Resurrected SpiersList: December 2012

(This is from my once-a-month-or-so newsletter, which you can sign up for under the “newsletter” tab.)

Welcome to the resurrected SpiersList, a digest of Things I’m Working On, Things I’m Thinking of Working On, Miscellaneous Recommendations and Job Positions That Need to Be Filled. (If you subscribed three years ago and are no longer interested in receiving once-a-month-ish emails from me, you can unsubscribe below.)

If you’re only interested in job listings, you can skip to the bottom and read up to the all-caps JOBS! heading. And if you have a job posting you’d like to see in the next edition of SpiersList, send your listing to espiers AT


Anyone who knows me personally will tell you I have a bewildering array of personal interests, most of which have nothing to do with each other. (Here’s something I wrote on Medium to attempt to justify myself: On Dilettantism and the Virtues of Pursuing Multiple Interests. Perhaps as a result, I enjoy working on disparate projects and am currently doing just that. Here’s a rundown:

1) My own project: content and commerce in the personal development space. I had toyed with the idea of doing another startup when Jared Kushner approached me about the Observer job and once the paper was stabilized it didn’t make much sense to stay in the absence of a recapitalization that would allow it to really grow. The idea was a high-end personal development site (topics: wellness, productivity, autodidactism, etc.) that leads with content and has a commerce function. My original plan was to book half of my time doing consulting work to fund prototypes and then go raise a small round of financing (~$1.5MM). That’s been modified a bit. I’m working part time on a monster of a project for a large retailer and am committed to that through June. I also want to see how much of it I can bootstrap before I go out and raise. So in January I’m launching a weekly personal development digest to experiment with editorial concepts and develop a beta list for the larger project. If you’re interested in the topic, keep an eye out. But in the meantime:

2) I’m consulting to a handful of companies. I’m on the advisory board of Flavorpill and helping them with a new product launch and some edit stuff and happy to be working with them again after launching Flavorwire a few years back. The other projects are mostly confidential, but range from A-to-Z product launches, web marketing, to business plan development and hiring. You can see a full array of options here:

3) Some journalism and writing. I really missed writing at the Observer but didn’t want to assign myself features or columns. It seemed too self-indulgent and let’s face it, no one wants to tell the boss her column sucks. So now I want to go back to regular writing but trying to figure out where I should do that. I just took a long-lead feature assignment that’ll scratch that itch a bit but am looking for a regular platform. I’m particularly interested in writing about the intersection of healthcare and technology, emerging businesses generally and, not surprisingly, personal development.


Mini-consulting: My consulting rates are at market, but steep for small startups, so I’m trying to figure out a way to sustainably work with very early stage companies (which is always fun for me) without creating a prohibitive opportunity cost for myself. One idea–shamelessly stolen from Soft Skull founder Richard Nash, who did a variation of this a few years ago–is a sort mini-engagement built around a working lunch. A lot of people approach me about giving them a bit of one-off editorial feedback, want me to look at a business plan, or want general advice about launching, growing or funding their product. They’re not looking for hands-on down-and-dirty involvement; they just want a gut check or have a problem to be solved. So I’m thinking of creating a program where the client gets three hours of my time (including lunch, which the client pays for, but I don’t care if that’s Chipotle or the Four Seasons) and I charge a flat fee. Two hours for prep on my part (send me your business plan, product, etc. ahead of time) and one hour for discussion and recommendations. I’d charge a flat fee of $400, which is a slight discount of my lowest hourly rate for three hours. This only makes sense for a certain type of client, but for companies under a certain size, it’s the sort of thing I get approached about the most. So if you’re interested, email me at espiers AT gmail, subject line “Working Lunch.”


I just finished Andrew Solomon’s book, FAR FROM THE TREE, and I think it should be required reading for anyone who has kids, is thinking of having kids or, really, has any exposure to kids at all. Solomon explores relationships between parents and their children in cases where the children have different “horizontal identities” than those of their parents and how those identities disrupt and transform those relationships. (Solomon refers to elements of identity that get passed down through generations as “vertical identities”.) Far from the Tree is an ambitious and epic work of journalism and Solomon spent eleven years interviewing countless numbers of families whose children were deaf or schizophrenic or prodigies or transgendered or profoundly disabled to produce something comprehensive and rigorously thorough but also moving and incredibly compassionate. It is heartbreaking in places and beautiful throughout. (I can’t remember the last time I teared up reading a non-fiction book.) And even if you can’t relate to any of the specific situations–though I can, so it probably had particular meaning for me–what it reveals about parental love in general and what we expect of our children is thought-provoking and incredibly important. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now on to …


I’m hiring:

Primarily comedy writers, really, but you should have a good working knowledge of pop culture and know what’s happening in the entertainment world. You’ll be writing scripted content for video and it’ll be mostly sketch-based. (Think Funny or Die.) I’m looking to hire in New York. Send me some samples of your work. (I need to see the funny.)

If you’re a Pinterest fanatic who can write a great advice column about how to make a piece of Ikea furniture look like a Le Corbusier original and can think of 40 ways to decorate with twine, this might be the job for you. If you can do that and make it funny and entertaining in the process, this is absolutely the job for you. Also hiring in New York.

Other people are hiring:

The Flavorpill Social Media Director sets the editorial direction for all Flavorpill social media content and leads the Social Media team in syndicating Flavorpill viral content, discovering content on the web to share with our readers, identifying and maintaining creative collaborative content and social media partnership opportunities.

