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Archive for the ‘Freelancing Business’ Category

chas no 1

Watch your step for giant Palmetto bugs and random typewriters

Today we learned that Travel + Leisure magazine has once again named Charleston SC the America’s No. 1 city, and No. 2 in the world. “Readers were asked to rate cities they had visited on sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, shopping and value.”

Of course, that’s a survey of people who are just passing through. What’s it like for those who live here and try to make a living in the copywriting trade? I am referring specifically to ME.

Humble Copywriting Origins

I hit town in 2006, knowing precisely nobody. I fanned out in every direction, burning up my 28K dialup internet (!) carpet-bombing every web design, marketing, advertising and video production agency from here to hell-and-gone. (Hell-and-gone includes Asheville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Greenville, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Hilton Head, Savannah, and Augusta. Mostly due to “good timing” I got a few bites, a few initial gigs, and things slowly (SLOWLY) took root.

Mixed success, as you can imagine. I can say that the agency relationships I have made here in Charleston, including great names such as Colophon New Media and Metatation have endured.

Charleston Copywriting Must-haves

I have done my share of writing for two big Charleston staples, real estate and travel & tourism. Both have been very good to me. Check out my thoughts on local Real Estate writing here. And some fun travel and tourism stuff here. (Scroll down to Charleston Travel/Tourism Blog)

Now, there’s also Technical Writing.  The type of writing where (in Charleston anyway)  “tab A into slot B equals cruise missile.”  I can do it, I even completed some tech writing coursework at Trident Tech, but I guess I have never pursued it aggressively enough.

I ended up doing quite a bit of technical writing at Philips, though. That wasn’t the plan; it just turned out that way. Ah, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, the one that quite literally got away. (They closed the office and it got away!) But before it did, one of my pieces for them won a Bronze Addy award, so there’s that.

Ten years later, how’s it going? Well, it’s definitely going. Social is bigger than ever, and a big part of my mix. I went and earned a Social Marketing Certification from Hootsuite. This has been pretty helpful in framing the conversation when discussing a client’s digital marketing options.

Charleston Copywriting Outlook: 2017

Meanwhile, businesses are shaking off the cobwebs, and celebrating the new economic optimism that seems to be going around. Meaning, lots of web refreshes going on, from a six-page interior designer website, to a 30-page dentist’s site to a FIFTY page digital marketing agency website! (2017: the year the cobbler’s kids get shoes!!) Now, 2017 is setting no records, but it sure beats the windswept desert that was 2016!!

So that’s the copywriting life in America’s Number One city. As the Bedouins say, the dogs bark and the caravan moves on. If you’d like to be part of this rich copywriting pageant, contact me at  LivelyExchange (at) gmail (dot) com!

Photo: Charleston Post and Courier

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take my card2As a Freelance Copywriter Charleston SC, packing SEO keywords into sentences like this one, I have developed a bit of a bunker mentality. I work out of the spare bedroom in stately Lively Manor, and don’t get much face to face human interaction. You’d think I would be all over a networking opportunity, but…

What I don’t know about networking could fill a book – a book about networking very poorly. Sure, it would have a clever title like “Network Outage,” but it would go downhill pretty quickly from there.

So my buddy Nicolo, who is actually NOT named after a 16th century Italian philosopher, dragged me to a networking event in downtown Charleston. (Be sure to check “dragged here” on the survey form.)

How’d it go? Well, it went, and not badly. I guess maybe I have actually learned a thing or two about networking in my decade-long rise to somewhere in the middle of the Charleston copywriter pack. So, here we go.

  • For me, a big hurdle is forcing myself to interact. So I have a rule: if we make eye contact, I have to stop and chat.
  • Next, get the business card swap out of the way ASAP. You never know when you or the other guy are going to get interrupted or swept away.
  • Then, just get down to it! Make your elevator pitch, listen to his, ask a few questions, and follow the conversation in whatever PRODUCTIVE direction it leads.
  • Which means also recognizing when the conversation is going nowhere, and moving on as soon and as politely as possible. Some people will simply not further your quest (though, I admit, you can never really know for sure).
  • Finally, SOMEBODY has to end the conversation. It might as well be you, and the other guy will actually appreciate you taking the bullet.

And that, sports fans, is Smooth Jimmy Apollo’s Lock of the Week!TM

lock

“That’s a really big lock!”

So go forth and network, young Padawan, as painful as it may be. At least in Charleston, you’ll get some awesome hors d’oeurves!

Note: if you have gleaned that networking is not my favorite thing, please contact me at LivelyExchange (at) gmail (dot) com. We’ll meet in a bar, along with a few dozen strangers, and discuss it!

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Um, that’s me

Welcome to aLivelyExchange! I am an award-winning copywriter of web, social media, print and video content. I am based in Charleston SC, but serve clients across the US.

I have many years’ experience serving clients in the health care, consumer electronics, manufacturing, retail, graphic arts, sporting goods, real estate, automotive, tourism, military, governmental and nonprofit arenas. I also have nearly 20 years of video production experience as a writer, producer, director and editor.

Please take a few minutes to check out some internal links, including:

Thanks again for stopping by. Please contact me at LivelyExchange (at) gmail (dot) com!

