When I bumped into C. C. Chapman at SXSW and told him I’d found a new job, his dumbfounded reaction reminded me that I’d probably need to explain myself.
See, back in November, I’d become so fed up with the incestuous echo chamber of social marketing that I decided I was quitting. I still believed in the usefulness of the tools, but I couldn’t stand the inauthentic marketing tactics and mundane observations that passed for game-changing insights.
So I quit.
And then I spent two months eating Ramen noodles while I slowly realized that almost my entire professional network was comprised of social marketing people, which means all the job leads I was getting were (surprise) social marketing leads, in one form or another.
By the end of February, I was this close to launching my own freelance consultancy that had nothing at all to do with social marketing. Of course, this meant I’d still have to subsist off Ramen noodles for at least another 2-3 months while my new business took shape (and found clients).
And that’s when it hit me: as frustrated as I can be by the bottom-feeding elements of poorly-executed social marketing, I’m equally drained by the endless self-promotion and referral generation that fuels the freelance world. Because when you’re a freelancer, finding your next client is your full-time job; doing the work for your existing client(s) is just the side work that’s preventing you from hunting down your next paycheck… and your next… and your next…
So, I decided to do something I never thought I do again: I accepted a full-time job offer to do social marketing for a living.
Security. Because, after seven up-and-down years of freelance, never knowing if I’d be able to cover all my bills on a month-to-month basis had become exhausting.
Opportunity. Because my new employer has a “blank slate” approach when it comes to social marketing, which means I have the freedom to implement my own strategies and tactics from the ground up.
Compartmentalization. Because now I can switch off my “work brain” when I leave the office and not feel like I should still be working at all hours of the night and weekend, which was a guilt that I always felt while freelancing.
That last point is incredibly important to me right now.
As some of you know, I’ve been increasingly interested in pursuing a screenwriting and media production career (as evidenced by my decade of producing Something to Be Desired and The Baristas out of my own pocket). When I was at SXSW this year, I sat in on as many film and TV panels (and saw as many films) as I could. One of those was a “Pitch Palace” panel, where attendees were asked to pitch the logline of a film idea they had, and a panel of three working film pros would let you know what you’d need to change about the logline in order to make it sound like something they’d want to read.
I stood up and pitched my logline.
Then a producer on the panel said, “Perfect. I would read that.” The others agreed. And then they moved on to the next person.
Did that feel good? Of course. And the fact that I was the first volunteer whose logline hadn’t been critiqued by the panel reinforced my notion that I may actually have skills worth developing in the entertainment field.
Finally having a full-time job that guarantees my bills will be paid — and knowing my time can be safely divided into “work” and “writing” without fostering the creeping guilt that I’m ‘slacking’ — means I can finally push ahead on my dreams without always feeling like I should be finding new clients instead.
And all I have to do now is eat a little crow about my previous rant. Because I still believe what I said back in November, about all the reasons why social marketing done wrong is the kind of thing that makes me stabby. And that’s why I’m so gratified that my new job doesn’t require me to be the kind of “guru” or “thought leader” that nearly drove me away from the field in the first place.
Oh, Yeah: Who Am I Working For Now?
As of two weeks ago, I became the Online Community Manager for DAP Products, Inc. If you’ve ever done any home repairs or caulked your kitchen sink, you’ve probably used a DAP product. They’re America’s #1 manufacturer of sealants, caulking and patch repair products, and they also happen to be based in Baltimore, which makes them an American success story.
And they’re just now delving into social media, which means it’s a total “from the ground up” situation. Which, all things considered, I find incredibly compelling as a career opportunity.
Keep in mind, I’m still just as frustrated with the asinine aspects of social marketing as I was back in November. And had DAP been focused on all the wrong metrics, I wouldn’t have been interested in this job in the first place. But it’s this perfect mix of “brand with a story to tell” and “absence of preconceptions about social marketing” that’s created an ideal situation for me, in which I can create and implement a fresh strategy without having to play all the disingenuous games I despise.
So, if you’re curious how my new “9 to 5 by day, screenwriting by night” gig shakes out, feel free to follow DAP on Twitter, or on Facebook (which we’ve not even launched yet), or on YouTube (which we have big plans for), and then keep following me on Twitter, where I may be a bit quieter than usual while I adapt to this new mix of working and writing, but I’m sure to return to my verbose and contrarian self soon enough.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write for the afternoon — over a meal of something other than Ramen.