How One Blogger Turned Her Online Persona Into a Job She Never Knew She Wanted
When I started blogging, no one was Internet Famous yet, and no one got a real job based upon their blog or knowledge of social media. Social media wasn’t even a “thing” yet. Since that time, bloggers have been taking the working world by storm, using their knowledge and know-how to land or create jobs. Loralee Choate of Looney Tunes just recently landed a job she hadn’t previously known to dream of, brought about by her blog.
Reading her announcement post, it’s hard not to get excited with her and for her. The story itself is unique, and you really need to read her whole post to truly understand her true zeal for all things blog and social media. But I decided to interview her for BlogHer because of the uniqueness of her story. Loralee isn’t a craft blogger, nor is she crafty, but her online presence landed her a job at a crafting magazine.
I had to know why!
A Six-Question Interview with Loralee
1. When you began blogging and using social media outlets, did you ever have an inkling that you would end up with a job offer of this nature?
That would be a big, fat, NOOOOOO! When I started blogging, I had only read one blog. It was a Chinese adoption blog that my friends started to document their 2004 trip to to China to pick up up their daughter. I read, looked at photos and was immersed in this great little world that they had created for their family and friends. But then? It ended. So, when I thought that blogging was something I wanted to try, I was under the impression that you had to have a separate blog for each life event. I think I had like, 12 blogs before my sister-in-law said, "Why don't you ever update any of your blogs?!" I stared at her for several moments, stunned and blink-blink-blinkity-blinking before the light bulb went on and I sputtered, "OMG, YOU CAN DO THAT?!!!!! NO WAY!!!!" Embarrassing as all get out, but it is also a perfect illustration that if I can become a blogger after such humble beginnings, anyone with a drive and talent can do it, too!
2. Can you tell me a little bit about what this job is, how you'll be employing your knowledge of social media, what your title might be and how it really came about? Was it just a natural progression of talks between you and your now-boss, or did it come out of left field?
I'm working for a great women, Jo Packham. She is the creator and Editor in Chief of Where Women Create magazine and other books and has been in publishing for 35 years. We're launching a new magazine (and book) in December that we are thrilled to bits about. It features women that work in and/or are passionate about the food industry called, Where Women Cook. We're launching a new website in a couple of months, which I have been helping out with. We are very excited for this latest project. We just got finished shooting the cover for the launch with Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Women) out at her ranch in Oklahoma, and I'm pleased that we will be working with many amazing women, including a fabulous collection of food bloggers as well.
I am also heading up the Internet portions of the conference The Creative Connection. I am so excited for this conference. We hold it in Minneapolis in September, and it brings together women crafters, artists and entrepreneurs of all different walks of life. I think one of the coolest, most inspiring and interesting differences in the mommy blogging world vs. the craft blogging world is HOW FREAKING PRETTY everything is. (See office image above for example!) When they ship things to my boss, they hand-paint the shipping boxes, dude! (I am not kidding.)
I also totally want to get my boss on Twitter and blogging/vlogging, but one step at a time.
3. You admit that you're not very crafty. I'm not, either. It's okay. So how are your skills going to contribute to a magazine that is, at its core, super-crafty? Would you have ever applied for this position if they had advertised it? Is there a lesson in your answer for others looking for similar job opportunities?
Luckily, Jo was absolutely not looking for a crafter. She wants to get to know the mom and personal blogging world, and THAT is MY forte. (It's also why I am hauling her all around New York with me at BlogHer ‘10. Come and say hello to us! We are very nice and have pretty business cards!)
I would never, ever have applied for this job, and honestly, if I were a crafter, she never, ever would have hired me. She has a great person heading that up for her already. I'm here to get her known in my world and help her build her brand, which all goes back to the end goal: sell her fabulous books and magazines. (You should buy one. They are gorgeous!)
This is a relationship that was built organically. I started out accepting her offer to speak at her conference. After researching it, I became passionate about it and her brand and started networking for her just because I love what she offers just that much, even though it is not remotely in my field. From that, it grew into a job, and I am grateful it did. I think that some of the best things come from being good-natured, full of goodwill and helping others as much as possible. It always seems to bring good things in the form of unexpected connections and opportunities, so I would say while you are looking out for yourself, make sure you also look out for the people on your right and left ... you never know where it might lead you.
4. From your post, I get the distinct impression that you weren't actively looking to work, either outside the home or from a home office. Was it a complete surprise when things began to head in that direction?
YES. Like I said, I started out accepting an offer to speak at a conference. I wasn't even totally sure it was going to be a good fit for me, because it was a craft conference and for craft and artist entrepreneurs. I am my own product, you know? I sell me. But that is what Jo wanted. Someone who has taken something like their personality and built it into a brand and online presence. She is an extremely experienced and smart lady and is very forward-thinking. She knew that having an Internet presence is simply a must in this day and age. She may not have known exactly how and what to do to get there, but she knows where she wants to end up. I'm just there to help her with that process and get her where she wants to be.
5. I know that when I accepted a surprise position outside the home last year, I had to weigh the pros and cons, both for myself and with my spouse. Did you do any of that? What were your biggest concerns, and how did you address them?
Yes, I did. This is a hugelearning experience for us. The craft and mom/personal blogging worlds are so different. I am not the edgiest blogger ever, but I am one of the more open bloggers out there, so managing my personal brand and hers and working to find a balance with both is a balancing act that has a huge learning curve to it. But it's been so eye-opening and interesting for us both, and we just adore each other, so it's all good in the end. I want what is best for her and her brand, and she wants the same for me and mine. We make it work.
As far as the home front, I am already so busy, and since I am not the best at organization and managing my work and home life -- a constant struggle -- my husband had worries, as anyone would. But as we've grown and evolved in the learning process, we discovered that I will not need to start out working as many hours as we first thought, so really, it is quite do-able and I'm grateful for being able to ease a bit more gently into the process.
6. Melissa wrote about social media and job hunting last week. Obviously, social media helped you score this awesome job. What advice do you have to those currently seeking employment who might be considering utilizing the Internet to help them in their endeavors?
Connect, connect, connect. Social media is a quick and powerful tool if you use it correctly. DO NOT FORGET THE "SOCIAL" ASPECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Network as much as possible, build relationships with brands online and with other people. And seriously, if you put good out there, it WILL come back to you. You may not know when or how -- and my be utterly shocked at the way it manifests -- but following the 80/20 rule seems to work amazingly well for people. Promote others 80 percent and yourself 20 percent and in the end you help yourself out 100 percent of the time.
Loralee had some wise words of advice about connecting, networking and promoting others. With bloggers taking the employment world by storm, we’ll be looking for other inspirational blog-to-office stories. Be sure to share your good news with us when -- not if! -- it happens!
Image courtesy Where Women Create.