Happy Friday friends!
We have saved a VERY fun post for today––one that I’ve been meaning to post for some time now, and that is the “MEET KENDALL!” blog post!
Kendall came on a few months ago as my Editorial Manager, which essentially means she’s my right-hand girl when it comes to content creation! She helps me organize, brainstorm, write, edit, and sometimes helps me post to stories, too! (You know those “On the blog, this week” recaps on Sundays? Those are her!)
She came up with (and writes!) our newest series “Am I doing this right?!,” is the lead writer on our “On Our Minds” series, pulls/organizes all of your feedback for our Real Women Approved posts, helps me pull together product links for style posts, make collages, and a whole lot more! My life is SO much better with Kendall in it! ?I want to make sure YOU know the girl behind all this great new content, too!
When did I know I needed to hire help?
Well, a few months ago, I was at my breaking point and knew I couldn’t keep doing everything on my own. I had way too much on my plate and I was at a point where I needed to start delegating in order to keep growing. So I needed someone to help with the operational stuff and also take some of the blog post workload off of my plate, so I could focus more on innovating and creating. I was spending too much time working *in* my business instead of *on* my business, so I knew something had to shift.
That’s when I DMed Carolyn (Liz’s creative assistant) on Instagram, and said, “Carolyn, do you happen to have any clones?! I need one of you!” and she said, “Actually, kind of! My Sister in Law!”––and it was fate! I talked to Kendall for all of 30 minutes and had a good feeling––I didn’t need to interview anyone else!
So, I will now turn it over to Kendall, so you can get to know her a little better! Below, she’s answering several of the questions you guys submitted over on Instagram stories–so let’s jump in!
Meet Kendall Q&A:
First off, how/when did you start working with Jess?
I’ve been working with Jess as her Editorial Manager for just over three months and it’s been so. dang. fun! The community she has created is amazing, and I’m so excited to be apart of it. (And if you’re wondering, working with Jess is exactly what I thought it’d be like — so fun!) While she’s incredibly hardworking and successful, she is equally down-to-earth, kind, hilarious, and doesn’t sweat the small stuff! (Jess note: This is so nice ?I didn’t even make her write this!!)
Like Jess referenced above, we met because Carolyn, my now sister-in-law (she just married my brother!?) is a creative assistant for Liz Adams of Hello Adams Family. When Jess asked if she knew of any writers, she passed along my name! Thanks, Carolyn!
What is an Editorial Manager?
Generally, an Editorial Manager strategizes, plans, reviews, and contributes to the overall content for a publication or platform. With Jess, I brainstorm content ideas, draft posts, review content and create graphics when needed. Jess and I have a Monday morning call to chat through content for the week as well as brainstorm bigger ideas (like our On Our Minds series), and we chat back and forth as needed throughout the week.
What college did you attend?
I got my journalism degree from the University of Colorado. Go buffs! I absolutely loved Boulder — it’s the most magical town. I also met my husband at CU and we try to go back as often as I can — we even flew back to shoot our engagement pictures there!
What is your career background?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a journalist. I started interning at a small paper while in college and saw how drastically newsrooms were being slashed (circa 2010). I decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to expand my skill set as a backup plan. So for the rest of college, I had ALL the internships! My friends always joked that I had worked for everyone in Boulder. I was a media relations intern at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, a marketing intern for the Colorado Chautauqua Association, a public affairs intern at the Boulder County Commissioner’s Office, and a public relations intern at nonprofits and eventually agencies. So I tried to test out as many things as I could to understand what I did and didn’t like before graduation.
I landed my first full-time job at a PR firm specializing in outdoor apparel industries (think K2 skis, Osprey and Ride snowboards). While I enjoyed it, I didn’t do nearly as much writing as I would have liked. Then I bopped around a few agencies before landing at one that specialized in health and wellness clients (think CorePower Yoga and the National Sleep Foundation). I loved the work and carved out a role on my team as the content expert. I got to write everything: white papers, eBooks, articles and releases, as well as blog posts and social media content.
Also, I should note that I had my own style blog during this time. I started it to be both a creative outlet and a way to make me better at my PR job. I worked with influencers a lot at my agency, and it was invaluable to gain perspective of both sides of the industry. That experience has also been very helpful in working with Jess!
When I moved to Houston, I actually kept that job and worked remotely, flying back to Denver a few times each month. While working from my couch definitely had its perks, eventually, I missed human interaction and found a role that was nearly entirely writing. I’ve been at Rice for three years now.
