When people ask me what I do for a living I jokingly tell them I play on Facebook and write web pages all day. I get a chuckle, a few puzzled looks, and when someone asks me to elaborate, they learn that that’s a very humble way of describing my daily work.
Welcome to the split world of Lisa Melegari, a Web content writer and a social media manager, plus wearer of many other hats.
A Day in the Life of a Content Writer & Social Media Manager
I start the day out by looking over my daily assignment sheet and prioritizing my tasks. Usually I mark up a task list on the whiteboard behind my desk – it feels great to erase things when you finish them and see the list shrink, a real motivational tool for me. If there are no emergency items to take care of, it’s off to see what’s been happening in the world since I went to bed.
I check e-mail first and respond to anything easy, add to my task list where applicable, and then move on to the social channels. I use my social networks and RSS feeds to look for any important news that may be relevant to our clients. If something sparks my interest like a local news story, I mark it for later to share through that client’s social channel. The real excitement comes when I find a news item that would be of great importance to multiple clients – one that warrants a full article write-up. This happened most recently with the Attorney General’s memorandum about equal treatment of same-sex marriage in regards to federal statutes – I had the pleasure of reaching out to our clients and offering them the opportunity and then interviewing them about the topic to write their opinion on the legislative move.
In my four years at We Do Web Content, Inc., my writing workload has scaled back from what it used to be when I was first hired. When I began I was solely an article and blog writer, but now I’ve taken on the social media management for the majority of our clients. I keep a window open constantly to monitor interactions on their social networks and throughout the day I syndicate their articles or news articles from other sources that would be of interest to their followers.
I use my social media tasks to break up my writing for the day. I mainly write promotional articles which are basic legal information posted to external websites to boost the authority of our clients. It’s a challenge to take more complex legal terms or ideas and break them down into simple language, but that’s the fun part – making legal content readable to the common reader.
The highlights of my day are when someone on the team comes to me with a small project or a technical problem they can’t handle, but they have faith that I can. I love being able to fix things instantly when I can, but I also love the challenge of researching when I don’t have the answer. And I suppose that’s the best way to sum up my job: Applying my knowledge and expertise where I can, and expanding my knowledge and skill set when I have the opportunity.
The Excitement of Special Projects
I have two types of semi-regular projects that really get me excited above and beyond my regular work: newsletters and eBooks. Newsletters are always fun projects because they come near the middle and end of the month and they’re a time where I get to dip into some of my digital graphics background with layout and photo editing. The stories I write for newsletters are also usually on the lighter side, and I usually include a recipe or trivia in each issue, so I get to do some fun research there. The recipes are especially fun because usually I end up testing it in my own kitchen so I can take a photo and not worry about copyright infringement by using a stock photo.
eBooks are a completely different realm of writing, one that I enjoy immensely because most topics allow me to write to my heart’s content. This article alone is already at 600 words and I think we were told to keep it around 500, so I’ll make this brief. eBook assignments are great because it lets me set up a long structure (table of contents) and then depending on my mood and enthusiasm/familiarity of the topic, I’ll either write it chapter by chapter or skip around and add in details when I come across them in my research. The best time is when I read the final draft completely through and realize I’ve created an entire short book with my own two hands.
More recently I’ve started working on producing more personal pieces for some of our clients. Many of them are very passionate about current news in their industries and want to produce a first-person narrative article on the topic. I’ve become somewhat of an interviewer and biographer lately, doing interviews for quotable statements to be used in a news article, and getting personal information and anecdotes for use in clients’ “about us” biography pages.
Every once in a while I get to bring out my artistic side and spruce up the social media graphics for our clients. Especially when there’s a new office staff photo or logo to showcase, I love making their cover photos and icons stand out among the boring business pages. I’ve been able to dabble a bit in infographics and often do custom photo collages or touch up stock photos for use in our blogs and newsletters. I was never seriously formally trained in any graphic design, I’ve picked up Photoshop and print design through some side courses in high school and college. I always get excited when I can do something like take care of minor changes to an eBook cover instead of sending it back to the graphic designer.
