SEO + Conference Moderating + Dirty Martinis = Fresh Insight from Monica Wright

If you’ve ever attended a Search Marketing Expo event before, odds are you’ve bumped into Monica Wright. She’s usually hanging in the press / speakers room, chatting with notable thought-leaders in the expo hall, or up on stage, welcoming audience members and hosting speakers in a variety of SEM panels. Monica’s a seasoned moderator on the SMX scene, and if she’s the one heading up a session, you know it’s gonna be good.   She’s also the Community Editor for a couple of our shop’s fav online publications, Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and, as our interview revealed, into dirty martinis. 

I’d like to say this interview took place over a couple of those tasty beverages,  but lamentably, this was a virtual Q&A. Next month when AIMCLEAR flocks to New York City for SMX East, we’ll do it up right. Cause Monica will be there, too – moderating three titillating social media sessions on the second day of the conference. Til then, read on and whet your appetite with the fruits of our interview.

| AIMCLEAR: So… who are you? Where did you come from? (And how did you wind up in this industry?)

Monica Wright: I actually came from publishing – first in circulation from print B2B magazines, then audience development for newspapers. After 10 years I made the jump to SEO exclusively in 2008 when there was some pretty obvious writing on the wall indicating that my newspaper job was going to be eliminated – I also was getting heavily involved in search marketing and loved it, and wanted to do more of that. So I started a blog, got hired at a small boutique search agency, and worked my face off, just like many SEOs do. I worked exclusively as a search marketer for digital agencies as well as for myself for about four years, during which I started presenting and investing in attending conferences. It was the networking that was a real turning point for me. A little over a year ago, Danny Sullivan asked if I was interested in helping out with Search Engine Land’s social activity part time, which eventually grew to a full-time position as Community Editor for both Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. I’m back at a media company, still working in search, and I couldn’t be happier.

| aC:  That’s a truly awesome story. So, tell us about your role in the SMX conferences and how you impact things behind and in front of the scenes.

MW: My role is primarily with the editorial team for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, so I help out coordinating and moderating sessions, primarily on social media topics. The process involves working with the editorial team to create the agenda, identifying speakers, and making sure the content presented is top-notch. I’ve probably simplified it here, because it takes a lot more time than it may seem. There are a lot of very, very smart people to work with, and selecting speakers can be a brutal process. At least to me it can be, maybe after a few more dozen conferences it will get easier.

| aC: Right on. What professional goals have you reached, and what new goals have you set as a marketer?

MW: Professionally and personally, my new goals are to give back what I know. The past 10 years have been a whirlwind of going from media companies, to agency settings, working for myself and then back to media, and learning along the way. I have always been gun shy about getting involved in my local community and volunteering expertise, only because I have always been so stretched for time, balancing work and home (aren’t we all?). At this point, I have matured enough to feel I can contribute to my community without the fear of taking on too much, and provide digital marketing insight that can make a difference. Also, and this may sound corny, but I now feel comfortable stepping out of my everyday internet marketing “life” without that creepy anxious feeling of, “Oh crap, I have to become an expert in [insert-latest-thing-here].” I have a much better filter, which only comes from experience. I didn’t know it was a goal, until I realized how much better work can be.

| aC: Inspirational. Tell us – what are some current trends online marketers should heed… or ignore? (In other words, what’s here to stay, what’s to a passing fad?)

MW: What’s here to stay is good marketing sense, and there is no quick fix for anything, whether it’s search, social or even paid advertising. Doing something right takes time, and that will always be true.

| aC: Hear, hear! On Day 2 of SMX East, you’ll be moderating 3 sessions on the social media track. What’s it like to be one of the hostestess with the mostesses up on stage? (I could have thought of a better way to word that, but… yeah.)

MW: Frankly, moderating is the best – I get to collaborate and work with the speakers and pull together a session that I would want to attend and learn from as a professional. We’re well-prepared, as a result, so it’s pretty relaxed. I sometimes flounder a bit using the PC on stage, I am such a Mac geek that working on a Windows machine is like asking me to write with my left hand. Luckily, there is a team working the Q&A system and other technical aspects of the room to help me hide my incompetent PC skills.

| aC: I dig. Lightning round time. Favorite adult beverage, ethnic cuisine, and animal, GO!

MW: Grey Goose dirty martini, Spanish food, and direwolf. DONE!

| aC: No one’s ever given an extinct animal as an answer to that Q before, well done! This one’s for me *sips martini* and this one’s for the direwolf *pour some of martini on ground*. Thanks for your time today, Monica. See you in the Big Apple!

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