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My Life As A “Professional” Blogger

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One of the first questions I received when I asked you what about future topics for this blog was what it was like to be a “professional blogger.” Professional? Pshh! I hardly consider myself professional and the cat still gets my tongue when people ask me what I do. You can’t major in blogging and even though there are books about how to be a “good blogger,” anything goes in this industry. So what is it like to be a full time blogger? Well, I’ll answer by giving you a glimpse into my life.

WHAT IS MY JOB
My official title is Internal Blogger for URBN. What that is exactly and what does it entail? Well, first let me rewind and explain how I ended up in my current position. I started working for URBN, which includes the brands Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, terrain, and BHLDN three years ago. Studying fashion design and merchandising, I applied and landed an internship in technical design and production for Anthropologie. Loving the whole gig, I refused to leave at the end of the summer; even if I had to clean the windows, I wasn’t going anywhere (I told them that too!). They offered me a position as an Assistant Technical Designer and with no hesitation, I accepted and haven’t left since. As I worked in tech design and production, I continued blogging. I started Madalynne my freshman year of college and I couldn’t think of any reason to stop.

About a year ago, URBN approached me and asked if I would help them create an Intranet blog for the company. The entire URBN brand is massive – fourteen hundred employees work at our home office in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard and thousands more work in our stores which span the U.S. and the UK. Growing at an accelerating rate, URBN wanted to create a place that connected and engaged employees from around the world so that we would not become disconnected. So from July of 2012 to January of 2013, I worked with the IT department to develop a blog that would report sales, cover global news, interview designers, store associates, and executives, and recap store events, store openings, and community supported organizations. We even created pages for recipes, classifieds page, and Instagram-like photo submissions. Think of our Intranet as an online newspaper – when employees sign onto the Internet, they are connected to our blog that has a news, business, people, lifestyle, food, and other sections that employees can click into and be updated daily on everything URBN.

(Because it is an Intranet blog, it posts information that is not shareable to the public and therefore, the site is accessible only by employees)


There is no such thing. Even though every day is busy, it’s always fulfilling. Handling two blogs by myself isn’t easy but for some reason, I juggle the two well. My alarm clock is set for 5:00 a.m. but I always wake up before. Some people are night owls but I’m the opposite – I’m an early bird. I like getting up early. While most people are sleeping, I work on my personal blog, Madalynne, and then go to the gym, and then to work.

I arrive at work between 8:30-9 a.m. and the first thing I always do is answer emails – it is a guarantee that my inbox is flooded by the time I sit down at my desk. After that, my calendar changes from day to day. I post between 2-5 times per day, which means that a bulk of my day is spent writing, taking photographs and/or creating the graphics for a particular story. What I do for the remainder is up in the air. Our home office hosts a lot of events, sometimes for our company and sometimes for outside vendors, and I’m usually the go-to person to take photos and provide a recap. I’m known around campus as the blogger (which means I can be feared because I have a camera with me at all times – people are afraid of having their picture taken), so I am often pulled to take photos of employees dogs (we can bring our pups to work) or shoot general fashion shots (like The Sartorialist). Because our blog focuses on the business as well as the creative side of our company, I also meet with the executives to share information about earnings releases, conference calls, and shareholders meetings. You can also find me interviewing designers, attending brand meetings, and cleaning up the backend of our site throughout the day.

From time to time, I attend in-store events, which makes my job really exciting. In November, I attended a book signing for Shit Girls Say book, Shit Girls Say, at Urban Outfitters Broadway store (in NYC) and other events I’ve attended include workshops at terrain, DIY’s at Anthropologie, or fashion shows at Free People.

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BEST AND WORST

There is no best part of what I do because everything is “the best.” Honestly, I love every part of my job. I’m introduced and exposed to the most creative people in this industry – CEO’s, designers, web design specialists, photographers, manufacturers, vendors. URBN also invests in my growth as an employee, sending me to Blogshop video in NYC so I could learn how to make videos, which in turns makes me a more productive, efficient, and valuable employee. Not to mention, it makes me a happy worker – I arrive at my desk every morning wanting to make our blog the best Intranet blog. Most women say their the luckiest girl when they find a husband but for me, I’m the luckiest girl alive because I have a kick-ass career.

Okay, there is one bad part about my job but it is actually a good thing. Because I handle the blog pretty much by myself – I create all the graphics, I shoot all the photography, etc – all of the responsibility falls on me. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. If something is needed for the blog, I’m the only go-to person. This creates a sense of “ownership.” The first woman I worked under in technical design told me when I kept asking her what to do, “If you were a technical designer and this was your category, what would you do? If you can’t take ownership for what you’re doing, you’ll never be a good technical designer.” She was right. I own the blog like it’s my child and I take care of it as such. If something goes wrong during my lunch break, I fix it then and not at the end of my sandwich.

