Qarin is our ‘Conversion Pro’ and has been helping our friends to create online content for almost a decade. Last month she came back from her maternity leave. I sat down with Qarin and asked her a few questions. Hopefully, you enjoy the read!
It’s good to have you back, Qarin! Tell us a little more about what exactly you are doing at Zooma for those who don’t know you yet.
Thanks! I have been at Zooma since 2011 and hold the title of Copywriter & Conversion Specialist. A role that is a combo between on- and offsite with focus on analysis, SEO and content. Everything is finally about objectives and conversions.
Today I would say that I probably spend about 50% of my days as a project manager. And, once in a while, I hold training sessions focusing on writing for online.
Tell us about your background! I know it’s been a little while, but what did you do before?
I graduated as an Information Designer for Interactive Media in 2003 and two years later as a Copywriter. I’ve been doing a lot over the years: assisting productions of music videos, planning, writing and marketing for a magazine publishing house, copywriting at traditional agencies and finally, since 2009, focusing on online and digital content.
Why did you switch from traditional to online marketing?
Well, during the recessions, early 2000 and around 2009, companies tightened their marketing budgets, and many halted their spending on traditional outbound media. It is hard to justify investments when there is not much evidence of results.
Online, on the other hand, was measurable, which was one of the reasons why the means for web activities tended to remain untouched. Or even got bigger.
Focusing on online seemed given, also to me. The problem was just that everything readable on the net was anything but good. One could just stuff a page with the main keywords, and that would do an excellent job for SEO. Unfortunately, these texts were terrible to visitors. They hardly made sense. And that was nothing I wanted to craft.
Expressing things in writing is basically about understanding needs; about touching and pleasing through context, word choice, text structure, finesse and formatting. Repeating words is what you want to avoid. Unless it’s stylistic.
So I thought; if I learn everything about this topic, there must be other ways to optimise texts for search. Pages should be found—and appreciated. ‘Said’ and done.
However, time changes, as do search engines. Optimising for online is finally all about us, the users. Nowadays, Google knows semantics, meaning that pages utilising a vast vocabulary are appreciated by visitors, and consequently also by Google. Additionally, as we value expertise, authority and trustworthiness, known as SEO EAT; great texts are today found, read and shared.
How was it to leave work for a while?
Well, I worked until the day before my son was born—just because he came on a holiday. I feel privileged and happy to be part of a company that made it possible to do so, and then let me spend so much time with my family.
Zooma is a company that values family, highly. We often have activities where our kids and partners are invited. Very nicely, in my opinion.
How has your ‘break’ been?
Great. But I missed my colleagues; all Zoomers are like family. I do love my kids, but three mean a lot of duties. And buzz.
Very fortunate, though, our two oldest sons are best friends. And Bill, the baby, is such a great kid; he is always happy and loves to sit and play by himself.
All the boys and my husband have so much humour, so there is much laughter in our house.
What did you do during that time?
Apart from the obvious, being with my children, I managed to do a lot. I am practical by nature, a DIY person. I love interior, building, painting, and learning new stuff.
First out was to rework the laundry. It is what many would consider as too small for a family of five, but with shelves and smart storing, ours now works better than most. And it looks great. That is always important; things have to look great and function optimally.
Have you focused all the time on your baby?
No, having three kids means that all need attention. My biggest fear of having another child was not to be able to be there for everyone. So as I thought; sometimes I wish that I could clone myself. Howsoever, you find a way and routines. Today I believe everyone is quite satisfied and love how it all turned out.
How would you compare work-life to parent life?
Work is almost vacation. To only cater for myself and the things I enjoy is, in comparison to being a mother of three, quite peaceful. It is also pleasant to do other types of projects than those you have as a mother and house owner.
What did you learn from parental leave that you can use in your job?
Maybe I didn’t learn so much new, but kids make you incredibly skilled at a lot: Like panning, doing things with one hand and doing things simultaneously. At listening, focusing on the things that matter most, staying calm, do things well and superfast, explaining things, setting motivational goals, and so on. All useful even at work.
Do you have some advice on how it is easier for someone to return to work after a break?
Ensure to turn off your computer before leaving. And, that you run all software updates when you finally put it on. You could say that my computer was not set to work the way I was...
In my role, I also need—and want to—stay up to do date; so do not disappear in a parental bubble.
Except for reading topic-related news, I joined some of our monthly meetings on Skype, but not as many I’d wished. Being on maternity leave means that it is crazy hard to find gaps that give enough time for your wants. You need to utilise naps, and those seldom correlate with what others do.
Also, see your colleagues: visit your job, try to hang out on joint activities, and communicate so they know when you are back.
How was your first week at work?
After my maternity leave, I was excited to go back to work. Even though I was away for almost 15 months, which must be some kind of record, it felt like I left Zooma yesterday. Maybe because I didn’t disconnect totally during my parental break.
Coming back is great. As I said, I love my colleagues and the things I do here. I have been tasked with things directly; no pauses yet. To sum up: perfect! Except for the total computer outage then…