Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Two Down

I doubt that there's anyone left reading this blog, but I at last have something new to report: I'm leaving another corporate blogging position come the end of the month.

Hypothetical you may have wondered why I never mentioned the name of the site I began working for in late August. Not that it was any big secret. I was simply waiting for the blog to go live. It never did.

I was hired with the promise that the site would go live Real Soon Now, in no more than a month. Until it did, I would do site content and design, editing, and marketing writing. I admit that I volunteered to do these other non-blogging tasks on a temporary basis, so as to make myself more of an attractive candidate. Anyhow, I'm good at writing, I know a bit about new-marketing theory even if I know very little about old-style marketing, and I'm a fairly cool guy.

In addition to the marketing writing, I was also able to offer my unique views as to the product, development, direction, GUI, and other things, also from the perspective of a hip Internet user. I like to think that they were of some use.

It turns out that I don't mind writing one or two marketing things here or there, and I can even do some of them well. But I hate doing it for a long time. And the more I do, the more I hate it. Eventually, my soul begins to rebel.

August turned into September, September turned into October, and then November, December, and now it's January. And guess what? The site's still not up. It's going up in "a few weeks". Some part of it might, actually, in some very small crippled pre-beta/pre-alpha state. But I don't care anymore.

Every two weeks I was promised: launching in two or three weeks. Eventually, I started to squirm.

My boss is a nice guy; he hasn't treated me badly, and in fact he says that he likes me. But he's a marketer. I don't know if it's that a marketer is blind to the realities of what a company, a product, and a web site can do, or that a marketer is a consummate optimist or a liar at heart, or some combination of all of these. But I gradually began to realize that when we were going to launch our site had a lot less to do with what he wanted to be true than what would actually be true.

His grasp of the product's current capabilities was the same. It's entirely possible that our product is going to one day do everything that I was made to understand that it already did on the day I joined. But every two or three weeks of working at the company, as I wrote this or that glowing and wondrous marketing copy about what our product does or is nearly about to do, I discovered entire aspects of what I thought that our product does was simply not true. In some cases we were still working on it. In other cases, it was never going to do that, and never will.

And endlessly I heard my boss tell me how valuable I am and that I should be patient, until I began to realize that this was just more marketing speak. I am not valuable to this company; I have made many valuable contributions, but I, in essence, am the wrong person for the job. They need a marketing writer, not a professional blogger. That I'm being paid around half of the salary that I should be for my experience and skills has a lot to do with this hypothetical "value".

Maybe this company will hit something big the moment I walk out the door. Then I'll feel foolish and stupid. Maybe they'll want to rehire me to do what I was originally meant to do in the first place, which is write blog posts and network.

But as of now, I've had enough. I need to clear my head and reassess what it is I want to do as a professional blogger. And I've got other opportunities to explore in the meantime. Luckily, I have a bit of a cushion to explore this for a few months.

In the meantime, I have a plan for a new site on board games. It needs some web design skills and monetary investment. Anyone want to talk to me about it?



Gavin Schmitt said...

I'm still reading the blog from time to time. Just been absurdly busy moving into our new offices (or rather not, because contractors are jerks), and prepping 12 months worth of weekly web comics for robot martini :)

Gavin Schmitt said...

As for the actual content of the post...

marketers are just people. they are not all liars, not all overly optimistic. However they may often find themselves put in situations that are unrealistic by design.

take your product. If the marketer isn't the owner, or a core programmer, he has no real control. His only real task is to make sure everyone likes what he is marketing, whatever that may be... and the less he knows about it (from an ownership / vision / technical standpoint), the less he will actually be able to say in it's defense.

I know a bunch of people who get stuck in these loops... there is a wonderful team of marketing people at Moli.com who basically have no way of making their product better, and a very limited way of getting more attention for it no matter how hard they work. content content content, still doesn't fix it if the site can't function to the level average consumers expect.

As for new projects, I'm always interested to see if i can help out. I would say (based on where we are as a company) liquid investment is unlikely. But I'm always up for tossing out graphics & design :)

Yehuda said...

Gavin, you're right that I sound oo harsh on marketers.

On the other hand, like technical writers, a marketer is responsible in understanding a product before putting out a message. I get the feeling that this isn't always the case for all marketers.

I'm probably going to fold this blog back into my main blog, now that I started Purple Pawn.


Gavin Schmitt said...

I wouldn't say you are being too harsh :) just playing devil's advocate...

I'll have to check out purple pawn then (and actually read your main blog more frequently!)

cheers, and thanks for this useful blog. I thought it was a useful sideline