The Shippers is an interview series featuring #ship30for30 alum who have completed at least one cohort and published at least 26/30 days during it. You’ll meet a new creator, hear how Ship 30 impacted the way they create online and what they took away from the experience.
Today we meet Marisa Hoenig, a software developer who understands the value of “soft skills”.
If this interview helps you decide to jump aboard a Ship 30 for 30 cohort please consider signing up with this link as it helps me cover the (admittedly small) cost of putting these together
Introduce yourself and the main topics of your writing
Tim: Zero. Um, you can start out hopefully by introducing yourself and talking a little bit about what you like to write about online,
Marisa: For sure. Um, hi, my name is Marisa Honig. I am a senior software developer, podcaster and writer. Um, I did the ship 30 for 30 cohort back in August of 2021. And then I continued and did it again in March of 2022, maybe about halfway through. And then I had a vacation kind of stopped a little bit, but I was still writing. Of course. Nice. Um, I, yeah, I write mostly about technology. Um, during the first cohort of ship 30, my goal was to find my niche. And so I think my topics were optimism, self-help and technology, and then ultimately figured out that technology was where it was like my bread and butter of, yeah, my good writing and reaching my audience.
Tim: Yeah. Nice one. And, and what was it that, why do you think that be, that was the one that worked the best for you?
Marisa: I think ultimately it was a lot easier for me to come up with things to write about because that is my day-to-day job. And then also, um, I mentioned I’m a podcaster, my podcast is also about the tech industry. Nice. So most of the things that I do are related to tech. Yeah. And I felt like there were a lot of things that I haven’t seen written about that I wanted to write about and share with the world, like the importance of soft skills or different times I’ve done leadership positions and how impactful it was. Yeah. Um, so it was just a lot easier to come up with topics and felt like, um, I automatically had some of an audience because of my career.
Tim: Yeah. And I, I wonder if you think about like, it’s hard for me to learn about optimism from someone else, you know, and I, I guess maybe it’ll be different for different people, but like, you know, when people write an about technology or something, they know how to do, it’s like, I feel like that’s gonna be the thing that’s gonna win out for me. Is there something about that there too? Like, um, the difference between writing everything about something quite, um, say, you know, big and, and not vague, but say nebulous versus writing about something <affirmative> like maybe more applicable or specific.
Marisa: Yeah. I definitely agree with that. Um, I think when I was writing about optimism, it ended up being just like encouraging stories or stories from my childhood, stuff like that. Yeah. And a lot of times they did resonate really well. People were like, oh my goodness, like what a good story. I love this, this really inspires me, but it felt like there wasn’t much more beyond that. And I really wanted stories that you know, taught people something or made them think differently about their career. So ultimately going to the tech, uh, part of the world.
What was it that got you over the line joining ship30for30?
Tim: Yeah. And, and what was it that got you from maybe to, yes. As far as joining a ship, 30 ships. 30 cohort.
Marisa: Yeah. I feel like I have a weird way that I joined ship 30, so I had seen it on Twitter a bit and I wasn’t really on Twitter much, but every now and then I’d scroll through and I’d see these people posting these blurbs of essays. Oh, that’s weird. Like, I wonder what that is. And then, during the pandemic, I started writing a lot and I had this daily writing habit of writing like 750 words a day. Um, and ultimately I kind of lost it as I moved and stuff, and I really wanted to get back into writing. And there was one night, I remember it was like super late at night. I was scrolling through Twitter, and I saw someone post a coupon for ship 30. And I was like, you know what, like, let’s just do it. I’m gonna invest in myself. And so I just did it. And then I was like, oh goodness, what did I just sign up for? <laugh> yeah. And then like a week later it started, um, so ultimately it was seeing someone post a coupon code and I love a good deal. So I was like, of course, I have to get it. Yeah. I have to get it when it’s on a deal. <laugh>
Tim: And your, um, was your right daily writing habit before that kind of like a journaling sort of thing?
Marisa: Yeah, it was more of journaling. Um, I actually did a medium course back in, I fall of 2020. Um, and that’s from Tim Denning and Todd Bryson and it was a really good course and I learned how to write on medium and, you know, they had a whole cohort. So you had a Slack channel to talk to people. Yeah. Um, and that was really good . I was still writing a lot of words every day, but then it was more for myself. So I wasn’t publishing every day. I had never really posted on Twitter before, had a few medium articles and then the ship 30 experience when I found it, I was like, okay, you know what, I’m gonna do it just cause I’m so scared of putting myself out there. Yeah. And we’ll see what happens, you know? Yeah,
Tim: For sure. Um, and I wanted to ask this, I dunno if it makes sense to ask now, but what, um, how has doing ship 30 changed? How do you approach your podcast or impact how, how you handle your podcast or put it together or whatever.
