Be limited edition – The Susan Armstrong way
On a recent podcast with Fiona Macintyre, Susan Armstrong, Founder and Editor of The Suite Collective, spoke about her calling, career evolution, and honing and owning content in the saturated, ever-evolving digital space.
Susan’s love affair with magazines began very early, recalling the moment she found her true calling. “When I was about 12 years old, my mum bought me my first teen magazine, she explains. “I remember that day so vividly; flicking through its glossy pages and feeling, for the first time in my young life, seen, heard, like I’d found my tribe. From that moment on, I became obsessed with magazines.”
After that experience, Susan knew what she wanted to be when she “grew up” – the editor of a teen magazine. And although she may not have realized it then, she was beginning to understand the power of content.
Susan pursued her calling, honed her voice, and became a content maverick who helped establish some of the most popular magazines in Ireland and Australia over a 25-year career.
Her previous role as the Global Content Director of The CEO Magazine was the catalyst that led her on an entrepreneurial mission. “I joined The CEO Magazine as its Editor-in-Chief four years ago. About a year after joining, I became the Global Content Director and, with my amazing team, we achieved some incredible things. We launched the brand’s first International Women’s Day event, we featured more women on the cover of the magazine, and we encouraged more women to apply for the company’s Executive of the Year Awards. The more I worked with female executives, the more interested I became in the women in leadership space .”
Susan realised it was something she was very passionate about. “I began thinking about starting my own business, focusing purely on women in leadership. I thought if I am ever going to do it, I’m going to do it now. I launched The Suite Collective, a media company committed to supporting, celebrating and informing women in leadership through exceptional content.”
Susan works with companies on curating vibrant content with more of an editorial feel, and with female executives on creating beautifully crafted narratives – their ‘life’s work’, as it were. She also publishes a magazine-style newsletter called The Suite which she delivers to her subscribers every fortnight. “I love creating The Suite, which has a blend of business and lifestyle content, and exclusive interviews with some of the world’s most successful women. There are no algorithms or ads to worry about – just me and my readers. It’s the magazine of the future.”
Speaking about her entrepreneurial journey thus far, “I love it, but it terrifies and excites me in equal measures. I really appreciate the freedom entrepreneurship gives me, but it can be lonely sometimes, that’s for sure. It’s tough not having a team to bounce ideas off. Still, would I change it? Not for the world.”
There’s no doubt, the entrepreneurial journey can be a lonely experience. Susan has some excellent advice to offer aspiring founders; “Make sure you have a support network to lean on – other founders who understand what you’re going through. It is also so important to align yourself with people who share the same values as you starting out.”
Susan fondly reminisces about her past and is looking ahead, ready to evolve, and more determined than ever to keep the audience at the heart of her storytelling. “If I can give people one piece of advice when writing content, it’s always put yourself in the shoes of the reader. What do they want to read? What kind of problem can you solve? If you can provide your audience with the kind of content they’re looking for, you’ll build a strong community.”
Today’s media consumption is at an all-time high, with multiple mediums and content creators. How easy is it to cut through the noise? “The only way you will do it is with authenticity. Find your voice, hone your tone and create valuable content for your audience. Also, stop selling products and start solving problems.”
She is very optimistic about the evolving media trends; “It feels like day one for the creator economy. It is easier than ever for an individual to create something, whether it is content, a product or a course, and then monetize it. In the next decade, I think we’ll see holding companies that sit below individuals who have built massive audiences first, and then have all these lines of business underneath them. There will be a billion-dollar version of that, I’m sure.”