Q: How do you pronounce your name?
It rhymes with Pennsylvania. Or Lusitania. Kania.
Q: What types of work do you do?
The short answer : Web content, video, print, e-books, whitepapers, product literature, speeches and presentations.
But what I’m best at (and get most jazzed about) is finding interesting ways to talk about your company, your products, and what you do.
What’s the intriguing story here? What would make people want to buy your stuff? How do you get prospects to say “We should call these guys”? How do you get this idea across in eleven seconds? And make it irresistible?
That’s what I lie awake thinking about at 3:20 am.
Fact is, what you say about your company and products makes all the difference. I’ve seen clients generate dramatically more interest just by changing how they talk about what they do. No change in product or pricing. Just in how it’s presented.
Eight times out of ten there’s a much better story to tell. Or a juicier way to tell it.
I’m apparently good at figuring that out. And I love doing it.
Q: What kind of companies do you work with?
I work mainly with marcom managers at technology and B2B companies, with entrepreneuerial firms and with some consumer companies that sell technical products such as software, electronics, investments and the like.
Nearly 80% of my assignments come from clients I work with all the time — and from people referred to me by other clients.
Q: What is your background? English? Journalism? MBA?
Not even close. I was a Botany major, and not a very good one.
What I know about marketing and business comes from working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, marcom pros and sales teams — and from writing a few million words of content and watching what happens. That will teach you what works and what doesn’t.
Q: How do you charge?
Usually a flat project fee, which covers all the work needed to get the content written and ready for production.
If a project is too open-ended or undefined for a fixed fee, we can work at a daily or hourly rate. Either way, you will know how much is involved before we get going.
Q: Are you expensive?
You can easily find writers who charge much less than I do and some who charge way more. It’s all relative.
Most of my clients find that well-crafted content saves them serious money. On a typical project, writing will account for less than 25% of the total budget. But that 25% determines how many calls, customers and sales the project brings in.
A video costs the same to produce whether the script is good or not. If the content on a web site is lame or indecipherable, the $14,000 spent on programming and design goes straight into the dirt.
But then, I’m a writer, so I would say that.
Q: How did you get started in this line of work?
In college I made a few dollars ghostwriting term papers for friends. That was highly unethical, of course, but it paid better than working in a pizza place. And I actually liked writing term papers. (Never delivered less than a B, by the way.)
Later, after bouncing around a few advertising jobs, I hung out a shingle as a one-man-band ad agency. Clients hated my layouts and scoffed at my media plans, but they loved the copy. So I stuck with writing, and have been plying my trade ever since.
Once, for a short time, I did serve as VP Creative Director for a boutique agency in New Jersey. But I chafed as an employee and soon went back to writing for clients freelance.
Q: Have you ever written about ____________?
I come with built-in knowledge in several areas, but I’m a quick study with almost any subject matter. In a given month I may have to school myself in virtualized servers, trends in SEC litigation, industrial degreasers, network topologies and wing nuts. It’s part of the job; I have learned how to cram, and to love the discovery.
As long as your project doesn’t require Calculus — which I flunked twice — it should be no problem.
That said, I do a lot of work for clients in IT and networking, high-tech services, insurance and financial services, and consulting and professional services.
Q: How do you handle a project?
However you wish. Given my druthers, I keep things as streamlined and transparent as possible. We discuss what needs to be done and determine what background or briefing discussions would be helpful.
I then go away and do it. I eat, sleep and dream your project for the duration. Even when mowing the lawn.
You receive the content as polished and as “finished” as possible. What you see is something like draft seven or twelve. From there, we work through corrections and revisions until you’re thrilled with it. Three passes, tops.
If your boss requires creative briefs and preliminary outlines and status reports and process charts, I can do all that. But it costs extra and slows everything down. And your content won’t come out any better.
Q: What if I hate the copy?
I will keep revising it until you like it. Really like it. No additional charge. But in practice such rework is rarely necessary. The mission and tactics are usually settled in our initial discussions. Every once in a while I will resign an assignment if I can’t seem to nail it. No fee.
Q: Can you provide references from current clients?
Plenty. Just ask me for their contact information. Then call or email them and ask anything you like. They will give it to you straight.
Q: What are you not so good at?
Don’t hire me to write about fashion, fragrances, cosmetics, travel, video games or toys. I also have a dismal track record in naming products, dreaming up tag lines and writing copy that rhymes.
In addition, I struggle with corporatespeak. I can fake it for a while, but always lapse back into English. There are other writers who are brilliant at it, however.
Q: Have you ever been fired by a client?
Oh sure. In the past year, I was canned by two clients that I know of.
Once because my writing was always too “edgy,” which was probably true. Their customers required more conservative stuff and I missed that. My hubris, my fault.
The other client dismissed me because I couldn’t comprehend their service, which had something to do with biostatistical standards consulting. (I think.)
I have also politely begged off a few projects because I seemed to be a poor match for the work, or the client. Or because I couldn’t think of a way to solve their problem. Such things happen.
Disclosure: As a student, I was summarily dismissed from a part-time janitor’s job at a warehouse. The supervisor took away my push broom and sent me packing. “You just aren’t getting the hang of this,” he said. I was crushed.
But years later, by a quirk of fate, I was hired to rewrite the content for that very company’s web site. CR Bard, it was. I never told them I had failed as their warehouse janitor.