Marisa: Yeah. That’s a really good question. Um, it’s definitely made me think a lot more recently because, um, I mean, oftentimes it’s really hard for me to do the podcast and do ship 30 at the same time, which I learned recently when I tried to do ship 30 again. Um, but whenever you’re doing content creation, I figured out that everyone pretty much suggests the same things to do. Cause I was recently trying to learn how to do content creation on TikTok. I do not do TikTok right now, but I was like, oh, maybe one day for my podcast, I can do that. Nice videos that I watched about how to succeed in TikTok or through the course I took on medium. Everyone has the same suggestions. It’s like finding a niche, creating a lot of content, see what sticks and like, you never know it, it might take off mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so when I’m approaching my podcast, I’m trying to remember that and not be so like hard on myself to make it perfect. I’m like, you know what, getting it out there is better than perfect. So, I think about that a lot when I’m editing my podcast and I think it’s definitely helped me get episodes out faster.
Tim: Yeah. That’s awesome. I found that. I think I’ve always thought this, but I’ve like kind of here reinforced there and the idea of like doing something, how half-fast is if something’s worth doing, half-ass sorry, if something’s worth doing is worth doing half-ass, you know, mm-hmm <affirmative> then like the important thing is the publishing and not so much the, almost anything else you think that’s, that’s like kinda what you’re saying too.
Marisa: Oh, absolutely. And I think that’s one of the core lessons of ship 30. It’s like, you know what, like you have an idea, don’t spend a year ruminating on this idea and thinking it’s gonna be so great. Like test it out, put a tweet out there, put an atomic essay, see what happens. And if people like it, maybe it’s a good idea to pursue and write a book about whatever it is.
What was the technique, tip, framework, hack, or whatever that helped you the most?
Tim: Yeah. That makes sense. And um, so this, I’ll ask this question in two kinds of ways, because you said that the impact ship 30 has on your podcasting is the like kind of pro uh, uh, a bias for prolificness rather than bias for kind of perfection. And, um, I was also wondering in terms of like, you know, there’s eight, I think eight calls that they do and there’s, um, all this library of kind of content and, um, say frameworks and methodologies and tools that they give you, um, when you sign up to do one of these cohorts. So I’m wondering about all the stuff that that makes available to us. Was there anything that kind of stood out as, um, had a, a big and notable, notable change on how you write first?
Marisa: Yeah. The one that comes to mind is the lesson about writing in 1, 3, 1. I don’t know if you remember that lesson. Yeah. But, um, it’s for those of you who maybe don’t know, but it’s writing like a sentence and then like three sentences, one sentence, and then your next paragraph or whatever section is one sentence, three-sentence, one sentence. And it really hooks a reader. Um, once I watch those videos, I’ve definitely found myself doing that more often where I always start with just one sentence, like never two, never three, always one sentence. Yeah. And then like, I am consciously thinking of that when I write an atomic essay or even medium articles, which I’m trying to do more now since I’m not really writing atomic essays at the moment. Um, but I think it’s super powerful because you realize that through every five-sentence block, you’re trying to hook the reader constantly. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I find myself scrolling through threads on Twitter and, and constantly hooked. And I realize that it’s because of the 1: 31. So I think that is such a powerful us in,
Tim: So then the same question and this might be tricky in love, but like, if you think about how you structure podcasts or put podcasts together, is there like 1 31 kinds of things that come through in that? Or is there any other thing, that you learned about how to put an idea together that you felt was also applicable to how you put a podcast together, say structurally or,
Marisa: Yeah. Interesting. Um, I don’t know if 1 31 necessarily relates to podcasting just because that’s very much the writing structure. Yeah. Um, but I do think I’m always thinking of my audience in the same way they frame it for ship 30. Like you don’t wanna produce something just for you. You wanna produce something that other people are going to enjoy. Sure. So whenever I’m, you know, producing questions or picking out guests or whatever it might be for the podcast. Yep. I’m always thinking about things like, okay, sure. I wanna find out about this for some, some guests, or whatever. Yep. Um, um, but what does the audience actually wanna know? So I’m constantly trying to put myself in my audience’s shoes. Yeah. And remember, like, what questions would I have if I was a junior developer, for example. Yeah. Um, stuff like that.
