Agency-tested creative with 15+ years experience producing content for top-tier brands/publishers (digital media, TV and print)
If you're a creative, you probably love creating for people. But what if the work dries up or an anchor client goes away leaving you with way too much time on your hands? That's when self-promotion and having a classy networking strategy become your lifeline to more freelance business. In this regard, I wrote this piece to give freelancers advice on how to create hot leads where others might only hear loud crickets.
Let’s be honest, raising a kid feels like a full-time job. Between bestowing the lessons of life, helping with algebra and managing Fortnite addictions, preoccupation levels can hit an all-time high. And that’s just for one kid. One. Now imagine if you had five and was on the hook for running a popular parenting blog. That’s when you might start to understand Audrey McClelland, who lives with her “brood of boys” (and a girl) in Rhode Island, all while juggling the daily management responsibilities of being an influencer/mompreneur.
If there’s anything most successful entrepreneurs seem to have, it’s passion, persistence and an unquestionable spirit. Fitting because Danielle Smith, founder of PrettyExtraordinary.com, is based in St. Louis and has a spirit that’s evident the first moment you talk to her. These qualities have no doubt helped this mother of two become a successful blogger/social media influencer over the years, as she’s ridden the wave from influencer gold rush… to today’s more competitive space.
An insightful creative brief is a godsend for creative teams. The best lead to killer concepts, inspired ideas and award-winning executions. The worst? Frustrating. Challenging. With more mystery than a 'Da Vinci Code' painting. Time to break down the difference between the two.
Given the growing number of freelance workers in the U.S. (57 million and counting), I'm consistently fascinated by how the relatively untethered keep their productivity high. More specifically, how many hours a day they work, how much coffee they drink, the distractions they let in, and if anyone actually works in their underpants. As someone who's freelanced consistently in between full-time gigs, I know how it all works for me, but given the movement toward remote work, shared workspaces and the ability to rove WiFi to WiFi... I thought it was time to ask: What are the work habits of freelancers, actually?
We’ve all become content creators in 2018. We snap, we post, we go live. The future where more people post stories to Instagram and Facebook than read them online is coming faster than we even know. So, when all this content arrives, who will be best positioned to help people strategize around it? The spreadsheet-loving suits of the world or the super-savvy digital influencers of tomorrow? You'll just have to read this piece to find out.
If you produce content, you're probably really good at writing, designing, and/or capturing content. But promotion? That may not be your thing. It's highly common and one of the great paradoxes of being an artist: Not having the ability (or desire) to tell people how awesome you are is one of the blessings and curses of being in the freelance game. That's why I wrote a piece for ClearVoice sharing some advice on how freelancers can get their names out there. To drive traffic to their portfolio so they can focus on the thing they do best... produce work!
For ClearVoice, one of my mandates is to write about advice that could help freelancers expand their business. Sometimes my experiences and memories do more than enough to satisfy this purpose. And sometimes I'm best served asking friends and former colleagues to weigh in. In this piece, I decided to ask former co-workers to recollect the times when freelancer arrangements just didn't work out. When this relationship fell flat -- or worse, floundered. Names have been left out to protect the innocent.
Millennials. They’re unlike any generation America has ever seen. They comprise nearly half of America’s workforce, change jobs with great frequency, and stay shackled to debt while simultaneously possessing a great love for $15 avocado toast. Reportedly. But no matter how much avocado toast they throw down, millennials have one hunger that will always pale in comparison: an unquenchable desire for content. That's why, for ClearVoice, I talked to four pros who work on producing this content on a daily basis for Tastemade, Vice, Ranker and Knew Money.
Given the extent to which freelancers go to get their clients, it would make sense if they could, you know, keep them coming back for more. In this piece, I highlighted five places where freelancers can impress their clients -- from etiquette to proposal strategy -- so they can increase the chances clients will want to work with them again. And again.
If you're a writer and are concerned that robots might one day come for your jobs, I'm here to say that your gig is safe... for now. In this piece I wrote for ClearVoice, I explore the impressive and sometimes uncomfortable ways that artificial intelligence is being used to churn out copy for mass consumption. Want to see where it's all headed? Check out the piece. I can assure you it wasn't written by a robot.
