You Can Take CosmoGirl Off The Shelves, But You Can't Take the CosmoGirl Out of the Girl

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When I was in college, I was a master networker. I was fearlessly unafraid to e-mail anyone and everyone that could get me to where I wanted to go. I wanted an internship at CUNY’s Feminist Press — so I emailed writing samples and references despite no open position listed on the site. Guess what? I ended up getting an editorial internship with the Feminist Press. 

That very same summer I worked at the Feminist Press, I wanted more experience — so  I reached out to my feminist idols Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, authors of Manifesta and Grassroots, and next thing I knew — I was an intern for their Soapbox Speakers Bureau scheduling Gloria Steinem (yes, THE Gloria Steinem) to speak at colleges across the country.  

During my sophomore year of college when trans activist Kate Bornstein visited, I questioned her over spaghetti on how to truly succeed. She told me to never fear success but to fear the ability to not speak up for what I want and then to be brave or else I’d never get what I wanted.

I took that advice to heart but looking back at my childhood self that would write magazines in my room, smear acrylic paints on large canvases I bought with my allowance money, and dance wildly to the Spice Girls — it’s clear to me that I never gave much mind to fear because I always knew what I wanted to do, how to do it, and how to speak up when the time came.

When my junior year of college expected me to go after an independent study or internship — I knew I wanted to return to New York City and I knew exactly where I wanted to go: CosmoGirl. 

To me, CosmoGirl was the holy grail of publishing and it would be my stepping stone to a career in journalism, my ticket to living in New York City, and my opportunity to speak to the world through the pieces I’d get to write one day. Rumor had it, only 9 girls would get an internship at CosmoGirl each semester out of thousands. I was one of thousands…not bad for a girl from a broken home with my family on food stamps and three of us living in a one bedroom, sleeping on pull out couches and living off scrambled eggs. 

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It was a very sunny New York Day when I went to start my CosmoGirl internship, but before I made it to the Hearst building I got an email telling me CosmoGirl was folding. The magazine was no more. There was no more internship program. There was no more hand written CosmoGirl in a new shade of lipstick each month on the cover of the glossy mag. The editor-in-chief, whom I loved, Atoosa Rubenstein, was now “former CosmoGirl magazine editor.” The magazine became a ghost and my dream drifted off with it.

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I was devastated. But instead of crying my mascara off like a scene from The Hills (you know the ones where Lauren would have mascara stream down her face)…I put my head up and immediately cooked up a plan of who I could connect with in the city. 

Could I meet with the head of Planned Parenthood? Well, it couldn’t hurt to ask (I met with them and volunteered). Could I visit Bust magazine? It couldn’t be too much of a burden to send them an email and explain my current situation (They let me in and let me feel cool for two hours in their super sweet loft). Could I reach out to former graduate friends living in the city to hear about their NYC adventures? Absolutely. 

Ringing in the Fourth of July on the Lower East Side. I may not have been a CosmoGirl but i was definitely learning how to be a rooftop dwelling New Yorker (even if it was only just for the summer).

Ringing in the Fourth of July on the Lower East Side. I may not have been a CosmoGirl but i was definitely learning how to be a rooftop dwelling New Yorker (even if it was only just for the summer).

While I thought that I would sit at a desk writing articles about soulmates and orgasms between visits to the accessory closet and getting coffee for my editor, my time in New York post-CosmoGirl going under gave me the gift of time and the gift of conversation. 

If it wasn’t for CosmoGirl folding, I would have never considered the opportunities in marketing. If it wasn’t for CosmoGirl folding, I would have never seen the gruesomely ugly side of what it truly means to be a New York “It Girl” (yes, it’s true — I worked for Julia Allison). If it wasn’t for CosmoGirl folding, I would have never learned how to hustle and bustle in a city that thrives at a pace much faster than where I called home — giving me the confidence to claim that “Yes, I am in fact a city girl. Keep up the pace.”

To this day, I’m still a connector of people. I want to connect everyone I can to everyone they need, just in case their CosmoGirl moment comes and they need to cast a web into the great wide open to find opportunities fit for their skill sets while opening their minds to something completely different (and they need to do it fast). 

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If CosmoGirl never folded, I know for a fact — 100% — I would have gone on to pursue journalism and I would have worked my ass off to become an editor at a glossy like CosmoGirl or Marie Claire. I would have never turned to marketing or branding. I would have never gravitated towards social media except to tweet out another piece I wrote. I would have been a completely different woman than I am today. 

Sometimes I dream about what that life could have brought me. Sometimes I dream about the opportunity I missed by not being one of a few girls picked out of a thousand to enter the CosmoGirl office as an official intern. Sometimes I dream if I would be walking down 5th avenue in a pair of Christian Louboutin right now. And most of all, sometimes I dream about hearing “Hey Charlsie, the cover story of Taylor Swift - it’s yours.”  

But then I wake up and realize  — this is where I need to be. Freelance marketing, social media, branding, and writing wasn’t something handed to me or delivered in an envelope saying “Congratulations! You have been chosen to freelance.” No, instead — freelance life is entirely my own and even though I never got to play in the fashion closet at CosmoGirl or try on a Gucci dress — I have managed to make what I wanted to happen just like everything else since I was a child, a teenager, a college student, and a CosmoGirl. 


