of a brand this big and who you're going to give a platform to and what ideas you're going to give a platform to. So, you know, I take that very seriously.

And I think the biggest thing that I can do is try to just diversify our storytellers and where our stories are coming from. So we don't just continue telling the same stories told by the same kind of people. And I think that's the thing that everyone in media is trying to reckon with and trying to expand, you know, where they're sourcing stories from and whose stories they're telling. But that's definitely a huge initiative that we have at Women's Health and a huge focus for me.

And also just trying to, not only diversity of like who we're working with as people, but not getting stuck in like - especially as someone who still does work with a print magazine, like, I will always love the written word and I love picking up a magazine or a book just as much as I love reading things digitally. But even stepping away from that and being like, how are we telling stories on social media? Like, are we getting on TikTok? Like, what does that look like? And making sure that you don't get frustrated with having to like keep jumping from platform to platform and maintaining the excitement and curiosity about it, because that's going to bring in new readers who will love your content but maybe you would never pick up a magazine. And it's like, you just have to, you have to be willing to reach people wherever they're at, no matter what. And like that should be a fun challenge to the job instead of like, “oh God, now I have to figure out this new thing. When I felt like I had my process down.”

Lisa: Yes. I love that.

[ad break]

Lisa: How do you maintain such a robust perspective?

Kristin: Ooh, um, wow. A robust perspective on like, on my job or culture or…?

Lisa: Culture, the role you play in society as someone who's able to share bigger stories or different stories like… I just think, I think you have great perspective, but how do you maintain that and keep it growing and expanding and, and yeah, I used the word robust, but what works for you? Is it solo travel? Is it reading? Like, I don't know.

Kristin: Yeah. I mean, I think it's, it's this delicate balance that I think anybody in a role like this has to have where it's like, you need to be 50% humble and like open to feedback and wanting to hear from other people all the time. And then 50%, like really believing in yourself and really feeling confident and really like, oh, I have great ideas. And like, I'm super creative and innovative. And like, people want to know what I think. Like, it's like balancing those two things. Right?. ‘Cause getting too far on one of either side is not good.

So I would say the way I do that is… it's lots of consuming other people's ideas. Like I'm constantly listening to podcasts and reading articles throughout the day if I'm not working on our own stuff for Women's Health, like I try to be receiving so much information all the time during the workday. But then when I'm not doing that, I like very much check out and go internal. So that's how I'm kind of balancing that.

And I would say the way I do that is like, I mean, like you said, traveling is really important to me to like gaining new perspective. Working out is- I do it almost every day and I have to do it just to say sane. So that's a big thing for me. And I kind of think of that logging off time as like… just processing time. Like, I think that's incredibly important for creative people to like, not feel guilty about just like sitting and doing nothing or like going for a walk and not really like, not even listening to a podcast, just like listening to the sounds of nature. Like, those are valid activities. You don't have to be moving the needle in like a visual way all the time or a tangible way. Like, sometimes you got to go internal for things to come up.

Lisa: Yes. I wake up at five every day and I just think for an hour.

Kristin: That's incredible. I aspire to that. I am not a morning person, unfortunately. [laughs]

Lisa: Yeah. And I have to do it and if I don't, I feel very jumbled.

Kristin: Yeah. Yeah. I like to journal before I go to bed and that's really… I'm more of like a… I have like a night wind-down routine. And then I'm like a terrible, I have no morning routine. I'm not good at that. But I do like my decompression time at the end of the day.

Lisa: I like that. That was one of my questions for you, is where do you do your best thinking?

Kristin: Yeah, I would say either when I'm running, I'm a big runner. I haven't been running outside lately just because it's winter, but typically I love to run outside if the weather is decent. And I do a lot of good thinking there.

Also if I'm traveling and I'm driving, like I love a long road trip where I'm just like on the road for like six hours straight listening to music and just zoning out. Like that is… I'm very into that time. And sometimes it's frustrating though, because for some reason repetitive movement, whether it's like in the car or running seems to bring up a lot of good creative thoughts for me, but that's when I'm like, “oh, I need a notebook.” Like, “I need to be able to write right now and like, get this stuff out.” So I'm trying to get better at like taking voice notes or something on my phone so that I don't lose those things. But sometimes even if, if I have like a fleeting thought like that, I'll just repeat it to myself over and over while I'm doing the thing until I can write it down. So it's like really, really ingrained in there in the brain.

Lisa: I do that too!

