A few small updates from around our
A few small updates from around our
A few small updates from around our
One of the more exciting piece of news is that the small team that I have has grown by
+1 today! Hiring anyone is hard and I’m so excited to onboard Fred onto our 🚀 that is the
Oh! We’ve added these tools — thanks everyone for making submissions!
To infinity & community,
Today we’re going to get to know Andy McIlwain, a “content wrangler,” community builder, small biz advocate, and occasional developer — apparently he also doodles a bit as well.
Andy’s deep into the WordPress community and is someone that I’ve crossed paths plenty of times with in the past; WordPress has an important place in my heart and I’m so grateful for learning the ins, the outs, and even the ups / downs of open source directly from a significant (understatement of the year) project.
My first encounter would be with this old message board network called ezBoard. I was a regular on a few different boards, all related to tech or gaming. This would’ve been around the early 2000’s.
Those communities introduced me to open source software and blogging platforms, and that led me down a rabbit hole of tinkering with web hosting, content management systems, self-hosted forum software, portals, IRC, et al.
In the mid-2000’s I started contributing to some larger gaming forums and fansites. I kept that up for about ten years. I did a lot of work on the content side as an editor, and a lot of work on the community side as a moderator.
Community management as a career never crossed my mind — I saw it as a hobby. Gifts and freebies from game publishers were payment enough. Having grown up in a working-class family in rural Canada, comp’d economy flights to the US and free “merch” were like big, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
In hindsight, we were really just a bunch of overly enthusiastic fans doing content marketing and community management at minimal cost. I wouldn’t understand the real value of it until years later.
Getting involved in the WordPress community has done a lot for me. I was introduced to the platform in 2007 by one of my college instructors. I fell in love with it and immediately became a vocal WordPress advocate.
It was serendipitous timing. When I graduated in 2009, nobody was hiring. But because of my self-taught web skills, all built around WordPress, I was able to get a job with a local digital marketing agency.
It was like a snowball effect from there. I moved to Toronto a year later, joined the local WordPress group, volunteered to co-organize our WordCamp conference, and helped organize monthly meetups after that.
Every job I’ve had since then came from connections I made through the WordPress community.
“Community as a career” finally clicked for me in 2015. I was approached about a Community Manager role at GoDaddy. Reading over the job requirements was like reading a summary of everything I’d done for the past fifteen years.
It’s a dream job, and I’m still super grateful for it.
A handful of tactical things I picked up from Chris:
I was never told to be wary of anything in particular, but I have learned to watch out for internal fiefdoms. Some folks prefer total control instead of collaboration and it can be hard to work with people like that.
I’m freshly in the middle manager phase of my career, just starting to build a team of my own. So it’s a lot of give-and-take right now within groups like Community Club and CMX. I’m absorbing what I can from others who’ve been through it, and sharing what I can with those who are just getting started.
My top piece of advice? Embrace the flexibility that naturally comes with community management.
You can lean into a bunch of different areas — CMX’s SPACE model is a great representation of that. To quote Bruce Lee: Be like water. Get ready to flow with the needs and changes of whatever organization you join. You’ll learn a lot from adjacent teams, be it support or marketing or something else.
Second most important piece of advice? Figure out where you, personally, can drive the most value.
One way to do that is to build strong relationships with teams around the org. It’s easier to get buy-in when you can show how your work aligns with theirs.
One of the first things I did after joining GoDaddy was talk to different teams about what they wanted to get out of a customer community.
That’s easy: Politics and resourcing.
Community means different things to different people. Combine that with the flexibility of community and you can end up with an ill-defined program that’s passed around like a hot potato.
That said, I think we’re on the right track as a profession and industry, as a whole — 2020 has been a hell of a year for community management. Between the longstanding work done by groups like Community Roundtable and CMX, the more recent launch of the Community Club community (so meta), and the growing awareness of community as an asset, we’re in a great position to develop more standards and best practices.
Your community doesn’t need to be a bastion of free speech. There are hot topics that will inevitably spark arguments and hostility, especially in bigger communities.
My rule of two: No politics, no religion.
The open web is great because you can spin up a site or a community about nearly any topic. People can go find a place, or create a place, that welcomes those discussions and have at it.
Randy Jordan, aka @randydeluxe, aka Kaivax, Community Manager at Blizzard. I’m a longtime Warcraft player (sup fellow nerds!!) and am very curious about how their team operates across different channels and platforms.
The animation is just as good… amazing:Continue reading
It seems that every single person has a different “take” on the word
fuck and what it means to them and how offensive it is (or isn’t) and whether or not they use it themselves or not… or, on random and rare occasion.
You might have noticed that I’ve added a small improvement to our overall reading experience by adding “
reading time” into each issue:
I’ve done this by taking the number of words written and dividing that by 250 words per minute — I believe most
yenizens are on the faster side of the reading scale ( the average adult human reads between 200-250 wpm).
Let me know what you think!
To infinity & community,
A bit of a shorter issue today as I plan on spending most of my day finding, securing, and bringing home a 🎄!! Wish me luck!
Chad Neufeld and Amanda Moloney sit down for a brief (but packed!) chat about how to launch an online community — I thought I’d share my notes on this brief exchange and give you all the goods, per usual!
Let’s jump in… it’s a simple question & answer session between the two!
Chad: What is the most important thing to think about when considering a launch of a new community?
Amanda: The conversation usually starts with technology (features & functionality) but where folks need to start is with purpose:
Without the 3rd, there really isn’t a community.
