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A COVID Chronicle: How HackerNoon Dealt With Changes at the Onset of the Pandemic by@linh

A COVID Chronicle: How HackerNoon Dealt With Changes at the Onset of the Pandemic

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Linh Dao Smooke Hacker Noon profile picture

@linh
Linh Dao Smooke

Hacker Noon Mama-in-Chief. But also like a real mom (to Norah).

On the first anniversary of Covid (can you believe the world stopped exactly 1 year ago?), I thought it'd be appropriate to publish this thread I sent to my teammates at Hacker Noon about how to deal with changes the pandemic brought.

LinhMar 23, 2020, 10:56 PM
To channel: I know we are all experiencing this time of crisis in different orders of magnitude, in all aspects of work & life. Last week, Norah tested negative for Covid19 after a full weekend full of uncertainties for both David & I. Natasha cancelled her plan to be bridesmaid at a wedding. Dane's move to NYC got disrupted (so will Austin's potential plan to move to NYC). Kien has been quarantining at home for almost 2 months now. Let's be honest: Our Alexa site ranking is falling. Our sponsor leads are flaking. We as Hacker Noon people and everyone in our ecosystem (readers, writers, sponsors) are experiencing a shock to the system in many ways. 

But, these 10 days of quarantine (so far) has given me the gift of time, to think about many things, and among them, how we as a business, as Hacker Noon, is actually in a unique position to not only survive but thrive during these times. I would like to discuss these more in depth with you all in our next all hands, or async via this channel, or all.
LinhMar 23, 2020, 10:56 PM
1 - Our value proposition to be free to readers always with no pop-up, no paywall: now this is our time to shine, to double down on this value prop. As we see many news channels and publications get called out for putting their most valuable stories behind paywall, while others have to automatically lift their barriers to reading due to increasing demands (Medium's most popular article is for non-members and members alike), my clarity on our no paywall & popup philosophy is higher than ever. Knowledge is power. And seeking as well as providing knowledge shouldn't be a burden. It should be responsibility. It should be norm. We should talk more about how we have and will always provide value for readers regardless of circumstances. More than ever, we should popularize the idea of everyone and anyone can be a writer, if they have something important to say. The barrier to entry for us is literally zero. For both readers and writers. And this is rare. 
LinhMar 23, 2020, 10:56 PM
2 - The fact that we are a 100% distributed, Work From Home power team: as so many companies start to learn & adopt to this "brave new world" for the first time (my sister in law Rachel's company, Wayfair, for example, had mandated WFH for all workers for the first time ever... and now that is set in place for the entire company until 4/23), we are in a unique position to "pass the torch" with regard to our knowledge on what it takes to be connected not physically but apart. It is more than having a zoom pro account. It is more than checking your email often. It is more than being available on Slack. We have anywhere between 6 months or years of experience in this area, for some of us. Now is the time for us to double down on what we know best: working while not being together. The past week was what I thought a system shock week. We got through it with relatively little disruption to our actual work. Now is the time to gear up our productivity and pass down some of the best things we have learned from WFH, not just to each other within the HN team, but also to the rest of our ecosystem. To our readers, to our clients, to our writers. 
LinhMar 23, 2020, 10:56 PM
3 - Necessities are mothers of inventions. Now is the time for us to get REAL creative with all of the projects and ideas we have in our arsenal. When times are tough, we have no choice but to shine & better ourselves. Some examples I was thinking of the project I was working on, but it could be the same for all of you, such as:
LinhMar 23, 2020, 10:56 PM
3a - Our *redacted* ideas: now that more & more people stay at home, the idea of *redacted* contests that give out money to people becomes extremely appealing, IMHO. People have less disposable income, and more time to spare - What should they do? They should write more. And to get street cred, as well as money for it. It is a win win. The *redacted* people still are very interested. We need to push the envelop on this and pursue this to the end.
LinhMar 23, 2020, 10:56 PM
3b - Change to the way we communicate with sponsors: via email, via sponsor.hackernoon.com, via outreach campaigns: instead of ignoring the very real impacts this pandemic has already and will continue to have on our clients' decision making and budget, we actually reel into it even more. I was thinking of creating a "coronavirus resource" kit for clients including: heavy discounts, tips and tricks from marketing/SEO standpoint (when you can't actually do businesses physically and have to do a lot online), and actual CV19 content from a tech/business stand point. Then we spend some of our own marketing dollars on it. 
LinhMar 23, 2020, 10:56 PM
3c - The Noonies! It requires literally no physical and will boost morale greatly. How can we add more value to the people using it and extract more value from it via sponsors, or a Sass model even?


What do you think? How should we seize the day and use this as an opportunity to help rather than hinder our life and our business?
DaneMar 23, 2020, 11:06 PM
We are in a much better position than so many companies out there. It will be tough dealing with this new reality but we can adapt. I have a friend working for Eventbrite and another friend working in sales for a dental company. Those businesses will really struggle.
ArthurMar 23, 2020, 11:36 PM
I'll start with a joke: This is how Zoom Pro works?

