My father frequently said that if I could express myself clearly and effectively I could do anything I wanted in life. This repeated advice, paired with what turned out to be a genuine and lasting interest in writing and reading, affected me deeply. It led me to schooling to develop those skills identified in the first part of my father’s prescription, and it got me into the habit of poking around to see how and why language can or should be effectively used.
Of course, my father never explained how to figure out the second part. Consequently, since formal schooling ended, I have cut a rather desultory career path. I’ve been a bartender, a profession where a Zelig-like adaptability in conversation and the ability to feign enthusiasm for any number of insipid or bemusing interests are helpful. I’ve written stuff for various companies, from internal white papers that broke down survey data suggesting Michigan State Parks maybe need more parking or less bears, to the irreverence-injected regurgitations of breaking news stories. I’ve proofread, moderated, and written copy for websites like Answers.com through a third-party content provider. I’ve copyedited grant proposals and academic articles. I’ve been an community-college English tutor.
In the past four years, however, I have become increasingly capable of supporting myself through contract web copy. That is, for those who might not know, someone pays me to write strings of words for their websites. This development was purely incidental, and early on produced as many financially barren months as those in which I was suddenly flush with cash. If for no other reason than that people kept hiring me, and that each completed contract seemed to blossom into two or three new ones, I was able to sell myself as a skilled and experienced copywriter. I had job title, a vocation, and one I could use to consistently buy food to put in the refrigerator.
Maybe more important than the cash, though, at least according to my father’s life philosophy, is that I found that I like doing this; I like writing web copy. I want to do it. I want to do it for a living. I enjoy the cooperation involved in detailing a brief and learning about how a company does business and what its vision for the future is. I like coming up with (what I think are) clever ways of expressing those business goals, that vision. I like being told I’m too clever or not clever enough, and figuring out where I went astray in telling a client’s story. I like — like really really like — just playing with words and then showing them to people and asking, “This?”
Maybe it has something to do with approval. Maybe it is something akin to an enthusiasm for puzzles. I don’t know. But I like doing it, and I just happened to fall into it. Surprise, relief, and then gratitude followed the fact that people kept hiring me. It was a lot of hard (and often very frustrating work), but it was work I took to like a cat to a leaky faucet or a dog to that thing you keep throwing.
So let’s work together, see what ways we can flesh out your story. See if we can’t retell it or shape it in ways that get more people interested. Your hard work, your ingenuity, your unique contribution to the marketplace will be what ultimately sells your product, whatever that “product” might be. Let me help you express the compelling narrative your company has to tell.