Content Writing interview at an SAAS this week and my plans for improvement

Picture of a road from street level in a artic location with mountains in the distance

This Monday I interviewed for a content-writer position at an up-and-coming SAAS company. 

I spent four days researching the company website and Googling the hell out of the team members. I soon discovered my interviewer was responsible for a local viral post [insert onslaught of terrified excitement].

amusement park ride people upside down about to be dropped straight down
https://unsplash.com/@punttim

During the four days leading up to the interview, I researched the site, created a corpus of their highest ranking keywords, and started writing non-stop with only breaks for food, mate or for those brief moments—sleeping.

My wife got jealous a couple of times, so I had to make time to give her a hug, now-and-then again.

two people sitting across from each other on a bench; one is writing the other has a tablet in front of them but hands appear to be unsure of what to do
https://unsplash.com/@alvaroserrano

Over the last couple days of writing, I contacted a few writer colleagues from my publishing job and a writer friend that I knew from undergrad. My friend didn’t comment much on problem areas, but the time he took to listen to me talk out my writing process was a great calmer and confidence booster. 

And after all the work, the writing sample felt good.

The interview went well: when I needed time to think about a hypothetical situation, I took my time and responded. In some cases he interjected with agreements or supplemented ideas that they had put into practice.

Everything was good, everything EXCEPT my lack of applicable experience with SEO.

Picture of a cellphone with Google open and 'Analytics' typed into the SERP
https://unsplash.com/@edhoradic

I emphasized my enthusiasm to learn and write for a new genre, which seemed to leave a somewhat positive impression. But, as an experienced recruiter, you want someone to fill the role that can take ownership of their role ASAP. 

Otherwise, a new candidate ends up becoming a liability.

I don’t want to be that ‘guy,’ so regardless of whether I get the position or not,  I am back at the drawing table–planning out my study and writing plans. So far, it’s a checkerboard of genre-writing research and full-on writing days.

The goal is to write one piece each week with the goal of having showcase samples ready for my website in five weeks’ time.

 

Inspiration that keeps on inspiring Rev

picture of a blank book and a pen

23, insecure and eager, sitting in a mid-to-back desk, among my fellow nobody collective in the walled-in confines–I awaited the impending demands of my new Non-Fiction/Journalism professor. From the moment he opened his mouth, I found myself in awe of his deep-thunderous baritone voice, not unlike South Park’s Chef. “Raise your hand if you are a writer, words crisp, hanging in the air like thick willowy branches rooting into every corner of the classroom–eliminating any chance of escape.  None of us–regardless of specialization: creative writing, journalism, or analytical writing–dare to raise a finger or even dare to fucking look him in the eyes. Hell, I was trying to drill a hole through my desk with my laser, don’t look at me, eyes.

With his loud booming, ‘Ye shall I walk through the valley of death,’ voice, my psyche loathe a verbal castration for my gross incompetence.

Our class was silent enough to hear a fly shit, but that wasn’t going to happen because no one–absolutely NO ONE–wanted to drag attention to himself. “Are you a writer,” the silence was butter as he cut it right in half, doubling the intense deafening roar. Unaware of my own actions, I found my eyes looking at his (much to my own chagrin). His eyes were all Eye of Sauron roving the room–That staring! That Perpetual Staring!

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Words rolled through the classroom again as he said the most inconceivable notion, “You are all writers!”

If he wanted to see if we would shit ourselves in the middle of the class, he was on the right path. He was damned well going to get a payload for his hard work. Was this a sick haze to ease us into complacency and then the next moment was he planning to rip into us like sweet caviar? Confusion, happiness, fear, questions about how many steps to the door: all these thoughts rushing through my mind…

“You all write things, and you all care about the content, or else you wouldn’t be here. You are all writers and until you accept that and claim that ownership of your identity, you will never be the best writer that you can be.”

Trembling subsiding slowly, I felt unimaginable happiness as the endorphins kicked in. We went from a horror film to silent film back to horror film to the Rocky Horror Picture party scene as Meatloaf walks in.

This memory plays so vividly to me, today, as I try once again to become a ‘writer.’

A Venture into the Project Planning phase


When you are in the process of job hunting every day is a different animal. There are some that seem to make sense and everything is on track (and then there are the others). Based on advice from a theMuse article: 6 Free Online Courses That’ll Teach You the Same Skills You’d Learn in Business School I decided to start a couple of the suggested online courses: Intro to Project Management and Intro to Marketing.

Project Management seems like a no-brainer to me at the moment. I’m constantly trying to arrange my schedule in order not to feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks that I set out for myself. Just to give you an idea of what I mean by that–I literally alphabetically categorized my goals for the day up to H (and I hadn’t even gotten past my writing goals).

Based on what I’ve gained in my vast hour of experience in the Project Management class, I’m currently in the initialization phase. They let you use this nifty guide called the Canvas framework:

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I’m hoping to manage my writing, job search, social media, language learning and (that is if I can find enough time) my website. I justified buying a site to my wife before we got married, butat this moment only has a construction image (worthy of a circa 1995 Geocities account).

A Change of Pace

I took this blog as a project to develop skills for the business world more-so than for personal development. I think there’s nothing wrong with that, but in doing so I didn’t provide myself with much of an outlet to alleviate any of the stress that I accrued from working, studying and rinse-repeat cycles weeks-in-and-weeks-out. I’m rather hard on myself in terms of studying when I set my mind to it. I’m well aware of that. I spent 9 months studying Chinese daily for 40+ hours of writing in a coffee shop each week and that’s not counting the 10 hours a week that I met with a one-on-one instructor to teach me in a study room setting.

Some people after reading that will skip to the point of asking, “Well what was the result?” Or perhaps will think, “Wow, I wish I could do that! You must be really fluent then!” It’s unfortunate, though, because while movies work in montages like Rocky or Family Guy/Simpson stylized buildups, life doesn’t work that way. It’s a sacrifice and to be honest it’s really unfair to the self. I am not really proud about that decision to study like that. I think there’s much more that I could have done in that time then trying to cheapen the learning experience.

To the non-linguistic enthusiast, my last paragraph might seem paradoxical at best, and perhaps idiotic at worst, or perhaps you can come up with something worse… I’ll leave that to your imagination if you so choose. But what I want to say is that language is about communication. If it’s not being used as such, it defeats the purpose. Life, in very much the same vein, it meant to be lived, not spent thinking about how you will do it after you’ve crammed for nearly a year on end. There’s no reason that you can’t study hard and allow for a little bit of time for the other things that are also as important.

If you are still with me on this, then you might be aware of where I’m getting with this. I have made mistakes about how much I soak my time into my endeavors to the exclusion of everything else. I, at times, have prided myself on that, thinking it was a luxury of enthusiasts to become so focused; while balanced it is an exceptionally useful determinism, but defeats the purpose of personal growth when done to excess.

 

A man who learns never grows old

Recently been caught up in a research loop—

Guess that makes sense as loops are a common variable in coding languages. It’s not just coding though. I’m diligently factoring in everything I can in the free time that I have to try to improve my knowledge.

Basically all my free time at the office, I’m researching social media in ways to improve my company’s social presence. Then after work, I’m taking what I have gathered to improve my knowledge of how it extends beyond the scope of my business and into the social media realms of Twitter, Blogging and into the sphere of writing: listicles, infographics, white papers, just to name a few.

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I’m doing what I can, but it always seems like there’s never enough time in the day. Recently I added studying math on Khan Academy to improve my ability to make better sense of SEO analytics. Math was the largest impediment to my studying CS back in the college days. It was that and the smell of the server room. I honestly remember the warmth and the smell of a vacuum sealed room of crusty pizza and locker room body odor. It stopped my dream at that time, but I never stopped loving computers. I just was unable to take that step to becoming a computer scientist.

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Now, I’m trying to find a way to take that love I had before and branch it into my life now. I think that’s the question you may have, READER, what exactly is it that I do in my life. The answer to that is not an easy question to answer as it’s a myriad of answers. I do work at a company and I do have office hours, but those are mostly determined by me and I’m given a large amount of space to create my own projects to help improve the presence of my company. I handle engagement, hiring, coaching, training, workshops, presentations, contest hosting, podcasting, voice recording, podcasting, and a wide assortment of writing and editing projects. I’d never complain about what I do. It gives me the time I need to learn and a chance to draw upon my enthusiasm to find new innovative ways of interacting with our clients. I am excited to find out more and more about avenues to be able to share some of my methods and to learn more about how social media involvement will help me to develop as a creative content manager.

