Liz Wilson has lived in Switzerland for the last eight years. She is the Community Editor at Paper.li. It is my pleasure to interview her today.
Cendrine Marrouat: Hello Liz, thank you for answering my questions. First, tell us a little about you.
Liz Wilson: Hi Cendrine. Many thanks for the invitation! Usually I do the interviewing so it’s interesting to be on the other side.
About me: I’m British but I live in Lausanne. I came here from London via France with my husband and his two boys in 2004. We wanted to live somewhere completely different and it was a good location for my husband’s consultancy business (he works with the Olympics, which are based in Lausanne).
I love Switzerland but I do miss London. However, moving to another country is one of the great learning experiences of life and I would not have missed it for anything. Sadly, after 9 years I still only speak French badly, but I hope to improve!
I enjoy life here a lot and one of my passions is walking in the Swiss Alps. Mountains seem to bring space to think and resolve things in a way that isn’t possible in the noise of the city. I love the solitude and the freedom.
Prior to 2003, I was a journalist in London, so I used those skills to establish my own business. I work with corporations, nonprofits, and anybody who needs help with some aspect of content.
CM: How long have you been part of the Paper.li team? And how did you get started there?
LW: I joined up with Paper.li in August 2011. Kelly Hungerford, the Community Manager, who is also based in Lausanne, was looking for freelance writers. I started off interviewing Paper.li publishers. Kelly liked my work and when there were some changes I became editor of our Community Blog.
CM: What makes Paper.li different from other content curation sites?
LW: It is simply a unique service. I’m not sure how to compare it to other curation tools. From what I see of them, they all have their distinctive features and purposes.
A number of things set Paper.li apart. First, its newspaper-style design which many, many people love. Second, the flexibility it offers in discovering items to curate. You can choose to automate your regular incoming feeds OR you can curate the entire paper by hand using a bookmarklet, or a combination of both.
Then there is the ability to customise using the new PRO service, so you can add your branding and ads.
Lastly, but maybe most importantly, there is the amazing community that has grown up around it. There is a strong connection between and among users and the service itself.
CM: What do you like the most about working at Paper.li?
LW: 1. The positive aspect of belonging to the community I mentioned. The name of “Paper.li” connects people. It has brought me into contact with a large number of interesting people who I would never have met otherwise. It has been a great learning experience as well. I wasn’t much into social media before, but now I feel as though I’ve found my real home.
2. My colleague Kelly Hungerford who is an excellent team manager, highly knowledgeable about the social world, and a pleasure to work alongside.
CM: What are some of your favourite Paper.li papers and why?
LW: The ones I connect with most are published by people who I admire for integrating social good into what they’re doing in life. I follow the publishers rather than the papers. These people are a great example for bigger businesses who often just pay lip service to social responsibility.
These are some examples:
- The Ashoka Arab World Daily published by Iman Bibars, a social entrepreneur working in the Middle East.
- The Digitalnun Daily published by Catherine Wybourne, a British nun who has cleverly made religion social.
- The keralafarmer Daily, which is published by S.C. Nair, who fights the cause for Indian farmers producing rubber.
- The Storymoja Publishers Daily, which is published by a Kenyan literary collective that wants to encourage reading in Kenya.
CM: Have you noticed any differences in the way people use Paper.li, depending on their locations? What about Canadians?
LW: I’m not sure about geographical differences, but I have seen distinct interest groups using Paper.li to achieve specific goals. A lot of good causes use it to raise awareness. Small businesses use it as a content marketing tool. Educators use it to engage with their students. Consultants use it to build authority in their area.
There are some great examples from Canada:
- Startup Canada publishes a branded Paper.li, the Daily WIRE, as part of its promotional campaign which started in March this year. We did an interview with Victoria Lennox, one of the founders.
- Donna Papacosta, who owns a Toronto-based communications company, publishes a whole news-stand of Paper.lis on various aspects of communications.
- Another interesting one is Estelle Metayer, who has a global consultancy business and teaches on the advanced leadership programmes at McGill University in Montreal. She also publishes a variety of Paper.lis for her clients and students.
CM: You used to be a traditional journalist. Has your experience played a part in your work at Paper.li? And why?
LW: Having a background in editorial management is a big help. I’m able to manage the Community Blog so that we have a smooth flow of interviews and articles on topics that appeal to our community. My experience of commissioning writers helps when working with guest bloggers, and obviously interviewing skills are useful. My newspaper editing experience helps keep our editorial standards high.
CM: What is your daily routine?
LW: I start off at 6 a.m. reading my incoming news streams and curating the articles I want, scheduling tweets for the day, and going through emails.
After that, it gets a bit varied. I have a variety of projects with other clients. I might be commissioning, interviewing or editing on the Paper.li Community Blog for part of the day, then working on corporate communications.
I’ve just started work on a book about Twitter with a co-author, Keith Keller, who is based in Melbourne.
I have my blog to feed. I curate videos into a couple of digital magazines that I publish for people who want to learn about content marketing or curation. And I’m one of the founders of a new digital content agency for the European market. Watch out for more news soon on that.
I work from my home office, so I use Skype for video calls and conference calls. Two or three times a week, I have meetings with clients in Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe so that gets me out and about.
At weekends, I set aside the time to go hiking in the mountains. But I usually work half the day on Saturday and Sunday. I love what I do and I like to give enough time and care to make my clients super happy. And I like having time to read what my network is publishing on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+, and to react when I have something to add.
CM: What is next for you and Paper.li?
LW: Paper.li has just launched its PRO service to build on the success of its very popular free service, so I think there are very exciting times ahead. The Paper.li team is quite innovative so I am sure there are more great features coming down the pipeline. Watch the Paper.li blog for news.
CM: Any last words?
LW: Just a thank you! Both for being interested in me and for the support you’ve given to Paper.li. I am very glad it led to us meeting.