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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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The photographer was sober. They tilted the camera for effect!

I guess it is part of the copywriter’s creed (mine anyway) of Never Saying No. Ever write for beer before? Wine? Spirits? No, but there’s always a first time for everything  (another one of my highly original maxims.)

I have done several campaign rollout video scripts for Anheuser Busch, Miller Coors and Kroger Supermarkets, as well as some web work and in-store promotional stuff for the Kroger wine and beer departments. Even so, I hadn’t considered them part of a specialty or trend – they were just some interesting individual gigs.

Then the geniuses at look-listen creative hired me to do a big splashy press release for a new kind of rum. It begins thusly…

Every armchair entrepreneur dreams of taking the thing he loves and turning it into a successful business. For Todd and Zach Kane, that dream is becoming reality. The father and son team are the founders and inventors (as well as consumers) of Cayrum, a new brand of premium liquor. Cayrum, a cleverly unique blend of dark Dominican rum, fresh ginger root and natural honey is now available in the US.

It was a fun process, working with the agency, getting to know the client duo, crushing their life stories into 1000 words, and seeing the result splashed ALL OVER the web, thanks to PRWeb.  Now that it’s done, I guess I can say I have a sub-sub specialty in beer, wine and spirits writing – for web, video, in store and public relations.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am suddenly very thirsty!

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Thirsty for compelling copy for web, print, social media or video?

Please contact LivelyExchange (at) gmail.com!

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A video production friend of mine (and frequent partner in Las Vegas shenanigans) made the mistake of asking “What are you working on now?” I answered, and thought I would share with you, my Legion of Fan:

  • Consumer electronics website, point-of-sale, brochures and trade show materials,
  • Real estate website,
  • Social media for a consumer testing firm,
  • Legal Services website,
  • Liquor and spirits press release and article,
  • Mental health practitioner website,
  • Residential and commercial HVAC website,
  • Social media for a home security firm,
  • Producing a video for a certain giant healthcare firm, and a
  • Financial planning website

…all at different stages of development, of course.

I then asked him, “What are YOU working on?” His reply? Editing “Party Sluts Invade Lake Havasu!!” Which is infinitely cooler than all my stuff combined and multiplied by Pi!

So, how’s YOUR two-thousand-eleventy so far?

Contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com!

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A while back during one of my carpet-bombing cold call email blasts, I got this reply: “Thanks for contacting me Michael. I like your experience and your samples – so much so that I am going to overlook the typo in the opening paragraph of your cover letter.”

Now, this guy had me dead to rights. I had made the type of error I always do – something along the lines of “I’m responding to YOU ad for a copywriter.” A missed keystroke, nothing more. A dumb mistake but, really, what douche makes such a point of calling it out? Well, apparently, THIS douche, because I never heard from him again.

So, fast-forward to today. At a meeting with a potential (and totally non-douchey) client  he remarks: “I’m glad I was able to reach you through (a mutual acquaintance.) Did you know that there is no simple, clear way to reach you on your blog? No biggie, just something to think about.”

And he was right. First of all, thanks for the CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. But DAG, how can I have been at this blogging thing for 2.5 years without a contact page? The problem is, you only get so many navigation tabs on WordPress (with my specific template.) So I went through all my pages and inserted “Please contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com.”

Appropriate? Tacky? Who knows? All I have to say is “Please contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com!”

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Re-using old Baby New Years: Part of the "new austerity"

January 2011: New Year, new resolution to blog more consistently, blah blah bling bling blah.

Anyway, so far so good in the new all-freelance era of Freelance Copywriter Charleston SC (see what I did there?) The Philips stuff is less prominent but more satisfying, pound for pound, so there’s that.  The healthcare client is undergoing some personnel changes, but I am confident it will find its equilibrium.  My Charlotte web marketing client is hitting the ground running in 20-oh-11, and apparently they aren’t sick of me yet.  I’m doing a couple of web and print projects for a giant Midwestern grocery chain.  A law firm in Columbia SC needs some web copy. A Charleston realtor needs some blogging, a mental health professional needs web content, and so on. My biggest new project has been cooking along for about 4 months now – social media coordination for a marketing website. Nice steady tentpole gig, Praise Be, though the workload and the success of it is a primary reason for my lack of personal blogging lately. What, you mean I have to log out of THEIR WordPress site and log back in to MINE? That reeks of EFFORT!

So, that’s the update. I actually have several ideas for blog posts upcoming, so consider yourself warned! Talk soon!

Please contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com

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Between the usual freelance load and my half-time gig at the Global Giant Consumer Electronics firm, the blogging has been next to nil. Well, the Global Giant thing is winding down, as the office is pulling up its Charleston roots and moving Up North. But it’s all good.

It’s been an OK ride. Good people, downtown location, good schedule, GREAT money, etc. But as for the work itself…meh. Unfortunately, conditions on the ground did not quite match the job description at the outset. It wasn’t a matter of misrepresentation, but some big changes in business conditions that shook up the job mix.

Basically, what promised to be a healthy mix of web, video, brochure, point-of-sale, trade show, special projects and technical writing became overwhelmingly technical writing. Nothing against tech writing, but it’s not my strong suit, and not what I enjoy.  You can read my thoughts on that here.

So, after enduring it for a while and pushing through some huge projects, I turned in my notice. The timing seemed right; freelance, which had been kind of sleepy throughout the summer of 2010, was making a comeback. I gave a healthy 4-week notice and suggested to my boss that he try to find a true tech writer to do the, you know, tech writing, and perhaps save me for the creative stuff. He agreed, and… and… and then they announced they were closing the Charleston office.

