Per my work as an editor-in-chief-for-hire, content advisor, and embedded journalists, here’s the part where I start bragging:
- Electronics company w/ $80B annual sales. Research, analyze, and produce internal editorial for their most profitable division. My reported stories are then read by hundreds of key executives and decision makers in an effort to make their products better, forecast public reception of said products, boost employee morale, tow the company line, and galvanize communication and culture efforts. (NOTE: I’m not a spin doctor, but I’m really good at telling genuine stories and indisputable benefits.)
- Dell. Engineered, launched, and managed a custom news department for 3 years. Identified, researched, wrote, copyedited, and produced regular editorial, boosting their online audience by 10x. Also contributed feature stories to their newsletter, which reaches 3.5 million subscribers per month.
- Fortune 500 manufacturer w/ $12B annual sales. In a two year period, served as a content strategists and architect, helping said company modernize their online communications across mobile, web, and app channels. Used company analytics to validate hunches, user experience research, best practices, and produced over 100 pages of written analysis after hundreds of hours of research, resulting in a company wide and popular list of 50 recommendations, content strategies, and presentation techniques to guide development of the redesign.
- International Data Group (IDG). Billion dollar publisher of more than 1000 media properties tapped me to manage their custom news dept of one of their top 5 flagship publications for two years, this after becoming one of their most popular writers for one year. In that time, I increased content output by 50% within their current budget and optimized and guided an editorial team of three remote contributors to achieve said growth, resulting in a 15% increase in online traffic, quite a feat in a saturated market that is largely dwindling in the age of social media.
- Top 10 feature writer in technology. Before becoming a commercial contract writer/ content marketer in 2008, I was a contributing journalist to half of the top 20 U.S. media outlets, including CNN, Wired Magazine, Fox News, WSJ, and others, including dozens more in the top 100. I was the second most popular tech columnist at NBC News for 2 years, according to Omniture. 75% of my feature stories hold the “most popular” ranking for a period of 24-72 hours. To keep up my credentials, I continue to contribute to mainstream outlets as my schedule permits. My greatest achievement as a journalist was reaching more than 15 million readers in a single day, thanks to three provocative stories that reached the top of social media.
- Website flipper. During much of the above, I founded and grew an online technology and entertainment property on the side from 0 to 45,000 monthly visitors in three months, largely on my own. Using must-click headlines, objective insights, and deft promotion, I grew the site—with the help of eight contributing editors and writers I managed—into a respected global commentator of exclusive analysis. After ramping traffic to nearly a quarter million monthly readers shortly after, I later sold the site in a modest five-figure deal to focus on new personal endeavors. During the same period, I also grew my personal blog on blakesnow.com to 40,000 average monthly visitors, according to Google Analytics. The take-away: Whether on a large or small scale, I know how to find, grow, and enchant online audiences with catchy editorial.
But I’m not immune from failure. Several years ago, I was contacted by a CEO that needed help revamping his company’s online content and information architecture. We reached an agreement. He paid me money. I went to work. It quickly become apparent, however, that I wasn’t working in the way he expected, which created doubt. I, too, felt like we weren’t a good fit — well beyond the tried-and-true compromise approach, even. So I refunded my initial fee, bid him farewell, and moved on to more suitable projects.
I learned a valuable experience that month. It is this: Fully understand when, how, and what clients expect before cutting deals. Know the scope and express concerns before signing. But more than that, I learned to read the personality types I might be required to work with. If I’m not a good fit, I’ve gotten good at leaving money on the table and walking away from incompatible partnerships before they happen.
In other words, it taught me how to say “no” more frequently, including on jobs I’m unqualified for. Just this year I said “no, thank you” to a large and respectable software company from Silicon Valley. My bank account, bucket list, and ambitious travel plans could have certainly used the money. I could have delivered what they asked, and I would have gained a nice feather in my cap. But the work environment, personalities, and terms just weren’t right for me.
Better to hold out for people that like my style.
Are you one of them?