Some last words for Gemr, from the guy who wrote there for 4 years.
As of January 27th, 2020, Gemr is no more. It has ceased to be. And out of respect to all the people I worked with, here are some final words about the company.
If you’re a former member of the Gemr community, you might have known me as “TimM.” I wrote, edited, and designed over 300 blog posts for Gemr as a freelancer, though there was a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff I did on top of that. I conducted interviews, I wrote patch notes, and I stayed active on the company’s Slack channel. In other words, I was a part of “the team,” even if I was a contract worker. With that in mind, I hope the following will be insightful for any member of the Gemr community who happens to find this post. And if you did enjoy my content on Gemr, you might be interested in my plans moving forward from here.
Why did Gemr end?
It would be fun to tell a dramatic, juicy story to explain why Gemr ended, but the answer I got is the same as what was said on Twitter: the company ran out of investor funding.
Obviously a company doesn’t make all the right decisions and wind up with no money in the end. And maybe if I worked on-site, I might have gotten more insight regarding the company’s health throughout the years. But in all honestly, this is the nature of start-ups. You take a good idea, do your best to produce it, and hope it succeeds in the marketplace. Platforms like Gemr that venture into uncharted territory don’t have a step-by-step playbook on how to succeed, and at the end of the day, all you can say is “well, we tried out best.”
From my perspective – albeit limited as it is – Gemr might have bit off more than it could chew. On paper, the target audience sounds simple: collectors. But in actuality, people collect a lot of things. You could have a hundred people join the site on day one, but if their interests are spread across Marvel, Pokémon, Anime, WWE, Stamps, Coins, Furniture, Antiques, Vocaloids, and tons more, then you don’t actually have a substantial community forming. With the resources Gemr had, we could only push for one of these sub-communities at a time through giveaways and blog posts, which I imagine felt disjointed for the mass amounts of members that came and went throughout the platform’s history. If Gemr had the userbase that Reddit currently has, I’m sure Gemr’s communities would have become functionally self-sustaining. But attracting a userbase of that scope? That’s rough for a small team of geeks in New Hampshire.
I can’t stress enough that this shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Despite working for the company, I don’t necessarily have any more wisdom than you do about Gemr as a business. And I don’t mean any of this to disparage the great people who I knew put all they had into making Gemr tick. Would Gemr have worked if we just did things differently? No one can say.
What was it like writing for Gemr?
I saw many employees join and leave Gemr during my time, for better or for worse. But of the core team I interacted with the most, I have only nice things to say. I even continued to work with some of them outside of Gemr!
Of all the stories I could tell, this is the one that illustrates Gemr as a real “people first” kind of company. I had a long period of time during my second year with Gemr where I was struggling with some personal issues, and it was hard working through those things and expressing what was on my mind since I worked remotely. This isn’t the fault of anyone at Gemr; it’s just the nature of the business that I wasn’t ready for at the time. Fortunately, the Gemr team was super understanding of what was going on with me, and they were willing to forgive my shortcomings through this period until I got back on my feet. This was a significant learning experience for me, since it showed me that there’s always a path forward through adversity as long as you shoulder difficulties as a team. But the opportunity to learn that lesson was 100% thanks to the kindness of the Gemr staff that saw me as a person, not just a worker.
Outside of that, most of my experience with Gemr was just learning what writing for a company really means in terms of day-to-day responsibilities. At the start of my career, I just wrote top-10 lists related to our communities and hoped people would read them. Near the end of my time with Gemr, I wrote content based on specific keywords, did search engine optimization research, and put forth a lot of effort into making easy-to-read content that would be discovered by very specific and niche audiences. If there’s one piece of advice I can give to any aspiring freelance writers out there, it’s to realize that your content is functionally a branch of marketing. Being a good writer is important, but researching and adapting your content to keep readers on your site will give you an edge over the competition. Gemr fortunately enabled me to write content about my passions while I pushed the marketing end of my writing, and I was grateful for the opportunity to learn these skills in such a safe environment.
What’s next for Tim M?
Well, as far as my next project goes… you’re on it, right now.
Joyfulsanity.com was my personal website before I started working for Gemr, but I unfortunately lost all of it due to a tragic server crash back in 2015. You can view the old site here via the wayback machine, but for now, I want to bring joyfulsanity.com back. I still have a lot of work to do to get this place completely presentable again, but once I do, expect more content about pop culture, video games, and in-depth analysis of media. You know, like I used to do for Gemr.
And if you did like my content on Gemr, two things: First of all, thank you. If you cared enough to find this article and read this far into it, you are the reason my time at Gemr was worthwhile. Second, I’ll be restoring select articles that I wrote for Gemr right on this site under the “Gemr Archive” category. This is predominately to supplement my professional resume in the wake of Gemr’s disappearance, but I do hope you’ll enjoy revisiting these articles too. I’m still exploring where to take my career at this point, but one thing’s for sure: I won’t stop writing.
In the end, I’d like to thank everyone at Gemr for taking a chance with me and letting me be a part of the ride while it lasted. I know people come and go from different companies throughout their lives, but not every start-up lets you write articles that get noticed by Ice-T. And for everyone in the collecting community, always remember to love what you collect. Even if Gemr is gone, keep that positivity and optimism close to your heart. That’s what all of us at Gemr ever really wanted.
See you around.