Long-Time, No-See

I mentioned in my last post that it had been a hot minute since I had written anything and that I was going to write a life update. Well, it’s here!

Relationship

Adam and I recently hit our double digit day! What that means is we hit 99 days until he comes home– hence, double digits. I don’t really want to say when we hit it for safety reasons (I’m still not totally sure what falls under OPSEC and what doesn’t) and just personal security reasons. We’ve kind of been preparing little-by-little for him to come home and making plans for what we want to do.

We’ve bought tickets for several little things after he comes home around the state. We’re going to a second chance prom hosted in Greensboro in early September and I’m so excited. I already have the dress I’m going to wear when we go and I know exactly how I’m going to do my hair and makeup. I really need to find some gold shoes or something similar to go with my dress. I wore it to my best friend’s sorority formal when Adam and I first started dating and he’s been wanting me to wear it again.

We’re also going to the Fayetteville lantern festival in October. I’m a little nervous about this one because it’s going to be a big crowd and it might be a little boring waiting for the lanterns to take off. It’s supposed to have live music, foods and things to do. So, basically, it’s concert meets state fair. The State Fair is also in October and, since he’s never been to a state fair before, I think we’ll get tickets and go this year. I went my freshman year of high school and even though my college was literally down the road from the fairgrounds (I could have walked or taken a bus to the fair), I don’t really enjoy the fair so I haven’t been in seven years.

I gave Adam his birthday gift early but he can’t enjoy it until November. In November, we’re going to the Legend of Zelda symphony in Durham. I had to tell him what was going on so he wouldn’t A) buy tickets for himself and B) make plans for that weekend. He also needed time to ask for a weekend pass or put in for leave. I have it so we’ll get off work, meet up at wherever we’re living and go. I’ve booked a room at a hotel in Durham for the evening so we’ll get dressed there. If there’s time, we’ll go out to dinner before the show. If there’s not, I’m taking him out to brunch the next morning. I think it’ll be a nice evening and it’s a very adult gift. It’s not us going out to a bar and getting blackout drunk to celebrate his birthday. I feel bad it’s having to wait until November when his birthday is in early July, but it is what it is. I’m sending him a little something for his birthday to tide him over.

Everything is going really well with us so far and I’m really happy with where we’re at. Unfortunately, we haven’t had much time to talk since he moved to night shift but we’ve been making it work. I think we’re both ready for him to come home. We’ve started making a list of apartments to check out when he comes home and I’m really excited to see where the world takes us.

Career

I started a new job but I’d like to remain rather tight-lipped about it right now. I haven’t even updated my LinkedIn with where I’m at now because I want to keep a lot very very private. I have my reasons for keeping it private and it has to do with personal security. I don’t want to really get into what I do, what my job title is and I’m definitely not telling where I work at.

I am super happy there. I enjoy my work, I enjoy doing what I’m doing and I enjoy going to work every day. I’ve been there officially for a month and I couldn’t be happier!

The Odyssey

I thought I was going to quit The Odyssey in May but I was talked into staying a little longer. I was getting burnt out, I had very few ideas left and I just didn’t have the time to devote to being a good contributing editor. Well, an amazing opportunity came up that I couldn’t pass by.  The Wake County Odyssey group was among the top 10 percent on The Odyssey. We had a healthy and active community since September 2016 and we’re still going strong!

Sidenote: if you want to apply to write with us, follow this link and look for Wake County North Carolina and join our team! My Editor-in-Chief or a contributing editor will reach out to you! 

As you may or may not know, NC State, my alma mater, is in Wake County. Our managing editor (basically my bosses boss) came up with the plan to merge Wake County with NCSU and make a new Odyssey group. The thinking was that while everyone in the Wake County group has ties to Wake County, not everyone has ties to NCSU. Well, this merge created a new executive board. My EIC was planning to leave in May because she was taking on a new role at her university and I was planning to follow. When we merged with NCSU, one of our star writers stepped up the the plate and said she would take on the Editor-in-Chief position. So what ended up happening was Blair took on the EIC job, Carey is now the secretary (meaning she keeps track of who is writing, who isn’t, what their topics are, ect.) and I took over the social media director position since the previous girl left. Our recruitment head stepped down to focus on her schoolwork and so the NCSU EIC stepped into her role and the strongest writers from NCSU are now the contributing editors. Confused? So is everyone else.

I now don’t write every single week; I turn in an article when we need just one more to be healthy and I have a few fun ones waiting in the wings when they’re needed. As much as I loved writing for The Odyssey, I just couldn’t keep up with everything I had going on. The social media director position is much more suited to me because it’s what I’ve done before in previous positions and I’ve been enjoying it so far. Also, if you want to read some amazing articles by some amazing writers, you should like our Facebook page. Just search @WakeOdyssey in the Facebook search bar and you’ll find us!

I think that’s everything that’s been going on recently. I’m feeling great, I’m sleeping well, I enjoy everything going on. For all intents and purposes, I’m happy!

 

I originally wrote this for my internship on July 1. You can find the original blog post here. I wanted to share this here because the topic recently came up again at my job and I was reminded of how hard I had worked on this.

