By Bianca Mendez
Alexis Grant made her mark in the journalism world as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle. Since then, she’s launched her own content marketing business, spent some time freelancing, and currently serves as the executive editor for The Penny Hoarder, one of the fastest growing media companies. Here, she talks building her business, her day-to-day, and why she loves to spend her downtime in the woods.
Walk me through your backstory.
I grew up in upstate New York, went to college in Maine, then got my graduate degree in journalism.
I worked as a journalist for 6 years — first at the Houston Chronicle, then at U.S. News & World Report — before pivoting to launch my own content-marketing business. That business was later acquired by The Penny Hoarder (Taylor Media), and I’ve been in-house there for a year-and-a-half, running the editorial side of the company.
I also blog at AlexisGrant.com. It’s my creative outlet, and continues to bring opportunities and connections my way. I love helping others figure out how to flex their entrepreneurial muscles to build flexible careers and income streams.
What made you want to join The Penny Hoarder team?
The Penny Hoarder was one of the clients of my blog-management business, and we were impressed with the founder, Kyle Taylor, and his mission to put more money in his readers’ pockets. We saw so much potential in the brand! And we loved working with Kyle, which made it easy to say YES when he asked us to join the team.
What’s the day-to-day like?
As executive editor, I spend most of my time on big-picture strategy. But as anyone who works as a startup can attest, I get my hands dirty as needed with the nitty-gritty, too. We all pitch in here!
I spend a lot of my time recruiting awesome people to join us – and by the way, we’re hiring for tons of positions in 2017! I also help ensure the information we share with our readers is top-notch and fun to consume. A big part of my role is putting processes in place that will help us continue to scale, and removing obstacles so our employees can continue to do their best work.
I love this job because I learn something new every day. I’m lucky to work at such an innovative company with great people.
Congrats on The Penny Hoarder being one of the fastest growing media companies. What do you think sets The Penny Hoarder apart from other finance websites?
Thanks! The biggest piece is we’re fun to read — we’re not boring like a lot of finance sites. We tend to write more about interesting ways to earn and save money, and share stories of how people have done that in their lives, than the information you’d typically think of as personal finance. Examples: How to get Domino’s pizza 50% off tomorrow, or which breeds of dogs are the cheapest to own, or how a couple saved $50K to travel for a few years.
We also lean toward sharing practical tips for people who don’t have a lot of money — the 30-something mom who is trying to make ends meet, the new grad who has student loans to pay off, the couple that’s working to save for their dream home. Most personal finance websites cater to people who have a lot of money, so we fill a different sort of need.
What do you look for in a candidate?
I look at a lot of resumes. The first question is, did the candidate tailor their resume and application questions specifically for us and the role they’re applying for? Did they take the time to show they want to work for us, or would they be happy landing any job?
Then I’m looking for someone who takes initiative. I’m always impressed when candidates have a well-done blog that showcases their expertise and/or a fleshed-out LinkedIn profile so I can learn why they’d be valuable to our team.
While skills are important, those are often easy to come by. It’s cultural fit that we’re really looking for. Someone who’s going to mesh well with our team and give the job their all.
You also have a blog management company that was also acquired by Taylor Media (Socialexis). What made you want to start it?
I started it as a social media consultancy because I noticed a lot of small businesses needed help with social media and couldn’t afford a full-time employee to grow their audience. I actually have an ebook dedicated to this topic: How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business. As you can tell from the title, I did this for a while on the side of my day job and found it to be an awesome way to make some extra money.
Eventually I shifted into content marketing, mainly growing blogs for businesses, though that sometimes included assisting them with social media. I moved in that direction partly because it was a good fit for my skills and background as a writer and editor, and partly because I saw there was a need for this type of agency. That demand motivated me to hire other contractors to help me grow the business, and we continued to do that work until we were acquired by Taylor Media.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
The woods. I love getting into the outdoors for a hike with my husband and baby boy. It clears my mind and helps lower my stress level. Plus, it’s great exercise!
Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat?
A few years ago I would’ve said Twitter — I’ve made some great professional connections there. But in the last year, I’ve become a fan of Snapchat – not necessarily for business use, but for my personal life. I love how easy it is to send a visual to family and friends that shows what we’re up to, even tell a story.
Bianca Mendez is a writer and editor who has contributed to Refinery29, TeenVogue.com, Bustle and other publications. Her perfect day in NYC consists of trying the latest fitness class followed by a night of wining and dining. Check out more of her work at biancammendez.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.