Having worked as a full-time and freelance copywriter with ad agencies over the past 15-plus years, I've been fortunate to meet and work with a ton of talented people along the way. One of them, J Barbush (VP/Creative Director, Social Media at RPA), is someone I thought would make a great interview for the ClearVoice blog, as he comes up on 20 years at the agency. He didn't disappoint. We had a chat over lunch about how freelance writers can best prep themselves for a stint at an agency.
Given the omnipresence of the phrase "gig economy," I reached out to WONGDOODY CEO (and former Jeopardy! winner) Ben Wiener to get his take on the changing realities of today's workforce for creatives and agencies alike. Even though I knew Wiener from the several years I freelanced at WONGDOODY, I found his no B.S. take to be refreshing and revealing in an era where agencies are shrinking their full-time workforces on the whole, turning to freelancers more than ever.
Every now and then, as a writer, you get to interview other writers. After all, we all have our specialities, our niches, our areas of expertise. I'd have to say that this interview with Deborah Harrison (Senior Content Experience Manager for Microsoft Cortana) was one of the more enlightening in my career. On several levels. But mostly because it offers a glimpse at where our future is headed.
When it comes to putting your best foot forward as a freelancer, you can't have enough sound advice. That's why I synced up with author, coach and 'Career Guy' Darrell Gurney for a quick interview to help guide the throngs of freelance souls searching for their next steady gig.
For better or worse, the digital age has made us all writers. Today’s blog entry? Meticulously crafted. Yesterday’s tweet? Timely and provocative. Your latest Instagram post starring your cat? “The purrr-fect way to say Fri-Yay." So, how should someone looking to break into writing view digital content in 2018? ClearVoice asked me to break it down.
When it comes to Siri and Alexa, we know these “personal assistants” have the ability to tell the weather, bust out a tune or tell a joke on demand. But can they actually assist a writer in the process of creating better quality work, facilitate the delivery of it, and generally make life easier? To gauge this, I had a technology threesome with Siri and Alexa to see who has the greatest potential as an at-home editorial assistant.
Brodie Smith is to Frisbees what Dude Perfect is to balls. What the Texas-born Smith also is... is a guy who's made a lucrative career turning millions of YouTube subscribers and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers into big money from big brands such as Visa, HP, Miller Lite and Salvation Army. Here's an interview with a skilled athlete who's turning influencer marketing into an art form, one fling at a time.
Over the course of two decades as a journalist and copywriter, I've been fortunate to land hundreds of interviews with celebs, influencers and experts for articles, stories, blog entries, et al. Kobe Bryant, Dr. J, Nick Offerman, Buzz Aldrin, Eva Longoria, Rashida Jones... they've all been on the other side of my interrogation skills. Some of it's luck; some of it good timing. But almost every time, it's about understanding how to play the game -- and how to do it the right way so you don't end up irking people.
I love branded content. Like any good puzzle, figuring out how to make content so good the audience doesn't care that it's an "ad" is the ultimate challenge for any creative. It's a nut I've cracked over the course of hundreds of RFPs for companies such as WB, TBS, AMC and many other acronyms. I took the opportunity to roundup four of my favorite branded content campaigns that delivered not just smart ideas -- but great results for clients. 'Cause in the end, that's what it's all about.
At CES 2017, there were 3,800+ exhibitors, 165,000+ attendees and 6,800+ accredited media members. So, understandably, it takes talent to stand out in the sea of tech clutter -- to get a product seen and the press/digital media coverage that matters. That's the job of tech PR whiz Elliot Tomaeno, who represents all sorts of digital start-ups as the founder/CEO of Astrsk PR. I got a chance to circle up with Tomaeno in Vegas amid all the chaos to discuss how to be seen at CES.
Jenna Briand and Miriam Bookey have known each other since their early days at America Online. So, it made sense to pick their brains together as Chief Creative Officer and Chief Strategy Officer respectively at the Culver City-based "woman-owned" ad agency, Redbird Group. Together we had a conversation about the collision of creative and strategy, how it co-exists at their agency -- and ultimately, where marketing as an industry seems to be headed.
