What It's Like Writing For Odyssey

My 9 Months And 3 Positions With Odyssey, Packed Into 1 Piece

Odyssey: (noun) a long and wandering, eventful journey.

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When I applied online to write for Odyssey, I had no idea what I was getting myself into - and I mean that in the best way possible. I'd seen Odyssey articles floating around social media for years, but I wasn't compelled to apply until one of my service fraternity brothers gushed about her experience with the platform. I wrote for my own benefit on the side, so I figured I could apply to see what it takes to become published. Within a week of applying online through the Odyssey website, I received an email from the then-Editor-in-Chief who singlehandedly led my campus' team. We emailed back and forth about my background, then we established a time for a phone interview. The Editor asked me a series of questions, like what my time management strategies look like, what my writing experiences entailed, ideas for article pitches and so forth - I was invited to join the team!

This all happened on a Monday, and she asked me to produce an article before the following Wednesday, so I had about nine days to settle in and write over 300 words on one of my pitches. But I was so eager that I wrote my first themed article in one night so it could go live in time for Earth Day. Looking back, it definitely wasn't among my strongest pieces because I wasn't yet acclimated with the best formatting protocols, and I hadn't yet found my voice, but it's very endearing to revisit as a reminder of my growth. I like to think I became more relaxed and confident in my writing style over time, and I tried to write about things that were more meaningful to me as the months went on.

Let me pause here to explain Odyssey's structure and dynamic for those unfamiliar and likely having questions at this point in my article. Odyssey is headquartered in New York, but there are hundreds of teams across the nation, mostly based at college campuses with a few general communities in large cities. Each team has at least an Editor-in-Chief, but more established teams also have a President to help oversee smooth processes, bonding, recruitment, maintenance of a positive campus image, etc. Until recently, articles were due every Wednesday night, but the HQ shifted to a rolling, monthly basis. With both systems, each writer would have at least four articles by the end of every month. Our articles are crafted in a singular content management system called "Core," where we draft and format our content. You send your content onto the next step where your local Editor-in-Chief makes minor edits to either move onto the final review or send back for revision. After that's all said and done, content goes to a designated, full-time Content Strategist from New York who repeats what the Editor-in-Chief does. After edits and revisions are made here, content goes live! Every creator is required to share content a certain amount of times to help Odyssey collect revenue. We can view our page counts in Core to see how our articles are progressing.

With that, the thing I admire most about Odyssey is that we can pen to our hearts' desires. It was very empowering to exercise my freedom of speech on a national platform. To date, I have well over 7,000 article views because of the network Odyssey provided for me. Now, I was only featured once, but over 70% of my views to date are organic. With hundreds of writers, the HQ can only feature a certain number of pieces per day in their email newsletter and on their Facebook page, so what you put into your production and advertising is almost always what you get out. I had to do my own self-marketing in niche social media groups to up my views beyond my own personal account shares, but the outpouring of feedback was so encouraging, so I kept on it.

For those considering joining, know that Odyssey's also an extremely flexible commitment because you can carve out a large chunk in your week to write or you can find little spurts of downtime to gradually build a piece, as opposed to coming into a campus office from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. once a week. I almost never missed an article because of this leeway, but the schedule format also meant some weeks weren't as inspired as others. Still, I did my best to produce high-quality content each week, which was a great lesson that trained me to persevere through writer's block and other obstacles. After all, you can't just go to your full-time boss one day and say "Sorry, I can't write the press release today. I'm drawing a blank. Can we scrap it for a new topic?" Yeah, that doesn't happen, and your work will, without a doubt, be tweaked by editors to better it, so this was great exposure to work demands and practices.

Okay, back to the main story now! I was just a Content Creator, or more simply a writer, up until July. At this point in the year, we went from about 15 girls to a tiny number I can count on one hand. We were without a responsive leader to both motivate the remaining writers and edit our content; our team was essentially dead and on the way out. I decided to take matters into my own hands, elevating the inactivity to the HQ level. It was daunting to confront someone senior to me about my own local boss, but HQ applauded me for speaking up and demonstrating leadership. So, the Editor was asked to step down, and HQ began looking for someone to fill the Editor-in-Chief opening. I was encouraged to interview for the position, and I was brought on to lead the team, focusing on team connectivity, team acquisition and a needed push for new, creative content.

