Claudia Canavan, the digital health and beauty editor of Women's Health, has loved magazines since her teen years. Photo: Claudia Canavan

Claudia Canavan, 30, speaks to Chrystal Jones about how magazines were her coping mechanism growing up, the inspirational power of a WhatsApp group, and a memorable interview with Dizzee Rascal.

How did you get into the industry?

I did my undergraduate degree in Religion and Theology at the University of Manchester, just because I liked the look of the course really. Whilst doing that I started writing for the student paper – I ended up being the fashion editor of The Mancunian by my third year. I then did lots of work experience, at Mizz magazine, The Sunday Times Style and Brides magazine. I decided to do a postgraduate degree in Magazine Journalism in London, and then I got my first job as editorial assistant at Esquire. I’ve now been at Women’s Health for two years.

Are you a keen magazine reader?

Definitely – I’ve always loved reading from a very young age. I loved teen magazines, and I’d read the supplement magazine out of my parents’ paper. I’d even buy Vogue, even though I would never in a million years have been able to have afforded anything in there, I just thought it was cool. I think magazines are like fantasy and escapism, and I loved that – especially because I grew up in a small town and was often just bored. They were so glamorous.

Have you turned into more of a digital magazine fan now?

No, I love both. I love print and still buy magazines – I love sitting down and having one to hold. They’re also my first love, since digital magazines only came about in my late teens. But there’s so much amazing stuff happening online, with infographics and different content. You can make stuff look really beautiful in new and different ways, whereas print magazines are pretty much the same now as 20 years ago.

You can make stuff look really beautiful in new and different ways

What’s your average working day like?

I start by looking on news sites for the latest on the pandemic and any health updates, and then I have a zoom meeting with the team to talk about what’s going on that day. Afterwards I get on with my own things, either starting off with any news pieces to get live on the website or getting on with my own features. Today, I was sorting out features about International Women’s Day, hand creams recommended by a dermatologist and a first-person piece on bullet journaling. I’m usually on and off the phone doing various interviews and then throughout the week I have different meetings about content and stats, and I also join in on a print meeting so we can match our content.

Claudia was working on a first-person piece about bullet journaling. Photo: Women’s Health

You write about a lot of different topics – in the last week it ranged from weird dreams to how to get rid of blackheads to advice on phone sex. What inspires the pieces you write?

Because I work for the digital side, I have to focus on search engine traffic. We look at statistics and trends, and every month I get given a list of topics to write about based on SEO terms – so how to get rid of blackheads and phone sex were a part of this. But when I’m thinking of ideas myself, I look at what’s in the news to see what I can spin off for a feature, and I also get inspired by my friends and what they’re saying – the weird dreams feature came about because my friends in our WhatsApp group were all saying they’ve had strange dreams in lockdown, so I rang an expert, and it went on from there.

Claudia has freedom for what she writes about, but sometimes has to follow popular SEO terms. Photo: Women’s Health

What do you love most about your job?

The freedom. I don’t have to go through layers of approval to write about what I want to, and I get to spend my days writing features, which is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I can write about alternative health practices, and also core female health, like fertility and reproduction – I like writing about important stuff mainly.

Who’s been the most memorable interviewee you’ve had?

I had an in-person interview with Ellie Goulding, that was really cool, and I interviewed Meghan Markle before she was with Harry – I met her at a flashy hotel in London before she and her friend were heading on a night out. Maybe the most memorable, though, has to be when I worked at Esquire and was interviewing Dizzee Rascal. We were sat there with all his managers and team in the room, and I had to task him if he was seeing anyone. He just said, “Are you asking me who I’m fucking?” I was only 21 and so new to it all, I didn’t know what to say, I was terrified.

He just said, “Are you asking me who I’m fucking?”

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

In ten years? I can’t even imagine what the digital landscape will look like by then. But in five years, I imagine I’d be starting up a digital lifestyle brand in some capacity, which would involve more than what my current job does. Maybe it would be a website or a print magazine, or both. It could be something completely different, though – the pace of change is so fast and so unpredictable. I’ll hopefully just continue doing what I love and work my way up in some way.