Posts Tagged ‘freelance’

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!

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

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!

*    *    *    *

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!

*    *    *    *

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

Read Full Post »

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!”

Read Full Post »

Question: What’s more cynical than deliberately writing a post about Facebook because it is guaranteed to draw hits?
Answer: Facebook itself.

I hope you’re sitting down when you read this (we pause as a million chairs drag across the scarred linoleum floor of our global consciousness) …but retarded Facebook apps like Farmtown and Mafia Wars are cynical cesspools of personal information-gathering disguised as “community”…and worse. This according to an article in The Consumerist, inscrutably titled “Mafia Wars CEO Brags about Scamming People from Day One.”

Long ago I wrote a cranky, Andy Rooney-esque piece called “Putting the Grr! in Facebook,” in which I grumbled about the various idiosyncrasies of hapless users. This post is consistently my top drawing piece – even surpassing my scholarly (!) review of the film Lars and the Real Girl (my top post among perverts searching for Artificial Partners, wink wink.)

Since that post, I have mellowed out a bit and hooked up with all kinds of friends from the past. But a constant beef has continued to be all of the stupid apps. Jenny has sent you a hug! What famous dead composer are you? And a bunch of others I can’t recall because I “HID” them long ago.

But the games are the worst. I got as far as Scrabulous, meaning, I signed up for Scrabulous, knowing that it was nothing more than a scam for gathering personal information, but hey, I like Scrabble. But the first time I saw on  Facebook’s News Feed: “Michael has spelled the word INCONTINENCE on Scrabulous! Can YOU do better? Sign up NOW!” …I pulled the plug.

Trust me, I “get” Facebook. If you know anything about Web 2.0, this practice should not be a surprise. While everyone whines about the ads, I say “that’s why it’s free.” But you read something like “Mafia Wars CEO Brags about Scamming People from Day One,” …and you are looking at the epitome* of corporate cynicism.

*Epitome: The embodiment or precise representation of an ideal. Pronounced “uh-PIT-oh-mee”…or “eppa-tohm” if you’re from West Virginia (like me.)

Bookmark and Share

submit to reddit

Read Full Post »

vet pic

Photoshop presents a dude with some other dude's arm holding a picture he forgot to bring!

Well, we set out to honor America’s veterans, and to sell medical devices. I’m confident we did the honoring part. The selling? It’s too soon to say.

Despite a last minute freakout caused by someone watching an old rough cut and asking for changes that were made two weeks ago, the Veteran’s Day videos are up.

So HERE is the LINK. What you will see is a nice rah-rah about the Veteran’s Health Adminstration and its care mission, and how this healthcare manufacturer’s mission coincides. To drive home the point, the rah-rah is followed by interviews with employees of the manufacturer who also happen to be Veterans.

There are four videos at the bottom of the page. Sort of the donut effect, where the openers and closers are the same, with the interviews filling the donut hole. (mmmm….DONUTS!)

Anyway, check ’em out (and I suggest you do it sooner than later – The client can be touchy about this sort of thing.) And Happy Veteran’s Day! That’s next Wednesday, commie!

Bookmark and Share

submit to reddit

Read Full Post »

I have been blessed with pretty decent clients. For the most part, they “get me,” and they “get it.” They understand the process, what works, what doesn’t, etc. And they are usually pretty good at explaining the process to their clients, and managing their expectations.

But sometimes, you get a client who refuses to be managed. I think they don’t want to look like they don’t know what they are doing. Which ends up being pretty ironic.

Here are some warning signs that you hopefully won’t need, but probably will.  Note: these aren’t a collection of examples compiled over the years. These all came from a single phone call!

Mission Uncertainty:
Client: “Who are we? What’s our mission? We don’t know. Really, it’s all over the place. We will be looking to you to help us figure that out.”
Me: “So, you want me to brand your company in the course of writing your About Us page? That could get expensive if you really don’t know what your mission is.”
Client: “Huh? Oh, we know what our mission is. We have it pretty well figured out.”
Me: “Respectfully, WTF?” Which brings up the next warning sign:

Downplaying the Complexity of the Job:
…even if that contradicts the thing they said 5 seconds ago.  The point here is to get me to lowball the estimate, and somehow hold me to it when the complexity triples. Which leads to…

Poor Mouthing:
Even though this is a totally revolutionary concept, certain to corner the market, sure to be bigger than Cool Ranch Doritos AND cure cancer too, right now we’re just a poor, struggling startup. Keep this in mind as you write stirring, evocative marketing copy for the most awesome website ever.  Interestingly, they usually say this right after they say, “Money is not an object—we just have to get it right!”

