How did your writing career first get started?
I got started when I left a job I was terribly unhappy at. I was working myself to death, and had no respect or recognition for my efforts. I had no real goal in mind when leaving, other than I wanted to be happy again. I just wanted to live life and not feel beaten down by “the man” all the time! I started writing for a small Android gaming site for fun, and people liked my work. I was doing it for free (which anyone who is serious about blogging or writing should do), and really learning how things worked. From there, I saw that Android Authority was looking for writers. I sent my “elevator pitch” to those who are now my bosses, and the rest is really history at this point.
I didn’t go to school for journalism, and I don’t care to learn a whole lot of structure and rhetoric. I try to articulate ideas and information properly, plain and simple. If I can do that, I’m alright. Obviously, there is much more to it than simply laying it out there for readers, but that’s the main goal.
Credibility is everything in this industry. What tips would you give to someone trying to rise up through the ranks?
Good question! I guess my advice would be is ‘your word is your bond’. I know about 10-times more than I ever say, because someone says “hey, this is off the record”. If anyone tells me something is sealed info, even for a short period of time, it’s in the vault. The second you violate trust, that’s the moment you burn a bridge. I think of myself as an island, and I need bridges to get things done. I would also tell people to be positive. Don’t be an apologist, but don’t immediately look for the negative in everything.
What are some of the most common writing mistakes you see people make that could easily be avoided?
Oh, man, that’s easy. Commas. Commas do more good than people give them credit for. Between commas and general syntax errors, reading some stories can be maddening. I feel like some articles out there are written from the hip, and never read for errors or context. We all make mistakes, but if you’re making mistakes that make your article unreadable, that’s hard to get around.
Networking is easier than ever in this social media age we live in, and you probably deal with solicitations all the time. Where do you see people fail, and how could they do better?
First, I’d argue that networking is “easier”. It’s easier to get in touch with people, sure, but it’s also easier for them to blindly ignore you. If you want me to look at your app, or case, or whatever you’re asking me to do for you… please, make sure it applies to my site, or what I do. I get solicitations in my email all the time for iPhone stuff. Sorry, but that’s not what Android Authority is about. You may have sent out a blast email, but now I’ve marked you as spam. What happens when you have a great Android product to pitch? Take the time to pitch to the right sources, and you’ll find more support. Great things come from groundswells of support, not a massive takeover of media.
Writing great content is important, but so is building an active community around that content. What has allowed you, and others you work with, to build a vibrant community?
Honesty. I say what I mean, and mean what I say. I have no problem saying something is garbage, if it is. When you temper things properly, it resonates with the right people. I don’t like sensationalism, and being sensational damages your integrity. People may disagree with things I say, and that’s fine… welcome, even. The point is opening a dialogue, and engaging when we can. Even if we don’t get the chance to interact in the comments section or on social media, we’re usually aware of what’s being said.
Where can people learn more about you, and check out your work?
My author’s page on Android Authority, and my social media profile on Google+. Those are where I’m most active. I don’t have a Facebook page, and I use twitter as a news aggregate more than anything else. I try to be as available as I can for interaction, and those both give me the best opportunity to do so.
Photo credit: Oregon Golf Association
Mike Stenger is a writer with a love of all things technology.