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You may not have heard of this little mom 'n' pop operation

As a companion piece to our last entry, here is a website I wrote* for Johnston Brothers Custom Imprinted Gun Cloths and Bags, a South Carolina maker of… wait, I knew it a minute ago!

This was a writing gig that was probably more fun than it should have been. First of all, it was 4 hours start to finish – including the client interview – and I received payment in under a week. What’s not to love?

Secondly, I love the client’s entrepreneurial spirit. I am always in awe of that kind of carve-a-niche energy some clients have – because I sometimes (ahem!) find it lacking in myself!  Here is a guy who saw that 90% of the little gun shops in the US do little to no advertising or marketing. They basically count on the fact that they are the only shop in the neighborhood.  So this client makes gun cloths, which every serious shooter must have and use, and personalizes them with the name of the shop and contact info.  That’s about all I can reveal, but the benefits should be obvious.

Anyway, you hear a lot of doom and gloom about small businesses. In order to survive, small business has to get creative. This is exactly the kind of quick, inexpensive yet good-looking website that can do the trick. It’s exciting for me to be involved in this kind of solution. Take that, commies!

*hat-tip to Charleston SC designer Studio 7 Design, and programmer Metatation. Thanks for the gig, fellers!

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I wrote a print ad appearing in Soldier of Fortune in either June or July.  Won’t my artsy liberal friends in Charleston be thrilled!

Sort of like the Wild West replica ads, brochures and web content I wrote way back (and for the same client) I had to get inside the mind of someone looking to purchase a badass-looking piece like this. Of thinking like a Navy SEAL when in realtity you’ll probably use it to shoot possums by your trash cans.

All I had to go on was the word “Carbine,” which is like a rifle only shorter and less powerful.  Why would you want this and not the other? When you’re closer to the enemy, on the move, need to be ready in an instant to fire. Who might use a carbine? Special forces. And so it went.  I managed to paint the picture of kicking in the door and capping a room full of terrorists, prefaced with the clever “You may never have to…”

Anyway, here it is. BTW, my original headline was SPECIAL FORCES! The client changed it to HOMELAND SECURITY, which is also good. The callback at the end makes no sense now, but who cares? If you’re the guy this ad is intended for, you’re just drooling over the picture of the gun anyway! BLAM!

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Downtown Charleston Homes: Lots of Charm for LOADS of Cheddar!

And now a few thoughts on Real Estate writing – Charleston’s third most popular professional writing topic (behind Old World Charm and Missile Guidance Systems!)
Writing for Real Estate is tricky, especially in a town the size of Charleston SC. Whenever a realtor comes to me, he or she needs writeups on the usual things like Home, About, Services, etc. So far so good. 

But then they want me to write charming descriptions of the part of Charleston SC where they specialize. And, in a town this size, “everywhere” is our specialty!

When I first got to town I had no clue about West Ashley or Mt. Pleasant or Park West…or anywhere. So it was research, research, research. I believe the pieces I wrote were fine, especially considering my lack of knowledge of the area. They did the trick and got the Google hits. I don’t believe, however, that the reader would get the sense that the author had “lived it.”

Time took care of that. Now, all these years later, I know the Charleston SC area pretty darn well. The stuff I write about Isle of Palms or South Windermere actually DO sound like they were written by a local.

home sale

Cozy and charming. And in Downtown Charleston, it’s only $575,000!

The final piece of the puzzle was Historic Downtown Charleston. That’s how you’re supposed to say it. Downtown had always been a once-every-few-weeks occurrence for me. Usually a Saturday, and usually to chill on a lawn chair at the Battery or something.

My 8-month stint at Philips changed that. I only worked a 20-hour week, but I was there every day. Working in Ansonborough, lunching on East Bay, vendor meetings in the French Quarter, happy hour on Upper King, and so on. The feel of Downtown started slowly seeping in.

So, when a realtor asked me to write a big SEO-drenched essay on Historic Downtown Charleston, I was ready. Now, I can say “Ansonborough is a charming neighborhood of Charleston Singles and Doubles, refurbished row houses and even modern condos with harbor views” with confidence! I LIVED it, by gar!

Anyway, check out my Historic Downtown Charleston SC Homes article! And a special shout out to Realtor extraordinaire Heather Lord!

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If YOU need compelling copy  – real estate or otherwise – that feels like it’s been lived in, please contact livelyexchange (at) gmail (dot) com!

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An awards logo that's bold, proactive and in your face!

Welcome to Lively Exchange, where our shakes are thick and creamy and our horns are self-tooting!

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Usually, it’s the first thing you learn about me after my name, as in “Michael Lively, comma, award-winning copywriter…”

Why? Because, as a potential client said to me today, “this is a business of perceptions.” I agree, and one perception is that if you don’t have a bunch of awards up on your wall for your copywriting or web design or video production, you are something less than truly successful. I think that’s BS. On the other hand, I have my share of awards.

Which is the long, tortured way of saying that a piece I wrote copy for just got a Bronze Addy from The Charleston SC Advertising Federation. You’ve seen me mention it a couple of times: The Dead Battery Anxiety website for Philips. The wacky videos were recognized in the “Internet Commercials” category. So, kudos to Philips Art Director Kit Hughes, the gang of creative creatives at Slant Media… and me!

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If YOU would like to see what the award-winnin’ is all about, contact LivelyExchange (at) gmail.com!

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