What I’m Working On – School Project

Occasionally, I like to blog about What I’m Working On.

I’m really proud to say that I’ve been lucky enough to gain clients without much advertising. They say word of mouth is the best kind of advertising money can’t buy, and it’s really true. Doing a good job on a client’s project can lead to multiple opportunities.

One of my favorite clients is a private school network here in the Bay Area. Close to 20 years ago, I was hired by a local parenting publication to write their advertorial. (That’s an advertisement written to read like an article. Sometimes this is referred to as a business profile, and it’s one of my specialties.) I interviewed the founder, wrote the ad, and got paid by the magazine. I’ve done tons of those over the years, and that’s often the end of the assignment. But she was so happy with her ad that she contacted me to ask if I did other kinds of writing.

Well, of course, I do. What did you have in mind?

She asked if I’d write the text for the company’s new web site. (This was at a time when web sites were new.)

Uhh, sure. (I’d never done that before, but) I’d be happy to take a crack at it.

And, we progressed from there.

The next project was writing the text for their new company brochure. A few small projects followed here and there. And then, about 10 years ago, I struck the motherlode: a huge anniversary project.

They were about to celebrate their 40th anniversary, and she asked if I would write a book on the school’s long history. It was to be printed and kept in the company headquarter’s office, to be read by anyone who came to visit. I was honored to be asked to contribute to such a meaningful project. There were few parameters. As a longtime freelancer, I’m generally ruled by a word count, a budget, and a set deadline. When I asked how long it was to be, how much they wanted to spend, and when it was due, the main instruction was, basically, “whatever it takes.”

It was quite an undertaking and I spent many hours interviewing school personnel, writing their stories, and assembling information and organizing it all into chapters. The end result was an 88-page book with photos, charts, and copies of letters from the school’s early days. It’s a lovely memento. And it was a very nice check.

Now, flash forward to October 2017. I’ve been back in the Bay Area a few months and looking for more work. My old email, which I rarely use but keep because I’m too lazy to update all the accounts linked to it, buzzes. Lo and behold, here’s my wonderful old client, asking if I’m available to work on a book for their 50th anniversary.

Well, of course, I am. What do you have in mind?

It was a thrill to interview some of the same people, and many new ones, to tell their stories and put together an updated history for this company. Silicon Valley is a place where things crumble and disappear more often than not. Companies crash and go belly-up overnight. The only constant here is change, and after growing up in this environment, I’m accustomed to that sequence of events. But it’s still heartening to see something stand the test of time. And not once, but twice.

This project is still in the editing stage, but I think we’re getting close to signing off. Who knows, in 10 years, I may be writing something for their 60th anniversary. I hope so.

What are you working on?