I feel like I’ve had to keep so many things close to my vest of late, but now that certain aspects have normalized, I feel a little more free to talk about things. Part of it has to do with not wanting to tip my hand, and part of it is not wanting to get my (or anyone else’s) hopes up.
So, I’m actively and aggressively looking for more work. I’m still at Spicy Horse, but now I’m rolled back to just being a Community Manager again. Honestly, that’s where I’m happiest, even if my first few weeks back at this helm have been marked with a constant barrage of behind-the-scenes work getting our domains free of malware. (That’s a WHOLE other story that involves our host and some naughty, naughty people.) If you ever happen over to the American McGee page, that’s where I do most of my updating and writing. Yes, I know it hasn’t been updated in ages – remember that whole “malware” thing? Yeah, I’m not going to drive people there too aggressively until I know it’s all handled permanently.
I realized that there is a massive tragedy going on in the corporate world right now. The value of the Community Manager is grossly underestimated, as evidenced by the pitifully low starting salaries they offer. I suspect that this is a result of a flurry of companies hiring alleged community managers at the beginning of the trend, not seeing the results they wanted, and then relegating them to a “necessary expense” that they shave off as much as possible. They saw the results from a few of the companies that had good community managers, thought that a trained monkey could do the job, and then hired… trained monkeys.
Trained monkeys cannot do what I do. An excellent community manager builds solid relationships with a few key people in the community who support them to the rest of the community. The company should provide the Community Manager with a modest budget to run contests, membership drives, and give-aways to incite new traffic. The Community Manager listens to the members, collects the data into reports for the company, negotiates any modifications for the sake of the community, and then delivers the messages back to the community. They also track traffic and social media metrics, utilize social networks, write fresh content, and bring new information to the community.
Companies do not understand this if they have not had a good experience with a CM in the past. They look at my salary requirements – $45K to start, with benefits – and they think I’m off my rocker. If they understood the technical, personal, and organizational skills that go into it (not to mention the time), they wouldn’t think twice and would realize what a deal they’re getting. But, they don’t. They associate “telecommute” with “lower overhead” and don’t imagine that anyone couldn’t get on at only $20K a year.
Yeah… not so much.
So, I’ve been investigating sales and marketing jobs, too. That’s been panning out a little better, and if I somehow end up with a desk job in an office, I’ll still be able to take care of my e-kids from my phone and in the evenings. (At least, that’s the theory.)
Regardless of my schedule in the future, though, it’s clear that I can’t survive without at least an additional job. I was barely making it before, and kids are really grumpy when you can’t feed them. I’ve had a couple of interviews in the last couple of weeks, either of which could potentially turn into something excellent, so we’ll just have to see. Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers.