How Curating Content Got Me a Job
When JD Beebe was looking for a job, he didn’t bother with the listings. He did what he does best: started a buzz.
As Mashable reported under the headline 6 Ways to Get a Tech Job Without a Tech Degree:
It takes some creativity, charm, smarts and nerve, but you can become an industry thought leader before you even have a job in the industry. JD Beebe, a young copywriter, creative and entrepreneur is a good example. He made his way into the agency world by starting a Paper.li online newspaper called Ad Agency Thought Sauce that aggregated links from ad agency tweets. Agencies saw him re-sharing their links, and this functioned as a constant series of soft introductions.
It’s not the first time JD has made the headlines. He’s been featured in media for his Hamm-O-Gram and GrabsomeGoodby websites, and his ecommerce sites where you can buy a fake beard for every occasion or a Halloween outfit inspired by the news (speciality: Princess Beatrice’s hat).
Hamm-O-Gram, in case you missed it, was a website selling Valentine’s Day pictures of the handsome Jon Hamm to be mailed to a loved one along with a love letter smelling of aftershave. GrabsomeGoodby was JD’s reaction to 150 colleagues at the Goodby agency being laid off – reframing the firings as a bunch of talent newly available. You may have heard about JD’s other press like the Stun Fone spoof too … but back to the latest one.
Did curating content really get you a new job?
It really did get me a job, not to mention a ton of interviews! I set up my Ad Agency Thought Sauce as I was moving from LA to NYC for a number of reasons:
- I wanted a place to learn and consume information more quickly
- I thought this method outpaced publishers like Adweek because it was immediate, from the horse’s mouth and generally relayed the opinions of agencies
- Figured it might catch some attention. Anyhoo, it ended up working surprisingly well. Within the first few weeks of AATS being live, I received replies from 5 different agencies (or reps from agencies).
That’s where I had to act quickly. I would immediately figure out who the person was who had sent me the reply or what that agency had been working on.
Then I’d craft a personalized response and ask for an interview. I ended up meeting with 3 agencies and eventually took a freelance position at HUGE in Brooklyn.
It was actually Aaron Shapiro, CEO of HUGE who wrote that Mashable article. I guess my strategy made an impression!
What’s the job?
I am now a Senior Copywriter at Noise based in NYC working on tons of clients and doing some really fun work.
How else can someone get a job in a creative agency, without starting by making the tea?
There are a ton of ways. There is the tea/coffee route (I started off that way with internships and assistant jobs). The good part about that direction is you can understand how an agency works first before choosing which direction you want to attain (maybe you think you want to be a writer but find out that strategy is your thing).
There is also ad school. But the best piece of advice is to just start being curious, being creative and not being closeted about it.
Show people your work. Bring people creative ideas because protecting an idea is counter-productive; it can’t live if you hide it and if some cowardly person does steal it, don’t worry, you can have a million more ideas! Throw everything out there and start doing.
Being able to say you’ve had your work covered by major publications, even if it’s work outside of an agency, will catch people’s attention and position you as a go-getter.
Who are the best people to learn from?
Learn from the people you want to be, people you admire. Be open with them about your thirst for knowledge and share yours in equal parts.
Also, try and learn about things outside of your work-related subject. Many times its something you read about architecture or rock climbing or the Portuguese Man-Of-War that sparks a synapse and creates a creative connection. Learn from people who are equally curious as you, if not more so.
Tell us about some of the other things going on in your life.
Outside of exploring this new city on my bicycle, I am starting new businesses, creating websites and meeting with new people who are hungry for the same things as me. I love talking with people who have ideas and could talk endlessly about the possibilities found within them.
How many businesses or projects do you have right now, and which one do you like the best?
Currently, I have about 4 projects outside of work (that all take backseat to my day job, of course!). They all differ in importance but they keep my mind occupied.
I tend to enjoy projects that either solve a problem in a simple way or are so fun that you can’t help but want to take part in it.
We get the impression your hallmark is doing a lot with nothing except a sense of fun … is that fair to say? If so, why? To make money? To show it can be done? To have fun? Some other reason?
All of the above! Fun is key in everything I try to do. That and sincerity. Even if the idea is super silly, if you believe in that silliness it shows. I started selling beards for Halloween because, well, I couldn’t grow one! That turned into a full-blown Halloween business.
Money is certainly a motivator but so is the sense of accomplishment. I’m not a programmer so my sites tend to be simple. But seeing a project completed is an award in itself. Usually I ask myself, “Is there something like this?” and if there’s not I figure, “there should be”.
Where do you get your creativity from? Can you give us not-so-creative persons a few tips to become more creative? Or is it a talent you are born with?
I know there are different views on this but I don’t see creativity with much subjectivity.
Creating art work is creative, no doubt, but so is problem solving. That’s how I view myself, as a creative problem solver. I think a sense of creativity comes from doing. Trying.
If you don’t test the boundaries, you’ll never know what you can do. I have found that a particular part of my creativity has come simply from working on it, asking myself “why” and being curious about everything. I’ve certainly become better at generating ideas since I began focusing on my curiosity.
What are you planning to do next or do we wait for a surprise?
I have a few things in the works but not sure what will happen first. I can say that one project aims to definitively help answer the universally biting question, “What should I eat for lunch?”.