Putting together a portfolio is an art form. It takes strategy, structure and striking the right balance between branding smarts and great samples. But don't just take it from me. I asked superstar recruiter Serena Wolf, finder of "unicorn jobs," what she expects to see in a portfolio.
Content may be king, but what content to create and how you put it out there are questions that sometimes require an expert. Enter Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Brain Traffic, whose brain I picked for a story on ClearVoice. We talked about storytelling, content strategy for Fortune 500 companies and how to best stand out in a world that's become increasingly ADD.
When writers are able to turn a seed of a creative idea into a global phenomenon, you can't help but say... good for you. As you'll read in my interview with David Nadelberg (see link below), you'll learn how an unsent love letter back in the early aughts quickly morphed into the idea to turn teen diary entries into entertainment for all. That's how it went from live stage show to book to TV show to movie... and now another TV show on Amazon and Netflix. These live readings still happen all across the world -- in London, Oslo and Paris amongst others -- proving that when you have a good idea, it can truly take on a life of its own.
There comes a time in every man's life when he needs to have a sit-down conversation with a robot. For this experimental piece I wrote for ClearVoice, I grilled Amazon Alexa to see how much she knew on a variety of subjects -- from her musical preferences to grammar to quotes about writing. The goal being to see the current state of virtual assistant technology... and how far it's come. It was enlightening to say the least.
As a creative, how you brand yourself can mean a lot. After all, you do work in the world of branding. So there's that. In efforts to give examples of those doing something right to stand out in a clutter-filled world, here are six stellar marketing moves you should feel free to steal.
The freelance life isn't for everyone, but if you're a creative, it's an amazing go-to in between full-time gigs... and can even be a solid full-time gig itself if you're smart, disciplined, dedicated and resolved to keep going. That's what this article for ClearVoice is all about -- it's a compass to give those considering this jump an eyes-wide-open look at what to expect before they plunge face-first into the freelance life.
It’s not every day you get to attend a table-read for one of your great TV loves of all-time. But that was me, Valentine's Day 2018, when I was invited to gag central – headquarters for the Emmy Award-winning Fox TV show, 'Family Guy'. Here's what that experience was like, wrapped up in six important writing lessons for freelance writers to take away.
This was a branded content piece for truTV to help launch their new show 'Comedy Knockout.' In creating this piece, I was able do something I do all the time... talk about comedians skilled in the art of roasting. The piece got shared 5,400 times within a few short days.
Never did I think my childhood obsession with 'Rocky IV' would come to much use in my professional career. How wrong I was. For this socially-driven, branded content campaign I creatively managed for Mountain Dewcision 2016, we were tasked with coming up with a way to generate hundreds of thousands of votes for two new special edition flavors of Mountain Dew. I oversaw production of 15 articles/content pieces, the creation of a voting widget and the paid social strategy that mandated we deliver half-a-million votes in a few shorts weeks. We succeeded and I also co-wrote this one piece pitting Ivan Drago vs. Shooter McGavin in the process, the vote to end all votes. Below are the pro's we presented to the bro's. (The original version had the voting widget embedded within the article so the audience could vote... and they did. Thousands of times.)
For an investigative video series called Uproxx Discovers, I spent a day with L.A.-based street artist Skid Robot, who created a tropical island smack dab in the middle of the most impoverished square mile in America: Skid Row. Watch or read about it below, the latter of which was part of a branded content campaign we sold to Miller Lite.
If you're going to drive a branded content piece home for an audience, you want to grease it just right. This piece for Valvoline introduced a man (Jonathan Ward) who's car restoration business is all about breathing new life into old things. I wrote the article to support the video shot by the Uproxx Studio team.
The slapstick TBS comedy 'Angle Tribeca' cooks up all sorts off bizarre plot points. My job on this one was to come up with a way to get the Uproxx audience talking about the new show -- so I created a fake news story around the dozen baker deaths that rocked the pastry community. So...13 total. They ate it up.
How fast could an epidemic could wipe out humanity if a certain virus were to spread across the world on something we touch everyday? That was the premise for this branded content video (produced by Woven) and story designed to promote the new video game called Tom Clancy's The Division.
