Retiremove is an online property and lifestyle magazine for the discerning retiree. Why do you think it's important to have magazines such as this and is there anything else like it out there?
While I love newspapers and have ink running through my veins I’m afraid print is not the future. The silver surfer is a growing breed and a site dedicated to all aspects of retirement property, whether its downsizing, buying a home abroad, investing in a property for children or grandchildren is the future, I believe.
There are plenty of websites dedicated to the retirement market but nothing like Retiremove – property-focused and directed to a niche audience of affluent, active, modern-thinking retirees, who don’t like being patronised but may need advice about where to find their next home or how to help their parents find theirs.
The site also looks nice and is easy to navigate, which encourages visitors to return – I hope.
Is it important to your readers that you provide lifestyle stories and other news on the website, rather than just providing property information?
I think a website just about bricks and mortar would be dull. Case studies and lifestyle stories bring the subject to life and also inspire people to think beyond their backyard. Generally, all the categories on the site feed into the property theme, whether it's home improvements, finance, gardening or technology. I admit travel and health and beauty may not, but feel-good features that help us keep young, agile and beautiful will enable us to stay in our own homes for longer!
How did you make the transition from writing for the Sunday Express to developing and writing for your own website?
To be honest I don’t think I have really. The articles you read on Retiremove are generally longer than those you find on other sites but that’s because they are properly fleshed-out features packed with useful information, tips and interviews with case studies. They are ‘print out and keep’ style pieces rather than thumbnail sketches.
Having said that I am able to make much better use of images compared with the Express where there was never enough space. It’s fantastic to let pictures breathe, tell a story and fill the screen, inviting the visitor to jump in, so to speak. It is also fun incorporating video more with interviews to offer a three-dimensional experience.
How is the way you write now different from writing for a national newspaper?
What is really fun about writing for Retiremove is playing around with different styles which I love, and since it’s my site I don’t have the fear of being wrapped over the knuckles by a sub who has no sense of humour.
So, for example, I can write a blog about my grandmother; a diary-style article about meeting Joan Collins; and a meaty feature about retirement villages that packs in lots of detail. I think I write more freely for Retiremove but I have to write fast as I don’t have the resources to employ others and post something every day.
There are a number of contributors writing for Retiremove, such as professional gardener Louise Midgley and also Peter Swain. Would you consider contributions from other freelance journalists? If so, what specialisms would you look for and how should they get in touch?
I am very lucky in having some wonderful contributors who have supported me through the early days of setting up the site (we only launched six months ago and are already attracting between 7,000-10,0000 unique visitors a month). Many of them worked for me during the eight years when I was property editor of the Sunday Express. I only have a small budget but I’m always keen to hear from journalists with great stories and even greater images. I am also happy to buy second rights to an article as long as it hasn’t appeared in a national newspaper or magazine.
Why do you consider relationships with PRs so important?
PRs are my lifeblood as they inform me about new property schemes, retirement villages, new trends, surveys, and also help with supplying lots of offers, discounts and competition prizes, which are really important for encouraging traffic.
What are the main tips you would give residential property PRs from your experience?
Always include a selection of great images or high-quality cgis of exterior and interiors and also some of the surrounding area where the properties are located; i.e. local high street, countryside, beach, park. Include the prices of the properties offered, number of bedrooms and if possible maintenance charges. Include completion date of the scheme if it is not yet built and email me about it at the beginning of the launch rather than when there is only one property left!
Do you have any social media linked to the site? Do you think it’s important for the older generation to be internet and social media savvy?
Retiremove is on Facebook and Twitter; it is incredible the various ways people find us! Facebook is huge for us. It’s vital for older people to be plugged into the internet for so many reasons; many are very savvy and do their shopping online, Skype their grandchildren, and are following friends on Facebook. One 88-year-old former Spitfire pilot I know even designs his own greetings cards!
What is the best thing about your job?
Meeting and talking to my readers and developing the site. Our next step is to create a forum for them to exchange ideas and offer advice and to offer a property listing of homes for sale and for rent.
Jane can be found tweeting @Retiremove.