Berkeley, my Odyssey mentor and now friend, pushed me each week for six months to reach ambitious goals. We communicated through one-on-one through weekly video chats and email debriefs. With Berkeley's encouragement, we brought on over 30 new people during the fall semester, some of which left, but we went from near extinction to a thriving, top-three team in our division of over 20 communities. We grew so rapidly that we needed to introduce an executive board with a Social Media Manager, a Circulation Manager, a Recruitment Chair and a Community Health Manager. I moved up into the President role while one of our top writers was promoted to take on my role as Editor-in-Chief. It wasn't all rainbows and sunshine, though. These accomplishments were met with challenges. Lauren, my Editor-in-Chief, and I juggled time management across 30 different schedules, enforced standard training and initiated difficult discussions with team members we had to let go. It wasn't easy, but there were so many more positives that made the treads through the mud worthwhile.

In this wondrous Odyssey UIUC big bang, we applied to become an RSO ("registered student organization"), and we kept the momentum going, enthusiastically planning our first external event: a philanthropic pink bake sale to donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This experience was unique to our Odyssey team, which is why I want to highlight it. We had about three weeks to plan, which involved flyer design, mass printing, and social media advertising. The week of the event was compromised of bags on bags of groceries, poster decoration, one messy kitchen turned upside down with pink power, pink chocolate, and ten plus ladies, and, of course, three hours of persuasive selling on our campus quad. This wasn't an easy accomplishment to execute, but I'll always remember how our team came together for the prep and sales to make this event a success. Moments like this make me sad to leave this experience behind with my graduation, but I know I've set the team and next President on a positive projection.

On that note, I want to thank Odyssey for giving me one of the most pleasant surprises of my college career, especially Lily and Berkeley at the HQ for their dedication and continuous hard work. In following these two great examples, I became a more confident communicator, but I also evolved into a leader with new experience in copyediting, outreach, recruitment, content strategy and much more. And thank you, too, to my team. I picked each of you because you're creative, talented and inspiring young women passionate about making an impact. It's been such a pleasure to see you spread your wings and fly. I'll be a cheerleader from the sidelines, keeping up with the stellar content I've come to love so dearly.

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My Top 10 Youtubers To Watch When You're Bored!

If you need something to do, check out these YouTube channels!
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Youtube: the best place to go when you're laying in bed bored.

I've been watching Youtube for as long as I could remember. I would start at a Jonas Brothers video and end up watching tornado chasers. I could never tell you how I got there, but with Youtube, it's possible.

I spend a lot of time watching videos and catching up on the lives of some of my favorites. I watch make-up and hair tutorials on a daily basis and if I have some time, I'll watch a couple of Vlogs. I'll also watch videos when I need a good laugh.

So if you are bored, here are my top 10 favorite Youtubers to watch.

10. Alphie Deyes : "Pointless Blog"

Alfie is a British Youtuber. Along with his Vlogs, Alfie has a gaming channel and a main channel where he posts collabs with other Youtubers. I usually just watch his Vlogs, but I've seen a few of his other videos and they are definitely worth the watch!

Here are his three channels!

https://www.youtube.com/user/PointlessBlog

https://www.youtube.com/user/PointlessBlogTv

https://www.youtube.com/user/alfiegames

9. Zoe Sugg: "Zoella"

Zoe is also a British beauty and fashion Youtuber. She is also a Vlogger and has two channels. She is most known for her make-up tutorials. Zoe is also the author of the "Girl Online" series. 

Here are her channels!

https://www.youtube.com/user/zoella280390

https://www.youtube.com/user/MoreZoella

8. Kian and JC

Both boys have main channels, but I mostly watch their collab channel. They post videos of themselves doing challenges for the most part. The other part is usually them just talking to the camera. They are hilarious and can make me laugh any day.

Here is their channel!

https://www.youtube.com/user/KianAndJc

7. Tess Christine

I just recently started watching Tess, but her videos are mostly hair and make-up tutorials and also fashion videos. She occasionally posts travel vlogs as well.

Here is her channel!

https://www.youtube.com/user/Tesschristine123

6. Tyler Oakley

Known for his Q and "Slays," Tyler Oakley has become one of the biggest Youtube stars. He also does a lot of collabs with other Youtubers and they are always funny.

