Though her work has always been rooted in the wide world of tech, Amanda Natividad considers herself a writer first.
As a teen in the early aughts, she was quick to embrace the new platforms the Internet had to offer to share blogs, short stories, and e-newsletters. At first, journalism seemed like a natural fit for Amanda, so she began her journey as an editorial producer for a digital media and tech news site. Then she took a pit stop as a food writer.
“I started out in journalism thinking ‘I'm going be a magazine editor one day,’ but had a hard time figuring out what exactly I wanted to do,” she explained. Amanda, now the VP of Marketing at Sparktoro, eventually found her home in content marketing.
The reason she became passionate about content is simple: “It’s allowed me to be creative and scrappy in creating different kinds of content. Content marketing can kind of be whatever you want it to be,” said Amanda.
Amanda’s love for content is part of the reason why she dabbled into the social media writing platform Twitter (where she has nearly 63K Twitter followers as @amandanat) and started her own YouTube talk show, The Menu.
Additionally, these channels give Amanda the perfect space to shed light on issues close to her heart, and promote diversity within the marketing industry. “My passions lie in my values of inclusivity and accessibility. I want to help open up doors for people if I’m ever in a position to do so.”
So what are these values? And how did Amanda pave her own way to success after facing the wrath of tech industry biases? I’m going to share her story with you, right here.
Growing up, Amanda’s status as the “smart kid” in school fundamentally shaped her sense of self. But by the time she got to college, she came to appreciate that being “smart” wasn’t so much an inherent trait as it was a process—one that could be nurtured with the right tools.
“I started thinking, if I can show someone how to do something, then I can make it more accessible to them,” she said.
When scrolling through Amanda’s Twitter it becomes clear that she is not just passionate about marketing—she wants that passion to be contagious. At the same time, she keeps it real, offering advice and insights on the pitfalls of traditional corporate life.
Education is a key part of what Amanda offers her followers, and it’s important to her that she does it right. That also means bringing attention to the need for greater inclusivity within marketing, as well as amplifying under-represented voices often and in an impactful way.
As a Filipino-American, Amanda says she’s had experiences throughout her life, both big and small, that caused her to question her sense of belonging.
“Feeling that otherness so deeply in my formative years, I think that has made me more conscious of it as an adult. I just don't want anybody to have to feel that way.”
Whether it’s engagement on Twitter or using her platform with Sparktoro, Amanda makes a conscious effort to endorse women, people of color, or those in the LGBTQ community, as well as the businesses and organizations they represent.
These values are exactly what she brings to her job as VP of Marketing every day. But Amanda didn’t always have the platforms available to do this. In fact, her origins come from a vastly outdated industry, which is part of the reason she pursued her current career in the first place.
When asked about her decision to leave journalism, Amanda replied, with a laugh, “I always like to say that I got bored, or that I got boring.”
She speaks highly of her experience working for gigao.com, and admits even feeling guilty for her dissatisfaction. Ultimately, it came down to her frustrations with the state of the industry.
“I think it was the lack of innovation, which was rooted in holding onto what are essentially traditions,” she explained. “It trickles down in so many ways, because it causes an inefficient newsroom, which means there's less of a budget to pay people.”
The challenge of upholding rigorous journalistic standards under these conditions was de-motivating. She felt determined to shake her feeling of boredom, and find an opportunity to exercise more creative freedom.
The pull toward marketing felt natural—she just found it fun.
Long before she was writing professionally, having fun was her main priority.
Amanda recalls when, as an early adopter of the publishing platform substack, she created a newsletter for a fictional band, diligently providing updates on their latest endeavors:
“It was just these memes, stuff like, ‘we dropped the new single’ and then a weird .wav file of Donald Duck doing something funny, or a weird photo like, ‘oh, the band took some new headshots, check it out.’”
Finding her voice as a writer came from her willingness to experiment with different styles and types of content, and practicing over time. Though not every attempt was a winner, she paid attention to what stuck, and eventually came to understand her strengths.
Amanda also talks about the importance of pulling inspiration from other writers. Whether it’s from classical literature or from writers you personally admire, she suggests anyone that wants to work in the content marketing space start there.
“Ever since I was in fourth grade I was like, ‘I'm a writer. This is what I want to do.’”
