One day long ago I imagined myself writing scripts and making films. Then life happened. Reality has a way of humbling and even transforming a person into not the stuff of their fantasies and dreams, but into what they can actually be when under the influences of needing to earn an income, how much work they are willing to do, how many wrong decisions they make, and how they face adversity as a result. All of this is spiced with a little bit of luck (you know, the old “right place, right time” stuff), a modicum of basic talent (only a modicum!), and a hell of a lot of persistence.
I never got the “next great Hollywood script” produced (although I did write several scripts for TV and film on spec, and one of them even got me as far as an invitation to meet with a producer at Paramount). My only advice on that subject is to beware of incompetent literary agents. They can open the door for you while simultaneously putting a banana peel on the threshold (grumble, grumble).
Instead of the Hollywood life, however, I discovered a pair of passions that have shaped my professional life: a deep fascination with computer technology and a passion for helping people get the most out of using that technology to improve their lives. I founded and led multiple computer user groups in the 1990s, including founding the associated websites (way back in the day when Notepad was considered a viable website development environment).
That user group experience led to writing opportunities, including publishing a weekly computer column in the local daily newspaper, The Olympian, in Olympia, Washington, for a couple of years. I also produced a set of reference books on how to use Windows-based computers for a series of adult education classes I created and taught at the time.
A reduction in force job loss in Olympia led to new opportunities as a professional technical writer with Microsoft, starting in mid-1997. I worked in such groups as the Windows Resource Kits (spanning Windows NT/Windows 2000/Windows XP), then writing white papers for Microsoft IT (with a focus on both security and messaging technologies), and then for a huge changes of pace, writing Help documentation for Windows Music Player, Zune, Xbox, Microsoft Advertising tools, and then finally Live Search (which became Bing during my tenure).
I was initially hired to write documentation for the Live Search Webmaster Center tools. But through an unusual set of circumstances, I was asked to take on writing for the Bing Webmaster Center blog. I immediately immersed myself in all things search engine optimization (SEO), including successfully completing the SEMPO Institute course “Insider’s Guide to Search Marketing” (2009) (see certificate below — no longer available to the public) as well as a total immersion schooling on search technology by the folks who run Bing. As a result, I founded their “SEM 101” blog series, which served as an initial library of new, detailed SEO content for Bing customers. (For a list of selected blog article titles and links, check out my Additional posts on SEO page. You can also visit the Bing Community page listing all of my blog posts. In addition, I spent most of the last six months with the Bing Webmaster Center team writing mini whitepapers in an effort to create a new, publicly-accessible documentation library on search, SEO, and Bing tools. While that work was not published while I was officially part of the team, it nevertheless served as the primary source material when the new Bing Webmaster Tools documentation set was published in the spring of 2011.)
In the autumn of 2010, my contract with the Bing Webmaster Center team expired and I was immediately picked up to work as an internal SEO consultant for the Bing content verticals teams. This allowed me to convert my “academic” (aka conceptual) SEO knowledge into real, workday SEO skills. That role ended in July, 2011. I’ve also had opportunities to advise some other clients on my own time to expand the challenges beyond what I am exposed to in my day job.
Please note my important message in my Disclaimer page about my work for Bing and the contents of this blog. I love the work I do, the opportunity to work with and help so many good people, and to continually learn more about this industry.
To see more details about me and my professional work history, I invite you to visit my LinkedIn page. I occasionally send out a tweet on my Twitter account; you can follow me there as well. If you want to contact me, check out my Contact page. I also invite you to check out my current writing from The SEO Ace blog as well as writing from previous positions. Lastly, you can also visit the official Google Profile page on Google+ for Karen DeJarnette.
‘Nuff said here about all that. Let’s get back to work!