Kristin: [laughs] Yeah. It's… I know, I'm like, I'm sure this is, there's plenty of people doing this stuff. I hope, and I hope they're acting on it.

Lisa: I don't know. I do that too, where I'll be driving, cause I'm obsessed with the solo road trip and which… it works ‘cause I live in Crested Butte and WHEELIE is headquartered in Whitefish. So I drive back and forth a lot and I find that time to be incredibly valuable, but then I'm like basically chanting stuff till I get to the gas station and can write it down. I'm like, I'm so weird.

Kristin: No! Oh, I tell you, like, when I'm running, I'm literally like talking to myself. And I'm like, if people are passing me, I'm like, okay, this is, this is scary. [laughs] But you know, it's what you gotta do sometimes.

[both laugh]

Lisa: I like that. Okay, it's too vague of a question, but what's your secret to being a great editor?

Kristin: Ooh, wow. I think making sure that you're balancing like your trust for the writer and their understanding of the story, like, having done the reporting, with your knowledge of like the global picture of what the story needs to be. That's what we're constantly balancing as editors. Because you know, as the editor, all the other stories that are running in this issue with the same story, you know the theme of the issue, you know what's getting published that week on the website and you don't want anything that seems repetitive. You don't want anything that seems contradictory. You don't want anything that's going to like, take the shine away from that thing, because it's like a little too similar. So sometimes, obviously as a freelance writer, like you don't know any of that, you're just reporting your story and handing it over to the editor. And so it's making those changes that we need to make to have this story be the best it can be like when it's going to come out and what the world is going to live in and what it's going to be next to while at the same time, like not taking away from the amazing individuality that it came in with. Right? So it's infusing, like what you know to be true about Women's Health and the global picture and how we need it to look and sound to fit in with that and make sense and keep as much as possible from the original writing. Because, you know, that's, that's how you bring a new readers. That's how you bring a new ideas. That's how you expand what health means. Like, we don't want to make everything sound the same. So sometimes it's like - do less. It's like be aware and then, and then do less. Is a good editing tactic, I think.

Lisa: Yeah. The phrase that popped into my head is “how you do small things is how you do all things.”

Kristin: Yeah.

Lisa: Just sort of that, like, someone's individual experience can speak to the collective.

Kristin: Yeah.

Lisa: And you're sort of like honoring the writer AND the magazine.

Kristin: Yeah. It's… yeah. You're definitely trying to balance the missions of both, which usually are pretty much the same, but of course, sometimes there's conflicts there that you're trying to resolve and that's, that's what the day-to-day, like, creative problem solving… that's your job as an editor.

Lisa: Oh, I love that. Okay. And your top three values - I know this because we sent you a questionnaire beforehand - but I really liked this combination that you came up with, which is openness, boldness, and kindness.

Kristin: Thank you. Yeah, it was fun to try to think about those and what are my top values in what I try to bring into my work. But, yeah, I mean, I think openness is important in any job, but especially as a journalist, like remaining curious, remaining open to having your mind changed, especially someone working in like a health/fitness/outdoors type of industry. Like I think what we all need right now is, is more openness to what those things can be and what those things can look like. And it's so easy to get stuck in your rut, whether it's like what you do in your own personal life and what you think that looks like or what you see on social media all the time. Like, I think our definition of health is rapidly expanding and we need to be open to that. So that's definitely something I'm like always, always working on. And if something does sort of trigger me as not being healthy or not being like, you know, this picture of what I think that is, like taking a step back and examining that and being like, is that just my own like stereotype that I have in my head? Why am I the expert on this? Like, let's talk to some actual experts about this and see what they think. So that's, that's huge for me. And just being open to like how we tell stories, who's telling the stories. Keeping an open mind is huge.

And as far as boldness, I mean, I think that's also a key thing to being a good journalist is not being afraid to tell a controversial story, to use a new storytelling device that you don't have any evidence if it's going to work, you know, being experimental and excited about that, not shying away from that. Yeah. I mean, I think… even in just how you live your life, like, if you're a bolder person you're going to encounter better stories, right? Like our whole job is to come up with good stories and they don't necessarily have to be about our lives, but the more you immerse yourself and have your own cool stories, you meet other people with cool stories and you get cool ideas and you get inspired by these people.

So it's an interesting catch-22 of like my job is to sort of sit at a computer and type all day. And at the same time it's required of me to go get out in the world and find stories. So it's important to balance that where it's like, yes, I do need to be online and answering emails, but also sometimes I need to go off the grid and get inspired and take some risks, you know?