A common battle in the tech space as a content marketer is trying to prove your worth. While things are definitely getting better (just look at all the content marketing jobs that are open right now!), it’s still an ongoing struggle.
“I still think content is underrated. Creating good content is hard and it's expensive,” Amanda shared.
She emphasizes that ensuring an excellent user experience comes down to the technical details, including sound, lighting and graphics. In turn, good content requires an investment in tools that will help achieve that high production quality.
As a marketer, Amanda says, you have to develop the skills to know how and when to invest, and where you aren’t willing to compromise.
When it comes to her social media, Amanda’s guiding principles are authenticity and intentionality.
“I write in a way that is authentic to my experiences and I'll have the receipts to show for whatever it is that I haven't lived through,” she said.
But that came with time, she explained. In the early days of Twitter, she shied away from having a distinct public persona because she was nervous about disapproval or backlash from others.
Eventually, Amanda learned how to be mindful about the type of content she is sharing, finding her niche, but also recognizing what topics she doesn’t have expertise in.
“It's been so much better than I would've thought. I've built some resiliency to it. If someone disagrees with me, it's fine. No regrets.”
Fostering an online community has also provided her with visibility in the industry, allowing her to initiate important conversations and make far-reaching connections that have opened new opportunities.
But people often wonder how they can also achieve this online success. Thankfully, Amanda shared her tips with me—and now I get to share them with you.
For Amanda, it’s that potential for building transferable influence that makes Twitter her platform of choice. One specific advantage is that viral tweets are often re-posted on other platforms, which isn’t the case for posts on other sites. Another is that Twitter popularity translates to other platforms as well.
“On Twitter, you don’t recognize LinkedIn influencers, but on LinkedIn, people recognize if you’re big on Twitter,” Amanda said.
And when it comes to making those meaningful connections, engaging with your followers makes all the difference. From a user’s perspective, interacting with an account that doesn’t engage back discourages them from going through the effort in the future.
“If you're not engaging with the people who engage with you, what the fuck is the point? Like, truly, that is what I believe.”
“It doesn't mean that everyone I talk to on Twitter is my best friend. But I remember those people [who engage back], I keep them in mind next time someone tells me they're looking for a digital marketer.”
In the spirit of authenticity, part of Amanda’s social media presence is dedicated to helping others recognize unethical, and sometimes downright toxic, aspects of corporate tech environments.
“There were things I would hear throughout my tech career that were really hard to deal with.”
Now, having seen the ‘other side,’ in a more inclusive environment at Sparktoro, she says she feels more comfortable being vocal about practices that are discriminatory.
In previous roles, Amanda would sometimes receive unwarranted comments about her youthful appearance, or even about how she carried herself, which were perceived as a lack of leadership potential.
“So just change my face real quick? I would ask, ‘Can you give an example of a way that I was not impactful?’ And they never could answer. That’s not feedback,” she shared.
Amanda explained it had more to do with not fitting the mould—whether it be age or gender—than it did her actual skills.
Although it can sometimes be a difficult environment to navigate, particularly as a woman, Amanda says it’s necessary to understand the politics that come with the territory.
“There is value in being willing to play the game a little bit. And I don't mean like do the Elizabeth Holmes thing and deepen your voice and wear a black turtleneck all day,” she shared. “Understand the system well enough to see weaknesses, use them to your advantage, and put your own spin on it.”
While Amanda says she’s now in a place of privilege to challenge the status quo, that’s not every woman’s reality. Going against the grain can come with some very real repercussions.
“I have had a lot of times in my career that I've tried to say eff you to the system and it completely came back to bite me,” she acknowledged.
Being a contrarian ultimately did make space for the right opportunity, further down the line, but she couldn't have known that back then.
Despite the hardships, Amanda now has a very successful role—one that she’s earned through hard work, deepening her industry connections, and proving her expertise day in and day out for the world to see.
But beyond just her job title, Amanda has her own vision for what success means to her.
While marketers tend to be a results-driven bunch, Amanda says her success always starts with a process worth loving. If you’re pursuing a new endeavor, follow your instincts.
Use the platforms, tools and methods you’re already interested in, rather than the ones you assume will yield the best results. When it comes to creative work, it needs to be a labor of love.
“Fall in love with the process so that it doesn't feel too much like work. And it will still feel like work, but it also needs to feel fun.”
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