See behind the scenes at FHM in ITV2 show The Exclusives
FHM Deputy Editor Dan Jude
Profile of ITV2's The Exclusives mentor and FHM Deputy Editor, Dan Jude
From as far back as I can remember I’ve always been a lover of magazines. I was a big reader as a kid, and as I worked my way through school I started to write more and more, at any opportunity.
I went to Bristol University to study English and Philosophy after a gap yaah, which consisted of two hours of lectures a week, lots of drinking, and a few essays here and there. Not overwhelmed by the workload, I got increasingly involved with student media opportunities, first writing regular gig and album reviews for the Uni paper The Epigram, then co-presenting a radio show on BURST FM with my soon-to-be-ex girlfriend. We once broke up live on air, delivering our highest listenership (double figures).
After uni, I briefly flirted with the notion of becoming a film-maker, so I moved to New York so I could study at the New York Film Academy and tell lots of pretty American girls that Hugh Grant went to my school (he did). However I soon realised that my passion was words, not moving pictures, so I decided to move back to London to give journalism a shot.
At first it was a repeat of my pre- and mid-university experiences of the industry: work experience placements, unpaid internships and unsuccessful job applications. All of these were brilliant in their own ways, either for helping me get a taste of the industry, or making me even more resolved to succeed.
Finally I got my break, working on the launch of a magazine helmed by the unlikely triumvirate of Loaded founder James Brown, celeb Peaches Geldof and former Maxim Features Editor Dave Whitehouse. Dave and I produced two issues of Disappear Here in an office with a handful of interns, many packets of biscuits and virtually no money, until we all realised that creating a free, high-quality, not-particularly ad-friendly youth culture magazine in the middle of the worst recession in several decades is actually quite tough.
By the time we decided to let go of Disappear Here, I’d built up enough contacts to go freelance. Somehow, I started writing for all the big women’s magazines, doing everything from going on a hen-do to infiltrating a community of pick-up-artists. Temporarily being Cosmo’s sexpert was the culmination of this part of my career.
After a while I started writing more and more for luxury titles, largely due to the nice trips I was often able to go on, and when a job came up for a Managing Editor at luxury title Shop, I went for it and got it. I didn’t tell my interviewers that I didn’t actually know what a Managing Editor does.
Eighteen months later, we’d taken the mag from four cities around the world to 40, and I was starting to yearn for a new challenge, when serendipitously I was approached by a new FHM editor I’d previously applied for a job with. (He later told me I had ruled myself out of that job due to cancelling successive interviews on account of kidney stones. Tip: don’t get kidney stones.)
Life has a funny way of working out though, and now I’m in my dream job. The pressure is intense, the hours can be social-life-destroying, and there are plenty of swings and roundabouts, but I love it. Highlights to date have included seeing lots of hot celebrities in their underwear, hanging out with Usain Bolt in Jamaica, getting wasted with Rizzle Kicks in Ibiza, riding on the back of a Ducati at 300kph and peeing next to One Direction at the Brits.
Yes, there are lots of perks, but at the end of the day the best thing about the job is being able to do something you love every day, and make a magazine that you’re truly proud of. When it all comes together, there is no better feeling in the world than seeing that magazine that you helped create in your local Tesco. The first time that happens is when you realise all the hard work and bullshit you’ve put up with over the years is worth it.
Dan's bullet point tips on how to get into the industry
- Write, write, write, write, write. Every time you write you improve at writing. I’m a better writer today than I was a year ago, and I’ll be better in a year than I am now. It doesn’t matter if it gets published or not, writing is a discipline like any other that needs a hell of a lot of practice.
- Read. A lot. And then write down turns of phrase, words, headlines, similes, metaphors – anything, basically – from writers you admire. Don’t ever copy or steal from others, but learn from them. Writing’s a bit like stand-up comedy – once you have a formula and your own style you’re half way there.
- Keep a notebook and a pen in your pocket. And write down ideas every day. 90% of them will be crap, but if you write down 10 a day, that’s 7 good ideas a week.
- Don’t email people if you’ve got nothing to say. If someone emails me with a CV I delete it straight away. If someone emails me with a list of ideas that make me chuckle, I’ll read it all the way through.
- Have personality. Whether you’re writing an article or applying for a job, inject colour into it. I’d rather be offended than bored.
- Respect your boss, but don’t be a brown-noser. No one likes a sycophant.
- Similarly, don’t be a yes man. Have the balls to stand up for what you believe in. If you don’t have integrity, you’re fucked.
- Remember that the people you step on while you’re on the way up will kick you when you’re on the way down. Treat everyone with respect, even if you don’t like them.
- Don’t ever email when drunk. It can only end badly.
- Do write when drunk. Just edit it the next morning.
- Always remember the reader. There’s no point making a mag you want to read if no one else wants to.
- Be multi-skilled. Future-proof yourself with digital knowledge. In 5 years you’ll be glad.
- If you see something you like, cut it out and keep it. Remember that inspiration comes from many places.
- Make tea. Lots of tea. This may be your best chance to meet the people who’ll one day be giving you a job.
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