Aki Libo-on: Making your Mark as Content Editor
Next up on Freelancer Spotlight is my co-admin and friend, Aki Libo-on. Aki works for one of the largest Search Marketing publishers, SearchEngineJournal.com, as Assistant Content Editor. We’ve been workmates, foodie buddies and we frequently discuss our #worlddomination plans every chance we get. I admire her polished writing skills and I know she’ll ignite the content diva in you when you read her story. Let’s all learn a thing or two from Ms. Libo-on.
1. How did you get started in freelancing? What was your previous job/career before you became a freelancer?
I started working from home in 2011. Prior to this, I was working as a content writer for a BPO company based in Makati. This is how I got connected with Alpha Brand Media’s CEO, Jenise Henrikson. She eventually hired me as a content writer, producing content to some of ABM’s websites, before I became the Assistant Editor of Search Engine Journal.
2. As a Content Editor, what are your main responsibilities?
My main responsibility as the Assistant Editor of SEJ is to make sure that all content adheres to our editorial guidelines. I deal with how every posts are structured.
When you work for a publication like SEJ, it’s important that every content you produce are consistent—not just on the topics you cover but also how they’re presented. A slight difference in the formatting might appear as a deviation from the brand.
3. What’s your typical workday like?
I always start my day checking out whether we have new drafts from our guest contributors. I’ll vet them based on our style guide before forwarding them to our executive editor.
As soon as I’m done with the editorials, I’ll move on to my social media tasks. Part of my work as an Assistant Editor is to help our social producer, and make sure that our posts get the social media mileage they deserve.
When I’m clear with that, I work on my other tasks that are a bit complex to categorize.
4. What’s your biggest achievement and challenge as a Content Editor?
I can say that my biggest achievement (by far) is being able to connect people within the industry. The best thing about my job is that I get to meet influencers and thought leaders in the digital marketing scene, both here in the Philippines and abroad. I’d like to believe that being able to bridge one person to a wider audience is one reason why I exist.
On the other hand, productivity proves to be a challenge. I bet you’d agree when I say that productivity, or being able to do a lot in less time, is a challenge to anyone who works from home. And I’m still trying to get the hang of it.
5. How do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to own part of the Content Strategy field within five years. This might sound like a pipe dream, but I really want to be the Kristina Halvorson of the Philippines.
I’m an advocate of Content Strategy, and I think it’s something that a lot of companies miss in their digital marketing mix. I can still see businesses, especially small ones, pleasing the search engines when it’s their customers they should think about first. As a result, they would put up a website and produce content that are irrelevant to their customers, which is a major waste of time for both parties.
My mission is to teach entrepreneurs—who want to utilize the power of the Internet—to consider their customers’ needs and take a content-first approach.
6. What have you learned that you wished you had known earlier?
I wish I have learned the real purpose of being an entrepreneur when I was younger. Back then, I really wanted to put up a business—any legit business—because I wanted to be ultra rich. All of my ideas failed because I only focus on the output and not the outcome.
The truth is that starting a business means being selfless. As Guy Kawasaki puts it, “The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning—to create a product or service that will make the world a better place.”
7.Please give 3 tips to those aspiring to be a Content Writer?
I always tell aspiring writers to give themselves the time to write. It’s inherent for a person to express himself verbally, it’s just a matter of finding your style. I prefer long-form content because it allows me to tell a story. Some like their content short like Seth Godin. Some like to re-order their sentence like Master Yoda (which I think is cool).
Second, you need to learn how to read as a writer. When you read as a writer, you don’t just consume the words to be informed or educated. You also look at the author’s writing style, what you like or don’t like about it, which part of it you can explain better, which part of it you can explain differently, and which gap you can fill in.
Lastly, do the William Forrester approach. In the movie Finding Forrester, William Forrester (played by Sean Connery) said, “You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”
8. What do you do for fun?
I usually spend my weekends dining out while observing my surroundings. When I’m not in the mood to go out, I’d binge watch episodes from Criminal Minds or other police procedural TV series that would pique my interest.
When I’m too lazy to watch any series, I’d sometimes read a book. My current favorite is Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.
And I also see to it that I go out of town at least once a year. If I can’t afford it, I’d stay in a hotel within the city—just to have a change of scene. This might sound ridiculous, but when you work from home, you sometimes can’t help but associate it with work.
All of these allow me to disconnect and regain my sense of being. Because let’s face it, we can get so busy working that we sometimes forget why we do what we’re doing.
9. Quote to live by:
“Where your talent and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.”- Aristotle