Welcome back to our writer interview series where we give readers a closer look at the background of the writers that work with iNeedArticles.com.
Our second interview is with Steve M. who has worked with iNeedArticles for around 10 years now. In the age of the Internet, that makes him a dinosaur – no offense, Steve 🙂
Seriously though, we’re proud of the fact that we’ve had writers working with us for that length of time, particularly with how quickly the world of digital marketing changes. It just goes to show that people who create quality content will always be in demand. And we make it our job to find and retain writers that create high quality content!
Without further ado, we hope you enjoy this latest writer interview:
The Writers On INeedArticles | A Writer Interview Series
What’s your professional background?
Been in public relations and marketing for 30 years. Honors degree in Journalism. Ex Managing Editor of coffee table magazines in Singapore – Investment and Property focused., Head of Corporate communications (divisional – Smarter Cities and liaison with BHP Billiton Client) at IBM in Singapore. Headed up a Public relations division for DDB Advertising. Still consult to Baird’s Communications – International PR firm. Myriad other positions in the corporate communications field. Currently online editor for privacy and security newsletter for Asian client.
Tell us about your writing experience
Ummmm. A lot. I’ve written press releases, long form and even dissertations. I’ve done business plans and crisis communication. I’ve down scripts and payoff lines for major corporations.
You name it – I’ve done it or advised someone how to do it.
Tell us about the best book you’ve read recently
That’s really interesting question because I read a lot – Stephen King said if you cannot read you cannot write. I’ve just finished rereading ‘What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s always worth another look and a think. I also reread A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. This may give people the impression that I have a short attention span. But I find if you read a book and then take some time and digest the contents revisiting it can give more insight into the content. New books? I am wading through Stephen Hawkings ‘The Grand Design’. It’s incredibly thought provoking.
Although – guilty pleasure (not- he’s very good) – I’m reading the “Destroyerman’ series by Taylor Anderson
Which blogs do you read?
I must admit that I am a sucker for news and menus. I love to read news sites and blogs from all over the place as far as the political spectrum is concerned. I always say that it’s crazy cake – it’s just the icing that is a different flavour. If you want to get a balanced opinion you need to veer from right to left. So Huffungton Post and Drudge Report. And a myriad of others. And tech then Wired and Techcrunch. I follow about 25 blogs and sites. And food sites too many to mention – but I love the Gizmodo sites – and io9 and its sister site TheTakeOut are fantastic (all of the sites are great).
All the ‘Vice’ sites are good
What professional organizations do you belong to?
None. I’m a freelance writer.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I have always envied those who could draw and paint. They bring memories to life. But I realised many years ago that I can do the same with words. Words are a blunt instrument – but even a blunt instrument can open the mind to wonder. But there is not only that wonder – there is also the ability to sell and to make consumers want products. The written word is tremendously powerful when used in the right way. Words can sing like an orchestra. That is what attracts me to writing
How would you describe your writing style?
That is a very difficult question. I have written for so many different organisations in so many different fields. I have written corporate video scripts and ad scripts for ad campaigns. I have written long form articles and press releases. I have been a managing editor for coffee table books and worked for multinationals in internal and external; coms. I would say – if pushed that my style depends entirely on the client brief. I very adaptable when it comes to style.
How do you perform research for writing assignments?
Everyone uses the Internet for research. However, there is a difference between people who simply enter a search query and those who know something about the subject. If you don’t know at least a little bit about your subject then you are going to struggle. I pride myself on being a generalist. I know lots and lots about lots and lots of things. And that helps me in my research.
How do you proofread or edit your own work?
Proofreading your own work is probably one of the most challenging parts of being a writer. I usually ask a third party to have a good look at what I have written.
What makes good content? How do you know if a piece of content will perform well?
It’s simple. And complex. That makes very little sense. But stay with me.
Stick to the basics. An intro. Where, when, how, where and who.
The What will follow.
And then you appeal to an emotion.
But – I like curiosity and laughter.
Grab a reader immediately and ask a question that they want answered. Then you have great content. If you can hold them from one paragraph to another and they read the whole way through and walk away thinking ‘Wow, that was interesting’ then you have great content.
How do you talk about a dry or technical subject without relying on industry jargon?
You appeal to a human emotion.
A circuit is just a circuit, a medical innovation is wonderful – but how does it make a difference to people’s lives? No one wants a dry explanation. The nature of human psychology dictates that people will always be asking ‘what about me and the people I care about?’
Or the world – what does this actually mean for the place I live in?
What do you do to create SEO-friendly content?
I must admit smashing words into content has never been my favorite thing. It’s doable until it becomes clumsy. Longtail SEO is far, far better.
It’s a chore, but you need to think about sentence structure. How can you make a phrase work? If it can’t then it can’t. My advice to clients has always been – ‘think about what you are trying to accomplish’. Don’t try and game search engines. Unless you have deep pockets to try advertising with them – don’t bother. Rather go for great content with interesting observations that add value to the reader.
How do you decide what tone to use with a particular piece of writing?
Audience. It’s all about the audience. Demographics is everything.
How do you determine whether a source is credible?
Cross check. I do trust sources such as Reuters. But I have zero trust in mainstream media. They are too invested in their audience. That may seem contradictory given that I have said that audience is everything. But here’s what I believe – the crazy cake remains the same – the flavour of the icing might differ – but the cake is still there. So NBC, CNN, Drudge Huffington Post, BBC – (among others) -read them all – then write.
What experience do you have with non-text content (images, infographics, etc.)?
Only advice on how to structure them. I am completely comfortable with my favorites like wordclouds, strategy gen charts and timelines and comics and video etc. I am fortunate enough that I can make a call and find someone who really knows their stuff and knows me and can translate into killer content.
Which style guide do you prefer to follow?
How did you find INA?
I have been with INA for around 10 years. I simply cannot remember – but it was through an Internet search I assume.
Why do you write for INA?
INA provides additional income and it also provides interesting topics which broaden my mind and keep my writing skills sharp. I don’t do as much writing as I used to so it is valuable to keep those skills fresh.
What are your favorite writing assignments?
I prefer long form articles. Subjects vary. I am fairly well rounded when it comes to general knowledge. Prefer to stay away from rewrites.
What experience(s) do you have with ecommerce or internet marketing?
Currently wholesale manager for a number of ecommerce sites. Familiar with Internet marketing.
Bonus: Are you a published author? How do we find your content?
I’m not published (yet) working on it. People are starting to nag. But you can check out my blog at
Adults only. And no. I’m not angry all the time. I’m actually the nicest and most clam person you will ever meet. I like puppies and kittens. And small children. And trees.