Q&A with Ren

Not too long ago, I met Ren for the first time at a crafts-and-cocktails event hosted by my sister. I knew immediately that Ren and I were kindred spirits, just based on the amount of drinks we consumed at the “cocktail” portion of the event. As we have gotten to know each other over time, we both found out we are MIZZOU j-school graduates, get misty eyed at the New York Times’ Wedding Vows section, and love writing letters to people.
ren
Meet Mover & Shaker, Do-er & Maker, Tapioca Dancer, Ren Bishop Luebbering!
Current City:Springfield, Missouri
What did you want to be when you grew up? A Digital Storyteller
What are you now? A Social Media/Digital Marketing/Writing Person
How did you get to this point?I’ve always been a writer. My mom still has the first story I ever wrote; it was about two horses and it was on my dad’s legal paper, illustrations included. I never became an artist, but writing was something that came naturally to me. I was a third-grader when I got my first email address to write digital notes to my best friend, and soon after, I started a Neopets account. I customized my shop’s background colors with some HTML I taught myself, and I was off to the races. Livejournal, Xanga and Myspace followed, and by the time I was in high school, I was running an online newspaper and video channel for my high school broadcast journalism class.
I graduated from high school after winning a national contest for broadcast news writing and moved to Columbia, Missouri, where I majored in magazine journalism and international studies at the University of Missouri. I had several internships while in college that were writing intensive, but my knack for social media kept getting me better opportunities, and eventually, my first job at a city/regional magazine in Columbia, Inside Columbia magazine. I was promoted from editorial intern to editorial assistant to audience development specialist, or digital marketing specialist, in less than 18 months. I wrote several feature articles, but my biggest successes at the magazine were related to social media.
People started noticing, and my uncle Willie reached out to me to do social media for his logistics management business in 2013. I came up with a name and a logo, and somehow I guess, I created a digital marketing agency on my college apartment floor drinking wine while watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” A month later, my now husband proposed and got a job in my hometown of Springfield, Missouri, and I got a job as the social media specialist for Springfield Public Schools, where I went to school.
Almost four years later, I’ve almost tripled the number of Facebook likes on Springfield Public Schools’ Facebook page with $0 advertising annually, and I’ve developed an Instagram and Youtube channel from the ground up. With my business, I now have 14 clients in six states, and I get to still play in my sand box as a writer, working as a contributing writer for 417 Magazine, 417 Bride, 417 Home and Biz 417 and FEAST Magazine. I’ve also worked with major agencies to write articles for major brands like STAPLES. But writing right and tight on social media, now with gifs and emojis, makes me giddy. I love all the ways I can connect with an audience, instantly, with social media. It’s such a high when something hits big.
Are you paid doing what you love? If not, what would you like to be paid to do?
I’m one of the lucky ones that gets paid really well for what they love to do. Businesses like my sharp but sassy, sometimes corny, voice in their messaging, and I like helping them grow their businesses and fan base online.
Current project(s):
– Content marketing for Ozarks Technical Community College’s Technical Education department
– Product photography for Circle B Ranch, including recipe videos for their Bloody Mary Top Tomato Cocktail Mix
– Made in 417-land column for 417 Home
What are you reading/listening to/watching/making:
– Listening to The Handmaiden’s Tale, watching The Get Down and The Leftovers, reading Underground Railroad and Evicted
How do you express yourself creatively? How I really express myself creatively is with graphic design. Writing comes easy, but design is harder. It’s another one of those skills that’s just fallen into my lap after doing it over and over again, but I’m constantly tweaking graphics to be on trend for my clients’ Instagram accounts. I never feel my aesthetic is quite what I want it to be in the content I create, so I keep pushing myself to learn more about graphic design, lighting and photography.
Have you ever written a fan letter? If so, to whom? Justin Timberlake gets a birthday card from me every year. He’s my second husband.
Drink of choice? An oaky Chardonnay or salty margarita
Who inspires you, and why? Chris Jones of Esquire is a real hero of mine. Long form is a grind, and I’m always impressed by the tone he sets so soon in his pieces. Amy Brown, of Wendy’s Twitter fame, is another hero of mine. She takes sass to a whole other dimension. It’s so daunting to be that engaging and authentic while selling a product so boldly in so few words.
Favorite tool to stay productive (for example, a set of watercolors, a specific planner or app, an exercise program…) Long walks on Sunday afternoons help keep me grounded and refreshed for a busy week ahead. Between my full-time job, my business and my freelance writing assignments, it’s a lot of balls to keep up in the air. So I have to break down projects into one task at a time. I give myself daily task assignments and schedule them via Todoist, which is a free daily to-do list app that I keep open in a tab and access on my phone. I check things off one at a time throughout the day, and by the end of the day, I’m that much closer to completion on 10 different projects.
Something you have learned this year? That you can’t push yourself too hard. I finally broke down a couple of months ago and admitted it to myself — I am a workaholic. It’s easy to take on too much when you love everything you’re doing. But I don’t want to be good at 100 things, I want to be great at 10. I’m saying “no” more to make sure that the work I complete is my very best possible work, and I’m charging more. I was really undervaluing myself. No more.
How can people find you? For everything related to me, check out meetren.com or @renluebbering on Instagram. For business inquiries, visit Checkmate Consulting’s website at checkmateconsulting.org.
What can people do to make the world a better place? Support the arts. Don’t try to find a coupon code for theater tickets or complain about the price of a print. If you love it, become a patron. Value the work that was made by someone else’s hands as a gift to your community, not at a commodity to be used. Artists need 100 patrons for every 10 other artists they meet to thrive, and I’m happy to show up, cash in hand, for artists in my community.
Brag about yourself. It’s okay. If you don’t, I will.: I’m funny and sort of a diva, but I’m sort of known for my parties? Entertaining is a hobby of mine. I love to have people in my home and fill it with light, wine and laughter. Dinner parties are a real joy, and my husband Kevin is a great cook, which makes it even more fun. Find him on Instagram at @grilling_with_Kevin. I’m spoiled by his talent in the kitchen.
I also think one way that I keep my real creative writing juices flowing is by sending a lot of snail mail. I send 15-20 cards a month to friends, family, clients, contacts, and they’re all with long handwritten notes. It keeps me fresh in how I try to connect to a specific audience, and I call it my “correspondence.” Sending those handwritten pieces helps keep writing tangible, like it was when I was little, writing those stories on legal pad paper. So much of what I write is digital, I need that pen and paper to keep me grounded.
{featured image is Ren’s favorite place to work}
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