Ding. An email rolls in; it reads “Final Fourth of July Opportunities!” as the subject line. Ding. Another one. This one titled “Newsletter: July 2016”.

These emails slip through your spam filter and into your email because you specifically signed up for them. They are a slight nuisance, but not enough of one to take the time to unsubscribe or send them to the black-hole known as your spam inbox (just yet). They are about things you might have an interest in purchasing or reading later, but not at this moment. They are graymail, or, in keeping with the meat-themed emails, bacon (spelled bacn).

So what is graymail?

Graymail, coined by Hotmail, is a term used to describe solicited emails that don’t fit the definition of spam emails. In other words, they’re those annoying emails you get from that online store you bought your niece’s Christmas gifts from when you had to put your email in to finally checkout. Most people just pass over them when checking their email. They’re usually characterized by a waning interest over time until finally, out of sheer annoyance, you mark them as spam. It’s been estimated that 82 percent of emails in your inbox rights now are graymail and 75 percent of all spam identified by Hotmail users is actually unwanted graymail.

Picture1

HubSpot recently published an article on Medium about what happened when they unsubscribed 250,000 people from their new-content emails – without asking. “Although it’s not considered spam,” HubSpot wrote, “sending graymail is problematic because it can hurt the deliverability of your email overall.”

The first thing they did was to set up a system to unsubscribe subscribers once they became unengaged with the content. After six months of not clicking on the email, the subscribers become unsubscribed.

“If you think we didn’t have anxiety about unsubscribing 45% of our list, you’re dead wrong. But once we got over the sticker shock, we realized there wasn’t really anything to be worried about,” HubSpot wrote, “the people we were unsubscribing hadn’t clicked through to our blog from any of the emails we’d sent them over the course of the last 6 months, so we weren’t at risk of losing any email traffic.”

After cutting down the list by 45 percent, HubSpot removed the “instant” subscription option. Instead of sending users an email every time their blog was updated, these users now received a daily email with an aggregate of the day’s best posts. Subscribers were made aware of this decision with HubSpot noting “their inboxes would be a little lighter for it”.

But why does eliminating dormant subscribers and removing graymail from users’ inboxes matter?

It matters because your email server is smart. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, they’re actively studying their users’ habits. They learn what kind of things you like to read, what you’re interested in and what things you don’t pay attention to.

If you have 10 people all receiving the same email but eight of them don’t engage any further than opening the welcome email, the servers learn that this is something that’s of little interest and will start hiding these emails from consumers. Even actively engaged subscribers, the ones who want to see what you have created, will have their emails hidden because the majority view the content as graymail. By having a majority subscriber population that’s inactive, you’re actually allowing the servers to see your emails as irrelevant and unimportant.

Graymail isn’t spam; however, it is content that’s perceived to be spam-like by the receiver. It’s important to keep an eye on post-send engagement data. But don’t worry – lower engagement numbers aren’t a death sentence. Sometimes, like HubSpot learned, it’s important to rework your system to better blanket your consumers. Graymail and unengaged users are simply an opportunity to learn more about your target consumers and what messages work. Learning from your graymail, as HubSpot wrote, “[is] a better experience for the recipient and, thus, a better result for the marketer.”

Please Don’t Promote Me

I started writing for The Odyssey in April of 2016 and I’ve published many different pieces. Some have been about my job and others have been about my boyfriend and then even more have been about where I live and what I like to do. I’ve also written a lot about different music I like to listen to on different occasions.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with The Odyssey and it has really helped me in my professional life. I put my Editor-in-Chief as a reference and she helped me get my current job. She said so many nice things about me and how I helped make our team what it is and they decided they wanted to make me apart of their team because of what she said.

But some recent developments have me questioning how much longer my time will be at The Odyssey. My Editor-in-Chief is thinking of leaving due to school commitments (and, obviously, school has to come first) and wants me to take over her position. This has lead me to ask myself, “is this really the right move for me and for our team?”

I really think the answer is no.

Of course, one could argue that I’ve been there since the beginning with the team. I’ve helped build it up to what it is now (can’t take all the credit, of course) and I worked my way up from just a regular content creator to a contributing editor. But, of course, that’s when I had the time to devote to it. I had the time to write two or three articles a week to help keep us as a healthy community. I had the time to call creators and ask where their articles were. Now, not so much.

Carey does so much behind-the-scenes work for our team that it’s amazing she has time for anything else. She goes on conference calls with our Managing Editors during the day while I’m at work. Of course, there would be some days every now and again I could take one of those calls but– every week?– probably not on a consistent basis.

Of course, these past few weeks I’ve had my articles pre-written all the way through February and March so I could prepare for Adam to come home, enjoy my visit with him and then have time to mope when he leaves again. If I was Editor-in-Chief I wouldn’t have that ability to take that much time off.

Carey has everyone text her their article topics each Wednesday. If they don’t text her, she chases them down and talks to them about their ideas and what she can help them with. I don’t have the time for that.

Carey sends out reminders in our group chat. I forget.

While I would be honored to be considered for the position as EIC, I don’t think I’m the best choice for the job and it’s okay to admit that. Sometimes, you have to know what you can– and cannot– take on and be honest with yourself about your abilities.

So, if Carey leaves, I leave.

And I think I’m okay with that.