Tim: Yeah. That makes sense. Cause sometimes I think about like, I don’t know how you, how you put podcasts together, but I think, you know, this one, I can say how this one worked, you know, I provided some questions in advance, um, made sure that that was cool. And then we’re talking through the questions and I think when you have an interview podcast, that’s probably a pretty normal, um, approach. Would you, would you agree? Is that what
Marisa: You do? Yeah. Um, yeah, I do the same thing. I usually provide the questions beforehand. Um, but similar to you, I also throw in random questions here and there where I’m like, Ooh, they said something really good. I wanna ask more about that. And then, you know, the episodes end up going from like 30 minutes to 40 minutes, et cetera. Yeah. Um, yeah, but it’s good. And you, you wanna find out more and dig deeper.
Tim: And then in saying that I, I try to, when I do the questions in advance, maybe I don’t explicitly look at the, and the, the templates from ship 30, but I do have in mind some of them, the story structures that you use as far as like how the beginning, middle and end go and, and stuff like that. And I wonder if you’ve ever thought about like, anything like that, where you can kind of look at how they structure, uh, how, how some of them, they suggest structure in some of your atomic essays in terms of like, you know, this, this, this, and then moving to, through that. Um, and see, see if that might work as a, a way to kind of drive the story in a podcast or,
Marisa: I mean, that’s super interesting. I haven’t thought about that. Um, I think mostly because I started my podcast before I did ship 30. And so a lot of my framework for how an episode is format’s stuff comes from that original brainstorm of like, oh, this is how we’re gonna do it. Yeah. Um, but you know, every now and then you gotta mix it up a little bit. I think that’s a great suggestion to go back through ship 30 material.
Tim: And do you mind just sharing a little bit of the behind-the-scenes on your podcast as far as you, how you structure each episode?
Marisa: Yeah, absolutely. I, so for context, also my podcast is called blossoming technologist. It is a podcast for young professionals in tech. Um, and we talk about skills, careers, and just tips for being in the tech industry. Um, so typically I interview another young professional in tech and ask them about their job. Um, usually there’s like an intro that I do. Um, and just explain what the podcast is, who I am, what we’re gonna talk about. And then there’s usually one main topic that I focus on in an episode. And I always start with like, what first got you interested in the tech industry? Cause I find that to be such a compelling question and answer where people start in tech from so many different areas and I love it. So, that’s kind of a selfish question. I love asking that. Yeah. Um, and then we jump into the real question.
Marisa: So, um, like, okay, like you started here, but then how’d you get to be a CTO or how’d you get to be a developer. Um, and then we talk about whatever the topic is. Um, then I usually end with what is one skill that you’re currently working on. Cause I think it’s interesting to think of these really successful people or these people who are, you know, in the tech industry and maybe you wanna be in the tech industry and you know, they’re still learning. They’re still learning skills all the time. Yeah. So that’s my last question. And then I do an outro and I tell people to, you know, like us or follow us on Instagram, whatever it is you
Tim: Say smash that like button, do you ever say smash that like button
Marisa: I’ve never said that <laugh>
Tim: I figure there are a couple things that are still cliche. Say that it’s funny to say them now, like, Hey guys, welcome back to my channel. That’s what you say at the beginning of every video and then smash that light button at the end. Those are the things that I’ve picked up from internet culture.
Marisa: Yeah. Yeah. I usually just say “ follow on apple podcast or something. Cause that’s, that’s a classic. The only thing you can really do with podcasts,
If you were to start from the beginning again knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
Tim: That’s a classic for sure. Is there, um, if you were to go back to, um, the beginning, right before you joined your first ship, 30 cohorts, knowing what you know now, is there anything you think you’d have done differently?
Marisa: Yeah. Um, I think it’s so powerful to connect with people on Twitter who are in the cohort. And I think I did that a bit through, you know, commenting on people’s essays or back then starting conversations on slack, um, or whatever, following people, that kind of thing. But I’m never really into DMing people or trying to get on zoom calls, that kind of thing. Yeah. So I think if you’re starting the ship 30 for 30 cohort, the biggest thing is really the community it brings. And like everyone is so nice and so willing to hop on calls. So I would take advantage of that, um, in a good way. Not like taking advantage sounds bad. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take advantage of that. Um, because you can make so many friends and find other creators who have similar goals to you.
Tim: Yeah. And, or maybe I can just say, I like to agree and, uh, uh, amplify what you said too, is that like, I felt a little bit weird about, cause like part of what they encourage you to do is like you follow the hashtag or you follow the account that retweets all of ’em and you leave a comment, you ask questions, stuff like that. And I felt a little bit weird about that at first. And then it’s only been since I started thinking about, okay, well, what if I actually talked to some of these people in real life that I’ve of kind of felt like that, that, that was like actually doing what I was supposed to and I there’s something there about like doing, finding a way to do it that actually builds the feeling that you wanna have there or something like that.
