top of page
  • Winona Rajamohan

My favorite days as a journalism student at San Jose State University were chaotic and unplanned.


I had no car, a budget too tight for Ubers, and a hard-headed habit of never asking for help. I resorted to walking around school or downtown San Jose to look for stories. I'd find them in stickers pasted furiously on the door of SJSU's favorite neighbor, Philz Coffee. Or I'd crane my neck to take a peek through open doors or catch event flyers tossed around South First Street.


I've stumbled across local creators, activists, community-builders, and entrepreneurs by complete accident. My best conversations happened while frantically running up to strangers at the final hour of a submission deadline after a string of failed interviews and doors slammed in my face.


So when I leaped into the Silicon Valley startup world as a content writer, I was both enthusiastic and slightly naive. I waltzed into this jungle of a world the same way I did into a newsroom — the phrase "There's a story in everything!" ringing through my head like a cult mantra.


But finding a story in everything didn't work out quite as planned. At times, I was actually starting to doubt it.


I wasn't in a school newsroom fighting to cover topics nobody else had done before. I was writing to help a business, a place where everything I did was scrutinized for measurable value to mark it a success or a complete waste of time. I needed results, fast.


It couldn't be helped. I inched my way back into a rabbit hole of doing what's been proven most likely to succeed. I succumbed to the trap of buzzword-crazy, jargon-intoxication, buy-my-product-now content marketing.


Surprise, surprise. That didn't work either.


Good content is content with the purpose of serve who consumes it.


Here's one thing I learned from all the trial and error:


✏️ The way people consume B2B content marketing isn't very different from the way they consume good journalism, Twitter threads, or TikTok exposés.


In a world where content has never been more accessible, it's also never been more exhausting. Nobody has the time to read something that isn't speaking directly to what they need. It doesn't matter if it's software for their company's tool stack or 5 hot new sustainable storage containers to Marie Kondo their life — both fish from the same pool of limited attention.


Journalism has always defined the way I produce and perceive content: There's a story in everything, for everyone, if I take the time to observe, ask and listen.


It's a personal philosophy I've embraced completely in my career as a content marketer, helping me advocate for content marketing to be more than a means to an end, a channel to a metric, or a path to a lead.


I believe the future of content marketing will make every interaction with a brand feel like a binge-worthy series. It'll educate communities, amplify voices, and answer important questions, the way great journalism does.


Here are three tips from my days in the newsroom that keep me centered as a content marketer strapped in for that journey.


👋 Write for your reader


Every writer has a few stories they're really proud of. But there's nothing quite as humbling as reading them again a few months or years later and realizing how little that story actually scraped below the surface. Although dripping in beautiful prose and big intelligent words, you never really get to the point.


When that happens, I've taken on the role of the everyday reader (although much too late) — someone with little context on the work I've put in, and with a clear idea of what they want to get out of the time they spend reading it.


The single most important question my editors would ask me still holds true as a content marketer. "Why should anyone care about what you just wrote?"


In both scenarios, my writing process kicks off by understanding who I'm writing for. So before kicking off any topic research, I first drill down on these questions.



These answers already outline the shape of a content brief I can work with. Now I can map out my writing process to fire on both cylinders — meeting business outcomes and giving my readers authentic value.


🗣 Talk to sources directly


Writing for an audience is tough. But writing something genuinely useful for an audience is even tougher. Even if you've done all your research and answered all the big questions.


We live in a world where it can look relatively easy to research content topics. A quick search beyond Google on platforms like Twitter, TikTok, or YouTube can give you enough to build content pieces thousands of words long.


But is it enough to be considered useful? Not really.


More often than not, I find myself a draft saturated with what's.

What keywords are being searched

What stats make this look data-driven

What trends are trade-pub approved and influencer-endorsed

Ah, a recipe content readers love to hate.


But it can be easily avoided if I stop trying to be the expert.


What does a journalist look for to build a great story? Sources. Interviews. Lots of it.


The more questions you ask, the fewer holes in your story, and the stronger your credibility. I've learned that the best content marketing is built this same way.


Whether it's writing for a publication or a B2B blog, my golden rule is to cut to the chase and talk to a source. This helps me turn those whats into whys.





