What I’m Doing With My Life

As of April 27 I will once again be part of the 9-5 working world. I have officially accepted the position of Content Strategist at the Seattle Public Library.

The past 9-ish months have been exciting, fun, challenging, stressful, and blissfully unstructured. I will miss my lazy mornings and working while binge-watching Mad Men and The Americans. I will miss my yoga pants and optional showers. I will miss working with clients and projects that have a definitive end in sight. I will even kind of miss all of the alone time. I will not miss the constant anxiety and selling that is self-employment.

From 2010 until last July, I was employed by tech startups. In the startup world you expect that your job will be transformed or eliminated within a couple of years. Funding is never guaranteed. Stock options are seldom worth the proverbial paper they’re printed on. Success is either IPO or acquisition, but fewer than 10% of startups get there. It’s a culture of failure. Fail fast and often. The odds of real financial gain are not much better than a casino, though the salaries are nothing to sneeze at. And the soda is always free.

I have a high tolerance for risk, uncertainty, and “going back to square one,” which is one reason I thrive in the startup world. For a decade prior to my startup life, I worked for small digital agencies as a project manager. I learned the subtle arts of herding cats and corralling clients. What I miss from those years is the feeling of success. We delivered good work. We earned profit. We didn’t fail fast.

Working for the city will be a whole ‘nother can of tamales. I see it as a great opportunity to really develop my skills as a world-class content strategist for an incredibly respected organization. As I get settled into the role, I may be able to describe what I’m working on, but suffice to say it’s an exciting role that fits nicely with my wide variety of hats and interests.

What exactly is a Content Strategist? It can mean different things in different organizations, but I think this article gives a good overview. For an organization with a content-rich site like the library, it’s a lot of work! It requires both creativity and an analytical approach. It needs someone who can think strategically and produce high-quality content efficiently.

While nothing is certain in life, there’s some security in this role (if only the fact that the whole organization isn’t expected to expire within a couple of years). The benefits are great (a pension — what?!). I’ll be working in that amazing building in downtown Seattle, and I live close enough to walk. The people are smart and driven by values that I share. All-in-all, I’m a little sad to say farewell to the freelance lifestyle, but I am more than thrilled to be embarking on this new adventure. I’m also looking forward to enjoying that feeling of success again.

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