Welcome to This Woman’s Work, a series highlighting how different women are advancing the tech industry, both professionally and personally. Working women receive a slew of advice — lean in, lean out, be aggressive, but not too aggressive. We’re constantly inspired by the women who are paving the way and taking charge in the ever-evolving world of technology.
Careers take off in a multitude of ways. For Amber, hers blossomed through a love for the food of the American South and Tex-Mex cooking. If only we could all be that lucky.
Welcome Amber Bracegirdle, Co-Founder of Mediavine, managing editor for FoodFanatic.com, co-host of the podcast Theory of Content and author behind bluebonnetbaker.com. Her titles and responsibilities are definitely a mouthful — and her job is no mean feat either. Mediavine owns and operates the websites The Hollywood Gossip, TV Fanatic and Food Fanatic. Mediavine, Amber’s main career focus, is a full-service ad management company that allows the content creators behind the brands to build content while Mediavine fully manages their advertising efforts.
We sat down with Amber at The Bean and Biscuit, a traditional, ‘mom-and-pop’-style Southern bakery, nestled in the heart of Texas’ stunning Hill Country, to discuss how she converted her love of the food of the American South into an inspirational business. Enter Mediavine.
Learn how Amber turned her passion projects into a career, why she believes in taking risks for a more fulfilling calling and why blueberries are absolutely banned from her house.
IX: How did you initially get into the media space?
AB: I was always a geek. I loved computers growing up and was raised in a very media-driven family. My uncle always talked about fonts, my grandpa did PR for the army and my mom worked in marketing and did trade shows for a cabinet company. When I was living in England, I missed my grandparents and the Southern food I grew up eating. I asked for my grandmother’s recipes and quickly realised our family had no way of immortalising these delicious meals, as my Grandma would simply prepare everything from scratch. With this realisation, I started a blog, and that was really my launch into the digital space.
IX: So, you’re from a family full of great cooks it seems. What’s your favourite food to make?
AB: Nowadays it’s probably some sort of scone, muffin or cookie because I can easily get my kids involved and they won’t make too much mess. Cooking has always been a family thing for me.
IX: Let’s get down to business. Tell us a little bit about Mediavine.
AB: We came up with a mission statement earlier this year that truly encapsulates what we’re all about at Mediavine…and note it doesn’t even have the word “ads” in it. Our mission, “building sustainable businesses for content creators” came from the idea that, while advertising is definitely part of the business, we truly believe in providing our content creators and bloggers with resources so they get the best value.
IX: I love that the company is founded on empowering content creators versus simply creating revenue. What are some of the ways that Mediavine drives this initiative home?
AB: We honestly feel most people don’t do business with the content creators in mind. Most publishers do business for revenue stream, whereas we don’t, so this mindset really changes the motivations for the company. This mindset also ensures that user experience is top priority, which helps our revenue stream even more. With everything we develop, we ask ourselves, “How are we going to do this so we don’t damage the user experience?”
IX: I love that. I want to switch gears here and talk more about your career. You’re one of four co-founders of Mediavine, and the only woman. How has that dynamic played out?
AB: I’m extremely lucky that I’m accompanied by a team of three forward-thinking co-founders. There has never been a moment where they made me feel like my opinion didn’t count and they have supported me at every single turn. One of our developers is working on establishing our involvement with a non-profit that helps give young girls an equal opportunity at learning how to code, our top publisher engineer is a woman, and we’ve recently hired another female programmer to work on our dashboard — we’re very focused on giving equal opportunities and evaluating the work for the work, not the details of the programmer behind the work.
IX: It feels like you’ve simply pursued your passions and made a career out of your love for cooking. How did you do it?
AB: I recognise that I speak to passion projects from a place of privilege, but I initially took a GBP 55,000 pay cut to work with these guys. I was pregnant with my first child and the flexibility they afforded me was priceless. Once my son was born, being able to work odd hours became more important than ever, and this career change allowed me to follow my passion while taking care of my personal life. That said, I don’t think your entire career has to be your passion. If you can identify a passion, you should find a way to somehow link your career to it. You have the power to do something small every single day to work your passion into everyday life.
IX: Do you have some advice for women wanting to grow within the digital media industry?
AB: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you love. I knew nothing about advertising three and half years ago. Everything I know is by asking questions and admitting what I don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with that! Continue to ask questions and learn until you’re an expert, and then continue to ask even more questions. That’s how we grow and that’s how we turn passion into something really fulfilling.
IX: What’s something interesting about you that someone wouldn’t know by just Googling you?
AB: That I hate blueberries. My friends will tell you this but I don’t think you’d get this from the internet. I call them ‘the devil fruit’ in my house. They’re okay baked, but fresh is a big no-no. It’s something about the texture…
IX: So what’s next?
AB: That’s such a difficult question to answer because I’m so happy where I am. Personally, there are things that I’m looking forward to doing with my sons as they get older. As for the company, our goal is to have 5,000 publishers by the end of the year. We’re close to 4,000 publishers right now and we’re definitely tracking to reach our goal.