While most of our client newsletters are published through e-mail, we still have a few that are printed and therefore require some graphic design and layout work. Developing print newsletter templates and doing article writing and layout has become an infrequent but enjoyable part of my job. The best part is receiving a physical copy in the mail once the issue is complete!
I’m Never Chained to My Desk
When you work primarily on the Internet it’s both a blessing and a curse. Because my work can go with me wherever I can have access to my laptop and the Internet, I can be flexible about where I call my “office” for the day. When I need to get some fresh air, I head out to one of the many local Starbucks, or my favorite independent coffee café, Austin’s Coffee.
Being Internet-based also allows me to travel a lot more than most jobs. Aside from my writing and social media work, I’m also learning about the WordPress website publishing platform. Many of our clients are either on WordPress already or looking to make the switch, so the skills I’m working on are sure to serve both myself and our clients very well in the future.
In 2013, I travelled to three WordPress conferences or “WordCamps” in the southern U.S. I’m an active participant in the Orlando WordPress community and have helped organize the Orlando WordCamp for two years now and was a speaker at the 2013 conference. At each gathering I learn more about the importance of Web design and how WordPress technology can help better market and present your content.
Being a Social Butterfly
Working as a social media manager has done wonders for my improv and acting skills. In middle school I was in drama club and in college I took an improv course – in my professional career, I “play” dozens of businesses on social media. When I am assigned a new client for which I am to manage their social media, my first task is to learn all about their business, community, and style. I become an extended part of their team, connecting with their office manager and getting all the office details down so I can accurately portray their voice on social channels.
I determine what sort of tone resonates best with their brand – are they casual, serious, jovial, technical? I look at their office favorites – music, sports, local hangouts, foods. I learn about their local area – the hot spots, important landmarks, unique seasonal facts. I become the business.
In doing this extensive research into our clients’ persona, I get to know what their audience expects from them on a “social” level, and in their overall Web content. As I mentioned before, it’s exciting to find a news story that any of our clients can relate to, and the more local information I immerse myself in, the easier those stories are to find.
Speaking of Local…
Remember how I said I travel a lot? It’s not just physical travel. I feel like I’ve been across the country and back practically every day. One of the services we offer is local business listing optimization, a highly-fluctuating and evolving form of local marketing. Sure, there are programs like Yext, which fix your business listings in the blink of an eye, and sure, we use them (in fact, I’m a certified Yext affiliate), but there’s no comparison to a local business listing that’s personally created.
It may sound counter-intuitive to hire someone in Florida to create local business listings for your Seattle-based company, but believe me, it works. I become immersed in a client’s office area, learning everything I can about the nearby hot spots, the best coffee spots in town, and where to bring your pooch to dog-friendly parks. Why does any of this matter? Because it helps put an emphasis on LOCAL.
I believe that hiring a non-local professional like myself to build local business listings results in more descriptive and robust profiles. A local would just write generic information about the business, but someone like me who’s not from the area has to really research and fact-find to get the right information on the listings. This means I’m going to understand what’s important to your potential local clients.
Doing local research about a client’s target areas lets me pick up on the topics, areas, and events that are really important to the community. The more popular a certain topic is, the more important I believe it to be in reaching that client’s local market. It’s easy to gloss over the minor details of your local community when you live there every day – to you it’s not special, it’s part of life. But for me, who isn’t from that area, I see what really matters in the community and where locals go to for their needs. That’s an integral part of building an online presence for a local business, and one I think that’s a particularly strong part of my work.
Local search is one of those areas of internet marketing that’s always changing. It’s interesting to see that the more technologically connected we become, the more local we are looking to stay. Thanks to smartphones, we’re tracking down the hidden gems of our towns rather than going to the chain restaurants. As demand for local search increases, so does the technology, and every time something changes, it’s up to me to learn how to work with it.