Funny, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, you wail and gnash your teeth and cry out in anguish, “How much LONGER can I do this job?” Then you get the answer: four weeks. And you’re like, “Cool.”  So, I will be in the office until the first week in December or so, and then go home and wait for those creative projects the boss promised. Will they come? The office is supposed to be closed by spring, so we will see.

At every big serious gig I take, I am always trying to figure out “why I am here.” What is the lesson I am supposed to be learning? How will this benefit me in the future?  In some ways I think the “purpose” was that I needed to support myself throughout a sleepy freelance period.  Another thought was that I always said I could never, would never, do technical writing. But I did. I didn’t love it, and I never felt very proficient at it, but I did it. And I suppose I could do it again if absolutely necessary.

So, soon, it’s back to the full time pursuit of freelance work. And blogging more regularly, because I need to rebuild my Google strength.  So stand by for more pearly pearls of freelance copywriting wisdom, fans of freelance copywriting wisdom!

Contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com!

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A client of mine, who is heavily into social media marketing (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc.) asked me for my take on the subject matter.  Specifically, he asked for an article – a keyword-intensive article for his web marketing firm home page – about blogging for business.  It was a nice opportunity to actually put some thoughts together on the subject. Even better, I got paid to blog, which never hurts. Here is an excerpt….

One way to think of social media marketing is as an online extension of the many networking activities you undertake in the “real world,” such as membership in your local Chamber of Commerce. The time you spend getting your face and name out into your local community is vital to your business. You should do the same in the web community, and social media marketing is an effective way to do it.

The irony is that, while I blog for everyone and his brother these days, my own blog – meant to promote my business – has suffered. So, read the article, then do as I say, not as I do!!

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General, in all my years of covering top secret discoveries with sheets, I’ve never dramatically revealed anything as shocking as this! Dun-dun-DUNNN!

As I may have whined earlier, the type of work I have been doing lately has really cut into both my time and my desire to blog.   This is primarily because much of that work has been of the social media genre – blogging, article writing, posting to Digg and Reddit, tweeting, tweeting and more tweeting. And also tweeting.

Additionally, a large part of what I was doing was developmental in nature.  Since early October I have been writing for this pretty cool “everything Charleston” website that covers dining, shopping, history and real estate.  We have been slowly stocking the thing with content – monthly articles, weekly blogs and daily tweets.

Well, I guess we have reached an acceptable minimum level of content, because finally we are ready to dramatically yank away the sheet from our top secret discovery (or something.)  Anyway, it’s called PremiereCharleston.com and…oh, sorry. Let’s back up.

Dun-dun DUNNNN!!  it’s called PremiereCharleston.com and it’s really shaping up. And since it has sapped my will to live blog, I figured I would start excerpting some of my stuff here, starting next week.   Oh, and visit the site, dammit!

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I would love to know how other bloggers find the motivation to keep it up. Let me clarify – I don’t mean model train enthusiasts, or movie fans or music aficionados who blog about their particular passions. I mean professional writers like me who also blog. These are people who spend all day researching, brainstorming, writing and rewriting. How do they find topics to write about, let alone find the energy to do the actual writing?

For the millionth-billionth time, I will tell you that I began this blog in order to drum up some Google wonderfulness in this new market of Charleston SC.  I didn’t have any compelling urge to write about copywriting, nor did I think I had anything in particular to say.  What I had was a need for exposure, and time. Lots of time.

So, for the first two months or so I wrote every day. Every day! I can’t imagine. And as I did it, I began to like it. I began to feel the urge to write about copywriting. And I realized I did have something to say. And slowly the blogging, combined with tireless cold calling, led to more and more work. Subsequently, I had less and less time for blogging.

You may say, why not blog about the various projects you work on?  And I do. But again, success is the death of variety. I have been blessed to find regular gigs with the healthcare newsletter, the “everything Charleston” consumer website, and the web marketing agency in Charlotte. They chug along nicely, but I have already told you as much as I can, other than the fact that two of those three gigs also involve blogging!

I don’t have the answer. But I am determined to figure it out. And I would love to hear some suggestions! Oh, and Happy New Year!

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Fingers are flying here at LivelyExchange. My indentured elves are busy milling words to within 0.003 tolerance while they fantasize about my grisly demise, and ways to make it look like an accident. Let’s take a look at the lineup of recent or ongoing print, web and video projects clogging the pipes:

  • A regular blogging gig writing about Charleston dining, shopping, healthcare, real estate, tourism and history
  • An article about Charleston real estate
  • An article about all the holiday happenings in Charleston
  • A daily Twitter campaign for a web marketing firm in Charleston
  • Tweeting, blogging and press releases for a cabinet refacing firm in Charlotte
  • Website copy for:
    • A Christian crossover girl group (known as a CCGG in the recording industry)
    • A commercial cleaning service in Charleston
    • A cardboard tube manufacturer in York SC
    • A Charleston residential REALTOR (why do they write it that way?)
    • A Charleston commercial real estate developer/brokerage/management firm
    • A home designer/builder in Rock Hill SC
  • The weekly healthcare sales newsletter
  • Print  copy for a healthcare brochure
  • A print ad for a handgun manufacturer

And finally, I produced ANOTHER rendition of the Veterans Day video. That’s volume six in the increasingly ill-named “Veterans Trilogy!” Anyway, I have to run…an elf fell into the 2500-ton press. That’s the third one this month, and they are a drag to clean. The rest of you, back to work!

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