Celebrating two years as an independent consultant

It was two years ago this month that Bulbstorm was acquired, finally freeing me to set up shop as an independent marketing consultant.

I tried to escape the 9-to-5 world twice before. Both of those attempts blew up on the launch pad. I tried to start my own ASU sports magazine, but was runner-up for the booster club’s contract. Then I was set to become a freelance copywriter when Bulbstorm made me an offer I couldn’t refuse on my way out of Insight.

Two years into attempt my third attempt, this one seems to have reached orbit.


I celebrated the anniversary as I celebrate most things – by traveling. Hey, after helping to organize the inaugural Phoenix Startup Week, I’d earned a vacation. So, I spent a week exploring the natural wonders of southeastern Utah.

Happy anniversary indeed!

yoga at arches national park

Enjoying my flexibility at Arches National Park. Flexibility! Get it?!

The Way of the Solopreneur

I define solopreneur as anyone who runs his own business without intending to hire employees. There’s a lot to like about being a solopreneur. The most obvious benefit is that you’re the boss. You make the rules.

An overlooked benefit is just that. Benefits.

Corporate perks are one size fits all. A Friday afternoon beer cart. A discounted gym membership. Bagels and benefits. There’ll be some variability in health plans, but if you don’t have a pet then that pet insurance subsidy is useless.

As a solopreneur, you choose your own adventure. Maybe you want to work from home instead of an office. Maybe you prefer to work only with companies with a conscious mission. I truly believe that a solopreneur should get more out of it than just not having a boss. It’s too hard and too risky otherwise.

For me, being a solopreneur has been all about summers off and the ability to work for anyone I choose and from anywhere that has Wi-Fi. Did you know that there’s Wi-Fi in Yosemite National Park? Sure, I pay 100 percent of my health insurance costs. But, yeah, benefits rule.

(I wrote more about my life as a solopreneur – including how I decide what to charge, how many hours per week I work, and more – at Scott’s Marketplace.)

How long could it last?

I’m loving my new career. I’ve learned about PR for tech startups and sharpened my sales skills working with Ubiquity PR. I’ve implemented CRM and marketing automation solutions for a number of companies, from software startups to a car dealership. I’ve built a digital marketing program from scratch for a custom tile manufacturer.

And, yet, I wonder if and when my career as a solopreneur will end at the hands of opportunity. Two years after exiting Bulbstorm, I’m starting to get the itch to do another startup.

Six years ago, Bulbstorm found me by googling Phoenix Marketing Copywriter and landing on this website. When I initially turned them down to focus on my new copywriting business, the CEO trash talked me on Twitter. I couldn’t turn him down after that.

Is the end imminent? I doubt it. But, as I learned in my experience with Bulbstorm, you’re always one unexpected email from getting back in the game.


Creative roadblock?
Try CopyBrawl or haiku
to stretch writer’s wings.

Do you have the time to listen to me rhyme? When Billie Joe gets stuck, he turns to haiku.

Do you have the time to listen to me rhyme? When Billie Joe gets stuck, he turns to haiku.

Creative copywriting is not my strongest asset. Want to spell out your value proposition in a brochure or datasheet? I’m your guy. Want to brainstorm headlines for a new ad campaign? Well, I’ll give it a shot.

Mind you, I’m not satisfied with this. I’ve worked as a sports reporter and as an in-house B2B copywriter for an IT company. Neither gig really challenged me to improve as a creative writer.

So, I take matters into my own hands. I’m a big believer in stretching my boundaries by forcing artificial constraints – either time or space – on my writing.

For example, in the inaugural CopyBrawl, copywriters sold their favorite grocery item in 100 characters or less. It was that simple. And we saw some great contributions, like:

The Sunday New York Times
Everything you need to know about the 21st century, via 15th century technology.

Read more copywriting from the CopyBrawl!

I also like to play around with haikus. You know, three-line poems with five-syllable lines sandwiched around a seven-syllable line. Why haikus? Because the syllable structure really forces you to pick just the right word. That and because a Shakespearean sonnet wouldn’t fit in a tweet.

A few weeks ago I bombarded my Twitter followers with concert-hypin’ Twaiku reviews of Green Day albums like these ditties:

Dookie (1994)
Teens’ feelings checklist: / Boredom? Check. Loneliness? Check. / 90s me nods yes!

Nimrod (1997)
Billie Joe grows old. / Anger. Resentment. Regret. / Aging for the lose.

Now it’s your turn! I do have the time to listen to your rhyme. Review your favorite album – Green Day or otherwise – in haiku form and post it in the comments below!

Content Management: To Post or Not to Post?

Dear Yorick, how doth your skull enhance our brand image?

Dear Yorick, how doth your skull enhance our brand image?

A bit of media exposure last week left my company’s marketing communications team to resolve a philosophical debate regarding content management.

To post or not to post?

The local metro here in Phoenix, Arizona, was working on a feature about Challenge ABC, for which my company offers Solution XYZ. We matched the reporter with a subject matter expect, and our company was featured in the final 63 words of the 958-word article. (Go team!)

The question then arose: Should we post the article as an additional resource on the webpage for Solution XYZ? The page already offers datasheets, case studies and an archived webinar, so finding enough content to post is not an issue.

I figure there are two ways a third-party article adds value to your website.

1. Audience Education

Will the audience better understand the challenge? In this case, probably not. Because it was written for a daily metro’s broad audience, the article was a tad general for our highly-informed B2B audience. A white paper or technical brief is a better candidate for the real estate.

2. Brand Enhancement

Will the audience have a more favorable impression of the company? Again, probably not. Our value proposition was properly represented and our executive’s sound bite added value to the article. But our place at the bottom of a 1,000-word article didn’t provide great brand exposure.

If the answer to either question was yes, we would have posted. Instead, we punted.

The article was a perfect catalyst for a post on the corporate blog and conversation on social networks. And from those social media forums we could drive to the Solution XYZ page. But we decided the article didn’t add value as a standalone link.

What’s Your Take? Would you have posted a link to the article? Is there a question we failed to ask ourselves? Let me know in the comments below!