Virtual work space now open! Finally.

aka How to separate my professional web presence from my personal online life

If there’s one blog that I should have started over a decade ago when I first started my work online, this is probably the one. My very own professional blog. As in, a blog that reflects the work that I do online. I’ve resisted for many reasons. I’m not sure if my resistance and stubbornness cost me anything, but I know I have wasted more than enough time arguing with myself about it.

But, I am here now. Ready to test this out and see if I had been wrong all these years. And, if I was wrong, then at least this is a chance to make things right.

After all, it is never too late to start doing the right thing, yes?

Shai's Virtual Work Space

Welcome to my Online Office!

From personal to pro — an online story

I began my life online primarily as a personal blogger. I started blogging using my hand-coded site via Geocities. Back then, I was single, living and working in Manila, primarily earning a living as a consultant/educator/entrepreneur/writer with a degree in psychology. I went online, with a slow dial-up connection, on a patched-up PC that I bought for a bargain with the help of my best friend’s husband.

There were three amazing things that happened at the time, thanks to my life online: 1) I started writing for web publications and getting paid to do so; 2) I became a published children’s book author; and 3) I met my husband in a web forum.

As a result of #3, I ended up leaving Manila, and moving to Singapore where I became a freelance writer for Elle Magazine and a number of other publications, including ghostwriting for someone who was a tech journalist for the local newspaper, The Straits Times (writing about the web). Of course, there were other incredible adventures too, but we’ll stick to web-related ones for now.

Anyway, my first official professional site/blog was eWriteLife (1999). At the time, eWriteLife made sense because I was making a living out of freelance writing and it’s the life I wanted to live.

Both my personal and professional blogs were received quite well. EWriteLife even getting awards, including a finalist place at the Philippine Web Awards (early 2000s) and being featured at The Reader’s Digest magazine in Australia (mid 2000s).

Over the years, I developed more blogs and other online projects. Including becoming one of the first ever “social media gurus” when I established the Web Logs site at About.com (a NY Times company), where I shared tips and resources about blogging, whilst getting paid to do it all – including being one of the first to experiment with podcasting and video blogging. I ran About’s Web Logs site from 2004 to 2006.

And yes, I managed to pack up my online work from Singapore to Australia (moved in 2003).

In 2005, I founded one of the first blogging networks for women (AboutWeblogs), where I worked with about a dozen amazing women and established some of the earliest beauty, fashion, crafting, and women-related blogs. It was a wonderful time.

My network was later merged with another network, b5media, which then received approximately $10M in VC funding in Toronto, Canada. I worked with b5 from 2006 to 2008, and received a number of amazing accolades during this time, as well experienced some pretty cool stuff like attending a conference in New York City, spending some time in Toronto, and attending BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas. I left my work at b5media in January 2009, shortly after I was named as one of Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology (Blogging)”.

By that time, I was burnt out and ready to leave online life. At least, the professional part of it. I didn’t think I’d ever want to come back.

The professional online comeback

For the rest of 2009, I barely kept up with my professional life online. I worked as a consultant/hired blogger/community manager for a friend’s company. And, I went back to freelance writing by contributing to different publications, including an in-flight magazine for one of the budget airlines.

But, for the most part, I was a full time graduate student and a mum.

In mid-2010, I found myself back to blogging and doing online work. This time, out of the hustle and bustle of a start-up company and away from the corporate scene.

I became a Content and Community Manager for a nonprofit organisation in Australia called Connecting Up, Inc. So, again, I am back to writing blogs, creating content, doing social media, and living my work life online.

Through this work, I ended up in a place that I didn’t quite expect: On stage and presenting in front of hundreds of people around the world. Talking about using social media for social good.

And, every time I met someone who needed my help, I wanted to be able to offer more advice. Give more ideas. Share more resources.

Of course, that’s what I have been building at the Connecting Up site, with the help of my colleagues and some of our fantastic guest bloggers and freelance writers.

But, I realised that sometimes, some of the posts that I need to write don’t belong on our organisation’s site for one reason or another. So, I have been trying to post them on my personal blog.

But, over the last year and a half, the whole personal vs professional thing has been niggling at me again. The way it has niggled at me from the time I realised that my first professional blog, eWriteLife, was no longer a real reflection of my professional life.

So, I have become quite unsure about where to place myself.

The challenge of personal vs professional

Of course, it doesn’t help that my personal and professional lives had long intersected on the web. I found that the moment I start phasing out my personal posts on my personal blog, some of my readers became upset. They wanted to read about my life again. My travels. My cooking. My family. They don’t care about my tips on Twitter or blogging or podcasting. Sure, I can blog about it every now and then. But really, they didn’t start reading my blog just so they could read about the work I do.

I guess, it’s tantamount to talking about work all time when you’re amongst friends while having a BBQ or attending a party.

And, for people who meet me through my work, listening to my presentations and seeking for my professional help, they don’t necessarily want or need to know that I have just celebrated my wedding anniversary nor do they have to see pictures of my silly attempts at a new hobby.

But, due to my resistance to keep my professional life out of my personal blog, and my refusal to wipe out years of work that I have out into building my personal blog’s community, I have been mixing both and getting all torn up in the process.

Thankfully, I don’t think I have the habit of blogging anything that I wouldn’t want my mother to read. So, I don’t think I’ve embarrassed myself all that much.

But, I must have been frustrating my readers and contacts all these time for trying to mix my personal and professional life on my Studio Notes blog too much. That’s why I am extremely grateful to all those who stuck with me, and continued to support me and my blog, regardless of this very silly situation.

The reality of professional blogging for a personal blogger

Truth of the matter is, I know I will always be a personal blogger. I can’t help it. That’s who I am. So, even though this blog is my professional space online, I know I will always have my personal voice in it one way or the other. Whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing, we’ll just have to see.

One thing I can promise is that I have every intention of making this blog as useful as possible to those who visit, read, and subscribe.

So yes, this blog is primarily for those of you, looking for some ideas and resources about using digital media and other tools for social good. This is all about making content and community work.

Welcome to my online office. Please let me know what I can do for you.

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Categories: General Ideas | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Virtual work space now open! Finally.

  1. Yay! I’ll be following this blog from hereon. Congratulations Ate Shai! (Hope you’ll allow me to call you that…or Tita Shai? Hehe)

    • LOL. Thanks, Maymay! Ate sounds fine. Tita makes me feel too old. 😀 Glad to read that I have your support for Enkindlers. I do hope you find this place useful in many ways. 🙂

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