Name: Jason Schumaker
Job Title: Producer/"Blog Dog"/Event Coordinator
Current Employer: BetterPhoto.com
Where: Seattle, WA
Years of Experience: 5
Other Relevant Work Experience: Worked as an editor and writer for a computer magazine.
Education: University of South Carolina, Bachelor's in Journalism; Summit School of Guitar, Vancouver Island, Canada, trained as a guitar builder and repairman.
Salary: Research salaries for event coordinator, web producer and blogging jobs.
Blogging Jobs - Producer and Event Coordinator Job Description
In this Salary Story, we hear from Jason Schumaker, a self-described "Jason of all trades." He explains what it's like to juggle multiple roles in his job at BetterPhoto.com. On any give day, you may find him working as event coordinator, editing video footage, or blogging on one of the company blogs. And that's just a small part of his producer job description. If you're interested in blogging jobs or other online writing positions, keep reading to get Jason's advice on how to produce compelling content.
PayScale: What is your producer/event coordinator job description?
I began working for BetterPhoto.com in the role of executive assistant to the president of the company. Jim Miotke is a photographer, writer and lecturer. It is my responsibility to edit his writings, organize his notes, plan his workshops, and manage his e-mail and calendars. Within the first two months as his assistant I was charged with planning 12 workshops in a 14 day stretch. Traveling with the owner, I organized every facet of our workshops in Orlando, West Palm Beach, Chicago, NYC, San Diego, Monterey, San Francisco and Seattle. I not only planned the events, I also worked as cameraman. I filmed the workshops in each city, advised the president on edits and changes to the program content, as well as helping to sell the next planned workshop to attendees. It was exhilarating work! After this two week whirlwind tour, I traveled to the Caribbean for a one-week boat trip where we filmed and photographed in the British Virgin Islands. The work that I did on these two trips led to my title and position being changed to "producer." My new role has me working with the president to film short videos. I edit the footage and then post the material on YouTube and in blog posts. My talents as a writer and editor were soon noticed, and I began to manage two of the company's blogs. I write my own posts, as well as edit those written by my co-workers. I often write blog posts for the president of the company as I have a talent for writing in his voice. I also work as a copywriter for company e-mail sequences, marketing material, and e-books on photography education.
PayScale: How did you get started as a writer and blogger?
I have always been a writer. As far back as I can remember I have loved to write. I began writing in the 5th grade. Our teacher assigned the class to put on a play, and I was unsatisfied with her choice of Treasure Island. I decided to write my own play. I remember going home after school and getting to work. I laid down on my bedroom floor and within a few hours I had worked out a gripping tale of murder and suspense. "Mystery Mansion" never saw the light of day, as my teacher decided to stick with "Treasure Island". I was heartbroken, but not deterred. I continued to write, and published a few poems and stories in my high school literary magazine. When I decided on the University of South Carolina for college, I began as a journalism major and wrapped up my degree in four quick years. I majored as an advertising copywriter with a minor in writing. I have since worked as an editor for a technical computer magazine, Linux Journal. I began working for Linux Journal as their advertising coordinator, but my writing and editing abilities led to my move to the editorial department, where I worked as an assistant editor. My main responsibilities were to edit articles, correspond with writers, produce content, write the monthly "LJ Index," as well as feature articles and material for the website. I also served as event coordinator. I helped organize and plan the magazine's presence at industry trade shows. I enjoy working with words, and truly love the advent of the blogging age! In my most recent job I was given the title of "Blog Dog." It is my responsibility to manage two of our company blogs. I write weekly content for our team blog and for the president of the company. I am also charged with helping to drive up page views and subscribers by using SEO techniques and by reaching out to other blogs.
PayScale: What do you love about your job?
I love the variety my job offers. I enjoy traveling, planning events, and writing a variety of materials. We recently worked on an e-mail sequence where each day a photography tip was sent. Each day, for 21 days, we sent out a tip or technique designed to help make people more confident in their ability as photographers. The tips were free and solely designed to build our community. There was a gentleman who wrote back stating how much he appreciated the tips. He was working through a very rough patch in his life. His wife had recently passed away, which led to a bout of depression so severe that he spent some time in a mental institution. This man wrote to me to thank us for helping provide him with something positive to do with his time. And he finally found the impetus to use the camera his wife had bought him years earlier.
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face as a producer/events coordinator?
The biggest challenges for my job involve being able to adapt and learn quickly. I had never done video work before, nor had I used editing software to create short, polished movies. The main challenge I face at my job is that of being a "Jason of all trades." I have to be able to learn new things quickly and become good at them just as quickly. It's important to trust yourself and your abilities. And I work very hard when it comes time to learn something new. The key to working any job is to find a way to continually add value to your company. People often get into a routine or a rut at their jobs. This can lead to a certain sense of entitlement that produces a lackadaisical attitude. You might not try your hardest because you don't feel appreciated by your boss. I always try to stay fresh with my ideas and I rarely hesitate to offer thoughts on how to make projects or processes work better.
PayScale: What advice would you give to someone interested in blogging jobs?
In terms of blogging, you have to be flexible, and you have to be able to produce compelling content. Writing daily is a good start. With a blog, you don't need to worry about producing the next great American novel. While you certainly want to produce quality material, you have to be okay with small mistakes here and there. Writing for a blog is all about starting a conversation, and it really is okay to show that you're human! I suppose that is one bit of advice I wish I would have had sooner. Learning to say, "good is good enough" is key. I used to agonize over my posts. Everything had to be just right. I soon learned that my standards were too high. If we were having a conversation I wouldn't care if you misspoke, or stumbled over a word or two. As long as I found our conversation interesting that's all that would matter. You want to write about something that you find interesting. Pick a topic that you are passionate about and I guarantee that others will share your passion, and they will find you. Producing content on a consistent basis is one of the most important keys to building a successful blog. You want to have loads of fresh, interesting content. Mix it up, and keep writing!
PayScale: What are the most interesting things that have happened during your job?
I guess that traveling to the Caribbean and sailing on a boat for a week and being paid to do that would qualify as interesting! It was a once in a lifetime type excursion, and I enjoyed working to create beautiful images and quality video. I did have another interesting assignment. My boss has been conducting a series of interviews with famous photographers. The majority have been done over the phone. I record the interview, then post it to our blog. Well, my boss decided to do a day of in person interviews. We flew down to L.A. for a day of filming and interviewing. I booked a room at a hotel near the airport and arranged for three different photographers to meet us. I filmed my boss interviewing the photographers, packed up all the video gear and headed back to Seattle the same day. Much of what I do is pretty interesting and I enjoy the variety, as well as the challenge of learning new things. The workshops that I produce are geared toward helping photographers gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. We offer a Tony Robbins-like confidence building workshop, where 80 percent of the focus is on self-improvement and 20 percent is on technical abilities. It's interesting work, and I love seeing people have breakthroughs. It's satisfying to see people finding their voices again, or having "ah-ha!" moments, and knowing that you've helped make a difference in their lives.