Thanks to all the people that have been helping. I’m especially indebted to the help on Twitter by Sam Hurley and the articles off of jeffbullas

http://dailybunny.org/2014/01/27/bunny-knows-how-to-turn-her-humans-attention-back-to-where-it-should-be/

Busy Day ( a f e w t h o u g h t s )

Totally didn’t even get more than a couple of glances at some code today. Stuck doing what I love to be doing, which is writing creative content, albeit about a Pokemon apocalypse, and also finalized a Twitter account with loaded content for a podcast that I did with a colleague that also has DJ experience. It should be fun. The first one went pretty well, especially after his final cut.

I wanna say though, that although I didn’t get any coding done today, I keep trying to insert HTML in everything I’m doing. Like, for instance, a job posting that I wrote up for FB. I wrote HTML code all the way through it which I felt pretty proud of, until I realized that HTML code doesn’t work. That resulted in a pretty quick–EDIT-COPY-DELETE.

And as quick as that happened, so must I end this post. I’ve got a moment to sleep and I’d better not pass it up. Tomorrow everyone’s going to be watching me and I’m supposed to look like I know what I am talking about

Enter the Twitter

In my pursuit of developing a social media mindset, I began Twittering. It wasn’t part of the plan when making this blog, but the more I go along this path that I’ve set for myself, I feel it is a natural step.

So what I’ve done in this vain is two-fold:

I admit a custom domain would be nicer, but USD$100 is a bit outside the budget. No way to convince my significant other that it’s one of the things we need to spend money on… Not even gonna try that with 5 followers on my blog and 12 on my Twitter feed… I value my life.

So the Twitter feed is active. And I’ve already met a few really cool people already. Looking forward to really getting a deeper understanding of how to utilize the blog and Twitter together.

prackticaI’m currently using Tweetdeck to manage my Twitter as it updates in realtime and it allows you to customize what you see in the columns. If there’s something better let me know in the comments.

Onward to Coding,

Social J

 

Copywrite info: free image used from 50 High Quality Twitter Icons for FREE – 50 Best Free Twitter …

Baby Steps on the Path of Social Media Zen

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve started the path of studying coding–HTML to start. Now on the other footing, I’ve begun working with this app, WordPress. It’s not that I’ve never had a WordPress account, but this is the first time that I’m going to try to develop an understanding of the Social Media apps that I’m working with.

So what’s happened so far is that I’ve written my first post earlier and I had some difficulty already using Chrome to add images. Apparently there is more love for Safari than Chrome while using WordPress on a Mac. The other thing that took me forever to deal with were the text widgets.

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Seriously, I’m going to have to say FML.  This was beyond annoying to get rid of. If you still find it popping up on my site, please let me know. I do believe I’ve killed them, but they keep coming back like those insatiable zombies in every single horror 3PS.

As you can imagine, it’s the barest of challenges in terms of technological paradoxes, but here I’m stumbling on the cookie crumbs. I’m going to stay optimistic and believe that I can push that past into a memory. Only to be a remembrance captured here in my initial baby steps.

Social J, Coding Neophyte Extrodinaire, embarks on the Coding Adventure

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This blog is designed with a few purposes in mind for you (the percusory audience) and for me–This blog is an entry into my goal of developing three things:

  • Ability to code from ground up–starting with HTML 5 and CSS.
  • Learning how to use Social Media beyond just posting on FB or Twitter for the purpose of making it part of my work life.
  • Exploring how to write about my adventure and hopefully make some fellow adventurers along the way.

As such, today, I’ve enrolled in three classes on edX:

  1. HTML5 Introduction
  2. HTML5 Part 1: HTML5 Coding Essentials and Best Practices
  3. HTML5 Part 2: Advanced Techniques for Designing HTML5 Apps

Now, before we go any further, I want to say that I’m not starting off completely ignorant of HTML. I studied HTML before going to college, but that was years ago and was way before HTML 5. I think that doesn’t quite make me a Front End Web Dev or anything though. It really just makes me one of those Free Website kiddies that put up poorly crafted Microsoft Paint images with a few lines of HTML that if clicked on, read, “New Content Coming soon!!!” That is until they took down the servers and then it became all but a memory.

In the following posts, I will track my progress as I develop my HTML coding skills as well as insights into the world of Social Media development. If you are on a similar path, chime in and lets see how we can learn from each other.

Till next time,

Social J

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Header image comes from http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-try-coding/