We’re back with another great expert interview; this time we chatted with Barb Fisher, Founder of Arizona Wordsmiths. She gave us some fantastic insights on her company, why people should leverage outside resources for writing assistance, and where she sees the industry of writing assistance going in the future.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into this industry
I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where I began working for my father’s wholesale business on my 16th birthday. I worked after school, summers, and during holiday breaks. I inherently knew then that any written material that would represent my dad’s company or bear his signature would have to be professional. I think that was the beginning of my hyper-vigilance about correct writing and grammar.
Thereafter, my careers in business and in education required that I personally maintain high standards of writing and share that skill with others.
When did you start your company?
Arizona Wordsmiths was officially started in 2006, however, my addiction to writing and editing developed over decades. By 2006 I arrived at a place in my life where I wanted to work at something I enjoyed and live up to my own expectations (not someone else’s). I never found a formal category listing for what I consider my business to be, which is “Writing Assistance.”
My career experience has included positions in large and small businesses, education, content writing, book editing, and tutoring of many types with students of all ages. I enjoy all these types of projects.
Why would people want a service like this?
I see bad grammar everywhere, but most people don’t – especially when it comes to their own writing.
Small business owners should realize that the written word often provides a customer’s first impression of their business. Here’s the thing: you have a skill or a product that is the heart of your business, and that is where your time and energy are best spent. If writing is not your favorite thing to do, then don’t write! Delegate the writing.
Regarding content for websites, blogs, etc., it is likely to be cost effective to farm out the research and writing so you can concentrate on your business development.
What’s one of the best success stories you’ve had with your company?
I have helped a number of adults pass their GED (High School Equivalency) Exams, enabling them to qualify for better jobs and/or higher educational opportunities. I’ve found this to be very rewarding.
If I were to choose my best success story, it would be Isaac’s letter to Immigration. I was able to help a man, Isaac, keep his wife from being deported to Mexico. He was a citizen, but his wife had not entered the country through proper channels and had been served with a notice of deportation.
Isaac was tasked with writing a letter to an Immigration judge detailing how his life would be in ruin if his wife was deported. His seven-page handwritten plea was too poorly written and rambling to be effective, and he had just one chance to make his case. I revised his letter into two pages that were well-written and articulate. Eventually, he heard that his appeal was accepted.
In terms of writing jobs this one was small, but it was perhaps the most meaningful bit of work I have ever done. I hope to have the opportunity to help more clients like Isaac. In this time of “rounding up and deporting” all immigrants, the need must be great.
Why can’t people just handle their writing on their own?
Good verbal communicators do not always communicate well in writing. Many of today’s professionals have lost writing and grammar proficiency as they devoted time and energy to developing their technical and business skills. Business owners tend to make the mistake of assuming their education assures them of adequate writing skills. When your mind is on detailing and promoting your business, it’s often difficult to attend to the mechanics of writing. If you have to stop and think about the correct form of a word (i.e., your and you’re) or whether to place an apostrophe before every s (don’t do it unless it’s a possessive or a contraction), you’re wasting precious time. If you do have to stop and think, or don’t bother to stop and think, the impact of your writing may be lost.
Where do you see the future of writing assistance going?
I see my future in writing assistance in helping small businesses and individuals with whatever they may need. I can research and write any number of articles, or I can simply (and quickly) proofread what you have written. I also plan to continue helping students who are working to earn high school diplomas and/or specialty certifications. I hope I will have more clients like Isaac, who are in difficult situations and lack the ability to write their way out of it.