Where do you live?
I’m currently in Houston, Texas! I’ve lived all over actually — Southern California, Philadelphia, I graduated high school in Calgary, Canada, and lived in Boulder and Denver for several years before moving to Houston.
Did you go to Rice? Go Owls!
Love that there are GG readers who are owls! My husband actually got his Master’s at Rice, which is why we moved to Houston, and my day job is at Rice! I’m a writer and contribute to their quarterly magazine and daily newspaper as well as create marketing and web copy — basically anything related to content creation.
Working in higher education was never on my radar before this role, but it’s really fun! You get to meet some of the smartest people in the world and you learn things you never thought you’d even care to! ?
How can I do something similar to what you do!?
I started freelancing about three years ago. Initially, I was creating content for my former PR clients, and then I gained more projects through word of mouth and pitching. Now, I also use a creative agency to help me find opportunities.
Here is my advice for becoming a freelance writer:
- Write, a lot. Write, write and write some more. Starting a blog for your writing or creating a website to host your work is a great way to build a portfolio.
- Pitch, a lot. Have an idea for your favorite publication? Pitch it! You have to put yourself out there and knock on a few doors to land opportunities.
- Market yourself! As you network, pitch and begin working with clients or publications, it’s important to market and brand yourself. Have an elevator pitch that tells people who you are and what you can do for them, and make sure your website reflects where you want to go.
- Over communicate. Freelancing is entrepreneurship! To protect your time and ensure your clients are happy with your work, creative briefs are really helpful. After discussing a concept or project with a client, craft a creative brief that outlines the project details, timeline, tone, voice, deliverables, etc. and have the client sign it before beginning work.
- Be strategic. Don’t have much experience, yet? Be willing to write for free or at a discount to build out your portfolio. Looking to break into a new industry? Write at a discount as you develop a new skill set to add to your arsenal.
What is a “typical” day in the life of Kendall?
5:30- I wake up and head to Orange Theory to get my workout out of the way first thing. I never thought I’d be a morning workout person, but I like that I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do and that I just have to get myself there!
6:30- I feel most productive in the morning, so I try to make the most of that time. Before heading to the office, I try to squeeze in an hour or two of freelance work over breakfast. Then, I get ready for work and walk in. (I live 10 minutes from campus, which is nice about half of the year in Houston, and the other half I look like I just finished a marathon ?)
9:00- I get to my desk at Rice. Depending on the day, I’ll interview sources, draft stories, attend meetings, review marketing metrics and brainstorm new ad concepts and branding ideas. I touch a lot of aspects of my department and get to work regularly with videographers, photographers, media relations roles, designers, and web and marketing heads.
1:00- Lunch. Working on a college campus is pretty cool, because it’s like a mini city. I can walk to several restaurants, coffee shops, go to the gym, or just walk around the pretty campus over lunch. There are always people hanging out, so it’s definitely nice to have that positive energy! Sometimes, I’ll squeeze in more freelance work during my lunch break if I need to.
5:00- Head home. Depending on the day, I’ll work on freelance projects, grab drinks with friends, make dinner with my husband or go to a yoga class. I try to go twice a week!
How far in advance do you plan out Jess’ editorial calendar? How do you manage posting?
This is something I plan to keep working on! Editorial calendars are great, but working with a blog, I also think it’s important to stay flexible. Jess and I are working to build more evergreen content and still leave room for spur of the moment posts and timely ideas — because that’s life! I’d love to get to a spot where we have two weeks of posts ready. (Jess’ note: This is Kendall’s graceful way of saying, “Jess is hot mess so we don’t have an editorial calendar, and are never more than a day or two ahead, but maybe we’ll get there eventually.” ?)
What do you use to develop content with Jess?
Right now, we’re using AirTable to organize content ideas and deliverables, and gearing up for the holiday season, we just started to use Slack today, actually! I’ve used it before, but not recently, and have heard great things from creative communicators!
How did you learn how to take care of your plants?
(This stems from my “Am I Doing This Right!?” Plant edition, haha!) I love any plant-related questions! ? In short: trial and error. Two things I’ve learned in keeping houseplants happy and thriving: don’t overwater and don’t overthink it. I water all of my plants at the same time each week to make sure I don’t forget any! For more plant tips, check out my post on how to decorate with houseplants and keep them alive.