What is your name, position, age, location?
Name: Alexa Shoen
Position: Independent Content Strategist
Age: Age 26
Location: Berlin, with relatively frequent visits to the States and the UK.
What's your background?
I became an accidental freelance copywriter after I finished my undergraduate degree (BA English, University of Notre Dame). I worked with couple clients here and there -- mostly blogging and editing advertising copy -- while I completed my masters (MA Jazz Performance, Leeds College of Music).
Then, I spent about a year in San Francisco. That’s where I fell in love with tech, social media, and online community. I just didn’t fall in love with the city. So, in early 2014, I exported myself to Berlin.
Presently, I consult and write for companies (from solopreneurs to big multi-nationals) on content strategy, which is a new and often-poorly-explained field. My KPIs are typically brand awareness, user engagement, user acquisition, and user retention. I improve those things by writing, tweaking, and creating systems for website copy, sales pages, social media channels, social media content, newsletters, media outreach, SEO-driven blogging, video campaigns, photo shoots, UX clarity, events, sponsor deals, affiliate media partnerships -- you name it.
What inspired you to become a content strategist?
It was a progression, more than anything else. I have a natural talent for words, and a natural instinct for business. Plus, after years of singing, I understand that there’s a balance between listening to your audience and trying to sell them on your vision.
Please walk me through your day.
What do you do at your company?
When you’re in the business of handling multiple clients, organization is an ongoing mission. Here’s a day in the life (on the days when I’m totally, definitely on schedule):
- 8:15AM. Wake up. Check social, check emails. Read an article or two on Medium.
- 8:50AM. Work out. I’m in the habit of dancing every morning right now, and it is AWESOME.
- 10:30AM. Work starts. I head to any meetings or client on-sites. If I don’t have any, I’m probably at one of three coffee shops within a ten-minute walk of my flat. I have a to-do list for each client for the week. On Sundays, I try to allocate which hours of which days I will be working for which client in order to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.
- 7:00PM. Networking. A couple evenings a week, I’m at some kind of community or networking event. (Like the Berlin Geekettes Monthly, which I help organize!)
- 9:00PM. Bits and bobs. I’ll usually send out a few more emails before bed, especially for clients on the West Coast. I might also be working on my side projects, #entrylevelboss or The Human Jukebox Project.
- 11:30PM. Bed. I’m trying so hard to get better at the no-screens-before-sleep thing, a la Arianna Huffington. Right now, my thing is to put a podcast on sleep timer. I heard somewhere that I can find Tom Hanks reading short stories on SoundCloud. I really need to go find those.
Can you see yourself in ten years doing the same thing you do now?
Sort of. But in a much bigger capacity. And with a bigger team behind me.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I get a lot of good advice. Here are three that stick out in my mind:
- Be nice. More than anything, people want to work with people who are nice.
- In the big scheme of things, freelancers are a steal. Ask for double, and then increase your prices.
- Some skills you get through talent. Some skills you get through experience. Don’t undersell your talents simply because they aren’t listed on your resume.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last year?
If you really want to do something, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen. Period.
And what are your plans for the future?
*I can give you plans for the year.
This year, I’ll be partnering with some other writers and designers in order to do bigger, better things for my content strategy clients.
I’ll be recording an album this summer, called The Human Jukebox Project. It’s an interactive (people vote on what songs make it onto the album through Kickstarter!) music adventure. And I get to record with some of my favorite musicians, which is going to be utterly lovely.
And I’ll continue to have fun with #entrylevelboss, a professional education movement for the quarter-life crisis crowd. It’s a weekly online series, during which I give out ideas and tips for managing your own (early) career path. There’s a lot of ways to use content strategy tools when trying to find a job. I’m planning on writing a book, and organizing some #entrylevelboss retreats this fall, too.
If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
I’d like to be less distracted. You’d be surprised at how often I seem to be writing three emails in three different windows simultaneously.
Any advice for your local/global Geekettes?
Don’t try to be good at everything. If you try to be good at everything, how will anyone know what to hire you for? Pick one thing you like. A really specific thing. Get awesome at it. Repeat. The opportunities will unfold from there.