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A Conversation With: Betsy Bell

A business magazine empowers women

Melissa Fogarty

Betsy Bell, creator of Professional Daym, at her home in Auxvasse.

February 13, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Betsy Bell doesn’t settle for what’s easy. Working her way up from freelance photographer to publisher, she spent seven years in various roles at the Business Times Company. She resigned in June to create Professional Daym, a magazine devoted to local business and the part women play in it.

As part of her goal to inspire readers, she plans to offer additional services such as business workshops. Bell and her small staff sent out 10,000 copies of the first issue on Jan. 13.

“She focused on a broad range of content that would be interesting to women of all walks of life and most men,” says Chamber of Commerce Director of Membership Mary Kroening, who advised Bell on the magazine. “It’s one of the only magazines I read cover to cover.”

The start-up staff mostly works from their respective homes, which Deputy Editor Nichole Ballard says involves late nights and a lot of coffee. However, she says the staff works hard to support one another and accomplish the goals they have for the publication.

How did you start the project?

When I left the Business Times, I went home and decided two weeks later to plan it. I planned for six months. I have an amazing team; we all take on multiple roles. You have to do that with a small business. We’re all equally passionate about magazines and journalism. It’s a lot of fun. Stressful, but fun, too. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and anxious to see what the future has in store. I hope people will see what we stand for and want to be a part of it.

How did you come up with the name for the magazine?
We thought about changing the name of Columbia Home, and I came up with Professional Daym. They said, “Nah, we don’t like it.” But I held onto it. Dame is the equivalent to a knight’s title. We celebrate women and inspire women to believe in themselves. We want to show them you can accomplish great things.

What’s the hardest part of having your own magazine?

The weight of it all. I don’t have anybody to fall back on. There’s no one with an extremely large bank account if we don’t make it. That’s on me. I have to make the right decisions. That’s a lot of weight to carry on your shoulders. I take every decision I make about the business very seriously.

How can we better recognize the business achievements of women?
I’m not saying that women aren’t celebrated. Columbia does a pretty good job of celebrating women. It’s not a big deal to look to your right and see a woman working. It’s common, and that’s wonderful. What we need to do is just support each other and encourage each other. That’s how this world will be a better place, if we all take time to encourage. Encouragement is such an effective and powerful tool. It can change someone’s life.

Why is it so important for Columbia to have a publication like this?

I think that Columbia is hungry to learn about and to read about new things. Columbia is an epicenter for entrepreneurs, for start-ups, and it needs a start-up magazine. That’s what Professional Daym is. I saw that we didn’t have a magazine for what women are doing in business, and that’s my niche. In all of these surrounding city areas, we come to Columbia for everything from doctor visits to football games to date nights to movies. People who live in Mexico, Fulton, Jefferson City, the lake regions come here. A lot of people feel ownership of Columbia. I look at our area as a regional economic center where we’re all supporting each other.

What kind of responses have you received?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I don’t think it’s easy to make it in the magazine industry. Magazines will pop up, have a few issues and disappear. I think it’s going to take awhile for people to get excited and decide that they want to stick around. People say they read it cover to cover. It has been really rewarding. I think I’ll look back and enjoy it more than I am at this very moment. I’m in the midst of launching, and that’s hard. I’m trying to take time to enjoy everything, but I have a deadline.

Like you said, the magazine business is difficult to break into. How will Professional Daym survive?
What will make this magazine thrive is if the business community decides to support it. They will decide if they want it or not. The choice is theirs. You can go into business and hope that what you’re passionate about other people will be passionate about. You hope that it will strike a chord and that they’ll get behind you.

Where would you like to see your magazine in the future?

I don’t have to have a huge magazine. That was never the ambition. I just simply want a magazine that will cover its own expenses and pay for me to have a job and my staff. I just want to publish a magazine because it’s what I love, as long as we get to a place where we can comfortably cover our expenses. I don’t have any aspirations to go national or anything like that. One of the reasons I couldn’t stop is that there were too many stories left to tell.

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