So… and that was a big sort of theme for me over the last year. I was living in New York for six years before I came out here. And then when the pandemic happened, you know, we were allowed to work remotely and I stayed in the city for quite a bit of the pandemic, just because we didn't know if we were going to go back to the office, we kind of didn't know what was gonna happen. I still had a lease on my apartment. But then once my lease was up about a year ago, I just put all my stuff in storage and I left. And I flew to Colorado, came to Aspen and stayed with one of my really good, amazing childhood friends who offered to put me up for a few months. So I stayed with him. I bought a car. I started working at a bar at night for fun, and to meet people in the area. I spent a ton of time in nature. It was so healing. It was so nice to be out of the city - as much as I love New York City, in the pandemic, it was like time to go - and I got to live the lifestyle that I really like, which is being outside and hiking and running and camping.

Yeah. And then I was in Aspen for about three months. And then once I had a car, I left, I went south. I went to Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California. And then I drove up the coast, stayed with another friend in Oakland for about a month, and then continued up the coast, went to Portland. Stayed with my cousin and another friend for another month. And then looped back through Idaho and Wyoming and back into Colorado. So I haven't had… and I've still been kind of on the move since, and I haven't had a permanent address or anything for awhile. And it's been amazing and I just was car camping, staying with friends, couch surfing, that whole thing.

So I didn't have any kind of fancy setup or a sprinter van or anything like that. I just had my old Subaru Forester that I would put the seats down in and sleep in a sleeping bag. So yeah, it was amazing. And I was able to like work that whole time. So I would… I mean, it's nice to have been settled for the last few months, like for the holidays, but I feel like I could just do that forever. It was so, so fun.

[ad break]

Lisa: Wow. Okay. What is the biggest thing you learned doing that?

Kristin: I think I just learned that I'm way more capable than I thought, and that you don't have to… like, I had thought about doing something like that, like doing an extended road trip or solo travel for a long time. But I felt very much like, “oh, I need to plan out this whole thing and have spreadsheets and Airbnbs lined up in case something goes wrong. And like, I need this like huge van with a shower.” And like, I, you know, I was like creating barriers for myself, thinking that it needed to look a certain way or that I needed to have a certain amount of money saved up. And I think, I mean, as awful as the pandemic has been, it was kind of the push I needed to just be like, look, I'm just going to go and like figure it out. And like, hopefully nothing terrible happens. But like, I can't wait and plan any longer. Like I just need to do it and sort of fail through it. And so I made like plenty of mistakes, but in a lot of ways… well, one, those are some of the best stories and two, like, you learn so much from those experiences in that you can be in a terrible spot and then get out of it. And then you're like, “oh, like, I'm…” like, it makes you feel like a badass when things are going wrong. And then you're able to figure it out. You're like, oh, okay. Making mistakes is not that big of a deal. Like it's fine. I will figure out how to get out of this. I'll figure out my situation. Like, it'll all work out in the end. It’s not going to look perfect, but it's going to work out and it will be worth it 10 times over.

Lisa: Yes. It's very confidence building.

Kristin: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Especially as a woman going alone, like I, so many people questioned that and, and still are like, “I don't… how did you do that? Like, weren't you freaked out?” And like, yes and no, I mean, there are definitely risks to being a woman traveling alone, but I just refuse to let that be like a reason that I'm not going to do it, you know, like I can be aware of that and educated and prepared and then I'm still gonna take the risk, you know, like that's, that's worth it for me.

And I just, I get frustrated that men don't get the same line of questioning whenever they decide to do a solo road trip or a solo hike or anything like that, where, you know, both people can be totally aware of the risks in making a decision. But you're sort of looked at as being irresponsible if you're doing it as a woman.

Lisa: Yeah. That is not the best.

Kristin: Yeah.

Lisa: Just that double standard there.

Kristin: Yeah. It's unfortunate. I feel like if more people, if more women are doing those things, then it seems, you know, it creates a community where you're like, “oh, okay, this is something I can do. And it doesn't have to be scary.”

Lisa: Do you feel that… ‘cause it sounds like you were in New York at age, like 24 to 30 ish, like your formative years. Do you feel like- I mean, I'm from Colorado. So, like, New York to me, every time I go there, it feels like the mountains. Because I'm so small and insignificant, but it's like totally different because I'm surrounded by humans. So do you feel like your time in New York prepared you for, kind of, this time in a bigger vaster landscape where you're equally as insignificant only, you're not around people?

Kristin: Yes!