Chad: What are 3 things that all successful communities have present?
Amanda: You’ll need these three key ingredients:
Chad: What are some obvious characteristics of a successful community?
Amanda: There are a two important characteristics that all successful communities have:
Chad: What is one question that you were asked more frequently?
Amanda: I wish people would ask me how long it takes to build a healthy community! It definitely is something that you need to think about as a long-term investment, the value in the community comes over time as those connections happen between the members and the brand.
This is a year-long project, not a 3-month project type of thing.
There are many… and if you’ve lived beyond 30, then, you’ve experienced all of them first-hand. In fact, you may have intentionally said “Yes” to many of them.Continue reading
… my wife creates order:Continue reading
It’s “Turkey Day” here in the US and that means that, for some folks, today (and tomorrow) off from work. But don’t worry! The
#yenFM 🚂 continues to chug along!
Today, though, is a lighter issue… a more personal one.
To infinity & community,
When I first started writing this newsletter I beat myself up pretty badly — I cycled through a number of repeating anxieties, like:
This is especially difficult when, thanks to the internet, we get consistent high-light reels of everyone else’s success — jealousy stinks and I had a fit of it earlier this week:
Gratefully, even this morning via @wes_kau, I’ve been reminded that basing my career decisions off of other people’s feelings (and what other people think) is, always and forever, a bad idea.
And then I realized that I had written about this exact thing nearly 7 years ago to the date when I was writing about “the comparison trap” that we all have experienced:
You know what I’m talking about because you may have done in just a few minutes ago (or at least once today and multiple times this past week). You and I took a look at someone else’s project, someone else’s blog, someone else’s venture or business and you said to yourself (or aloud), “they are succeeding where I am failing” and you pity your own circumstance and fortune.
If you’re anything like me then you may have even taken the thought a step further and gone so negative that you actually considered quitting and giving up on your own work because of the comparisons that you made.
You feel utterly defeated and you start seeing the track of cynicism and extreme doubt crop up. You feel joyless around the things that have given you joy even if only a few hours ago you were feeling unstoppable. It was as if this new piece of news, this new piece of information shattered your worldview in an instant.
The solution? I have found that processing these thoughts aloud with a trusted partner (my spouse as “Community Zero”) is how to best encounter (and overcome) the feelings of the moment — she continues to do this daily and I’m so very grateful for she has seen and endured many things.
The years of practice have produced, thankfully, marked improvement as I am able to better and more quickly see these moments for what they are and, as a result, I’m able to move more quickly through the emotional process and thereby reducing the chance of unnecessary collateral damage.
Point is… I’m grateful and I am particularly reminded during this time and season of the year of the many blessings that I (and many of us) do have: My family is in good health and despite the challenges of raising 3 children, my wife and I are committed to one another to see it to the end and support one another in that shared goal.
Professionally, I have very meaningful and fulfilling work that aligns the things that I enjoy with the skills that I have developed and that, thankfully, match a few clear and obvious needs of the world.
Now, this hasn’t always been the case and I have spent the majority of my career struggling to “find my place” and, if I’m to be entirely candid, to just fit in with everyone else.
Of course, the moments where I’ve had the chance to fit in I’ve inevitably blown it, either getting outright dismissed because of bad behavior or because I decided that I simply had enough and quit, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad reasons — I’ll own all of them at this point and I don’t like to live with regret.
And probably, very much like you, I’ve never, really, wanted to fit in, but, I definitely want to be respected, just like most of our
yenizens in the
yeniverse. This isn’t a guess; it’s a fact as I’ve come to know many of you and we both know that you don’t “fit the mold” in any way, shape, or form — you could never do that if you tried!
I think most folks in the “community space” are like this and we’ve struggled to model what our “career paths” are “supposed” to be. Sometimes, it falls under terms like “startup” or “entrepreneur” or maybe we can get fancy and say “creator” or “builder” or even, maybe, have a title like “Chief Community Officer” (bleh).
We’re into people. We’re into relationships. We’re into community. There’s not really a good title for that. Ever. We sometimes play the role of counselor, unofficial therapist, friend, trusted confidante, ally, or even nemesis when we must. We do what we need to do to help our communities thrive — that’s just our jam.
But, that’s not always useful from a career “pathing” perspective.
But finding how that plays out specifically in the professional world, again, isn’t easy. That’s why diagrams that show the alignment of joy, skill, and needs (personally and professionally) have helped me make decisions about what I say “Yes” to and what I should entirely avoid, if I can help it.
Sadly, many of us have experienced these “traps” that looked so good but ultimately fall woefully-short:
What is my proposed solution to avoiding these
traps? Healthy relationships. Healthy communities.
In other words, we all need more folks in our lives who are willing to talk about these career challenges and make themselves available to process the ups and downs of community leadership.
A rewarding career (and personal life) starts with meaningful and intentional relationships — I hope we can all make 2021 a year where we can look back at it (via 2022) and say, without hesitation:
I have richer, deeper, and more intimate relationships now than I did last year. I feel more loved and more known than ever before.
And although I may not be in the perfect role or on the perfect career path, I have the right folks around me who are advocates for my success — I do the same for them.Yenizen of 2022
That is my hope for all of us in 2021, for every
yenizen in the
yeniverse! Together, we can help one another avoid the enticing but ultimately unfulfilling traps on the road to finding purpose.
Two things as I close:
Also, five (5!!!!!) great community-centric books listed in the
Thank you for contributing!!