The ebb and flow of content producing (part one)

While this may come across as being vain, a lot of people have asked me what, exactly, it is I do as an Online Content Producer and what they should focus on at their jobs to move into this type of position and so I find myself writing about a day in the life of me. It’s a bit hefty so I’ve broken this into two parts. The first is a Day in the Life of Me, the second is what I think you should focus on if you want to get into this line of work.

Being someone who isn’t a morning person I wake up around 9am on Monday and arrive in the office around 10am. I make sure I log into our Twitter and Facebook pages, that while we haven’t made them public, I post updates on so that when they do launch a couple weeks before our new website release that they won’t look barren. I also stop by my personal social media outlets to report or link to anything I think is relevant to my own followers and friends, such as the Star Trek Exhibit or Avenue Q.

In my inbox is a bunch of Google Alerts I set up for our company. I look for anything I should forward to our Public Relations department or Sales Team. I also have an email from our web development team informing me of what website functions and sections they are building out this week. This is relevant to me as I’ll need to come up with content for these areas of the site.

The requirements are vague, a featured article section, a community page and sports venues among others. I then leave my desk to go grab some coffee and think about what I want to fill in these areas. When I arrive back I have three story ideas in my head for the articles I quickly jot down because I will forget them. I then go through some websites that compete directly with us or offer similar types of information, in either case I want to make sure that I’m not about to write about something that was already done, or if it is something that really needs to be talked about on our site that it’s done in a unique way.

So what do I come up with, San Jose Sharks, Technology and Golf. Keeping in mind that articles on our site run one to four paragraphs, as that’s the longest people really want to read online from a non-blog/non-news site, I pull up Wikipedia and after reading more than I ever wanted to know about the history of the San Jose Sharks, I work up a write-up that highlights a couple key facts mixed in with some of my fan boy commentary.

The next thing I do is start Google searching for local Golf Courses in my area and end up finding a great site that features user reviews and focuses on golfing in our area. I email the site owner asking if I can link to his site and how I’ll be linking to it. (Note: they don’t always respond this fast, but this particular one did) I get an email a little while later and he agrees, so I write up a one paragraph blurb about golfing in my area, drop some names of the prominent course and include a link to his site.

Now for technology, fortunately our company works with some rather interesting organizations that focus on Art & Technology. Having spoken with them and having previous write-ups on their organizations I take a look through my old files and check out the latest news on their website before I write-up what you could consider a brief advertorial of these organizations.

While I’ll need to add new articles each month, it’s not something I need to work on today. So now it’s on to the community page. I take a look at the prototype our developer has sent over and compare it with the UI design our front end developers are working on (yes we have two different developers). I realize that most of the items are dynamic pulls from feeds. Fortunately I had pulled together a list of over 40 local blog and corresponding twitter feeds a while back for another project so I’m able to incorporate most of these into the page. I do end up having to stop by Yelp and create some custom city feeds, but all things considered, this is the easiest page to set up. I then send an email to our developers making sure they’ll add a field or widget for allowing users to upload their photos and feeds.

By this time I’m a bit hungry and feeling a sense of accomplishment so I send off an email to one of the sales team members to see if they want to do a working lunch to talk about some of the sports related venues. He agrees and we go eat and talk about his clients, their needs and the venues he works with. They’re all very niche and I jot down the names of each on my phone.

I’m feeling tired after eating and so I head home and take a nap. After I wake up I go to my computer and begin Google Searching for the website of each of his venues. I copy and paste the About Us section into a Word document and print it out. I read it over and then I start to write a brief paragraph or two on each of the facilities and include a link to their sites.

I then take everything I’ve written for that day and email it to our proofing person; I also send a copy of the sports venues to the sales person I had lunch with so he can make sure his clients are correctly represented in the write-ups. Our proof person is also our departments Office Manager, so she’ll get back to me by tomorrow with any corrections or changes to the text. I usually try to get this all over to her by 6pm.

So my articles are written, but I’m going to need some imagery for these articles and sections. I send an email off to our graphics department asking for specific images that we have on file I think will fit well with the stories. For those that I know we don’t have images of, I go through my own image libraries at home, as well as, browse various stock art images online. Once I’ve found some that I like I include them in my folders with the articles. It’s important to note, that no matter what images I choose at some point the UI developers or our graphic designers may come up with something better, but I always need to have something ready to go just in case.

By now it’s around 8pm. I’m done with my tasks for today and the rest of the week will involve making updates to my articles, submitting them to our Marketing Director to ensure that they fit in with the rest of our website content and following up on any items I didn’t get a chance to finish. By the end of the week I’ll have the finals done and I’ll be ready for next week’s items. I’ll also have at least two meetings with either department heads or partners we work with who will want to ask me about writing an article on a specific topic related to them, which you almost always need to accept.

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