Lisa: It's kind of like a weird trippy question, but for me, like there's a direct correlation between those two experiences.

Kristin: Yeah. I mean, I had never thought of it that way before, but you're, you're totally right. Like that, how you just said that, like really hits the nail on the head because I've been trying to think about, you know, with all the places I've been in the last year, there's a ton of reasons why I've been drawn back to Colorado. But that was one I don't think I was aware of.

But I think there is this sense of grandiosity here. Like just the landscapes are like so stunning and beautiful and like giant and magnificent and do make you feel really small and I think… I mean, that was the same thing that drew me to New York because I grew up in like a very, very small rural town in Iowa, which I loved as a kid. But as I was getting older, I was like, I like need to go see some things and get out of here, at least for a while, and kind of expand my horizons.

And I did not take the route of like going to a big city somewhere nearby. I was like, I'm going to go with the biggest city, the biggest scariest city, like right after college and start living there. And I guess that's why. Yeah, I think, I think that's, it's good to be, to be small and to feel small. And I think it pushes you. Versus like, you know, when you grow up in a small town, it's easy to like get complacent with not your best, you know, not reaching your full potential.

Lisa: Yeah, it's super interesting. Um, okay. I have to ask this question, cause I know our listeners, there are a lot of photographers out there and they're like, you teased this, ask it. So what are your, what's your advice on photographers on getting photos into magazines?

Kristin: Ooh. I don't know if I'm the best person to answer this, just ‘cause I, we have a whole photography team that works with freelance photographers. But I would imagine it's similar to, like, when - I work with freelance writers all the time and I am accepting pitches from them. So I mean, so much of it is just like relationship building. Like not that… I get cold pitches all the time that are amazing. And that we end up, I ended up working with those writers ’cause they've just done a really good job at researching the magazine and they know our tone and what we would cover and what we have covered recently. Right? So they're not pitching something that we just did. And they send an amazing ideas.

But I would say, like, it's so helpful to… there are a few writers that like, I go get coffee with and like, we just chat through ideas and like, we have a relationship outside of them just cold pitching me all the time. So if there is any way to ask to meet with somebody who works in the industry and, you know, figure out what is coming up on the calendar for them, like, what can you help with? Like, let them know you, so that when they do have something pop up, they're like, “oh yeah, that amazing person, like I know they work on XYZ. Like I'm going to reach out to them.” Like, you're top of mind. So, I mean, I think it's similar with like PR like when you have relationships with PR brands and with people that work there versus just getting like a cold email, you think of them first, you know, when you have opportunities. So I would imagine it's similar.

Lisa: Cool. And I've never really tried, but what, like what do you put in a pitch? What can someone put in a pitch? Like, I don't even know. You're like, “oh yeah. People provide pitches.” Is it just like, “Hey, I had this idea” or is it a nicely detailed, almost like brand side… like if we were to do a pitch, would there be a very nice document. Is it similar to that?

Kristin: Yeah. I mean the good ones, yes. [laughs] People definitely do send pitches that are just like, “Hey!” and it's like one sentence and you're like, “oh, okay. I need a little bit more to go off of.” But yeah, the best ones are really detailed. A lot of people have already done what we would call pre-reporting. So it's like they've already talked to some experts or they've dug up some studies to sort of boost or legitimize this claim that they might be making or this angle for the story. Essentially they have backup to show that it's not just like something they randomly thought of. You know, even if it is something where it's like, I'm seeing this trend on Instagram of people talking about, you know… this has been covered, but just like, as an example, like, body positivity in the outdoors. Like I'm seeing people talking about this everywhere, and then you would want to hopefully have like found some data that shows like the hashtags for like, you know, body positive hiking or something like that is like, has gone up X percent this year. And like, I want to talk to an expert and here's the person who I think would be a good expert that I want to talk to. So really filling in like the little details. And even saying, like, how you envision structuring the story, like, how, how you envision promoting it, like what all of those things would look like. Sharing all of that is super helpful. And I think those make the best pitches coming up with headlines and decks and options for that, even like putting that in the head of the… like the subject line of the email will definitely like get my attention.

So the more detailed you can be the better. I know it's annoying to hear. ‘Cause everyone's like, “well, I don't want to do all this work if I don't know if the story is going to happen,” but that is like the best way to get your foot in the door I think.

Lisa: I'm writing a book, and it's sort of like a miniature book proposal.

Kristin: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Lisa: Yeah.

Kristin: What book are you writing?

