Meet Our Content Manager: Alvin Munene
My name is Alvin, I have been a writer/digital strategist for most of my adult life. It started out as luck as I was looking for something to do after dropping out of campus studying Analytical chemistry. I really did not enjoy it, and could not imagine the rest of my life wearing a labcoat.
I stumbled on a content mill where as luck would have it has a topic on the english premier league. I thought I would write it since I loved watchinging football/soccer. The client received it and despite telling me the grammar was terrible he thought the content in itself was pretty good. So he gave me a few more articles to do and guided me on improving my grammar.
After that I joined a few more content mills and found some level of success. But what always bothered me was the % the content mill always took. Since SEO was not a thing at the time in my country, I started emailing almost every company that I found online that I thought was looking for writers, or SEO experts. My pitch was basically, “Our time difference is so big, when it is day here it is night there, how would you like to turn your company to a 24 hour company?” “Or how would you like to get ahead of your competition? I will create content during my day and by the time your audience wakes up they will find fresh news content to read ” many didn’t respond but one or two did. I was hired by a small SEO company in the US and worked on all their content during my day. The strategy worked as the websites had a surge in readers. He decided to teach more about SEO, and thus launched my journey. Still working with him 8 years later as a consultant.
Position/Role at Web 20:
I started as a content writer about 9 years ago. But decided to broaden my skill set further and ventured into editing about 7 years ago. After gaining a lot of experience in the SEO content field, the next logical step was to sharpen my digital marketing and SEO Skills about 6 years ago. As it stands I have 9 years combined experience in writing and editing SEO content, and digital marketing strategy.
How long have you worked with Web 20?
As of this month 1 year 3 months.
What does your job entail?
A couple of months ago my sister was on holiday. I received a strange whatsapp message with a simple hey. I responded and the recipient asked me “how my sister was doing”. I looked at the profile picture and it looked like a man in their 40s or so. I was alarmed, why would a 40 something year old man be asking me about my 12 year old sister. I was very upset, but came to learn that that was her favorite teacher, and he was just concerned about her and how she was doing.
I feel like this is exactly what happens when someone writes poor content for their business. You may have the best intentions but how you communicate may send a completely different message. So one of my top priorities at web 20 is to ensure the content written communicates the client message correctly.
I manage the content aspect of things at web 20, mostly blogs, GPs and a variety of different types of written content. I also manage the GMB AI generating team. We focus on constantly improving the content by training the team in both SEO skills and writing skills. So that when they write something they know why they are writing it, this often translates to better quality. We are also transitioning to the econtent store, a dashboard/CRM kinda platform to help us manage the writing. This will help us understand the writer’s skill level further and makes it easier and faster to manage writers.
What do you like most about your job?
There are quite a number of things I look forward to when I wake up in the morning. High up that list is looking at the content delivered after a training, seeing if the team has improved. In most cases they do, which gives me a dopamine rush every time. Reading the content as well. As editors, we read different content pieces from a variety of niches. And I usually look forward to learning something interesting from what the writers have written. Sometimes I get so engrossed in an article I forget I am editing it and not just reading it for my own enjoyment.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
To be better! As a self taught person in this industry who has had to google almost everything earlier on, I have a constant need for self validation. I try to pass everything I learn to my team so they can be better too as well.
How has Web 20 helped you in your career development?
It has given me more opportunities for one. Even though I believed I was really good at SEO before I joined the team, I was genuinely and happily surprised when I joined. There are things I never even imagined would be part of an effective SEO strategy like QR codes. I knew that GMB was important but it was until I joined W2R that I understood the power it holds. There are new SEO strategies being developed every time to keep abreast with Google’s changes. So, I am a better professional now than I was before.
If you could switch your job with anyone else within Web 20, whose job would you want?
Well this is a hard one, I really do enjoy the job I do. But if I would have to, I would say the SEO manager Ben, he creates these amazing strategies that leave me in awe every time I hear them during our break out meetings. Well thought out and really simple and direct. It leaves me a little upset thinking “well, why didn’t I think of that.”
The second would be you Chaz, for obvious reasons. Running such a company remotely that is constantly evolving both personnel wise and SEO wise is not easy. I think I would enjoy the challenge.
What advice do you have for prospective Web 20 candidates?
This is an easy one for me. The opportunities are there. I was hired basically as an entry level editor, but worked my way up. I focused on my strengths and worked to improve my weaknesses.
What drew you to Web 20 originally? And how has Web 20 changed since?
