“The slide is from an event that was held Friday morning for creative professionals in Atlanta, and we’ll have video of his talk soon. He shared about being a fashion kid in Mississippi, moving to New York and meeting his Vogue-fashion-editor wife, designing the barn jacket at J. Crew, being out of place at Ralph Lauren, and the business and design philosophies he employs at his own store/label. So good.” - Mark
This interview is long and awesome, so I’ll keep the intro short. Kate lives in Atlanta with her photographer husband and their Great Dane, Leon. She works as the content curator at MailChimp.
All photos of the MailChimp office are courtesy of Kate. She’s in the final pic. I love the wooden desks, the lights and that guy with the beard who looks so serious.
Oh, read this if you’re curious why I’m interviewing copywriters. Otherwise, let’s start the interview already.
/ Hi Kate! So tell us about MailChimp. What do you guys do and how did you join the company?
MailChimp is a DIY email-marketing service. We make it easy to create, send and track email newsletters. We have more than 900,000 users and about 100 employees. Two years ago, there were only 20 employees.
I loved that MailChimp was such a bright light in an otherwise dull industry. When I found out they were ready to hire a content person, I was all over it. I work in the creative department with the public site’s designers, developers and another writer. It’s a super collaborative environment, and every day I’m inspired by my colleagues’ creativity. And lucky for me, everyone here understands that words are important! It’s pretty dreamy.
/ Describe your role as Content Curator. What keeps you busy?
I work with MailChimp’s creative team to plan, create and publish our content, and I make sure it gets proper care and feeding.
My role has evolved quite a bit over the past year. So far, it’s been a natural progression from simply writing and editing to truly curating MailChimp’s content. I spent my first month or so reading every page on the site, putting together a content inventory, and having panic attacks because I didn’t understand words like “deliverability” and “user-agent stats.”
After I got my bearings and really got to know MailChimp’s public site and app, I started rewriting most of our guides and editing the website content for grammar and style. I learned so much about MailChimp that way. That led to writing new content, which led to reorganizing existing content. When I started suggesting we throw out bad content, I knew I’d found my place here.
We have another writer on the creative team now, which allows me to spend more time working with our marketing director to improve MailChimp’s content on a larger scale. But I still write and edit every day. I write marketing content, template copy within the app, blog posts, you name it. I even wrote a coloring book.
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Nobody–not even your dog or your mother–has the slightest interest in your commercial for Rice Krispies or Delco batteries or Preparation H.Nor does anybody care about your one-act play, your Facebook page or your new sesame chicken joint at Canal and Tchopotoulis.