Tips for Becoming an Online Entrepreneur: Being an Online Community Manager
Today's "I Want to Be" Series features the editor of 1099 Mom, Linsey Knerl. A full-time freelance writer, blogger, and homeschooler, Linsey was also the online Community Manager for Wise Bread for 2 years.
How long have you been an online community manager?
I started as the community manager for Wise Bread back in 2009. I have since moved on to other projects, but I handle similar roles for my freelance clients, including Financial Highway and, of course, my own blogs.
What led you to become a community manager?
Interestingly enough, I kind of fell into it. I had slowly started to take on the roles of a "community manager" in an effort to promote my own writing at Wise Bread, become more involved with their growth, and be responsive to the audience. As it turns out, being genuine and proactive with how you handle community concerns is the major role of a community manager. It was a natural fit!
Are you full time or part time? If part-time, do you anticipate switching to full time?
I was an almost full-time community manager for Wise Bread, but have since stepped back. It is easy to have it take up a full-time position, but I had no interest in abandoning my other freelance clients or my own blogging and brand ambassador relationships. It really was great, in small doses.
How do you market your offerings as a community manager?
One of the great perks of being a community manager is that you really get to be known as the "face" for a web site. People know you, even if you don't know them, and if you are warm and professional in all your interactions online and in real life, you can market in any situation. Conferences are a super way to reach out to potential new clients. I highly recommend small conference, if you want the experience to be long-lasting.
What is your favorite part of being a community manager?
The community, of course! If you don't love people, addressing their needs, and acting as a go-between for both the audience and the people that run a website, you won't dig the job of community manager. But if you see every comment, reader, and RSS subscriber as a human with a heart and a need to read what you have to say, you'll find the job to be very fulfilling!
What one question do you get most from people about being a community manager?
"What exactly does a community manager do?"
It's a difficult question to answer, because so many people define it differently. A good place to start is to look at job listings for a community manager. Some are very corporate, even requiring college degrees. Others just list out basic duties, like interacting with the audience, trouble-shooting issues, helping to promote giveaways and events, or handling the social media accounts (like Facebook and Twitter.)
In a phrase, it's different for everyone! (You may also want to check out this graphic. It's true!) This article also explains why online social media and community managers are such hot jobs right now!
What one myth or misconception do you want to dispel about being a community manager?
That you can just jump into it with no technical skills or an understanding of the community you will represent.
If you think about the role as a liaison between the tech and sales and marketing AND the audience (which is you most important client), you can see that the tasks are numerous, and it is not a glamorous job. Just because you are handy with Facebook doesn't mean you are cut out for being a community manager. There is so much of the work that is just tedious, and 80% of it goes on behind the scenes. It's not about sending Tweets each day!
What advice do you have for others who want to get into a similar opportunity?
Talk with other community managers. See what their day entails. It may turn out that you don't WANT that job, at all. If you think it's up your alley, however, reach out to companies that don't have a visible Community Manager, and ask who theirs is. The conversation might spark an idea in their head to hire one. That's where you come in.
Also, there are quite a few job listings for online community managers. Stay on top of new ones each day.
What is the first step?
Brush up on your people skills. Read lots of blogs and books regarding customer service. Then get out there and talk to other community managers. They can teach you a lot!
Want to know more? Check out our 1099 Mom's site at LinseyBKnerl.com. Find her on Twitter and Facebook!
(Have an idea for our next "I Want to Be" article? Contact us with the work-at-home career that you want to know more about. Have a great career and want to share? Tell us about it!)