Love this message. What do you think editors should focus right now? should we change something
LinhMar 23, 2020, 11:39 PM
haha Arthur. absolutely up for discussion, but I think editors should focus on setting examples of the behaviors you want writers to have. Write more, put out more educational content, it will then attract more good content. But I think this would be a great discussion for editors to have tomorrow.
ArthurMar 23, 2020, 11:45 PM
write moreI think this is what i should do - I have some extra energy that can't find it way out. Plus I have a lot of unfinished material that can be ready soon.

setting examples of the behaviors you want writers to havebrilliant. you change my direction - thanks
Utsav JaiswalMar 24, 2020, 12:37 AM
Linh this post should be your next Hacker Noon story. Focus on onboarding new writers has multiple synergies with everything we do - our rank improves, along with our credibility and visibility across multiple challenges. Really bullish on the grants for web section. Writer monetization/incentivization will bring better content and better writers to Hacker Noon. WFH gives people more free time and they're likely to adapt to this new normal and increase their productivity. For example, we already have devs from big companies already contributing to Hacker Noon. This, with incentivization could scale and get companies to devote time to brand as author stories. This, in turn, will get sponsors more interested as Hacker Noon evolves into an ecosystem where writer ADs are targeted to attract other Hacker Noon writers. This attracts sponsors and gets our sales back on track for the high KPI targets.
ArthurMar 24, 2020, 1:00 AM
just have a night walk and i think after finishing some current tasks I'll try to push forward telegram account. as we should be creative - this is good way to go imho
StormMar 24, 2020, 5:04 AM
What a message to start my day on 🔥
austinMar 24, 2020, 4:38 PM
i’ll have to think longer on this, but in short, my thoughts:
- i can write about WFH, at least one long post — i’ve been WFH full time for about 6 or 7 years now (wow, i’ve never actually counted the years…)
austinMar 24, 2020, 4:38 PM
- i can write about the personal project i’m starting, an art experiment involving music + writing (relevant twitter thread: https://twitter.com/ajpocus/status/1241437287906451457)
austinMar 24, 2020, 4:38 PM
- overall, as a team, we should use this opportunity to start our first real themed story recruiting push. the theme? “Living in Quarantine” or “Working through the Pandemic” or something like that. you get the idea. we can recruit stories from around the tech world (and beyond) about what it’s like to live and work in this situation.

again, i’ll have to think more on this. but utsav is right, you should publish this in some form.
LinhMar 24, 2020, 4:53 PM
Utsav Jaiswal I think allowing people a week or two to "cushion the blow" so to speak
Dane: makes sense. That is, we can try to push hard now but we shouldn't expect or be discouraged by slow early returns.
Arthur: great idea with Telegram channel! Could you post screenshots once you start?
austin: Daria just announced the social theme of this week,
remote work
, I think you'll have a lot to say there. We can each model the behaviors we want other people to have. By posting more and encouraging more discussions, we will have more stories.
I will expand more on this post and post it on Hacker Noon 🙂
DariaMar 24, 2020, 5:13 PM
love the voice of this message ! I'll need to sleep with this idea a bit to contribute to actual ways of turning this inspiring messaging into actions, but improved communication with brands, contest on stories published, ways to promote our value to readers are definitely some hot points 🔥
DariaMar 24, 2020, 5:13 PM
as for this week topic on socials #remotework, it would be a blast if we as a team shared some advice, personal stories and experiences working in fully remote team. Except from stories published and their promotion, I will be sharing later tomorrow a small survey asking every team member to share some insights, tips and/or personal stories of remote work transition. So please take a minute to share your knowledge which you wouldn't hesitate to be posted on socials 🙂
ArthurMar 24, 2020, 9:07 PM
I'll do some articles as well. can share with members, so it not violate any of our rules ;) let's get some views from being sociopath 💃💃💃

Plus, i have an idea about Slack-related article for 1 year actually
LinhMar 12, 2021, 1:10 AM
On the anniversary of Covid- I would like to publish this as a slogging post. anyone wants to add anything? 💚🙏
LimarcMar 12, 2021, 1:57 AM
While lots of companies had to let go of employees to deal with the times, Hacker Noon hired during the pandemic. I was hired mid 2020, and haven't looked back since!

Ending Note

Thank you if you read all the way here! This is just a sneak peek into what we as a company thought and reacted to changes coming, but I think it will be applicable in many circumstances that involve change, not just a deadly pandemic 😉 And updates: we did do many of the things we said we would do, including hiring many people at the height of the virus and we are still hiring!

Linh Dao Smooke Hacker Noon profile picture
by Linh Dao Smooke @linh.Hacker Noon Mama-in-Chief. But also like a real mom (to Norah).
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