I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you the following interview with Tim Tyrell-Smith, Founder of Tim's Strategy, Ideas for Job Search, Career and Life.
1. What is Tim's Strategy all about? What inspired you to create it?
Tim's Strategy started in September 2008 as a blog called spin strategy where I offered advice on being efficient in your job search. I also had a separate, more traditional website where I offered free downloads of tools and templates I used during my own 2007 job search.
My reason for doing it was to give back to the community that helped me back in 2007. I also have always wanted to find a place to share my ideas about job search strategy. And to use my 22 years as a marketing person. It has been fun to build something from the ground up!
2. Just this past week, you decided to take the full time plunge into entrepreneurship with Tim's Strategy. What triggered that decision?
As much as I fought it for two years, Tim's Strategy (and the process of writing, creating, helping) has become a really big part of me. I needed to let this out in a significant way to see where it would take me. One of the drivers was a book I read a few years back called "Halftime" written by Bob Buford. In short, it challenges you to move the focus of your life from success to significance. And that is what I am trying to do.
3. Your site is full of valuable career ideas and insights. What inspires you to produce such purposeful content and tools on a regular basis each week?
You know, Brent, what started as a fun way to give back has turned into a chance to build something bigger. Something that can help people in a significant way. All the original downloads are ones that I proved out in my own search as well as a few new ones suggested by readers. I get inspired by the act of creating and by the reactions I get from job seekers. It has become a pretty big part of my life.
4. You have set up a successful LinkedIn group by the same name. What advice can you offer for someone else looking to start up a LinkedIn group that attracts and engages group members?
The LinkedIn group has been a blast. And a ton of work. A few things I did early on:
First, I seeded the group with really smart people from my network who I knew would participate.
Second I invited people via the blog and a few influential local networking groups.
Third, I invited nationally known career experts to provide ideas, advice and tips to make sure there was always a nice blend of members.
Then it was about setting up really good membership rules, starting and participating in really genuine discussions and making people feel at home. In the end, people will decide for themselves where they want to spend time online. I'm just glad a few people have chosen this group.
5. You also have a Facebook page for Tim's Strategy. What are your goals there?
My goal there is to reach people in a more personal way. It is a much smaller group and it is a better platform for sharing back and forth. It is a place I hold special contests or release new tools before anywhere else so I encourage people to “like” that page so they don't miss out!
Facebook is also 5 times the size of LinkedIn and offers a much younger audience. I try to reach out to readers there who are younger than I am. I also do this on Brazen Careerist.
6. Your background is in consumer marketing. What advice can you offer someone who is looking to start a career in that field?
My specific background is in product and brand management (often called line management). While it includes the sexy side of marketing (branding, advertising, promotions, pr), its core is focused on product strategy, financial management and market research. I started my career with Carnation Company which was part of Nestle at the time and came in via undergrad on-campus recruiting.
Other common entry points are post-MBA, consulting and advertising (to the extent you are applying to a company with a very marketing-driven brand like Coca-Cola or McDonald's).
7. What are your top 3 tips for producing quality content on a blog?
First, pull it from personal experience. We can all relate to real things that happen in our lives. And if you can live the life of your reader or show that you have lived it, all the better.
Second, deliver the content in a fun, engaging way. I try to have fun with a post when I can or at least come at it from a different direction.
Third, write on a consistent theme. If you are constantly changing your focus, you will lose people as you gain others. In the end, it will be hard to get followers.
8. You recently released a new version of your website. What drove that decision and what advice can you offer someone starting a new website from a SEO and branding perspective?
My site started out as "spin strategy" and in January I changed the name, url, appearance, platform. It was quite a changeover. I did that as part of a larger, long-term strategy to broaden the appeal of the site and to hopefully keep readers as they transition out of "job search" and into "employed but still career focused". So my most recent change on August 1 was the last step of the larger strategy designed to give the site a more permanent and credible look and feel. I love the new logo and header and hope it gives people confidence in the content.
A lot of blogs and websites aren’t branded in the traditional way. More, they are themed with a statement or tagline that suggests their focus. Branding isn’t always necessary, but I like a good brand!
In terms of SEO, I am far from an expert. But I think you need to make your site easy for Google to understand (it reads and is set up like a good book). And choose keywords that not only accurately represent your content but also, importantly, are written as your target would write it. Some terms are more heavily searched than others.
9. By all observations, you are very busy person. What are your key recommendations to maintain a good work / life balance?
I think in life, as in job search, you absolutely have to prioritize the most important over the bits and pieces. When I have the big things done early in the day I can relax somewhat and step away. Knowing that the really big projects are complete. When they linger, so does my mind. And I can't let go.
10. What does the future of Tim's Strategy look like?
Wow. Well, to some extent that is up to my readers. I love spending some of my time each day creating or adapting ideas based on their feedback. But in general, here are a few big things I am working to complete over the next six months.
First I am writing a book which I hope to have published in early 2011. A hard copy compliment to the free e-books available for download on the site.
Second, I am looking to expand my speaking schedule to share ideas more often and in more places. I would love to get out of Southern California to meet readers and present all over the U.S. (if people will have me, of course!).
Finally I am working on a significant project to bring all of my content together in one solid program. A complete strategy for job search, career and life.
Thank you Tim for the great information! Your work is certainly an inspiration to me and to so many people across the country.
Any comments or questions for Tim?