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CONSTANT MATERIAL
I’ve never had a problem with this. In the six years that I have been blogging, I’ve never NOT been able to come up with fresh material. My mind is always turning and I always have something to write about.

GOALS
It is my goal that in 5 years, the blog will be public. The culture of URBN and all its brands is unique. Even if I haven’t worked for another fashion company, I know that the employees of our company and the bond between us are unlike any other. I want to share our world and what it’s like to work for URBN with everyone.

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I consider myself an observer. I’ve never been the life of a party – I’ve always stood on the sidelines and watched everyone else. Magazines such as People, Star, and In Touch interest me not because of its content but because of the fact that I get to follow the lives of other people, even if their famous and I don’t know them. I’m fascinated with history and learning about the life of Tesla (read this article!), Twyla Tharp, or Degas because it gives me direction for my life. Scott Schuman, the blogger behind The Sartorialist, said in an interview that because of the Internet, we are able to people watch around the world, at any time, and from anywhere. I think this is why I like blogging so much – in essence, blogging is following along with the life of someone else, virtually.

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21 Comments

  1. Reply

    Tilly

    Great post, Maddie – fascinating to hear about what it’s like to blog for a large company as a job. It sounds fantastic! And may I just say it’s refreshing to hear that you love and appreciate your day job, while the default option for most of us is to moan about it haha!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Thanks Tilly. I love my job, I can’t say that enough, and I feel very fortunate I get to do what I enjoy during both day and night.

  2. Reply

    kriston lion

    very interesting and insightful! how in the world did you find that job? they found you? that is SO COOL! I KNOW you are awesome at it! but now I want to get an IN so I can read it 😉

  3. Reply

    Becky Kozak

    I really enjoyed reading this post! You’re so lucky to have your dream job, and I’m so jealous of your creativity and eloquence! Thanks for sharing, you’ve really inspired not to settle until I find my dream job!

    xo Becky
    http://www.seductivemania.com

  4. Reply

    Bekuh Browning

    I loved reading this Maddie! Getting into your head a little bit, and hearing from your own mouth what your job entails is so eye opening. I never thought about it before, but you’re constantly coming up with content for two blogs! I’m impressed.

  5. Reply

    Carlee McTavish

    Thanks for the interesting insight!

  6. Reply

    Stephanie

    What a lovely post. It’s great to hear about people that love their job. It’s inspiring as well to strive to find something that is a perfect match for you. Since you spend most of your life at work I think finding the right job is so important!

  7. Reply

    Heather Lou

    So interesting to read about your day job! When you first got it I remember hunting for a URBN blog and not finding it…obviously because it is internal only. Sounds like a pretty sweet gig lady.

  8. Reply

    anto

    I loved reading all about your job! It’s very inspiring to see people out there doing what they love and, most importantly, loving their job!. I don’t usually get to see such engaging and enriching work environments, where employees are seen as such valuable assets. It almost seems like being an URBN employee is a lifestyle in and of itself!

    And, how fantastic is it that they allow you to take your dog into the office!? Dream job right there, ha!

  9. Reply

    sallieforrer

    Great post, Maddie!! My Mom always said that one of the secrets to a happy life is if you can somehow turn your passion into a career. For a lot of people that’s not possible, but you did it!! I’m so happy your work makes you happy! I love the last bit about what you love about blogging. I’m a self-described “people watcher” as well (or, as someone nasty once put it, I have a “staring problem” haha!) so I think that’s why I’m drawn to the blog world too, I can people watch without anyone ‘accusing’ me of staring!! Lol!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Staring problem? Ha! I’ve been called lurker too. Whatever the term, I like to vicariously live, or watch, the life of others.

  10. Reply

    Melanie Yarbrough

    What an amazing job! I love that you are where you are because you knew what you loved and wouldn’t leave. I hope one day your blog does become public; URBN is an inspiring brand that goes well with the spirit of blogging. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Nope! I told them I wasn’t going to leave and I didn’t!

  11. Reply

    Angela

    You really do have a kick ass job! I am so glad that you love it so much. I do love the glimpse into others lives that blogs provide.

  12. Reply

    sihijau

    the dream job! i hope i can have the job like that! so lovely! 🙂

    Irene Wibowo

  13. Reply

    Adeline

    This really and truly exciting!!

  14. Reply

    Jo

    Sounds like you have an awesome job and life Maddie! You truly are lucky, you have amazing skills and you’re doing something you really love for a living. I don’t know what I can do with my life and it eats me up sometimes. Always remember how great you are! 🙂

  15. Reply

    Rick Lewandowski

    Nice blog post. Definitely more busy than most people think.

  16. Reply

    Blogercup

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