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Corporate Web Worker Careers: Online Community Manager

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There are many reasons I love being a community manager: I get to meet and talk to interesting people; no two days are ever the same; and it’s a job that can be tailored to fit my interests. All of these things make it a great job, and it’s also a position that’s perfectly suited for remote work.

In my case, I work for a large corporation with some days in the office and other days working at home, but I’ve also done this job while working full-time as a remote employee. As a matter of fact, I’m about to shift back to working from home full-time for three months while our office building is remodeled. While I’ll be discussing full-time community management work in this post, it’s also a great gig for freelancers or consultants.

This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about being a community manager here on WebWorkerDaily, but it’s been a while since I wrote about community manager careers, so I thought that it was time for a refresh. I did a whole series of posts over a year ago with details about the job, what it takes to be successful, what we do and the dark side of community management. Most or all of that content is still relevant, so I recommend going back and reading that series if you are new to the blog or if you just want a refresher.

Each online community uses slightly different tools, including established environments based in IRC and mailing lists, forums, wikis, complete social networks and more. Because the community that I manage is fairly large with several different audiences, we use a wide variety of tools. Software developer interactions take place mostly on mailing lists, IRC, bug trackers and code repositories; users of the software interact mostly in the forums; we have a wiki for documentation; and we use a few other miscellaneous tools. Regardless of the tools used, I can access and manage the community whether I am in the office, at home or in a coffee shop. This gives me the flexibility to manage the community regardless of where I am physically located.

Community management is a hot career right now, and quite a few companies are looking for community managers or related positions (social media managers, moderators, etc.) Companies like Zappos, Samsung and Wieden + Kennedy have recently hired community managers while other companies like Wikia, EMC (s emc) and Google (s goog) are actively looking for people to fill online community positions. I’ve even had several people email me in the past couple of weeks asking me if I knew any experienced community managers who might be interested in their positions.

The best community managers are the ones with several years of experience under their belt and the scars to prove that they’ve been around for long enough to have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t, but we all have to start somewhere. Community management isn’t one of those traditional careers where you get a degree and start work in your chosen field. Most good community managers have a diverse background with good communication skills, organization or project management background, and some specialized experience and a passion for the type of community being managed (hardcore gamers managing gaming communities; people with technical backgrounds managing developer communities, etc.) In fact, many of us transitioned into online community roles out of other related careers.

I occasionally speak to groups of university students about community management careers. If you want more information about the job requirements, salaries, job satisfaction and more, you might also be interested in this presentation about community manager careers that I delivered about a month ago at two local universities.

What are some other interesting careers for remote web workers?

Image by Flickr user luc legay used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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