I'm leaving Distilled at the end of this week to pursue a career that will hopefully exist somewhere between freelance copy-writing and environmentalism. I've written a bit more about all that at the end of this post (along with a few other bits and bobs), but the main purpose of this post is to talk a little about some of the skills I've picked up while at Distilled. Skills that I'm pretty sure will come in useful for
my new career... the next few years... the rest of my life. These aren't in any particular order.
1. Writing for the web
I was reading through some of my old university essays the other day and boy has my writing changed. No longer the hyperbolic ruminations that go nowhere, my writing these days is crisp and clear. I wish I'd written those essays in the same way. The university of life, eh?
2. Writing for different audiences
From detailed, technical reports that aim to make the most complex of subjects understandable, through to informal blog posts that seek to entertain, working at Distilled has given me the chance to improve my writing skills across a broad range of areas.
3. Keeping up to date
Online marketing must be one of, if not the most fast-moving industry out there. Staying on top of news and how it affects your day to day work is quite the challenge. On top of that, it's important to stay aware of what's generally happening online.
4. Crowd-sourcing and Collaboration
The wisdom of crowds (apart from being a fascinating book) is something I've really learned to value during my time here. Working in such an intelligent and creative hotspot as Distilled means you don't have to look too far for ideas or solutions, as long as you're not afraid to ask. I'll miss it.
This is a similar point to above. My time at Distilled has taught me how rewarding it is to work as part of a team that trusts and relies upon each other implicitly. What's been even more exciting is watching this team grow over the last two years, somehow without diluting that trust and reliability. Trust means everyone becomes way more confident in their decisions and actions which, in turn, leads to a much higher quality of work.
6. Eat lots of fruit
When I first started at Distilled, Duncan (with his line-manager hat on), asked me to suggest anything I'd like for the office. I put forward the idea of a weekly fruit box. Two years on, I've only had one proper cold and have learned that an apple at 3 in the afternoon can go a long way towards curing that afternoon slump.
7. When there's a problem, deal with it
I think this is actually part of my contract. If we ever think there's been a problem, or there's one approaching, Distilled likes us to pick up the phone and deal with it. Best. Advice. Ever. Even though I still find it scary sometimes, more often than not the problem is nothing more than a misunderstanding- so much easier to fix by talking it through than by letting it escalate over back and forth emails.
8. Look at the bigger picture
By this, I mean remember to keep in mind your overall objectives and have a strategy in place to achieve them (this is relevant to any part of your life actually, but I'm talking about online marketing projects). I'm the first to admit I haven't quite mastered this yet. I still tend to get stuck in too deep and forget to look at the bottom line. However, I'm much better than I was and, fortunately, I have worked among people that excel at it.
9. Ask questions
There's too much information to know everything, so ask questions. Srsly. Again, it can be a scary thing to do if you're talking with someone who's using lots of industry lingo, but more often than not, they'll know much less about the subject than they seem to.
10. Be Transparent
I can't imagine what it would be like to work at a company where you refuse to tell the client anything they want to know. It must cause many sleepless nights. Going forwards, I plan to keep this as a main tenet of all parts of my life (except that secret underground lair with the Lucy-mobile).
Humans are creative. It's one of our main selling points. Working at Distilled has allowed me to flex and build my creative muscles into the rippling biceps you see today. Allow yourself time and head-space to think creatively about problems, challenges or simply whatever you're doing (whether it seems broken or not).
As for what I'm doing next.... I know I want to move into the "green scene", but apart from that I'm still very much deciding. I'm volunteering and interning with four different organisations- Transition Town Brixton (near where I live), Project Dirt (an online environmental community), 10:10 (an epic campaign that kicked off in the summer and seeks to get people to reduce their carbon emissions by 10% in 2010) and Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses (who grow lots of things and do lots with the local community). So that's going to keep me busy. I'm pretty sure that I'll start leaning towards one area over another as time goes on and then, bingo- I'll try and make it a career!
Alongside that, I'll be doing as much freelance copywriting as I can get my hands on, both because I love it (honestly, I really do) and to pay the rent! If you have any work going, I'm still taking stuff on so please do get in touch. I have a writing website but it's very much a work in progress!
I owe Distilled big time for many things and want to say an enormous thank you to Will and Duncan for being the best bosses ever.
Oh, and look! There's a Distilled SEO job going!
I'll still be around. I've made some awesome friends while I've been here (and, of course, there's Tom- wait, what? You didn't know?!) and I am genuinely excited about the future of Distilled and the search industry in general, so I'll stay in touch. But, for now, so long and thanks for all the links.