Welcome to So You Want My Job? Each week we ask the people working in some of the industry’s coolest roles about how they got where they are. Along the way, we dig into their philosophies, inspirations, processes and experiences. Hopefully our interviewees can inspire you to pursue (or create) a job that’s just as exciting.
This week we’ve got Gee Linford-Grayson, UK & Ireland creator partnerships at Patreon.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Does your job now resemble that in any way?
When I was very young I was set on the idea of being a full-time scuba diver and/or pianist. Unfortunately, my crippling fish phobia and lack of a piano somewhat scuppered those plans. Now my job is working with creators at Patreon, and I have at least spoken to a lot of pianists – plus there’s a creator who builds underwater hamster cities – so I suppose I’m now working with others who are living my dream.
How did you get your job? Tell us the full story.
I arrived at my job through a series of very fortunate events, and a lot of brilliant women who guided me at the early stages of my career.
Throughout school, I was encouraged by teachers toward traditional academic subjects, despite being quite a creative child who was always sneaking out of bed to start painting or sewing or building some imaginary world out of literal rubbish. I ended up going to university to study politics, but when I graduated the idea of actually working in politics, law or consultancy, like many of my peers, was absolutely anathema to me.
I started working in the festival team for Sipsmith Gin, pouring hundreds of G&Ts and doing gin masterclasses for festival-goers. That’s how I met my first boss, Katie Flintham-Ward, who saw some potential and, after a proper (sober) interview, offered me a job to work as an intern on the marketing team at Bumble and Bumble. Katie was unconditionally supportive of my career growth, so much so that when she heard of a more senior marketing job going at Soho House, she sent a personal recommendation and introduction to the brilliant Delara Nikkhah and Ali Wicksteed.
I went on to work at Soho House for four years, first in marketing, then in events programming in the UK, and later, Berlin. During that time I met and had the pleasure of working with so many wonderfully creative people. I was constantly being exposed to different industries and professions and starting to embrace my own creativity again.
Patreon was a company I always admired, having seen creators I love such as RedHanded grow hugely through their memberships. At some point, I had set up a job alert on LinkedIn, and as soon as they opened their office in Berlin I applied for the UK & Ireland creator partnerships role. I think I actually sent three applications.
OK, so what do you actually do? How would you explain your job to a taxi driver?
My job is to support creators who want to join Patreon, and ensure they’re off to the best start with their membership. I’ve worked with all kinds of creators, from Olympic diver Tom Daley, to podcasters such as Private Parts with Jamie Laing or 90s Baby Show, as well as musicians including Bat For Lashes and While She Sleeps.
Some creators sign up to Patreon organically, and other times I’ll notice someone doing something really creative with their community and think, “they would be fab on Patreon,” then drop them a line. Often they’ve been considering Patreon for a while, and it just helps to have someone you can bounce ideas off. My job is to offer practical guidance, be a sounding board and even dish out the occasional pep talk when it’s needed. It’s very human, and I think that can be rare with tech platforms, so I feel privileged to be in this role.
What do you love most about your job?
It might sound nosy, but I love being able to take a peek into all these different creative worlds. Often, as the audience, we’ll only see the final product, but Patreon is a way to share the entire process of making art. When we discuss membership, a big part of my job is to understand the creator’s day-to-day work and their community, so we can figure out what content they’d like to share on Patreon. Every day I learn something new about music, art, podcasting or gaming, or discover a subculture and community I’d never heard of before.
It’s also incredibly fulfilling to feel you’re able to help creators connect more directly to their audience, especially during the pandemic. Creators have a beautifully reciprocal relationship with their patrons, whereby they offer value through their work, and their patrons offer value, both financially and through feedback and support. Every time I hear of a creator who was able to fund their passion project, retain ownership of their work or even take a holiday at the encouragement of their patrons, it reminds me why Patreon exists and why I do what I do.
How would someone entering the industry go about getting your job now? What would be their route?
Well, funny you ask, because we’re actually hiring for someone to work alongside me on the UK & Ireland creator partnerships team. Check out our careers page. I’d also be happy to chat more about working at Patreon if you reach out to me on LinkedIn.
For somebody entering the industry, my biggest piece of advice would be to resist the urge to plan out the next five years of your career, and be open to opportunities that might come in unconventional ways. As you’ll see, my career was anything but planned, and I could never have predicted that the summer bar job I took after graduation would lead me to Patreon.