Sources don't just give you answers. They give you memorable anecdotes and dispute naive generalizations. They're the "it" factor every story needs.


🙅🏽‍♀️ Don't make assumptions


I believe the best content creation is selfless. My favorite journalists and content marketers produce work with clear and strong intentions to help someone do something. To uncover truths, educate, build arguments, or protest norms.


Anything that holds even a sliver of doubt is worth analyzing. That's how journalists broke stories about Watergate and Harvey Weinstein. How impactful and groundbreaking would those revelations be if missing pieces of the puzzle were filled in with assumptions?


Would there even be a story at all if it was simply assumed that everything behind the scenes was trudging along the way it should be?


Content marketing shouldn't be too different. Great content leaves a memorable impact on readers, prompting them to utilize it in their daily work, share it with their peers, or interact with your brand. I came across an article on The Juice by Olivia Adkinson summarizing this impact perfectly — we don't know good content when we see it; we know it when we feel it.


I want to be a content marketer who leaves my readers with a feeling they can't easily shake off. I think it takes a creative kind of curiosity and a willingness to question what others don't. It should leave no room to assume who my readers are and what they would like to see, encouraging me to take risks and pursue ideas they won't expect or ignore.


Think of a brand with great storytelling and you'll likely notice a similar trope of unique and compelling content — a personal favorite of mine is how Gong uses content to amplify a brand identity that sales teams want to learn from and be a part of.


Instead of a regular listicle on ways to improve cold calls, Gong sets themselves apart by breaking down cold call scripts from the brokerage house, Stratton Oakmont. They don't assume their readers would find it irrelevant or outdated. In fact, they've done their research, they know exactly why it's important, and they've used their own product data and brand voice to fill in the gaps and build their argument 💯


Getting comfortable with an assumption of what my audience knows and doesn't know does a few things.


👉 First, it limits my ideas to what's already been done.


Gong has published lots of blogs about how to improve cold calls, but this one reads like something completely different.


👉 Second, it doesn't get readers excited about what's next.


Unique content builds on an argument and introduces something new and actionable so readers can try something they've never tried before.


👉 Third, it makes relationships with readers feel transactional.


I write. You read till the end. I get a page view. And hopefully, I've told you enough about my product or service for you to want to buy it. Readers don't want that.


A good piece of content feels like a journey. It connects the dots between a few common arguments and leads readers to a place completely different from where they started. Now that's what potential customers want to experience.


The sweet spot between strengths and weaknesses


I've learned a lot about myself as a writer over the past two years. But the most important lesson of all is embracing how much I don't know. Somewhere in the midst of everything, I'm great at and everything I'm yet to master is a sweet spot where the possibilities seem limitless.


It's a place where my strengths as a writer, journalist, and marketer become more clearly defined. It's also a place where my weaknesses surface as opportunities to draw from those strengths in ways I didn't think were possible.


Somewhere between my strengths and my weaknesses, I'm finding my own identity as a content marketer.

33 views0 comments
  • Winona Rajamohan

Hey there! 👋


Since starting my career in Content Marketing, I've written a lot of words and led multimedia content projects such as webinars, larger virtual events, and video production. Here I've highlighted some of my favorite pieces of work published between August 2019 to December 2021.


Here's a little bit more about my day on the job:


✏️ As a Content Marketing Specialist, I wrote for blogs, ebooks, website pages, social media posts, email marketing, event marketing, and digital ad campaigns.


🔭 After taking on the role of a Content Marketing Manager, my area of focus has expanded to building content strategy and driving performance through SEO, email journeys, partnerships with influencers, and close collaboration with customers.


______________________


🚘 Smartcar (Content Marketing Manager)

Highlights

  • Win more #1 and first-page rankings for target keywords by creating new content and optimizing existing content.

  • Drive more newsletter subscribers and higher email open rates on a month-by-month basis.

  • Increase the volume of traffic and social media conversions surrounding new customer stories.

  • Introduce new operational and strategic processes for creating, distributing, and repurposing content as a one-person content team.