(It would not let me link his channel, but if you search "Tyler Oakley" all of his videos will come up)

5. David Dobrik

David is a Vlogger. His videos always include his friends and the weird scenarios they get into. Puns and skits are his go to thing. He got his start on Vine and now he is taking over the vlog world!

Here is his channel!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmh5gdwCx6lN7gEC2...

4. Shane Dawson

I don't even know how to explain Shane Dawson's videos. He is one of the most random Youtubers that I've ever watched. He was one of the first Youtubers I ever started watching. He is really big on conspiracy theories now.

Here is his channel!

https://www.youtube.com/user/shane

3. Settle Down Kids or SDK

SDK is absolutely, hands down, my favorite group on Youtube. They post challenges and sometimes they are so random they don't even make sense. I actually had the chance to meet all of them and they were so nice which makes it so much better!

Here is their channel!

https://www.youtube.com/user/SDK

2. Any Buzzfeed Channel

If anyone tells you that they don't watch Buzzfeed, they are lying. Over the past year or so, Buzzfeed has taken over the Internet. I can sit for hours and just watch Buzzfeed. They have a couple of channels, but I'll link their main one!

Here it is!

https://www.youtube.com/user/BuzzFeedVideo

1. Joe Santagato

I've been watching Joe for a couple of years now. He used to be like my little secret, but now almost everyone knows who he is. Joe's videos are hilarious and could definitely make anyone's day! He also has a second channel where he posts Vlog-like videos.

Here is his channel!

https://www.youtube.com/user/JoeSantagato

(It wouldn't let me link his second channel)


There are so many more Youtube channels that I could list but that would probably take forever! I hope you get a chance to check out any of these channels!

Enjoy!

Cover Image Credit: Youtube.com

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11 Reasons Why Hiking Should Become A Pivotal Part Of Your Life

It's good for the body and soul.

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I was lucky enough to grow up 10 minutes from a national park. This meant that some of my earliest memories were riding on my dad's shoulders through miles of beautiful trails. As a got older, the simple joy of enjoying the fresh air and getting away from the craziness of life that hiking offered only made me fall in love with it more. Now, whenever I have a rough day or just need a break from stress, the first thing that I want to do is hit the trails.

1. Fresh air

Emily Smith

Being cooped up inside for too long can take a toll on anyone. Being able to get out and breathe the fresh air and feel the sun shining can instantly boost anyone's mood!

2. Exercise

Emily Smith

Hiking is a great way to get those extra steps in, and many areas have different paths you can take depending on your fitness level.

3. No electronics

Emily Smith

I am so guilty of going on my phone way too much. Being outdoors allows a break from social media and time to focus on being in the moment and enjoying the amazing world we live in.

4. Scenery

Emily Smith

Hiking allows us to see some of the most gorgeous untouched pieces of nature. It is hard to not be amazed by how beautiful our earth is.

5. Vitamin D

Emily Smith

There is nothing that a little bit of sun can't cure. Being outside in the sun not only gives you a nice summer glow, but it can be so beneficial to our health! Vitamin D helps boost our immune system and gives us energy.

6. Way more fun than going to the gym

Emily Smith

Going to the gym and using the treadmill and other machines provide a workout but can become more of a chore than fun after a while. Hikes are an amazing workout that hardly feels like a chore. So, the next time you are getting tired of the same old routine at a smelly gym, think about taking a hike instead.

7. Stress reliever

Emily Smith

Being out in nature can be such a great break from the "real world."

8. Great way to spend time with friends

Emily Smith

The next time you don't know what to do with your friends, consider going on a hike! There are so many fun things to do, like bring a picnic or watch the sunset. It's a great way to switch up your typical routine of watching T.V. or Netflix.

9. Perfect way to exercise with dogs

Emily Smith

Instead of taking your dog around the neighborhood, switch it up and take them on a hike! It's a great workout for them, and oftentimes, a lot more enjoyable than the daily neighborhood route.

10.  It's free!

Emily Smith

What more needs to be said? Free fun is hard to come by nowadays, so going on a hike can help your bank account too!

11.  It's fun!

Emily Smith

What's not to love about the endless ways to enjoy hiking?

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