Kate McMahon on the write path

Passion propels proponent of prose

“When I was studying writing and editing, I was thinking, ‘You’re an idiot; this is a dying art.’ I thought it could end badly.” Fortunately, things panned out rather better than anticipated, Kate McMahon tells Clare Kennedy.

Nearly a year ago, 28-year-old Kate McMahon took a leap of faith and established her own business, Gidget Media, offering print and online communication services with a focus on arts, education and not-for-profit organisations. To date, she has worked with organisations including the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation, The Push and the Manningham Centre Association.

“It’s exciting to be able to chose who I work with and to work with organisations that I feel a connection with. It makes my work much easier too,” she smiles.

Online business takes off

The business has grown so rapidly she’s had to employ subcontractors to cover the workload. “If you can write you’re an asset to any organisation,” McMahon asserts.

The day we talk, she is preparing to fly to the World Literacy Summit, taking place at Oxford University, as part of the organising event management and communications team. She helped with the marketing, materials and the selection of sixty speakers at the conference, including HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, Mrs Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani and Dr Dirk Van Damme.

“It’s a pretty special experience. Every project gives me an insight into a world I’m not otherwise privy to,” she says.

The science of words

McMahon topped literature and physics at secondary school, so was initially caught between a love of science and the humanities. She resolved that dilemma by enrolling in a combined Professional Writing and Editing/Applied Physics degree at Melbourne’s RMIT with the aim of becoming a science writer. Later, she dropped physics to focus on writing and arts subjects.

“The reason I love physics is that I love learning, and I love knowing how things work. That’s why being my own boss means that I get to work on projects and continue to learn and be a problem solver,” she says.

Blossoming talent

McMahon revealed her writing chops early. While still a student, she gained employment as sub-editor of street magazine Trouble. Then La Trobe University employed the young graduate as a web content writer, social media coordinator and web manager.

“It was a good leap into the online world. They facilitated a lot of training for me, which I really appreciate now. It gave me a real insight into online communications,” she reflects.

After three years at La Trobe, McMahon accepted a similar position with ACMI. “I was lucky to work in the areas I feel passionate about,” she smiles.

Musical words

At 25 McMahon succumbed to another deeply felt passion: music. She enrolled in a Certificate IV in Music Performance at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE, started indie pop band Elephant Eyes – and recorded a self-titled EP.

“Singing had always been a passion of mine. I’m a songwriter as well; it’s my hobby, and sitting at a desk was getting a bit dull,” she says.

McMahon is glad she took the time out to contemplate a new direction.

“I realised that if I can be my own boss, I can make it work for me. I do love the actual work, but perhaps not the formal environment the work is often done in.

“I guess I’m bit of a nerd. I get annoyed when I see organisations with spelling mistakes and poorly written messages. I like that I get to fix things,” she says.

“I like knowing that Media Super understands and supports the industry that I work in.”



Learn more about Kate’s communications business at gidgetmedia.com.au or listen to the sultry sounds of Elephant Eyes at elephanteyes.net

Photos supplied by Kate McMahon.