Entering post-college employment on the cusp of a global pandemic, Tami Oladipo has plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about her career trajectory. However, the content creator chose the path less-traveled — embracing change, staying positive, and not straying from her personal values amidst the professional — and personal — uncertainty brought upon by the pandemic.
“I will try anything once, but I don’t push for things that don’t make me excited,” says Tami, who now plies her trade at Buffer, of her work — and life — experiences to date.
More from our conversation with Tami below, including how she opted for inspiration over desperation during lockdown, "unpopular" opinions on remote work, and continuing to find new ways to grow (and remain grounded) along the way.
When the future is unwritten
For Tami, leaving anything about her future to doubt was never an option. From every level of school through today, her focus has been on further developing her love —and skills— of writing.
After navigating a few different writing-adjacent avenues, she eventually gravitated towards marketing and was awarded an internship in 2019. Amidst the excitement of building her marketing chops at Pulse, a digital agency based in her home of Nigeria, there was no amount of planning that could prepare her for what was next.
“That was how I got to 2020 and working full-time at that agency. I was pumped. Then the universe was like, ‘no’,” she said with a laugh reflecting on the moment that completely changed her career trajectory. “I got laid off when we went into lockdown. Here I was in 2020, home with my parents in the middle of a pandemic. No job or purpose. That was the first time since I entered university I didn't have a plan or anything to look forward to.”
Everything was so nebulous. It was a time of deep reflection and what I wanted out of my career. That led me to discovering remote work.
For the first time, she needed to reconsider not only her approach to her future, but everything else. “Everything was so nebulous. It was a time of deep reflection and what I wanted out of my career. That led me to discovering remote work.”
Finding a community a million miles away
Turns out, Tami realized that, despite being in isolation at home, the best way to rediscover her passion for writing was to connect with a community of people millions of miles away.
“I started joining remote work communities, connecting with people all over the world. Content marketing came up as something to do from my house. Everyone was trying to do something with their content. I think we were all just bored and trying to connect with people outside of the ways we were used to connecting with people,” she said.
While she never considered how corporate blogs were created or even effective at the onset, after about eight months, she began to turn her passion of writing into paying freelance content gigs. Her persistence to find her niche coupled with a natural curiosity about the world, rather than any level of “influence” on social platforms, was an essential part of her growing reputation as a top content creator.
“I like to treat each new client or industry or blog post as diving into the world, and then I can always come back out. I’m not someone who relies on social media to reach customers. It’s not an integral part of my business. It’s like putting on a costume that I can take off,” she says. “It’s looking at something and approaching each blog post as an individual thing and thinking, ‘this is who is likely to get to the end of your writing’, knowing that person and getting into their head.”
If you think this comes easy to Tami, she wants to assure you that’s not the case.
“For me, not everything I talk about comes naturally. I see what works for others, but I also know what works for me. I try to find the best approach (in between). I take the same approach to content and as I get deeper with clients. With Buffer, what has worked for me on writing about social? It’s thinking, ‘how can I solve this problem or address this concern in an empathetic way?’”
Benefits of becoming (un)stuck at home
As she looks back on the past few years, Tami says she owes a lot of her upward trajectory to that time alone at home during the pandemic.
“People have different opinions on this, but being stuck at home helped me build some of my strengths. I really had to push myself to meet people in person. Meeting online was less stressful, there was less anxiety. Online tools played to my strengths,” she says.
People have different opinions on this, but being stuck at home helped me build some of my strengths.
That said, Tami said she understands that while the luxury of a digital barrier was helpful to her, it may not be the right approach for everyone. “I get that a lot of people don’t love remote work because of the missing human connection,” she says.
“I was always comfortable being online,” she adds. “Online communication is the best thing ever invented. If not, I would be stuck in my house all of the time and quiet. My friends are used to that, but I know (being the quietest person in the room) doesn’t help in professional environments. Your work alone doesn’t always speak louder.”
Finding your own voice while honing one for others
Tami says that she’s taken the same empathetic approach to the debate around remote work as her own content creation efforts.
“To have your own thing, it’s hard to do. Writing anything personal after a week of the same process of research and drafting and scheduling and coming up with social content…it can make writing the worst thing in the world,” she admits.
This has inspired her to think more deeply about the version of herself that fell in love with writing, a not-so-unique sentiment among her peers as well.
“I have marketing friends who want to think about what got them into writing in the first place. Some are writing a book, writing games. I used to have a coworker who wrote comics on the side. People have different outlets,” she says.
For Tami, her personal social media accounts have been an outlet for bringing out her personality, as they focus more on her interests and bridging connections between her work and personal life. Ironically for the tech writer, one way that has manifested is in her love of trying out new technology.
“I will try any tool and man, it puts my email in so many places,” she jokes. “I’m joining all of the betas, it’s fun for me to try new platforms.”
Tami said this is one work-adjacent outlet, where she tries new tools and talks about them across her social media, has been a helpful departure from the daily content creation grind, without feeling the need to write longform articles about her personal experiences.
“If you’re a writer you may not want to write as an outlet and may want to consider something else, like starting a podcast,” she says. “It’s talking about things I’m interested in…and goes a long way to appreciating your job.”