• Robin Kastengren

To New Beginnings

A new year and a new decade have arrived and with them the promises, resolutions, and plans to make this the best year and decade ever. I’ll be joining the bandwagon of people hoping for a new beginning this January, but don’t worry, mine doesn’t include a promise of going to the gym so I won’t be getting in the way of everyone who has been going all year. Too crowded in January, anyway.

Instead, I’ll be refocusing my efforts professionally as I move into a new phase for myself and my work. Although, if I’m being honest, this has been in the works for the last few months. When I originally started working as a freelance copywriter, my kids were little, my baby was still an actual baby, and I was looking to keep my skills fresh while plugging a couple holes in the budget. These days, my kids are becoming more independent, the budget seems intact, and I've had to do something very strange for me: turn down work more than once because I'm booked solid.

Over the last seven or so years, this has grown to be a full-time occupation for me and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’ve always worked in marketing or advertising in some capacity, whether it was producing marketing materials directly or working for agencies in various roles that ranged from tech support to office management. Marketers and advertisers are fun people. The work can get pretty heavy at times and every team I’ve been a part of comes together during these slams and produces fantastic results for clients. The hours or days following a big slam tend to be more relaxed--a time for recuperating, recharging creative cells, reorganizing workspaces taken over by client materials--and marketers and advertisers are so good at being human that these less-productive moments are tremendously valuable and necessary to the process and long-term success of the individual and the team.

Today, I typically work alone from my home office, but the internet has made working on various teams not only possible, but also easy. I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of everything from the rebranding and relaunching of major labels to rewriting product catalogs 10 words at a time. I’ve helped out a few academics, tried my hand at some different content formats, and was stiffed on an invoice for the first time. It happens, I guess.

What I’ve learned along the way is that I love being a writer and I find the most satisfaction when working with small businesses, local companies, and entrepreneurs. Helping the little guy see how content marketing can help them compete with big brands without spending tens of thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign that they can’t afford is as good as it gets for me.

What’s good about content marketing is that it lasts. If you build a good foundation, the results won’t stop coming in as soon as ads stop running. Plus, it’s affordable. Some businesses have to dig a little for a website rebuild as the site must be ready to function as the hub of all your marketing activity, and a few have had to get creative in terms of producing professional-quality photography when there’s no budget for a good photographer. But, once you have the important pieces in place, keeping your content feeds full can happen for just a few hundred bucks a month.

As we move into the new year, I’ll be moving away from some of the big-branded efforts and spending more time on the hunt for businesses and people in my community that need a boost. The big brands will always need content and the money flows fast and freely, but pretty much any writer can hop in and make those words happen.

Small businesses, on the other hand, are the bread-and-butter of our communities. They sponsor our softball teams, donate to our schools, mentor young people, bring cash to local economies, and, most importantly, get to know who we all are. And, for me, they are fun to work with. In many cases, their advertising and marketing strategies are stuck in the 1990s with mass mailers and an absent online presence. Let’s work together as we start this new decade and make us all more successful together.

Happy New Year!

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