Lots of Writing Elsewhere

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I’ve been keeping myself very busy the past few weeks with writing. I wanted to share some of the pieces I’ve written on other blogs.

Two primary places I’ve been working on: the Barrel blog, which we’ve been working hard to turn into a content hub for thought leadership that may appeal to potential clients and Buys with Friends, a side project that I launched with my long-time buddies Welton and Andy.

A bit more on Buys with Friends: the idea came to us on a weeknight as we were texting each other about blogs that we liked. We thought it would be cool to start one ourselves. In fact, Welton and I used to run an online web magazine for teens back in middle school and continued to run it throughout high school. We settled on a blog that would be about the things we buy and why we buy them. At a basic level, it would be a collection of product reviews. On a more aspirational level, it would be insightful commentary about the psychology of buying, our consumption habits, and the means and ends that buying serves in our everyday lives. In less than 4 weeks, we’ve published 15 blog posts. We’re hoping to get 2-3 up each week and see what we can learn from the experience.

For me personally, I’ve been enjoying Buys with Friends quite a bit. It’s given me the opportunity to play publisher, website tinkerer, marketer, and SEO specialist. I’ve been poring over articles by SEO and content marketing expert Neil Patel as well as the blog on Moz.org for tips and tricks. I’ve been able to play around with different WordPress plugins and themes and also create custom dashboards on Google Analytics. It’s been refreshing to be involved with a project in this way.

Here are some posts that I’ve written recently, both on Buys with Friends and on the Barrel blog:

Tasty Peanut Butter and Eating 30g of Protein Within 30 Minutes of Waking Up
I wrote about my breakfast routine of eating at least 30 grams of protein each morning and how peanut butter plays a role. I specifically write about Peanut Butter & Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams and The Bees Knees.

New Router for the Home: Probably the Best $20 Spent in a Long Time
I shared how upgrading my router at home made a huge difference in my Internet speed. Still can’t believe that we suffered slow Internet all these years due to an outdated router!

Key Features That Got Me Hooked On YogaGlo, My On-Demand Yoga Instructor
I’ve been using YogaGlo at home at least 2-3 times per week. This is a review of the web app from a user experience perspective.

How We Use LeadIn, a WordPress Plugin That Delivers Insights on Website Visitors
I’ve been having a lot of fun with LeadIn (I use it on my own blog), so I decided to write about it for the Barrel blog. It includes screenshots of the tool so you can see how we actually use it for business development.

USA Triathlon Analysis: How 5 Emails Can Enhance Member Engagement
I noticed that the emails I received from USA Triathlon after I signed up were overly promotional and not all that helpful. I decided to write a blog post about how the organization might want to rethink its email marketing strategy to better engage its members.

Another cool byproduct of writing these has been the opportunity to get some custom illustrations made for blog posts. I’ve been working closely with our junior designer Andres, and we have a good system going: I take a Post-It and sketch an idea I have very roughly along with one or two sample illustrations to demonstrate my color and style preferences; Andres then takes the sketch and turns it into a beautiful illustration. All the illustrations in this post were created in this way. Very excited to keep creating these.


Overall, this process of writing publicly for both business and as a hobby has been very rewarding. By pushing to create content on a consistent schedule rather than a sporadic one, I’ve been learning to institute better editorial processes, smarter planning, and structured writing that can help me push out pieces faster. Every blog post still requires a great deal of focus and editing, but I don’t find it as daunting to finish and publish as I used to.

One more piece to share. Several months ago, I submitted a piece to SoDA. SoDA is a network of digital agencies around the world. Barrel became a member last year. They publish a widely circulated report each year. My piece, called “Ditching the Performance Review” made its way into the Talent section. It’s about the importance of one-on-one conversations and how having high quality conversations can really raise the level of an employee’s engagement and professional development.

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