Looking back at the past few months with e27 Academy, there are plenty of things to take note of
“This reminds me very much of college.”
I told our editor Kevin when we began our journey with e27 Academy a few months ago.
By the time I was on the third day of working on an article for our project, and was drowning in a sea of books and online articles about setting up a business in Indonesia. I had an outline laid nearby, filled my notes with scribbles, and was just about to add in a quote from a source to the article. I had also just had my second helping of Indomie for lunch.
The last time I was in a similar situation was when I was doing a paper in university.
Ever since its launch in October, we have published at least four articles each week about topics ranging from developing a marketing plan to managing the relationship between startups and corporations.
We had even hosted the offline version of the Academy in Batam, Indonesia, on November 28-30 (which, unfortunately, I had to miss due to other commitments).
Looking back through this journey, I realised that there are many things that the team have learned –and still many things remained to learn.
This is why I decided to reveal to the world how and why we are doing things at the e27 Content team.
If there is anything that I have learned about learning, is that throughout the process, you need to share to the world what you have learned. By triggering a discussion about the topics that you have learned, you may also have the opportunity to receive feedback and gain additional knowledge.
Guess what? You may even help someone along the way.
So this is how we do it
When we are setting up the concept of Academy, we stressed on the importance for the articles to be thorough.
This is not a news article that we write daily in under an hour, filled with only the basic information that you need to know about who is raising funds, or who is being appointed as CTO.
This is supposed to be a reference that readers can bookmark for when they are in need of advice, or just when they feel like broadening their horizon. It has to feature the advice and experience of people who have done it, and done it well. Our writers also need to be able to pick up the right angle and ask the right questions.
We will have to read books and have an in-depth interview with at least three sources in order to produce the expected 1,000 words article. Especially since we have big goals for the project: As written on our OKRs, we aim to have 30 articles published by end of Q4 2018.
In implementing this process, we learned something from our own contribution programme. Today we have Angelo, who is in charge of the programme, with some help from our writer Yon. They edit the incoming submissions, and even go all the way to invite people to write for our platform.
Before Angelo joined the company, the four writers at the Content team had to do all these tasks themselves.
It was crazy. I would rather not remember those days.
We dabbled in the idea of setting up a specialised team to work on Academy articles, but then we decided to work with what we have.
So we gave each of our writer something called Academy Week, a week when a writer got to focus on working their Academy article –and nothing else. By the time a new week comes, it is expected that the writer will come up with one Academy article, ready for publishing.
That way, each writer can really focus on planning and writing the article, without fear of being rushed or distracted by other tasks.
If you ever wondered why I have been declining invitation to startup events or interviews, this is the reason why.
So why is this ideal for us?
The system works well for us that for the time being we can forget about the need to hire new people and set up a whole different team.
First of all, we have a team of writers who have been dabbling in the Southeast Asian tech startup ecosystem for at least three years. Not only that we are well-connected enough in the industry to know whom to ask questions to, we also know the right questions to ask.
We have also been feeling humbled by the outpouring support coming in from the community for this project. Even before we reach out to them, sources are writing in to us, asking how they can contribute to Academy.
Doing Academy pieces also provides unexpected benefits for our writers.
I have mentioned previously about how writing an Academy piece reminds me much of college days, and I was not just being nostalgic.
Something in the process also enables me to dig into the other sides of the startup industry: The questions I do not usually get to ask our sources, the answers that help broaden my knowledge on how one runs a business.
Having a dedicated time to work on the article also enables us to plan things through and take our time to execute it. When working on a news article, we often get to juggle between fact-checking, editing, and getting it all done in 30 minutes.
But with Academy Week, we are able to take time out of the equation.
So what’s next?
As we are closing in to the end of 2018, we have begun to figure out our to-do list for the year 2019. Which is coming in less than three weeks. Gasp. Seriously?
In regards to Academy, we definitely see no reason to give up on it. If anything, we are even more eager to find out what we can come up with next year: New people to talk to, new topics to dig deeper. New ways to improve our writers’ knowledge and understanding in the field of business, technology, and everything in between.
Who knows what we all get to learn about next year?
The post Why writing an Academy piece is like going back to school appeared first on e27.