Blogs


Customer stories

______________________


🧑🏽‍💻 Scribe (Freelance Writer)


 

🏢 HireEZ (Content Marketing Specialist/Manager)


Highlights

  • Led community and webinar programs as part of our content strategy + organized and hosted a two-day virtual summit with 8 speakers and over 500 attendees.

  • Initiated and executed HireEZ's first-ever industry trends report (which is still being continued annually).

  • Increase traffic to the company blog by 3x and built our newsletter subscriber list up from zero.

  • Doubled the number of content downloads and leads generated from ebooks.

  • Increase the volume of traffic and social media conversions surrounding new customer stories.

  • Introduce multimedia content into Hiretual's marketing strategy by creating, hosting, and producing three seasons of the YouTube series 'Coffee with Hiretual.'

Reports and guides


Press Releases/Company Announcements


Blogs


Case studies



49 views0 comments
  • Winona Rajamohan

When I was younger, I didn't like to speak that much.


Being outside made me nervous. My arms were always tightly bound to my sides, held in place by the idea of a world so much bigger than me. A basic fight or flight response was waddling to the back of any room without letting anyone know, a book in hand and a pair of lips zipped shut.


But sometimes I would have no choice but to make my way to the front. There was always someone I had to greet — a neighbor, a distant relative I didn't know how to address, a family friend who apparently last saw me when I was the size of their palm.


At this point, I'd feel something pool at the bottom of my stomach. It was a numbing tug that pushed and pulled, left to right, like a tug of war that nobody was ever going to win. I would feel a flutter of light thumps, a shrill discomfort that rang like a bell and making the sides of my stomach itch.


It felt like wings flapping about 🦋


"You have musical butterflies in your stomach," my piano instructor back then, Miss Peggy, would always tell me. I was always nervous, always scared. She would wrap my little palms up in hers and invite me into class, promising me that the musical butterflies would come down after hearing her play a song.


Over the years, I picked up on new ways to see to numb the flapping wings, to make my way to the front of the room without falling to the floor.


Listening to music became one of them, but on the days that I couldn't, I played a game.


It was like playing a game of The Floor is Lava, but instead of avoiding the floor altogether, I would avoid stepping on any gaps between tiles on the floor. The larger the tiles, the easier it would be to avoid the little cement-filled lines running through them. This game worked best on tiled surfaces in places like shopping malls, school corridors, or the living room of someone's house. As you can imagine, marbled floors were incredibly unsettling and offered me no escape.


No matter where I ventured next within those four walls, the rule of the game was to only step on a clear floor tile until I finally found myself at the end of the room.






By then, the butterflies would be gone. A light headrush would settle on the air above my shoulders, where bob-length hair wrapped around the skin of my neck right beneath chubby little ears. It was a meaningless sense of accomplishment that symbolized a big defeat.


The slaying of wings.





On my 24th birthday, I felt the same numb tugging in the pit in my stomach. Wings flapping about. Were the butterflies back?


But this time I wasn't nervous. Instead, I was incredibly calm.


There was something refreshing about turning another year older this year. It was my first birthday where I found myself at peace with a reality far beyond my full comprehension. I could barely make out the shape of my role in this world, yet I was surprisingly OK with that.


I was reminded of the game once again.


In my head, I visualized myself standing on tippy toes in a giant hall, balancing myself as I squeezed my feet into a floor tile the size of a penny. Here I was at the back of the room, ready to jump from tile to tile to reach a destination I couldn't even see.


The stakes are raised now, the payoff heftier and the cost of defeat heavier. But I've played this game before. Mastered it even. So here are my three rules to taking it all the way to a win.


#1 Making the big scan


The first thing I did before kicking off this game was to take in the room. The size of it, the smell of it, the people in it, how close they were to each other, how close they were to me.

The big scan of the room — my playing grounds — was an assessment of how I would play. Did I want to draw the goal line at the very end of the room or just up the middle? Was it wiser to take big steps or inch forward with little ones?


To map out my path, I would count the cracks between the tiles, my mind fixed on everything I needed to avoid.


My solutions were rooted in a careful methodology to thread around and away from anything that could make me fail. It was a pretty accurate representation of how I was a person, always keeping my eyes fixed on pitfalls I needed to maneuver around.


