Fadeke Adegbuyi’s online presence is simple yet commanding. Her day job at Doist involves writing and editing long-form articles and guides on productivity and the future of work, while also leading ambitious marketing projects.
Last week, we spent some time talking about her journey from freelance writer and Jill of all trades to becoming a Senior Marketing Manager. In this interview, we talk about her writing process and prerequisites for young writers, navigating social media as a professional, must-have productivity apps, and lots more. Let’s get into it.
It’s a pleasure to meet you, Fadeke. Your writing is impeccable and engaging. Tell us about your journey to Senior Marketing Manager at Doist.
Thank you for the kind words. After a few interesting roles in government, a start-up accelerator, a start-up, and freelancing as a writer, I joined Doist in September 2017. Prior to joining the team, I wrote two articles as a freelancer and had used the app, Todoist for several years.
I joined as a “Jill-of-all-Trades” and my role was a hybrid one: I managed our social media channels across three brands and ten platforms, strategized, wrote, edited content for our blog, Ambition & Balance, and led marketing projects like our annual Year in Review and the development of our Twist Remote Work Guides. Work stays interesting when you have the opportunity to work on an eclectic range of projects and collaborate cross-functionally across marketing, design, and development, and business development.
Most recently, I’ve taken on a more specialized role, moving away from social media management and focusing more intently on content marketing. I work as a core content team of two with my talented colleague, Becky Kane. We collaborate with our product marketing team to bring high-quality writing related to our products to life. While our collective goal is introducing people to our products, convincing them to try them, and sharing the best ways to use them, we aim to write content for anyone who wants to live a balanced life while also achieving ambitious aims. Our articles include evidence-based research and actionable advice that readers can implement in their lives immediately.
Do you work with editors or finish your writing yourself? What’s your process.
Here’s how I approach writing at Doist:
- Start with an outline: Compiling the ideas I’ll include in an article, defining the structure, and adding in supporting evidence helps me expedite the writing process. While this works 90% of the time, there are articles where I need to actually write my way to the point and skip the outline.
- Write a quick first draft: I’m a big believer in separating the writing and editing process. A lot of people find writing painful and time-consuming because they’re continuously going over the last sentence they wrote, trying to perfect it. I take the opposite approach. I try to get my first draft out as quickly as possible, no matter how unpolished and inarticulate it may sound. I have a range of strategies for this including putting arbitrary time limits on my writing, using a disappearing text app, and most recently, using audio-to-text dictation on my phone instead of typing. The point is getting to a “good enough” first draft so you can move on to the fun part.
- Edit and refine your writing: With a completed first draft in front of you, you now have the freedom to truly experiment with your writing. This is the part I enjoy the most––choosing the right words, moving paragraphs around, modifying metaphors, and attempting anything to take a draft from “good enough” to great.
- Add in assets: Graphics, illustrations, tables, and charts go a long way in complementing your writing. I get to work with a talented crew of marketing designers and illustrators who help bring more life to our words. I think of graphic concepts that help illustrate concepts more clearly, creating tables or diagrams in Google Docs or drawing them in Procreate with an Apple Pencil. Then, I send them to our designers. They always come back with something stunning.
- Send to the editor: At Doist, I’m lucky enough to work with an editor and my writing is much better for it. I also serve as an editor for other writers on our team. Our editing process goes beyond simple proofreading. The aim of editing is to improve the entire piece––from the arguments presented in each section to the entire structure of an article.
- Promote, share, measure: Once a piece is published, we promote it. We share all of our articles across social media, our blog newsletter, and sometimes, Hacker News. From there, we monitor how our content performs on Google Analytics and check SEO rankings in Ahrefs.
As a social media and content creator, what’s your personal relationship with social media?
Using social media is tricky as a content creator. I love being online because it can be an infinite well of inspiration––I’m starting a newsletter on exploring the internet and have written a bit on internet culture. I also follow a range of people I find interesting. Twitter is also where I source a lot of reading recommendations.
There’s also a certain obligation attached to being online. Writing something compelling is wonderful, but getting people to read it is challenging. Building a social media presence can be important as a content creator for having your writing read, your videos watched, or your podcast listened to.
At the same time, social media can generate a lot of noise. I’ve been struck by the idea of “overproduction of elites”, a play on “elite overproduction”, to describe the excessive yet mediocre content being released online. Everyone is starting a blog, writing a newsletter, or producing a podcast. Ultimately, I think this is a good thing––we’re far from oversaturation when it comes to good work. But the path to collectively improving our crafts is inevitably filled with work that isn’t yet exceptional.
Social media is also distracting––you’re not focused on creating if you’re scrolling through Twitter or flipping through Instagram Stories. “Deep work” is important––it’s crucial to have blocks of uninterrupted and focused time to get into flow and do your best work. I use a site blocker, SelfControl, and a time tracker, RescueTime, to limit my access to the internet and track how much time I’m spending distracted online.
Ultimately, being on social media as a content creator is complicated! There’s a balance to be struck between finding inspiration and losing focus.
What are your favorite apps that help you run your day and stay productive?
- Todoist: I use this app to plan my days and weeks.
- Google Docs: I write just about everything with this tool.
- Brain.FM, Spotify, and the music newsletter Flow State: I use a mix of these music apps to get into flow while working and writing.
- SelfControl (MacOS): This is a great site-blocker for limiting access to distracting websites.
- iPhone 10: I’m always a phone version or two behind! I increasingly use my phone for speech-to-text dictation to expedite the writing process.
- RescueTime: I use this app to see where my time goes––from how long I spend on social media to the hours spent in a specific Google Doc.
Tell us your non-negotiable when hiring a writer to join your team?
The productivity space is very competitive––writing great content that ranks and resonates with an audience is challenging because everyone’s read it all before. We look for writers who want to go beyond the standard “Five Ways to Be Productive” list article that everyone has seen a million times!
- Who is centering a pitch around a new piece of productivity research that’s been underreported?
- Who is searching our archives and suggesting an article idea that we’ve never written about?
- Who already has a list of people they’ll reach out to for expert advice for a blog post?
These are the writers we opt to work with!
What’s your advice to young writers and marketers?
As cliché as it sounds, the best way to get better at writing is to write continuously and get feedback on your writing. Sometimes this presents a bit of a “chicken and egg situation”––how do I get someone to pay me to write without having written anything before?
Luckily, you can write and publish without permission. Start a newsletter or a blog where you can share your ideas and hone your writing. Join an online community like Compound Writing or On Deck Writing Fellowship, where you have access to people who can provide feedback on your writing. Or, ask friends, family, colleagues, or mentors to share their thoughts on your work.
Thanks for your time, Fadeke. It’s been lovely.