I’ve been creating content online since the beginning. It’s not something I fell into because you could all of a sudden make money at it or claim to be a guru. It’s something I’ve almost always done and can’t imagine not doing.
I know how to create content and community, period. I’ve done it the top brands when they’d never done it before (Anthropologie, Airbnb, Disney) and I’ve come in and fix brands that have done a crap job at it and need to do better (UGG Australia, Edmunds, Hulu).
I’ve won a lot of awards personally and for the brands. I’ve created content that’s changed lives or just made people laugh. When I say I have hands on experience it’s because I’ve been up late coding to build a site or on the hook during a major online crisis or the one to push the button for something to go live. I know how to talk media, product, creative, pr, brand, marketing and every other language. I’m a great translator and dot connector.
You can hire someone who “sounds good” or you can hire someone that “does good”.
It’s sometimes hard to know the difference so here are some ways to tell: ask someone who talks about content and community what they’ve ever built? Not delegated to an agency or a team, but what they’ve built. What hard calls have they made? What impact beyond an Ad Age headline have they created and how do they lead, mentor and work with people (and then Google that answer to make sure it’s not a quote from Fast Company). You’ll want to know if they’re in it for them (the glory, the ted-talk or PTTOW invite, the bragging rights) or for something bigger (their teams, their company, consumers, innovation).
People should be more suspicious of smoke and mirrors than sincerity. Especially in this field in this day and age. Because consumers aren’t stupid and there are still so many great things to build and experience online beyond “social” and “viral”. And if you get someone who loves the building, the doing, the connecting and understands how to put it all together, they’ll take you to the moon.
Or in my case, since I’ve been to the moon many times, I’ll take you to Mars. 😉
I created one of the first personal blogs in 1995 and also some of the first community based sites (2001-2007) which were focused on creativity, being an entrepreneur and supporting female artists. Some of them still exist in archived form and some of them exist in the doings of people who read them.
In the early days, I built all the sites; coding for hours, figuring out Photoshop, using so many different ways to upload or share photos. I hacked Movable Type to have multi-city support for Girls Guide to City Life, was one of the first on WordPress and spent hours trying to build on that before templates were a thing and helped create Flickr because sharing photos until that point on the web was almost impossible.
As I created more for companies I created less for myself or the communities in which I was a part of. I sold Girls Guide to City Life (which had been nominated for a SXSW Web Award among others) to Demand Media in 2007, I retired the thriving community of Another Girl at Play (over 800K visits per day re-social sharing and Google, all word of mouth love), when managing all the old technology became too much, and my chronicles of leaving a very traditional, corporate job to be a creative entrepreneur (which hadn’t ever been written about on the web then) on Girl at Play, around 2011 when my brand work just overtook everything.
There’s a simple look at feel to everything I did even if the back end was complicated. Building on the web was hard but it was worth it to share content and create community. Whatever I built resonated with people because it had a purpose. And even thought a lot of these sites are now defunct, I take the intention I had with them and pour it into my work.