Expecting Me to Beg for It:
Me: “OK, I get it, super important gig, no money, prestige project, no money, cure for cancer, no money…oh, what the heck, I’ll do it.”
Client: “Whoa, slow down, tiger! I will be disrespecting interviewing several writers, openly doubting their experience, methods and cost estimates and whether or not I will be their top priority for the next 11 weeks of this supposedly 4-week gig!”
Me: “Yes, well, good luck with that.”

So, no, I did not take the gig—and you know how I feel about saying “no!
Looking back, I should have seen where this was going. The first thing this potential client said was that he had “a deep respect for writers and the job that they do!”

Nobody has that much respect for writers. Not even me.

Bookmark and Share

submit to reddit

Read Full Post »

cakeycake LivelyExchange turns one year old today, and officially graduates to big boy underpants.

I promise not to get too philosophical about it. I like to think one of the charms of this blog is its willingness to recognize that there are tons of people who have done it a lot longer, who have a lot more to say, and who say it to vastly larger audiences.

As I have stated any number of times, I started this strictly for the Google hits. And it has performed handsomely. Then it became a convenient, ever-expanding online portfolio of my work. Of course, to appreciate that convenience you must be old enough to remember mailing 3/4″ videotapes to production managers, standing on line at the urine-soaked hellhole post office listening to your life ticking away. That, or if you have ever visited the Goose Creek branch.

The “having something…anything…anything at all to say” part came later.  It was a drag, having to crank out something every day when I began. But hey, I had the time. Did I ever. Today, the drag is that I can’t do it enough. Irony! (I think.)

Anyway, as long as you keep showing up I will continue crafting commentary with all the finesse and delicacy you’ve come to expect from a  Craftsman wood chipper. That’s the LivelyExchange guarantee!*

*store credit only

Read Full Post »

Yes, eight hands ought to do it.

Yes, eight hands ought to do it.

In the next seven of your Earth-days, this ink-stained wretch must complete the following:

  • Two 1200-word, region-specific articles on data loss prevention
  • Final fixes on that long-gestating Biotech website
  • An SEO article on Real Estate
  • Three web marketing press releases, and
  • A transcription of a 1-hour SaaS Application interview (courtesy the 2-finger typing method.)

Oh, and by the way, my healthcare clients in German-Catholic Indiana have Good Friday off.  Therefore, the intranet newsletter deadline has been pushed up by one day. Ein prosit! (German for ‘Get me a beer, Edith!’)

As I keep saying, one must be working to be overworked. In these times, that is something to be Thankful for.  So, to maintain some perspective, I am using this time to figure out how in hell to get organized, and to manage my time better. Truly, I have never been this busy, so this is a lesson that I never had to learn.

In the end, it will all work out. The lesson will be learned, the deadlines met, and my heart will grow three times that day.

And so, I sign off from the Whoville bureau of LivelyExchange. Tune in Friday for a significant milestone (intriguing!)  Until then, commence radio silence!

*As 30 Rock’s Tracy Jordan would say, “WORDPLAY!!”

Read Full Post »

Previously on Battlestar Galactica…

*sigh* 😦 …Fridays without BSG? What am I supposed to do…get a life?

Anyway, I told you about a sudden demand for SEO article writing that is keeping me busy.

Now, I don’t have any particular philosophy on this kind of writing, I just have a method that works for me…practically, financially and ethically.

I know some who are happy, um, appropriating someone else’s work and changing the wording just enough to get by the similarity filters.  For the record, that’s not cool. Others are complete purists who refuse to write anything that is not completely original.  For the record, that’s not practical.

Economics…and ethics, of course, dictate things here.  Some jokers want to pay you ten bucks for an SEO article. If you somehow agree to that indentured servitude, I defy you to get the job done by ethical means. Better yet, don’t take the gig. Just tell the prospective client to call 1-800-I N D I A.

On the other hand, those who insist on writing 100% farm fresh original content…well, I hope you get good wi-fi reception up on your high horse. Seriously, this the kind of black-and-white ethical stand  that is easy to make because nobody is hiring you.  By my estimates, that will cost about $100, and nobody will pay that.

So, my advice? Find the happy medium, and get happy.  (Ah yes…the bold, “straight down the middle” approach.) I don’t think it’s much more difficult to find 3 or 4 sources and synthesize (not just copy/paste) the ideas (not just the words) into something new.  Maybe that’s just me. If you can’t do this and punch out 350 words in under an hour, then perhaps this strange little niche is not for you.

Hey, what do you know? Maybe I do have a philosophy on this topic!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »