Name: Megan McShane Purcell
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Product Marketing Manager and Podcaster
Industry: Tech and finance
Over the past two years I have felt a change—well, heck, we've all felt a change in the way we work, how we socialize, and how we continuously try to find balance between the two. It is clear COVID has changed many things for each of us. So, as I take a moment to pause and breathe and really step back to look out into the world, what are some examples of these changes?
- It is clear life has become digital only. We have seen all eyes on social media, which has become a powerful connective tissue for all of us. Whether we are scrolling through TikTok, learning something new on our Instagram discovery page, or watching video reviews on YouTube, social media has become a one-stop-shop.
- "I need a corner office with a window," has morphed into, "No office, but more balance or I'm out." We have seen the rise of the Great Resignation as illustrated in the New York Times article The YOLO Economy, where COVID-19 led a vast number of people to question their careers and embark on potentially risk-prone departures from their traditional nine-to-five careers.
- People have spoken up and are forcing change through action. Lastly, we have seen people take to the streets as their values have shifted and diversity, equity, and inclusivity rein as top marks for everything they participate in, talk about, and even purchase.
It's clear that change has been our constant companion over these past two years. And when I take in all these changes (and many more not reflected here), what I see truly beginning to happen is self-expression shifting and people finding new ways to express themselves.
Self-expression has transformed its way into fueling a new economy—the Creator Economy. This group of people understands that you do not need to be a professional creative to create and have embarked on self-owned platforms where they can express themselves however they see fit. These people, more formally known as creators, are no longer considered just hobbyists. With an idea and the right tools, anyone can go from an aspiring food blogger, artist, or stylist to an established founder of their own business propelled by social media and a smartphone.
Within my own self-expression endeavor, my output happens to be my podcast, Girls Just Wanna Have Funds. This is where I have had the opportunity to interview fantastic women who are actively making history in their own respective fields. To help my listeners get a sense of their journey I always ask these women, "What has been your heroine's journey thus far?" Now, I am by no means a hero (insert imposture syndrome here), but I decided to treat myself as the interviewee and reflect on my own journey as a creator and podcaster.
What has been your journey to becoming a creator?
I would love to say it started on a rainy day when I had a lightning bolt of an idea that propelled me into action, but really my podcast was seven years in the making. It did start on a rooftop, where my best friend Saira and I were splitting a bottle of wine and writing down the funniest stories we tell at parties. This evolved into intermittently scribbling in a notebook and telling one another we should start a podcast. But when the time came to record, we never got there.
What propelled us into action were myriad things, but I can confidently say the pandemic was our tipping point toward figuring out how to start a podcast. With Saira now in Denver and me in Seattle, I could feel the distance between our two states slowly evolving into distance in our relationship. So instead of waiting out quarantine to see each other, we hopped on a Zoom call, poured ourselves a glass of wine, and finally discussed doing the podcast. It may have been due to all the extra time at home waiting for our lives to restart, or the lack of creativity we both were feeling in our daily jobs, but what came out of that call was a topic, a name, and a collective mission for our work together.
How do you find the confidence to put yourself out there?
I'd say the hardest part about doing a podcast isn't the actual recording, it's having to listen back to your own voice and try to get used to it. One of the biggest tests in my own confidence was letting myself go when taping the podcast introduction with our producer. I remember him trying to hype me up and I ended up screaming "YO, YO, YO!" to psych myself up to have enough energy to land that introduction. Now, keep in mind I am in my bedroom in my apartment screaming into my PC. As humorous as I'm sure that was for my producer (and my poor neighbors), the output was well worth it, and that podcast introduction is something I am very proud of. As any creator knows, consistency is key, and the more I listen to my own voice, the more I learned how to improve. It should also be noted that having my best friend on the other side of the screen helps me to loosen up a bit, which also helps my confidence.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a creator?
Be confident in your passion, it's yours and if you aren't having fun with it then your audience won't either. After a year of putting in my own work to develop and promote my podcast, it's been important for both Saira and I to constantly take a critical look at our work and openly discuss what we love, what we hate, and what we want to do moving forward. At this point in our journey, it's really become a business and we want to monetize, quite frankly. Putting aside the money, we are trying to get back to the basics of what we love without stopping the flow of content. It can be a tireless mission to fuel the passion we had the first time we got on Zoom to brainstorm, but I can confidently say it's still worth it.
What are your top tools?
I live and die by Notion. It's where everything is kept—our marketing plan, our mission, our brand kit, our analytics, and, most importantly, our episode content calendar. Other content creator tools we leverage include Riverside to record and Megaphone to publish to places like Spotify and Apple Podcasts, as well as to help us analyze how the podcast is performing (to us, it's downloads). We also use Sprout Social to help us publish and track social media post performance.
There are many hats creators wear and if I could wave a magic wand, I would wish all these tools could live in one place. But kudos to Windows 11, which has a new multiple desktop feature for consumers, so at least I can pretend my creator life and work life are different. To put it simply, I have a desktop for work stuff and a desktop for podcast stuff.
How do you balance a full-time job and creator job?
What I've learned about balance is that it's never given to you. No one says to a digital content creator, "Wow you are amazing, go ahead and take the day off." It's up to us to determine when and how to find that balance. I struggle with balance because I know the second I take my eyes off the continuous creator lifecycle activity, we will lose followers. Being a creator really means being a business owner. You are the CEO, and you must determine when it's time to take a break, unwind, and have a glass of wine (or three).
What is your end goal with your side hustle?
This is a harder question to answer, but it's something I've been thinking about more often as my work time eats into my free time.
My friends laugh, but I know what my perfect day would look like. I'll spare you the details, but I always have that in mind and try to find paths to take me there. I believe my side hustle, or creator job, is helping me get closer to that path—whether that be from leaning into myself for security and validation instead of seeking it externally from others or learning how to say no to the things I don't want to do. It could be age or experience, but ultimately, I'm seeking the freedom to always be my authentic self in any situation because that's who I am and what makes me happy. I'm not going to be on my deathbed thinking, "Wow, if only I took another Teams meeting." So as far as the end goal goes, I'd say it would be leaning into things that enable my creative flow and experiencing them with the people I love.
To wrap it up, I purposefully talk about self-expression rather than creativity because I believe a lot of non-traditional creative types don't believe they can be creative themselves. And that is just not true. Creativity is how you decide to leverage your own mind, whether that be in problem solving, taking a photo, dancing, or speaking your truth. Creativity is self-expression encapsulated in some shape or form, and you have it in you too.
These past two years were tough, but what I've found to be so inspiring about other creators I've met along my own journey is that they get to decide how to speak to their own narrative and help others think outside of the box.