After a few years freelancing for various Seattle papers and agencies, I truly cut my teeth at the feisty Seattle weekly newspaper the Stranger, which is run by Onion co-founder Tim Keck and internationally syndicated columnist Dan Savage. Starting out as the Web Content Manager, I quickly assumed editorial oversight of the music and nightlife blog. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to music editor—the fourth-highest position on the masthead. Four years in, I left for MSN.com, hired as producer/editor for the mobile division of Film, Music, and Television. A year after that, I struck out as a freelancer. Since then, I've worked with a veritable jambalaya of clients—Amazon Prime Music, whiskey bars and a barbecue joint, a King County superior court judge, software development firms and enterprise IT system VARs, a sardonic daily deals site called meh.com, and a board-game company, just to name a few. These days I specialize in B2B content marketing, content strategy, and the various pressing needs of high-functioning marketing outfits. I approach copywriting like a journalist, I make decisions based on data and logic, and I write to humanize complex topics. I hold a B.A. in Journalism from Western Washington University and a Certificate in Storytelling & Content Strategy from University of Washington.
Case studies are powerful tools. Uniquely characterized for storytelling, they're also an opportunity to showcase product features, value-adds, solution methodologies, and social proof. Interviewing the client to obtain detailed, nuanced, natural-language quotes and feedback is essential.
Blogs are the pulse of a brand, an opportunity to broadcast product and company developments, insights, and events. As with all content marketing, posts should provide value to the target market beyond simply conveying information. I approach blog posts like journalism pieces—sharply written, fact-based, and well-researched. Eighty percent of good copywriting is research. Some of the following here are marketing, some journalism:
• SDL Global Marketing Solutions Offering (bylined)
• Conversation With Seattle Interactive Conference Curator Brian Rauschenbach
• The High Skills Potential of the Crowd
• Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch
• zCrowd Co-Founder on NPR’s Planet Money
• (Another) Conversation With Seattle Interactive Conference Curator Brian Rauschenbach
• SDL: More Than 20 Years Solving Localization Problems (bylined)
• Honest Buildings opens door on new cash, launches in Portland
• Why does this iMac have an HP logo on it?
• iPhone 5 in high demand as preorders sell quickly
• Mechanical Turk Is No Longer a Crowdsourcing Platform
Landing pages serve a variety of purposes: Some look to inform, some look to convert. The best do both. Below is a survey of informative, conversion-focused, and B2C:
Adaptive Integration is a value-added reseller for enterprise IT network and security systems. These pages highlight their solutions and partners:
• Solution: Information Security
• Solution: Application Delivery
• Partner: ExtraHop
• Partner: AppDynamics
Built and designed with Unbounce, these pages were components of exploratory campaigns designed to test market interest for General UI. Metrics for the campaign were CTR and conversion rate:
Filling in for the copywriter at Meh was a blast. The daily deals site is run by Woot.com founder Matt Rutledge. Woot, of course, was purchased by Amazon in 2010. Rutledge resigned from Amazon in 2012 and started this venture. Meh makes no bones about the fact that it's a clearinghouse for stuff that no one else wanted. They asked for audacity in the writing. Disclaimer: profanity
Editing is a collaboration. Whenever possible, I do it with the writer sitting next to me as we go through the piece line by line. We reach agreements through deliberation. Never make a change to a piece unless you can articulate the reason you made it. Always ask the writer's opinion. Reach accord. High-five each other.
SMEs can be the best people to write content, they often just need help shaping it. Here I copyedited and encouraged the writer to include examples to illustrate the complex ideas he was trying to convey. I let him keep the jokes. Still wondering about that.
Here the writer, Charles Mudede, turned in this article a day late and the ending just seemed to stop dead right at the edge of the word count. But it was one of the best things he'd ever contributed to my section. I tabled it for that week's issue and scrambled to fill the space with a few other stories. He gave it a proper ending and we ran it in all its glory a few weeks later. It's still one of the things I'm most proud of from my time at the Stranger.
Dan Savage is not an easy man to edit. To start, he's impossible to find and doesn't respond to emails when he doesn't want to (which is most of the time, evidently). He argues about every little change and is afraid of hugs. Luckily for me, this interview barely needed a thing.
Counting blog posts and music previews, I've written nearly four thousand pieces of content for the Stranger during my decade-long relationship with the publication. Here is a small sampling:
• the Stranger Suggests: The Pho Near You
• The Weeknd: Deconstructing Traditional R&B Templates
• the Stranger Suggests: M83
• Fair Weather Report: Seahawks vs. Packers Tonight
• the Stranger Suggests: Damien Jurado