Femke van Schoonhoven - How to stand out as a product designer through content creation


Femke van Schoonhoven shares her advice on learning more about and finding your way into product design. She also gives her tips on how to approach creating content to support the design community. Read the blog below and listen to the full episode for more great product design career advice!

🤔 Don't worry about what anyone else is doing!

Find the learning path that works best for you. Do the initial research on product design to make sure it is for you, fine-tune the resources you want to learn from, and then mix it with your learning style to tailor your unique approach to product design.

🗝️ The key that can unlock more than just a larger audience.

Creating content to support the design community-led Femke to three job offers at once, including one from one of the biggest unicorns in the industry, Uber. Share your knowledge in a newsletter, YouTube Channel, podcast, or blog. Stay consistent with it, and your efforts will be recognized when you least expect it.

💡 Don't make excuses, make the time!

With the extensive list of side projects that Femke has going on, it is impressive how she can do this while working full time. Want to know how? Learn when to say no to streamline your to-do list, schedule the time in your day to focus on the content you are creating and once you are producing an income, get help from freelancers to give you the space to focus on something new!

How to stand out as a product designer through content creation

In episode 14 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Femke, a Product Designer from Toronto, Canada. She currently works at Wealthsimple, which is a financial services company. Previously she worked for Uber on both the ride and Uber Eats sides of the business. She keeps busy with content creation for her YouTube Channel supported by her Instagram, email newsletter, and Design Life podcast. She also supports the design community through a job board to help designers find jobs and mentors designers through superpeer.    

Femke shares her advice on getting into product design and details on how she has successfully moved along her career path. We are so excited for you to listen to this episode!


How Femke found her interest in product design

Femke grew up and studied in New Zealand, but once she had graduated with her degree in business and commerce, she knew that she wanted to see the world. She was open to moving somewhere that would allow her to travel more easily and decided to head to Amsterdam.

In her first role, she was working for a startup and found an interest in graphic design. She started to work on her graduate diploma part-time in visual communication design. Her time at the startup gave her a lot of different experiences, including work on the website, marketing, and customer support. She was, however, interested in the product and wanted to become part of the design team building the products.

Why she found product so interesting and how she made the switch

One of the main things that interested Femke about product design was the strategy behind it. She shared that her growth opportunity is in the visuals of design, but because product design is rooted in strategy and systems, she was excited to make the transition. After asking about the potential to move over and waiting some time at the startup for a product design role to open up, she decided to look elsewhere for an opportunity.

Uber reached out to her to chat, based on a weekly design newsletter she had been publishing for a couple of years at that point. After their chat, she had three different job offers but took the job with Uber. Femke gained incredible experience working on both the ride and Uber Eats sides during her four years at Uber. She was surrounded by a strong team of people where she learned a lot about product design.

Femke's career journey has offered her an immense amount of experience and valuable advice to share. Below we focus on her tips on learning more and getting into product design and how to get started in content creation to support the design community!

Steps to take if you have an interest in learning more about product design

Having initially studied marketing and media in school, Femke had a different journey to product design. There are some things that she wishes she would have had access to back when she decided to make the switch to design and product design. You don't have to have a four-year degree to become successful in this industry, so here are some steps you can take to determine your approach to a career in product design.

💻 Search online for resources to teach yourself about product design.

Today we are fortunate to have so many valuable resources available at our fingertips for free. Start to research to learn about the different areas of product design and determine where you think you want to direct your learning efforts.

📢 Focus on two or three resources that you trust.

It can be overwhelming just how much free content is out there. If you pick 2-3 resources that you trust and enjoy, this could be a website like medium.com or a creative that you trust and enjoy their content.

🧠 Adapt your learning to your learning style.

Whether you prefer a formal education with a traditional degree, a quick online design Bootcamp, or teaching yourself through free content and freelancing, you can't go wrong. Do what works for you and what can best support you based on how you prefer to learn!

"There is no right or wrong when it comes to actually learning the practice of design."

How to get started in content creation to support the design community

Many product designers find an interest in supporting the design community through content creation. Femke has so many ongoing side projects based on content creation. She shared four essential things that helped her get started and keep all of her content creation efforts moving!

🚫 Learn to say no and prioritize your time accordingly.

Figure out what types of content you want to be creating in the beginning. Don't be concerned about covering everything all at once, especially from day one. Focus on the long-term growth, get good at 1-2 types of content, and then grow from there.

⏱️ Make the time.

Schedule time into your day to focus specifically on your content creation. If you are a morning person, give yourself 1-2 hours in the morning before work. If you are a night owl, make the time after everyone else is asleep. Either way, dedicate specific times to complete the action items on your list to keep your content going.

👏 Focus on the feedback from your growing audience!

It is best to focus less on metrics and more on growing your audience when you first start. The best way to stay motivated is to listen to the feedback provided by your audience to make sure your content is valuable and helpful. If you are helping people, you are off to a strong start! 💪

"The fact that I was talking about design on the side and having the newsletter. I definitely feel like those things lead to opportunities."

🎯 Get help when you can!

Once you have grown your audience and your side projects are generating income, invest it back into your content creation efforts by hiring freelancers to take some of the work off of you so you can focus on adding something new to the mix!

Thank you so much, Femke!

This episode with Femke provided fantastic advice for anyone interested in product design and content creation to support the design community. We are so thankful that she joined us to share her wisdom and knowledge! Listen to the complete episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes more about Femke's career path and more advice on how she has gotten to where she is today!

Don't forget to follow Femke and watch as she continues to support the design community through her YouTube videos, podcast, and her design mentoring opportunity. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, check out her website or her Design Life Podcast. You can also subscribe to her YouTube Channel for more valuable tips or request her as a mentor on superpeer!

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