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Will Hernandez is an editor of Mobile Payments Today.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I’ve walked an interesting path to get to this point. I started my journalism career back in 2002 as a sportswriter for a small newspaper in Connecticut. That’s just about the time when things started to change in that industry with the emergence of online models.
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I actually wrote the first blogs for the paper via the Blogger platform. One focused on the minor league baseball team in town while the other focused on the UConn men’s basketball team. We actually advertised the blogs in print, so my face was in the paper almost every day!
Unfortunately, I was unceremoniously let go in 2006. It was a blessing in disguise because it put me on the path I’m on now, which has been about covering the payments industry for 10 years.
When I started with SourceMedia in 2007, it was my first taste of trade journalism (and the payments industry) and it was almost all digital. When I left there in 2012, I took a job as a content manager for a research firm that specializes in the payments industry. I headed the company’s online news aggregator site, which put me deeper into the industry.
But I wasn’t doing much writing there, so I decided to take a job with Networld Media Group and head Mobile Payments Today. I missed the reporting and writing aspect of what I did at SourceMedia and being the editor of Mobile Payments Today satisfies that urge.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
We’re not technically a daily publication, so we’re a bit lax as far as hard deadlines are concerned. Our focus is more in the newsletter that goes out three times a week. I write to that deadline.
A deadline day can be hectic depending on several variables, but I already know heading into the day what the main feature will be for the newsletter. That feature could be an original piece from me or a commentary we get from someone in the industry. After that, it’s about finding the most impactful news in the industry to include in the newsletter.
Outside of those deadline days, the typical day varies. As an editor for Networld, we wear many hats. Not only do we make sure our sites are up to date, but we also assist with webinars, help plan content for the mini-conferences we produce every year, assist with reader revenue projects, social media responsibilities, etc. There’s really never a dull moment, which I think is a great thing.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I work from home, and to me, that means I feel like I have to be more on top of things than usual so I don’t lose my focus.
I’ve been known to have four screens going at the same time, one of which is usually tuned to CNBC. I like Evernote, though I wish I could be more consistent using it. I check my Twitter feed as much as possible because that can spark an idea for a story down the road.
I’m also constantly looking at Google Analytics to see the stories that are connecting with our readers.
Also, a good coffeemaker is great to have nearby!
WHAT DO YOU TO GET INSPIRED?
I think I’m an odd duck because I find inspiration from unorthodox sources. I’m a big pro wrestling fan and I like the underdog stories that are presented in that format.
In general, I’m a big fan of the underdog or people who are constantly hustling. I have a friend who is a stand-up comedian and the amount of work he puts into his craft is truly amazing. He’s always doing something to make himself better and get his name out there. That’s something we can all learn from.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
This is a funny question because as much as I read, I don’t know if I really have something that stands out. I will say that I’m a big fan of books like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. I find the dystopian fiction genre fascinating, mostly because we’ve been starting to live it for the past 20 years or so.
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION, OR TOOL THAT YOU THINK IS A GOOD MATCH FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
One interesting chat program that I’ve come across lately is Discord. It’s a proprietary freeware VoIP application designed for gaming communities that is only a couple of years old. I would love to see it extended and become more like Slack and see more industries use it as a digital meeting place to share ideas.
WHAT’S THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
I think the one thing that really gets me going is that trade publications are sometimes an afterthought for the bigger companies in the payments industry. Some companies will rush to respond to the Bloomberg’s and Recodes of the world, but smaller outlets such as Mobile Payments Today get the shaft.
I want those companies to realize that we’re in the weeds with this stuff every day. There are a lot of knowledgeable and talented reporters that cover this industry and know their stuff. We might not have the reach of the mainstream media, but we’re likely better versed in the payments industry.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
These days, you need to be as well-rounded as possible.
When I was a sportswriter, I took some pride in the fact I had articles that appeared in each section of the paper. I could write news. I could write a feature. I could write a concert review. Even today, I have little doubt that I could write about a five-alarm fire in the morning, and then go cover the Bulls game at the United Center in the evening.
These days, that flexibility extends to things such as audio and video, which I’m still teaching myself to edit. I’m working on a podcast now as a side project and learning things about myself in that medium.
I think you also need to be comfortable with public speaking. Since I joined Mobile Payments Today, I’ve moderated and participated in countless panels at industry events. I’ve also been interviewed as a subject matter expert by a number of publications. I find a lot of fun in doing those things because I’m opinionated. I think that goes with the territory when you specialize in a niche area such as mobile payments. And you have to be ready for what comes with that at all times.