Katie Bugbee, Care.com
Storytelling Innovator Series

Care.com’s Katie Bugbee Talks Transformation from Editor to Content Strategist

This week, Skyword hosts its inaugural Content Rising Summit, an event built to equip next-generation marketers with the skills and tools required for business transformation. Over the past week we have been highlighting speakers in our Innovator Series, and today we’re featuring session speaker Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor of Care.com.

Katie is a storyteller at heart—starting her career in writing as a print columnist at 16. She has experienced the changes taking place in both the media industry and business world firsthand. Below, Katie shares the things she learned along the way, and talks about the importance of trust over clicks.

Question 1: What led you to a career in writing and/or journalism, and how did you become Care.com’s spokesperson?

I grew up in Albany, NY, and my summer job as a rising high school senior was at the Albany Times Union, filling in for the editor-in-chief’s admin and doing other admin-type work. This is going to date me, but this was 1995 when the Internet was slowly becoming a “thing.” So one day my assignment was to “review the Internet” and do a write-up of what I explored and what my overall thoughts were. I was 16 and my only computer work thus far was typing and Math Blaster on DOS. So I was like a kid in a candy shop playing online. I did a whole write up that ultimately was passed around the office (probably literally passed around—not emailed), and it turns out they liked my voice. Within a week, I had a monthly column and was hooked on being a “semi-public figure” and writing for a living.

Fast-forward a couple years later, and I was at Boston College where they didn’t have a journalism major. However, I worked on the school paper and was accepted into ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) as a college junior, which placed me at Glamour, and ultimately helped me land my next few real jobs as an editor. After graduation I was hired by Nick Jr. Family Magazine, then went to Seventeen (all still print at this time), and then TheKnot.com, which was my entry into the online world. And I’ve never left the dotcoms.

Care.com was a perfect fit for me a few years later. I was married and just had my second child. They wanted an online magazine and I was going to help run it. Eventually, the stars aligned and I started developing some media and videos for our site, as well as editorial content.

I feel like I have the best of both worlds right now. I get to edit and plan content for a growing company, focusing on a topic near and dear to my heart—parenting and caregiving—and I get to talk about it all publicly.

Q2: How did the publishing industry’s shift to digital media affect your career in writing? What skills did you learn early on that set you up for success at Care.com?

I’d say I was a strong editor with a learning agenda who was in the right place at the right time.

I built my editorial skills in magazines and learned from some of the best editors around. Those years after college were editorial boot camp. At the time, I thought it was a risk to leave print for online, but I wanted to grow my skills and learn HTML. The Knot Inc. was willing to teach me.

Knowing both HTML and magazine journalism broadened my job prospects once my husband and I moved to Boston. I was able to work at sites such as Martha Stewart’s WholeLiving.com and BobVila.com, which wanted a magazine experience online. But it wasn’t until I was at Care.com when I realized how Google was changing the way people read online content. Google is the world’s magazine cover. So it was suddenly my job to help them find my content in the vast abyss of the Google search engine. And that’s when this content editor became a content strategist.

Q3: What’s Care.com’s approach to content marketing and audience development? Is there one major lesson you’ve learned that sticks out in your mind?

It’s my goal that when parents are searching for any topics—whether it’s why their baby is fussy, interview questions for a sitter, date night ideas, or what games to play at a five-year-old’s party—they will find our advice. And not only will they land on the article, but they will get a sense of our brand and how much Care.com cares about their needs—even if they don’t need a caregiver at that point in time. My goal in every piece we create is that the reader either learns something or is entertained in some way (we write funny things, too!) and that her mind and heart are filled with a better sense of what Care.com is as a brand. I don’t just want clicks. I want people to trust us and want to come back again.

Q4: What trends are you focused on most right now; what are you looking to learn more about this year?

I am committed to stickiness. I want to create the next big procrastination website for families. We all go to BuzzFeed and Facebook. How can Care.com be a destination where busy families go to learn, laugh, and talk to others in similar situations? It’s going to take a lot of tech work and editorial strategy, but that’s the destination I want us to build. So yes, I am learning how to do this efficiently and inexpensively—which is another part of the challenge!

Q5: What are you passionate about beyond marketing and writing? What inspires you?

My other full-time job is being a mom. I have a 7-year-old, 5-year-old, and 10-month-old who I’m constantly challenged by, to say the least! But at the same time, I’ve never felt more free. Having my third—aka my last—child is like graduating from college. Before this point, we weren’t done having kids and so much was on hold. So I feel like I’m reclaiming old interests such as skiing, reading (yes, I’m a slacker!), traveling, and investing in the friendships I cherish most. It takes wrestling with some serious mom guilt and scheduling extra hands to help out, but I’m finding a way to integrate the person I was before kids (and her interests) and the better person I am after kids into one. This goal and freedom I feel is also something I love to help others embrace, because it truly gives you the feeling of having it all.

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