Yes, Instagram Should Get Rid of Likes

Rumor has it, Instagram is contemplating getting rid of likes. That noise you’re hearing right now is me screaming at the top of my lungs, “Hell fucking yeah.” 

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I love Instagram. In fact, it’s my favorite social media platform but as a social media strategist — I am constantly frustrated with the incessant obsession over what value an Instagram like actually brings to a client (or even a personal account). 

Solopreneurs, small business owners, and Fortune 500 marketing teams are always asking me the same questions: 

  • “Charlsie, how come we only got 2,000 on that last post? Shouldn’t we be getting more since we have 12,000 followers?” 

  • “How come the post on Thursday only had 40 likes? 

  • “Should we buy followers to get more likes on our posts?” 

Likes, likes, likes — it’s all client’s ever think about and while it’s a metric that has been put on a pedestal, it’s time for it to go away. 


Instagram shouldn’t just be about the number of likes a post has on it (or even the follower count). Unless you’re Taylor Swift (Taylor, if you’re reading this - call me) and you’re rocking an average of 1.6 million likes per picture — likes shouldn’t be at the top of the social strategy food chain for any brand trying to make social waves. 

Quality content should be the driving force behind any and every Instagram post, including what is shared in Instagram stories (if you’re a brand and you aren’t using Instagram stories to talk to your audience — we need to talk). Having a kickass social content strategy for Instagram and producing one-of-a-kind, unique content that aligns with your brand will naturally help produce the likes that brands so badly desire.

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Working with social strategists to produce meaningful content strategies and brand specific content is the key to not only upscaling your social presence but authentically connecting with those that already resonate and hold a relationship with your brand (or could potentially form a relationship with your brand). 

Yes, if this potential hiding of likes passes on Instagram, influencers and celebrities are going to be pissed but in the digital age — we have to adapt to what’s best for each platform as it grows and expands and it sounds like Instagram has the same stance as social strategists everywhere: “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get.” 

As my client’s know - it’s all about strong content. So for those worried about Instagram potentially taking likes away, I raise you this question — are you afraid your content isn’t enough to speak for itself? If so, your priorities are all wrong and it’s time to reevaluate. 

Look at this potential Instagram change as a challenge worth accepting and showing your brand profile (or even your personal one) who’s boss.

Why You Should Become A Hashtag Minimalist

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I’m not a psychic, but I do like to make predictions especially of the social media kind. With 2019 right around the corner (literally, I can see it if I stick my neck out enough), one major trend that is abundantly clear is that in the New Year the way we use hashtags is going to change.

2019 is going to become the year of hashtag minimalism.

Everyone (and I mean everyone) is always talking about hashtags: Are hashtags important in a social media strategy? Are hashtags necessary? Are hashtags effective on Facebook? Are hashtags key to getting views on an Instagram page? While all these questions are relevant and important, it’s time we take a step back and ask the one question that matters most: “What hashtags actually make sense?”

Yes, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post but that doesn’t mean every photo needs 30 hashtags. While lifestyle bloggers and influencers love to hashtag the hell out of everything (#awesome #yas #cool #supercalifragilisticexpialidocious), the majority of brands utilizing Instagram have taken a step back from the hashtag game — sticking to simple or branded hashtags exclusively. Here, take a look at Madewell:


Madewell could easily go on a hashtag frenzy of #shoes, #ihavethisthingwithfloors, #shoeporn, #mules, #winterwhite, #fashion, #madewellshoes, #shoesshoesshoes, etc. but they stuck with a very simple (and clever) #wellheeled. Classic, just like the shoes themselves.

It’s clear that Madewell, like the overall brand itself, wants its social media strategy clean, simple, and sharply unique. Check out this example:

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Again, Madewell could have gone crazy with #sweaterweather and #turtleneck hashtags but they kept it simple with their branded hashtag #everydaymadewell.

While we’ve seen brands on Instagram take the “more the merrier” hashtag approach for a few years, it’s refreshing to see the “less is more” adage swinging back into action. Whether you’re a small business, a B2B company, or a large brand scaling upwards — adding the “less is more” hashtag philosophy into your social strategy is not only a way to show you understand social media trends but it’s a way to truly connect with your audience.

Let’s be real...trying to find 30 hashtags to describe one Instagram photo can seem a bit extra. Consumers want extra in the form of memes, gifs, and reality shows — not 30 words, give or take, on a photo they are likely to scroll past at a very fast pace.

Throughout 2018, Target has become an exceptional social media hashtag minimalist and an incredible user of crowdsourced content. Check out these recent holiday posts:


Forgoing wild hashtags and extra phrases, Target is keeping it simple with hashtags such as #ChristmasEve and #HolidayDecor. Instead of relying on hashtags to amplify its products, Target has flipped the switch on hashtag usage and replaced it with real photos taken by real Target consumers (many with very large audiences).

Yes, Target may have 3.4 million Instagram followers but when they are regramming photos from consumers — it sends the message that not only is Target invested in its consumers but it values the content they are producing.

While you may be thinking, “But Target and Madewell are huge brands and I’m a local business, does this actually apply to me?” Consider this advice and take it to heart — no one is going to ever finger point to your success (or lack of social media success) from hashtags alone. Hashtags are not the end all, be all social media magic trick — they are a piece of a social media strategy that should constantly be looked at and considered as ever changing as social media itself.