Living the Writer's Life: Curtis Dennis
Former Commercial Carpenter Discovers ‘B2B Clients Are People Too!’
What was life like before you began your career as a B2B copywriter?
I worked as a commercial carpenter and contractor since graduating high school in 1980. The work is ridiculously physical, but I always loved it. I’ve worked on Las Vegas casinos and LA skyscrapers, and one of my last projects was the Starlink satellite plant in Redmond Ridge for SpaceX.
The commute was always the toughest part of the workday, because the job address constantly changed. Most contractors consider projects within a 100-mile radius of the office as local.
You shared some of your writing journey while serving as the B2B Reality Blogger. What important lessons did you learn during this time?
The biggest lesson I learned is that not every prospect makes an ideal client. My first couple of clients had a very hit-or-miss flow of project work. And their whole publishing process, from pitching ideas to getting published, moved at glacial speed. One month I could get six articles through, and the next, only two.
The Reality Blog has a very organized flow, with regular, never-changing deadlines, and I wasn’t used to that. As a result, the position forced me to improve my project organization from start to finish, so I never missed a deadline.
Why B2B? What is it about this type of writing that you enjoy the most?
Unlike a mom-and-pop business, these B2B companies have an actual budget for content, copy, and SEO services, and they don’t mind paying a fair price for quality work.
Additionally, B2B clients understand that consistent blog and social media posts are pretty much a necessary evil to protect their SERP [search engine results page] rankings. Because they want a consistent voice and tone across their website, they prefer to work with one agency or copywriter for all their needs.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about B2B writing?
I initially thought that B2B meant using a monotone voice, spewing forth a bunch of stats and data that would bore most people to death. I was also sure that I would have to curtail my snarkiness and humor working with B2B clients, so I didn’t jump on the B2B bandwagon, at least not right away.
Surprise! B2B clients are people too, and they appreciate a bit of humor and wit to help break up the facts and data on their web pages. It’s perfectly fine to make them smile a bit as they read.
What is your biggest piece of advice for new B2B writers trying to break into the industry?
Start by writing for the market you know the most about, which is probably your current career or occupation. I tried not writing for the construction industry, and it didn’t work out for me at all. To write a 1,000-word blog post would take me three days, since I had to spend two days researching the topic or product.
Since I’ve embraced the construction industry as my niche, research time for almost every project is minimal now, allowing me to complete more projects faster and increase my earnings.
What do you enjoy most about your writer’s life?
I enjoy working virtually anywhere with just my laptop instead of climbing around the job site wearing my tool bags. I can manage my business while visiting the grandkids in Phoenix or sailing on a cruise ship.
My work commute has gone from an hour and 40 minutes each way to less than 40 steps. Working construction, I’d burn through two tanks of gas each week; now I use less than one tank a month.
If you could live and write from anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’m already there! There’s a single two-lane road to get on or off Camano Island (no ferry). [Camano Island is a section of Puget Sound in Washington.] Surrounding my home is a 120–150-year-old forest of oak, pine, cedar, and Douglas fir trees. The climate sealed the deal for me. Since moving here in 2018, we’ve only had a dozen summer days over 80°F.
Curtis's Living The Writer's Life story was originally published in Barefoot Writer. To learn more about how you can start living your dream writer's life too, click here.
What help do you need to move forward with your version of the writer’s life? Let us know in the comments below so we can help guide you in the right direction.
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thanks for the inspiration!
I was motivated by reading Curtis's story. His realism impressed me when he realised he could write about the industry he had experienced. What a lovely place he lives in!
Thanks for the kind words and positive feedback. My only regret is that I waited ten years before making the career change to copywriting.