Marisa: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I feel like I’ve made so many friends through ship 30 that I still have not met over video or anything, but like we know who we are. We’ve never acknowledged that we’re friends, but we’re friends, you know, like I think, I think we’re friends. <laugh>
What are some unexpected benefits you’ve seen from your participation in the program?
Tim: Cool. Awesome. Is there anything that, uh, any benefits that came unexpectedly into your life as a result of participating in chip 30?
Marisa: Yeah. Um, I can think of a few. So one is that during my ship 30 cohort, I definitely started giving tips to coworkers about writing because we were, you know, even though I’m a developer every now and then we had to write documents and I’d have coworkers, you know, writing this really long paragraph. And I was like, Hey, like, can I give some advice? Here are some tips on how to write a good paragraph. Like here’s how to really hook the reader, that kind of thing. So, um, whether they wanted them or not, I was giving tips about writing to coworkers. Some of them appreciated it. Um, and also I think, uh, it definitely helped me find my niche. That’s what I was hoping to get out of ship 30. Um, but really finding my niche and writing about tech led to writing about, um, sorry, writing about tech on medium and making a good amount of money from it.
Marisa: Like last year I made over $700 from medium, which was appalling from someone who’s made it. Like I think the year before I made like $5. Yeah. That’s massive. Yeah. And so I have articles now that every day makes a few dollars and I, I haven’t written an article in like a month or so, and I, I made like $60 last month from the medium. That’s cool. Why? Um, and then the last thing that I think, um, was an unexpected benefit, was having more confidence in sharing my ideas. I think ship 30 really builds that into you where it’s like, you just share stuff and it, it’s not gonna be your best writing unless you spend forever on it, but you wanna really write a small amount of time. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and seeing the response to some of those essays definitely built my confidence up and I’m like, oh man, like I’m a good writer. I have good ideas. Like I can continue this and do well. Um, and so it really helped me in that aspect and kind of trickles into, you know, my job podcast life, et cetera.
What reasons would you tell someone not to do ship30?
Tim: Um, is there any reason why you would say that ship 30 is not a good fit for somebody?
Marisa: Um, okay. I was thinking about this earlier, the only thing I can think of is if you don’t have about two hours a day to commit to it, I say two hours, cause you need 30 minutes to an hour to write your essay. I think as you go through ship 30, it becomes less like, yeah, I was definitely down in like 20 minutes or so. Um, but then I think it’s really important as we mentioned earlier to build that community. And so once I was commenting on other people’s articles or, um, you know, sharing them, retweeting, answering the comments on essays, um, I got so much more responsive when I would post an essay every day. Yeah. And so it’s really about the community, cuz people are gonna support you as you go through the cohort. Um, so I think it’s good to have two hours a day to commit to it. And then once you drop off, I think sometimes your likes drop off from the essays. Yeah.
Tim: That makes sense. They definitely reward you for ongoing participation. They are social media platforms, et cetera.
Tim: And um, is there anything if someone’s listening to this and they’re like, yeah, this, this person seems neat. Uh, I wanna check out more. Is there anything that you’re particularly proud of or excited about sharing with people that you think would be a good, good entry point for somebody who wanted to learn more about you?
Marisa: Yeah. Um, I mean I can be reached at a couple different places, um, on Twitter, Marisa Honig. I think it’s easy to find just slash Meho. Um, my podcast, as we mentioned, it’s called blossoming technologist and you can find that anywhere you get podcasts, um, or go to blossoming technologists.com, and um, my medium writing, as we mentioned, is also there. You can search for my name or it’s Marisa honig.medium.com.
Tim: Cool. What do you think is the most underrated episode of your podcast?
Marisa: Ooh, underrated. I feel like that’s hard when I don’t know what they’re like,
Tim: What the ratings are, what is
Marisa: <laugh> um, yeah, but I will share one of my favorite episodes. I wanna say it’s like episode 14 or so. That might be two totally wrong. So just ignore that. Um, but it’s with, um, one of my friends named Victoria cursed and we talk about, um, leadership for software engineers. Cool. And I think that episode was just so powerful to me as someone who, you know, is a software engineer and wants to get into leadership mm-hmm <affirmative> and we talked about how she got there she’s um, or she was a director of engineering. She went back to being a developer. Um, but it’s just such a powerful story and I, every, every, uh, people keep listening to it every now and then, which is really cool.
Tim: It’s a classic one of the classics. Yeah. Um, well thank you so much for your time sharing all this stuff with me. It was really, really interesting to hear and I appreciate you very much. Thank you, Marisa.
Marisa: Yeah. Thank you, Tim.
If this interview helps you decide to jump aboard a Ship 30 for 30 cohort please consider signing up with this link as it helps me cover the (admittedly small) cost of putting these together