My new year started with a new job.

On January 3rd, I began working for Panoptic as a copywriter. Along with writing copy, I’ve gotten to dip my toes into new arenas like project planning and marketing. It’s been a month of learning, but I mean that in a positive way. Let me do some backtracking.

My name’s Heather. I became a copywriter by chance. I was a phlebotomist in a hospital lab for 10 years. I started a part-time job upcycling article content for small businesses all over the U.S. and Canada. I’m a mother to an adult child and three cats, a wife to one of the most patient men I’ve ever met, and I’m a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I’m at the gym several evenings a week either for adult BJJ class or to assist with the kid’s class. I don’t have tons of time on my hands, but I immediately found I enjoyed this work, so I took on anything that was given to me.

When I was offered full-time hours, I decided to end one career and begin another. Over time, this job morphed: rewriting, content curation, negative keyword management, and then getting trained in the basics of copywriting — specifically for landing pages.

I wrote daily for dental offices, chiropractors, auto shops, HVAC companies, photographers, and everything in between. While the content varied, the structure was the same: X amount of time for research, Y amount of time for writing, and N amount of time for stock photo searches and to break each section into separate files for the web designer. Depending on the complexity of the client, research would get sacrificed for writing, or vice versa. It was a great lesson in time management.

It was fun and reliable work, but because my solitary focus was landing pages, I became a one-trick pony. I learned to write copy one way, for one purpose. I felt solid in that trick and I was content to be a worker bee, but eventually that job ended. In trying to find new work (or even start up my own business), I quickly found that my one trick didn’t translate well into complex projects and other arenas. I took on a couple side projects and was successful, but something was missing.

Enter Panoptic.

Much like my unexpected turn into copywriting, I was found through comments on like-subject post. During my interview, Dossy Shiobara and I spoke about the goal of Panoptic, what he was looking for concerning other projects, and where I could fit in with all that. While I listened to him describe what his company does, headlines and boosters and website copy began to dance through my one-trick mind. There was so much opportunity to write different kinds of copy that I was over-the-moon excited to be fished out of my small pond into a massive lake with tons more tricks.

Or an ocean, even.

It’s been challenging, but I’m also working with a team who thrives on learning and provides opportunities to do so.

There have been several moments where I’ve been urged to turn decent into better. Into A-Game. And I’m not just talking about updating product descriptions so they’re five steps above the rest, or polishing up a popular topic floating around so we can slow the social media scroll.

I mean my own craft, too.

My first week I was tasked to write a 1000-1200 word article. I spent time researching, then writing it. I finalized it the next morning. I thought was great, and it tested well on ten different readers: five who knew about the subject, and five who really didn’t.

But I was challenged to make it better. Not just technical aspects that always went to others the past, like layout or image placement, but the content itself. Since then, the customer avatar project began and other work took priority. But because of those projects I know exactly how to make that article better when it’s time to pick it back up.

Seriously, that challenge and its subsequent projects sparked 5000-lumen light bulbs in my head.

But wait. What customer avatars? Article for what?

Well, there are a few projects under Panoptic’s belt. The company I’ve been working on this month is Stuff For Your Dog (SFYD), which is my first time on the inside of the think-tank, rather than waiting for work to filter down to me.

Here, we play the long game; Dossy knows the potential and reward in doing so. I was to create a customer avatar for the top demographic looking at SFYD’s content and pages at the time.

I spent time building a fictional person out of poll results, research, analytics, and a little bit of thin air.

And let me tell you something: building a customer profile from scratch that involves more than just age, location, and income, pulls everything together. Instead of a sentence or two summing up a large demographic, we had a 2-page bio.

Now, no matter where we are in our project flow, from Facebook content to product descriptions to an article about finding a pet sitter, I always know who I’m talking to.

I know exactly how to talk to them.

This also makes my research time that much more productive. Now, I’m choosing subject matter, topics, and content that truly speaks to people we want to reach.

I spent some days in the beginning fretting that I was taking too long, working under the imaginary stopwatch that adds pressure to most anything I’m doing — even outside of work. But like any new job, once I found a rhythm the fretting went away. I work with a team that makes worries like this a non-issue. If what comes of your time is quality, then it was worth the time invested.

So, I make sure my time is spent wisely.

The best way I can sum up the month is like this:

A 1000-piece puzzle isn’t daunting when you’re only responsible for the lower left corner. Over time you’ll get faster and smoother at every lower-left corner of every puzzle you’ve been given.

But what about the rest of the puzzle? Even if other sections aren’t your area of expertise, it helps to understand them. You’ll become more valuable, and you’ll be an even bigger asset if you know how to put those sections together — and then connect them to your own.

At Panoptic, we’re a team. I’ve made it past the lower left corner.