Without a doubt, The Penny Hoarder is the best thing in Florida (and I'm counting Disney World). It's why I'm here.
I was wasting away in Wisconsin, serving coffee for barely a living and wondering why I'd ever thought I could be a writer. My relationship was on the rocks after running it through the ringer of road comedy and polyamory. My brain was frazzled from coffee, booze and time zones. I had no idea what I wanted to do next, but I knew it wasn't that, there.
A post from my favorite blogger changed everything at just the right time.
Alexis Grant's blog-management company had just been acquired by The Penny Hoarder (Taylor Media), and it was hiring for editorial positions in St. Petersburg. As a freelancer and self-proclaimed ramblin' man, I never sought a full-time writing job. But I'd taken every opportunity I could to work with Alexis over the previous four years, and this would be no exception. I applied and officially got the offer to be a staff writer early in August 2015. I started three weeks later. That was my first time in Florida.
The company was around 10 employees when I started. We're over 50 now and continuing to grow fast. I've had the privilege and responsibility of sitting in on about a dozen interviews for new writers and editors. In every one, I've had to explain why I like working here.
It's not hard to come up with reasons.
The simplest reason is we create a great product, and it's awesome to be part of sharing that with people. The Penny Hoarder shares creative ways to make and save money and demystifies personal finance for regular people — a lot of them.
As a writer, it's incredible to remember (and tell people) we reach 23 million readers a month.
That's quite an impact.
But even if we were writing for a dozen people, I'd love working for this company. The best of it is behind the scenes.
Since I started in August 2015, I haven't been unhappy at work a single day. I've even missed it when I wasn't there.
Of our more-than-50 employees, no one sucks. I think most offices have a few people who suck, but ours doesn't. We have a lot of work to do, and we don't have time to entertain sub-par talent. Everyone is creative and weird and friendly. A lot of us are writers, developers and artists, so it's totally cool to be awkward and excited about really nerdy stuff.
Our leadership is accessible and humble. When I think about it, it's an honor to work beside them, considering our CEO is a self-made millionaire and our editorial director was pretty much my idol when I started blogging. I don't think about it a lot, though, because in the office they're just part of the staff. They're great at making the rest of us feel important and smart.
We're growing like crazy, pretty much constantly hiring since I started. It's mind-boggling to reflect on how far we've come. From, basically, a really successful blog (by the time I joined the team) to the #1 fastest-growing media company in the country. We've expanded our in-house editorial team to cover tons of new ground, built departments for original video production and photography, watched other companies grow after partnering with us as advertisers; and been recognized by Inc., CNBC, NPR, Fox & Friends, and other important things.
The Penny Hoarder has made me a better writer and person. It makes me smarter every day. I don't mean I learn new things — though that's true, too — I mean I'm smarter because of the way I have to think to keep up with the people around me. I'm a better writer because I spend eight hours a day writing, sure. But also because I have editors who are always pushing and asking the right questions to make my writing better. I'm a better person, because I've finally found something I'm supposed to be doing.
That's writing, of course, but what I get to do at TPH is way more than that. I get to be part of building this company. The Penny Hoarder entertains my offbeat input, and in turn it pushes me out of my comfort zone to try things I'd have never considered.
Like, sharing my terrible credit score with hundreds of thousands of readers. Getting teary over a story about a stay-at-home mom. Writing satire read by tens of thousands. Or hosting a broadcast to talk about the Super Bowl.
Just over a year in, I'm now a senior writer, and I have the chance to help build a whole new thing: our daily newsletter. It's everything I've always loved to do on my own — instruction, humor, scheming, organizing, planning — but I get to do it for a built-in audience in the millions. And I get to do it with a team that makes me better at everything.
I would be anywhere for this company. It took me out of Wisconsin when I desperately needed a reason to leave. It's got me thinking in years instead of months or weeks. It completely transformed my vision of who I can be as a writer.
The Penny Hoarder even makes living in Florida OK.
Surviving Florida is a series of people, places and things this Wisconsin girl with NYC dreams doesn't hate about the lawless swamp she currently calls home.