As part of a branded content deal Woven Digital did with Sony Pictures for the release of 'Concussion,' I was tasked with creating editorial content for a series called "Game Changers." The centerpiece of this interview? Dr. Bennet Omalu, the man who discovered CTE, the brain problem former NFL players deal with later in life after all the hard hits.
I'm always amazed by people who are able to see beauty, where others only see, let's say, a large block of wood. In the case of millennial woodworker, Nathie Katzoff, here's a guy who mastered a dying art form and immediately began winning awards for it, carving out staircases, bathtubs and ornate masterpieces by the age 30. I got the opportunity to feature Katzoff in this branded content piece for Coors Light.
To help market the Lionsgate film, 'Dirty Grandpa,' the Uproxx Studio team shot a video with real-life dirty grandpas and listened to their debaucherous tales of yesteryear doing angel dust, horse steroids and otherwise, acting like children. This article teed up the video.
If a tree falls in the woods, Griffon Ramsey is the one you want carving it. I got a chance to speak with the Oregon-based chainsaw carver as part of our branded series "Human" at Uproxx. She did not disappoint.
After selling a pitch to Lifetime for a five-piece branded content package promoting the remake of the '80s lesbian vampire flick 'Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?', I wrote a quiz that asked the question: How Well Do You Really Know James Franco? It was taken by tens of thousands of millennials, but honestly, not one has called to thank me.
To celebrate the slapsticky-ness of the new TBS comedy, 'Angie Tribeca,' I decided to have a little fun with the show's sensibility as a lifelong 'Airplane' and 'Naked Gun' fan. Hence, I wrote this branded content piece about a ventriloquist/dummy double murder like it was real news. It was, in fact, not.
I've always wanted to interview the guy Tom Hanks played in the movie, 'Castaway'... but since that person does not exist, I interviewed the woman who's the next best thing. Lucy Irvine spent 13 months in self-imposed exile on a desert island off the coast of New Zealand in the '80s having sex with a stranger in the pitch dark while fantasizing about food. Totally normal. This was a branded content piece for TBS.
Ryan Eastlyn is one of America's last great neon sign makers. He spends his days laboring over 1,000-degree flames, creating works of neon brilliance, for a trade that's rapidly going away. In efforts to tee up the video produced by UPROXX Studio team for Coors, I wrote the story below to put the story through an editorial lens.
When you get a chance to interview a future Martian, you jump at the chance. At Uproxx, we won a branded content assignment to create a video piece for NatGeo with Alyssa Carson, a 15-year-old future astronaut who's been plotting her trip to Mars for the last 10 years. I got a chance to interview the teenager whose sole mission is to one day make it to Mars.
To put an exclamation point on our Native campaign for TBS marketing their new slapstick police-procedural, 'Angie Tribeca,' I covered this all-night Binge-A-Thon and interviewed Rashida Jones and Steve Carell, amongst others. We live tweeted the event, over-delivering on impressions to the n-th degree.
When most professional athletes retire, they're still in their 30's and need to find something else to do. In the case of former NBA player Amar'e Stoudemire, art has become one of those things. As a passionate art enthusiast, Amar'e has amassed an impressive collection of originals at his home in Miami, Florida. We pitched his story to Toyota as part of our "Collectors" series at Woven, and they bought it... so I helped bring the story to life.
For this branded content piece for AXE Body Wash, I pitched an idea that would resonate with the 35 million mostly millennial males who read Uproxx: to go one-on-one in a game of H-O-R-S-E vs. the shortest player in NBA history, "Muggsy" Bogues. Ultimately, the game was close... until it wasn't. I got my R-S-E kicked.
It's always cool to feature people who turn one thing into another. Guys like Nick Pourfard -- the man who flips retired skateboards into rather kickin' guitars out of his San Francisco garage. This piece supported the Woven branded content video series for Coors Light called 'Human.'
For the UPROXX original 'Human,' there was a dedication to featuring the artists or craftsmen who often go underappreciated in our society. For this episode, the Studio team landed boat builder Ben Van Dam and I wrote the branded piece that teed up the video for the campaign.