Lisa: I'm writing a book about the intersection of being a woman, creativity, and business.

Kristin: Amazing. So, like, everything about this podcast.

Lisa: Yeah. And it's kind of like, you know, about nature and like the cyclical rhythms of creativity, as well as just like being a person. It's kind of about being a human being at work.

Kristin: Yeah, I love the idea of the rhythm or like the ebbs and flows of creativity and how that is reflected in nature. That's beautiful.

Lisa: Yeah. It's really, it's really fun. And I can be a little bit heady, so it's like a very long format where I can slowly bring people into the ride instead of a very fast Instagram caption or something. So.

Kristin: Yeah. I love that.

Lisa: Yeah. I love long format narrative for that reason.

Kristin: That's so cool.

Lisa: Yeah. What have I, what have I not asked you that you think our readers would like to know?

Kristin: Ooh. Something that I was definitely going to mention as just, this was like a nugget of advice that I got from my therapist that has been super helpful for me. And I just thought of it with talking about creativity and like your daily practice of creativity. I feel like so much of it is just like getting into a good head space. And in a lot of ways, like, we just talked about there's an ebb and flow to that and you can't like force it. Sometimes you do need to like go on the walk and zone out and just process.

But something that's been really helpful for me, which, I know from listening to the podcast, a lot of your guests do this, but is having like a gratitude journal. But one thing that I do with mine, I try to write down three things I'm grateful for every day. And my therapist challenged me to make sure none of those things are people or objects. And that's surprisingly hard, ‘cause I feel like a lot of time people want to be like, “oh, I'm really thankful that I have a roof over my head.” And like, “that I have a laptop to do my job with” which, those are totally valid things to be excited and thankful for. And you should be. But it pushes you to be like, “oh, I'm thankful for like the rays of sun coming through the window and how that makes me feel.” And like, “I'm thankful for the massive feeling of independence I had today when, like I figured out some issue with my car on my road trip by myself, and I didn't have a total breakdown,” you know? It pushes you to think a little bit outside the box.

And then she also told me to follow up the thing you're grateful for, with, not just, like, I feel grateful about this thing, but what emotion does it bring up? So do you feel relief and you're grateful for that? Do you feel joy and awe and happiness, and that's what you're grateful for? And then when you look back at it, it's like you can sort of see what things throughout your day, bring up the emotions that you want to have throughout the day. And that's just like a roadmap for what you should be doing more of. At least that's how I look at it. And that usually like puts me in a really calm, nice, happy headspace, which makes it easier to do my job.

Lisa: Yeah. And it really encourages personal agency in deciding how you want to feel and where you get those feelings and, yeah. Wow. That's excellent.

Kristin: Yeah. It's a good tip. I try to tell like anyone who's interested in the gratitude practice thing. And I really do. Like, it's one of those things where you don't… like, you can do it once and you're already, like, I feel better. Like, obviously it's nice to do it as a daily practice, but even if you like drop off for a few weeks, you can come back to it and immediately feel the effects and the connection to your emotional self and like how that's helpful. It's really cool. It's like shocking how well it works.

Lisa: Yeah.

Kristin: You're like, this is such an easy thing. Like why? So, yeah, I recommend it for everybody.

Lisa: Yeah, I am definitely going to try that. Cool. Thank you for that.

Kristin: Yeah.

Lisa: Wow. Well, where can people find you or talk to you or contact you or internet stalk you? What links can we put in the show notes?

Kristin: Yeah, so I'm most active on Instagram as far as social media. So that's @kriscann, it's K-R-I-S-C-A-N-N. And then I'm on LinkedIn. You can also find any of my stories on Contently, which is linked in my Instagram too. So. Or you can search me and Women's Health and find stuff that I'm working on as well.

Lisa: Amazing. Well, thank you so much for your time. I’ve really enjoyed this.

Kristin: Yeah, thank you so much. It was so fun to talk to you and I hope we cross paths in Colorado sometime I would love to, to meet in person too.


Iris: Thank you so much for tuning in to Outside by Design. This show is produced by WHEELIE.

Lisa: Wheelie is a creative agency that specializes in helping brands articulate and amplify what they stand for, what they believe in, and make really cool creative work that serves as a gift to your community. So if you are a brand looking to amplify what you stand for in the world and use capitalism for positive change, we are your people. So you can go to the website, And as far as this podcast goes, how can they support it?

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With that. I'm Iris.

Lisa: And I’m Lisa.

Iris: Thanks for being here.

Lisa: Talk to you soon.

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