Google Maps is one service that has caused several of our clients headaches throughout the years, and I’m not immune to the same frustration. Because the service has evolved so rapidly in the recent years, many of the practices have become outdated, obsolete, or are now subject to penalties. I especially enjoy unraveling the tangles of clients with multiple office locations and getting each listing independently established and approved to have it appear in search. Every time Google changes their methods on Maps display and Local listings, I’m on the case to make sure none of our clients’ locations break or are penalized for violating Google’s new terms. It keeps me on my toes, but it’s worth it to see our clients rank top view for local searches for their business type in their area!
All Work, and Some Play
A parting secret for how I deal with stressful assignments at work: cats. I’m grateful to be allowed to work remotely from my home office, and when I’m frustrated with an assignment I just can’t wrap my head around, I’ll take a short break, pick up one of my 4 cats, and take a walk around the house to clear my head. Most of the time it works and I’ve reset my writing mind to get the job done. The cats love it too, they’re always at my shoulder meowing for attention, so they love it when I need to take a break!
Along with being a pet lover, I also love cooking. After technology, kitchen and cooking tools are my second biggest investment in my house. I developed a love of baking from my mother, who comes from a long line of baking masters. My love of regular cooking came from spending summers learning from mom’s older sister, plus watching countless hours of Food Network. My father came from a butcher family, so my grandfather and father both taught me butchery, grilling, and most recently we started experimenting with sausage making and smoking.
As much as I work with technology and computers, I still love the simple, natural way of doing things. I have an appreciation for artisanal crafts, homemade items, and doing things the old-fashioned way. I’ve hunted my own game, butchered and cooked a Florida wild hog, I’ve fermented my own kimchi, and I’ve grown my own habanero peppers. I figure if we ever have an emergency situation or come upon the apocalypse during my lifetime, my technical skills will be moot, but I’ll have some rustic knowledge that I can put to use.
In college I studied Interactive Entertainment, going as far as getting a Masters’ degree in video game production. Yep, I went to school to make video games (we had the most awesome homework!). After an intensive 16-month program, I learned that wasn’t the industry for me, but I did find a love of marketing, and that’s what led me to We Do Web Content.
Fortunately, my somewhat unhappy graduate program didn’t kill my love of video games. I’ve been playing since I was four on an Atari 2600 and have owned pretty much every major system since – and they’re all still in perfect working condition. I continue to play games and collect systems, both old and new. Some of my favorite titles are the Legend of Zelda series, Harvest Moon games, Pokemon and the Mario series.
Speaking of collecting, I have a few collections that I hope to some day either sell for millions of dollars or donate to a TGI Fridays to update their nostalgic wall items. I own somewhere between 500-700 TY Beanie Babies, collected back in the height of the craze, but sadly not sold before they lost their value. They’ll continue to haunt me in their plastic storage bins until I find a buyer or open up a TGI franchise. The same goes with my Pokemon card collection, 1,500 cards including the original full base set – worth nothing right now unless you play the game competitively, and today there are a ton more newer cards that play better, so it’s unlikely they’ll ever do more than potentially line my restaurant tables.
I have a small, but growing bacon collection – both real and fake. Yes, I have a freezer full of various bacons. I have different flavors, cuts, and forms, ranging from thick-cut applewood to ground bacon ends. Some of it I keep for novelty like the Chinese-style bacon I picked up at my local oriental market. Most of it is kept so I always have bacon on hand, because in my world of cooking, pretty much everything can be improved with a little bacon. My friends know of my love of bacon and I often receive joke gifts of bacon memorabilia. I have a wobbling bacon dashboard figure, a dancing/singing bacon alarm clock, even bacon-shaped jewelry.
As I wrap this narrative up, I’d like to give a shout out to a part of my life that has shaped who I am today, Alpha Phi Omega. I joined this co-ed service fraternity in my freshman year of college and remained active for six years. During my active years, I contributed hundreds of community service hours to local organizations like pet rescue centers and horse therapy farms. Once I graduated, I moved into serving as an advisor to my home chapter at the University of Central Florida, and serve as staff for our southeastern region. I value community involvement and love helping others, so it’s a great organization to belong to and one to which I am proud to be a contributor.
That being said, I love helping others, and working for We Do Web Content lets me help businesses grow and prosper. It’s definitely a rewarding and fun job with a wonderful team that I’m proud to be a part of!