I found the job ad online and checked out the website and youtube channel to see what they actually did. The first thing I noticed was that it looked like a knowledgeable company. Many people would attest that the SEO industry most experts are not open about what they do or how they do it. I watched a few Vault videos on Youtube and liked how the entire panel would get into detail about the strategies and the thinking behind everything. So I just had to apply, luckily I got the job. Since then the team has expanded and grown, we have more specialized packages and strategies for almost all niches.
What have you gained from working at Web 20?
I gained sufficient office social skills. I had basically been working for small startups before web 20 which had very few employees and mostly online. So I had never really experienced an office setting online or otherwise. It was a bit of a culture shock for me, since now I have to interact with so many people every day. But I quickly made many friends regardless of their position in the company, since it is really a group of wonderful people.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Well I am a bit of a loner so when I am not working I will probably be watching some weird documentaries on Netflix or youtube, but most often Anime. I really enjoy cooking so much that I kinda created a bacon formula from watching videos on youtube and finding local alternatives that are natural. I was a bit puzzled as to why we only had one bacon maker in my country and wondered how difficult it is so I decided to try doing it myself. I learned that nitrates is the active ingredient in curing meat, so I found a blend of plants high in nitrates that I use to process the pork to bacon. The result is a more nutritious, natural product. Just learned how to make sausages, butter and fruity food sauces like mango and carrot sauces.
One quote you live by:
“Surpass your limits”
It is an Anime phrase from a show called black clover. With anime every time you think the hero is going to be overpowered they are given some vague advice like “surpass your limits” and all of a sudden they power up and have new ridiculous powers after changing their mind set.
Even though it comes from an anime, the notion of changing my mind set to surpass my limits is always top of my mind.
How do you define success?
Success is happiness, if I can make money while I do what I love, that is the ultimate success story.
What has been your favorite project at Web 20?
It has to be the Writers dashboard. I Have worked for many content mills early on in my journey. Most of them have a disconnect between the writers and the company because they only interact on the writing platform. This creates a lot of job insecurities and most writers just submit the content without having any care or emotional connection to it, just for the paycheck. But I like the approach web 20 has taken. First bring in the writing team and establish a relationship with the writers, so they feel like they are part of the company. So even if we introduce a dashboard now, the relationship will still be there and they know they can get the help they want when they need it. Furthermore, the dashboard offers them more opportunities in the future to earn more while still being part of the company, this is a big motivation for them.
On my side it helps me gauge the writers better, understand their strengths, see what types of content they do best and which they do not so we can focus on what they do best. Through the rating system we have an unbiased understanding of their skill set from the clients so we can work on improving each individual writer. The turnaround time should also improve with this system as we will cut out a lot of the manual back end things we usually do. Lastly the communication channels on the dash are much better which allows the writer, editor and client to know exactly what is happening and when it is happening.
What is your greatest fear?
Not reaching my full potential. Plus I often feel very lucky and fortunate to be where I am in the industry. After all, I started off as a college drop out with no prospects or qualifications. I got to where I am partly through luck and hard work. So sometimes I feel that I will wake up one day from the matrix and find that my luck has run out.
Where is your favorite place to be?
On my balcony at night watching the stars and over thinking on something I want to do next with a glass of beer and making some barbeque with a recipe I discovered on Youtube.
What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Very early on I found a writing gig that required me to write some explicit content. I was to write content in different areas of “high interest” for lack of better words. The worst part was writing it in first person, so I had to visualize everything I wrote like it was me doing it. Sometimes I had to write a description of the videos for SEO purposes, so I had to watch them first, especially the intro. The worst thing was I was still living at home with my mum. I am sorry mum! So I constantly had to have my room locked and have earphones on. I always imagined her walking in and me having to explain to her why I have a hundred tabs open on explicit content. She would never believe it was for work purposes.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
I would probably be an analytical chemist, since that is what I was studying.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
There are two people I respect and would love to have as a mentor. One is Dave Chapelle for walking away from $50 million because it was something he did not believe in any more even though everyone was telling him he was wrong to walk away. And two is Trevor Noah for having the courage to take over the daily show even though No one believed he should and thought he should not take it up. With Dave I would love him as a mentor because he moved away from something he did not believe in any more and for Trevor doing something he believed he could change, suffice so many people believing he was not right for the job. That is basically life, knowing when to walk away and knowing when to take a challenge. Different mindsets, same conviction.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Not sure yet, I am just done with my bacon learning phase, I am in the fruity food sauces phase. So probably something in the food processing industry like avocado cooking oil.
As far as SEO is concerned there is always something new to learn, so that is a continuing and ending process.
What are 3 words you’d use to describe Web 20?
Innovative, resourceful and accepting.
What is something you learned in the last week?
Did you know it is possible to swim in a blue whale’s veins. Learned about this when doing some content research. How did humans end up being the dominant species on earth?