Additionally, the Social Media Director will identify and secure Flavorpill presence in relevant conferences, events, etc., and act as representative of the Flavorpill social media presence.
The Social Media Director will also:
– Identify and syndicate viral content from Flavorwire to appropriate social media channels i.e., social bookmarking sites, Twitter, Facebook, tumblr, various forums and partners as necessitated by each individual post
– Coordinate with referral partners and keep up with relationships with 3 to 20 referral partners per day, via tweet/link/Facebook/etc swaps/Flavorwire posts, etc.
– Monitor incoming and outgoing traffic to Flavorwire and partners using Chartbeat. Assess immediate traffic ROI for each post via analytic accounts. If anticipated traffic is falling short, reach out to partners to close the gaps.
– Entertain current, successful partners (and new partners as identified) to ensure satisfaction.
– Act as the editorial director for tumblr account, with 12 to 20 posts per day.
– Work with sales team to identify, create, and execute social campaigns for premium advertisers designed to generate traffic, clicks, likes as necessary. Provide direction and guidance to sales on facets of social advertising.
– Identify social contacts interested in partnering on large scale events to earn a high volume of new subscribers. Limit Flavorpill’s involvement to curatorial guidance and social media promotion. (i.e., SXSW, Post Secret).
– Monitor current social media trends, cultural trends, trending tops, new/unique activities trending in the social sphere, and promote/discuss via Flavorpill accounts as warranted.
– Interact with and respond to Flavorpill user-based comments/posts via main social media accounts (twitter, Facebok, tumblr).
– Provide guidance and direction of overall social media strategy.
– Represent Flavorpill at relevant social media conferences, events, functions, etc. as relevant to social media and marketing interests.
Send resumes to me (espiers AT gmail).

Hopper, an innovative travel start up, is building a world class content editorial team. We are looking for savvy, ambitious and razor sharp people to help build our brand andcreate a refreshing, new dialogue on travel. The Editor-in-Chief will report to the CMO, and build a content editorial team from the ground up.

This is a unique opportunity to work with big data and leverage unique travel information to create original data-driven content and build a consumer audience in innovative ways.
● Setting the voice, tone and direction of all content created by the editorial team,in the spirit of Hopper’s brand values.
● Contributing 2-4 posts per day. These posts should consist of at least 1-2 originalreported stories or essays. All posts should contain an opinion and/or original content
● Hiring and managing a team of freelance and full-time writers, who will capture the voice of the site in original and commentary content pieces with minimal supervision and editing.
● Setting and executing the editorial calendar in 6-month increments, from idea generation and vetting to editing for voice, tone and clarity. The editorial calendar should reflect seasonal themes and be shared with the rest of the marketing and product experience team for maximum impact and brand exposure.
● Marketing content through initiating new relationships and leveraging existing connections to drive inbound traffic. It’s especially important to engage editors at other sites directly to secure content placement and syndication.
● Utilizing social media to market articles, pitch placement, and grown reach through relationship building.
● Encouraging and collaborating with the editorial staff on original idea generation. These ideas will be presented to the CMO on a weekly basis. The site should plan for at least one featured post a day. Each writer should be contributing ideas for feature stories during the weekly meeting.
● Ensuring that the editorial content part of the site is staffed at all times. Vacation requests are subject to the availability of the team. The CMO and editor-in-chief should not be on vacation at the same time.
Requirements & Experience
● 2+ years experience managing writers and workflow at an online publication

About Hopper
There’s more to travel than price, hotel ratings, and user reviews. Hopper solves the challenge of trip planning by empowering you with a full range of information, from practical to aspirational. Hopper is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the heart of Kendall Square, the technology and startup mecca of the eastern seaboard. Our ambitious team is backed by BrightSpark Ventures, Atlas Venture and OMERS Ventures. Our company was founded in Montreal by former Expedia executives who wanted to apply innovative technology to take the frustration out of travel planning. The editorial team will be based in New York.
Please send resume to Dena AT hopper dot com.

Contributing Editors
● Contributing 4-6 posts per day. These posts should consist of at least 2-3 original reported stories or essays. All posts should contain opinion and/or original content and speak to consumer trends in travel and intersecting interest categories.
● Capturing and executing on the Hopper voice, tone and style in each piece of content, with minimal supervision and editing.
● Marketing content through initiating new relationships and leveraging existing connections to drive inbound traffic. It’s especially important to engage editors at other sites directly to secure content placement and syndication.
● Utilizing social media to market articles, pitch placement, and grown reach through relationship building.
● Collaborating with other content editorial team members on original idea generation. The site should plan for at least one featured post a day. The contributing editor will pitch ideas for feature stories each week that have significant potential to drive inbound traffic through partnerships and relationships.
Please send resume to Dena AT hopper dot com.

NEWSTRANSPARENCY.COM: EDITOR/ENTREPRENEUR seeks editor/entrepreneur to raise the site’s profile and traffic levels. An extroverted/promotional sort of person who can attract some attention might work well. The ideal candidate is entrepreneurial, self-directed, passionate about press accountability and journalistic quality, web savvy, fearless, has some investigative skills and patience for details, and is excited about the opportunity to build into a high-profile and comprehensive database. To apply please send a resume and a letter explaining why you’d be a good fit for the job to Ira Stoll: ira AT

Digital agency Deep Focus is hiring for a variety of positions. If you work in digital media in New York, you’re probably already aware of their work and know they’ve done some really cool things. You can see their open positions here:

That’s it for now. If you have listings for the next edition of SpiersList (probably coming out in mid-January), send them in.