At 24, I now know the world doesn't work much differently from this little childhood game. A big room with lots of players, with everyone getting in anyone's way as they inch or run toward the same finish line. But I've noticed a key difference.


The world isn't predictable. Regardless of how much I may have prepared or thought through a decision, sometimes you step on a pitfall crack on the ground and you lose. The only way to move forward is to forge a new one, a path that takes you to the same

destination although it looks completely different from the one you drew in your head.


These unchartered paths are surprisingly in abundance when I focus less on the cracks in the ground and instead keep my eyes locked on the wide spaces.


The big scan is an assessment of options. It's the eye of the storm, a small allowance amidst the chaos to digest my start and endpoint and to come to terms with the roadmap ahead of me.


I prepare for a path laid not with pitfalls, but opportunities. Not mistakes, but a chance to start over.


#2 Settling at the peak


Decisions are made after the big scan.


Even the most perfect plans mean nothing if there's no commitment to execution.

At this point in the game, I raise my knee ever so slightly — ready to make the first move, but with enough wiggle room for a change in direction. I call this exact moment the peak, the highest point my foot lifts to before I take a step.


It's a small range of motion that holds a lot of weight. At the peak, I could make a choice. That split second of a moment could dictate my next step or I could retract my foot back completely and put it down somewhere else.


It's a situation I know I'll find myself in a lot more often.


As I turn another year older, I feel as though the margin for error has yet again shrunk smaller. The cost of not meeting my own expectations rings heavier than that of the year before, but at the same time, the heights that I could reach have never felt more close.


Being 24 is being at a crossroads. It's about standing dumbstruck and gaping at the intersection of a perfect plan with your foot hovering in fear right above the gas pedal.


The pressure to make the right decisions has more often than not rushed me into the wrong ones.


I forget that for a split second, while I'm at the peak, I have just enough space to think things through one last time and convince myself of my choice. I realize now that it's easy to forget to pause. Most of all, it's easy to forget how much one small pause can change the tides of your game.


#3 Finding solid ground


I'm a little more realistic now. I know that I can't stay at the peak forever.


The only way to move forward from the highest point is to go back down, and that really isn't a bad thing.


After making my split-second decision at the peak of the game, I put my foot down. I'm firm in my decision, right or wrong. At that point in time, there's no turning back as my feet make contact with the ground.


If I step on the right floor tile, I'm safe. I make my way to the end of the room by running through steps 1 to 3 until I finally reach my end goal.


If I step on the gaps between those tiles, I lose and start over.


The beauty of seeing another year is continuing my lesson of realizing that life isn't black and white. The rules are never clear cut, and wins and losses aren't easy to define.


I've come to learn that there's nothing wrong with making the wrong step, or perhaps starting over. The most important thing to me is to have my feet on solid ground. I want my mind rooted on something I can feel, something I believe in, something that holds my place in this world even as my head wanders aimlessly through the clouds.


I've too often defined the days in my life as a series of ones and zeros — wins and losses, good days and bad days. As I look back on this simple game that found its place throughout most of my childhood, I remember a sense of relief as I put my foot down onto the floor, glad that I finally come to a decision and got it over with.


This last rule is about trusting my senses, even when they're wrong. Why? Because the world doesn't give us easy answers. Most of the time, we're carving those answers along as we go as we take the sights, sounds, and smells around us. I look around me and I see that nobody is 100% convinced that they're doing the right thing, and for that, I'd like to give us all credit for all the decisions we've ever made.



So there we have it. Three rules to set the stage for three ultimate outcomes.


Making the big scan 🔭

To shape the path before me by searching for opportunities — not dictating my direction to avoid all potential failures. Two very different views and perspectives.


Settling at the peak 🏔

To rest and to pause when I need it, with no fear of falling behind in a race being run by others around me.


Finding solid ground 🌎

To realize how beautiful it is to live a life that's grounded in what you believe in, regardless of how many steps I've taken both forward and backward.


I'm not entirely sure how this game will go. Neither am I certain on how I want to play it. The only thing I can say for sure is that I'll be cycling through these three steps on repeat — staying optimistic, giving myself a break, and being grateful for a chance to learn from wins and mistakes.

153 views0 comments
bottom of page