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June 25, 2010

Day in the Life of a Weekly Yelp Editor

Next up in our Day in the Life series is Roy M.! As one of the Editors behind the Weekly Yelp -- a newsletter that goes out to over 40 cities and has more than 2.5 million subscribers worldwide! -- Roy chats about the many skillz he possesses from skateboard making to cardigan wearing (all essential for the job), what it's like working with dozens of Community Managers throughout the country on creative schtick and grammar, as well as why Yelp really has more to offer than the fabled keg-a-rator (debatable).



What did you do before coming to Yelp?
As far as jobs go, I've done all kinds of things – worked in gas stations, on loading docks, helped open a bakery, waited tables, ran a movie theater, tutored, cleaned up the evils expelled by animals in their pens, waited tables, trained dogs for adoption, played in bands and toured, built skateboards en masse... I can't remember everything. But right before Yelp, I was writing articles for another website.

How did you first hear about Yelp and the job opening?
This being San Francisco, I'd known all about Yelp and had been using it forever. I thought (and still think) it was/is a great site. So when I saw that Yelp was hiring, I was like, "Roy, man... apply for this job!" I did, and when I got the call back for the interview I was like, "Listen, guy. I want you to shave and de-lint your cardigan. You have an interview to nail."

What's your title at Yelp and how long have you been with the company?
I am an Editor at the Weekly Yelp and I've been with the company somewhere around 2 1/2 years.

What comprises a typical day for you?
Getting into the office, I never really know what's going to be hanging out in my inbox or in the air surrounding my desk. Possibilities include:
-The Queen of Geraniums is loose in the building. Please capture alive.
-A big party needs a name/concept and copy. Now.
-Something random needs to be written. Now.
-The dog is eating garbage. Stop dog from getting a case of the wily bowels.
-Fun marketing ideas need be had. Now!
-Edit intermittently. *weak laughter*
-Run off to a meeting somewhere, some restaurant, some bar.

What's the BEST part of working for Yelp?
I love the pace and the possibilities. It seems like every day, every week, every month, things are changing and there's more room to grow and to be whatever's the opposite of unimaginative and unproductive. Having been with the company since we were only yea big and seeing how much we've grown since, it's pretty amazing. But I had to stay agile and stay sharp, which was and is a bloody rush. I love it. I don't think there's been a day when I didn't like coming to work or went home hating it to stink bits.

What is your favorite perk at Yelp?
Everyone says the kegs, but I like that we still feel like a small company in so many ways. If I wanted to schedule fifteen minutes to hold hands with one of the chief execs, I might be able to swing that, depending on whether they circled 'Y' or 'N' on the piece of paper I left folded up on each of their desks. Most of the time, they circle 'N'. But when they don't... hubba hubba!

What has been your favorite memory at Yelp?
It was great that while traveling last year, foodie friends of mine were actually kind of mad (at me!) that Yelp wasn't in their countries yet. I'd be like, "What am I supposed to do? Bring it to you in a paper box? I'm an Editor, man!" I did tell a couple of them, "If you want to write something down on a piece of paper, I'll give it to one of our Product Managers." Unfortunately, I got caught in a monsoon and was soaked to the bone and my pack was soaked as well. I did deliver those messages by mouth once I got back... for the most part.

What separates Yelp from other places you've worked?
It's been a wild ride, my friends. I know everyone wants to say that their workplace is "awesome" and that their environment offers "explosive growth coupled with incredible opportunity" and things like that. But for real, this job has been fun... tons of fun, especially these days.

Finally, what would be your one piece of advice for someone interested in your role?
Of course, having a solid grasp of the English language is pretty important, but being purely a technician of writ is a minor qualification. A lot of the work I do has to do with telling people as nicely as I can, as effectively as I can, how to make things better and in a best case scenario, cooler. This is a battle sometimes; everyone thinks they're right because being surefooted is what makes them good at what they do. So you gotta look them straight in the eyes (via email), then tell them, "Nuh-uh." On the other hand, you can rewrite everything and use your own voice, but no one likes that in an Editor or Copywriter. Being a capable writer with a strong grasp of language keeps there from being too many cooks in the kitchen, but the food tasty... holy cow, I just butchered that idiom.

But besides that -- and perhaps most importantly -- being critical but not cynical. There's a fine line there, a subtle one, but it's important. I've seen some soul-crushing work, and this ain't it. I feel lucky to get paid to do what I do. You'll have to rip this job out of my cold, dead hands, friend.