You don't know Jacq.
Let's fix that.
Allow me to introduce myself…
I’m Jacqueline, a copywriter, editor, and author out of Chicago.
When you launched your website and wrote your first few blog posts, you thought people would flock to your page—because you’re an innovator and a creator, but they’re not, and you don’t know why.
Your writing seems to fall flat. It's like no one even cares, no one is listening, and worse—you’re getting radio silence. You cringe every time you start tweaking the words on your website and do something else instead.
Your writing feels like word vomit. You’re writing a lot, but you’re afraid to share it.
Your writing is full of jargon—you don’t even want to read it.
You write this way because someone told you it would make you sound smart.
I get it. Spending 13+ years in the corporate world, including big government and fancy boardrooms with inappropriately large shiny walnut tables, I had to write a lot of jargon. I was paid to write jargon.
I’m a copywriter and editor for startups and solopreneurs who don’t have the time or patience for writing and have businesses to grow. I take the burden of creating compelling content off their already full plates and write engaging online copy that speaks directly to their clients.
I grew believing I should get a job at a big company, wear button down shirts, work hard, and climb the ladder. I thought having an “office job” was considered the gold-standard. As the oldest daughter to an off-the-boat immigrant parent, I learned that following the rules and doing what I was told was how to get ahead. I got really good at this.
I've always loved work. I quit the volleyball team when I was 15 to work more hours at my cashier job because I loved making money. I loved the freedom money brought. I loved contributing to something in a meaningful way and feeling like I was part of something bigger.
I became an expert corporate ladder climber.
As a management consultant before having kids, I worked hard, got promotions, and doubled my salary in just a few years. I also didn’t kill myself at work. I'm a big believer in work-life boundaries (balance is a myth). I arrived and left the office at reasonable hours, went to the gym at lunch, and usually ducked out early on Friday’s and ignored email on the weekend.
A year after having my son, my Managing Director called me into his office, where I sat down with some dude from HR who I'd never met. It took me a minute to realize what was happening. Then I noticed the look on my boss’ face. I was getting shit-canned. I wasn’t the only one. We had lost some big projects to the tune of several million, so a few people had to go.
I rode the train home that day totally numb. I’ve worked my entire life, who am I without work? I held my shit together until I got home, and then I cried. I cried an ugly cry only someone who had no idea what they were going to do with their life. Plus the extra stress of being a mom, having a mortgage, and being a significant financial contributor to the household kind of cry.
At this time, we had been toying with the idea of moving to Canada (my home and native land) from Chicago, so we could be closer to my family. Our son was a year old, so having some help would be a blessing. I’d look for a job in Toronto instead. It happened pretty quickly; I landed a RIM-job (I had to) at BlackBerry in record speed. This was when BlackBerry was doing extremely well. Private U2 and Def Leppard concerts kind of well. I landed an awesome gig as a crisis communications specialist, and they paid to relocate me and the fam.
You're fired... again!
I think you know where this is going. As people swapped their BlackBerry for an iPhone, RIM shares tanked. News cameras flocked outside our buildings a few times a week. We knew it was coming. This time, I was prepared. I carried a spare BlackBerry and my personal laptop to work with me every day in case my pink slip was coming. On the day I walked into work with a hunch that this was going to be my last day, I told my co-workers to head to the nearest Starbucks if we all got fired. When a Director walked over to my cubicle to grab a co-worker and myself, told us to not touch a thing, and come with him, I thought I was having a flashback. I wiped my company BlackBerry while following him. He brought us to a room where we met another manager and a lady from HR with the layoff face. I was now a mom of two by then, and my husband was craving a move back to the States. I sat down, and the room got even more awkward when I said, “I know how this works, can you just point to the severance?”
It turned out they were rehiring everyone who left the consulting company I got my start with in Chicago. They needed us pretty quickly. Obamacare was just picking up steam, and they needed lots of people to run some government programs. We sold our Toronto-suburb home and found ourselves back in Chicago in a month flat. Record-breaking time for an international move.
This time was different though. With two young kids, I had little patience for any demands on my time outside of business hours. I also started to resent it. We lost some contracts (again), and they fired everyone (again).
Job security is an illusion.
It was then; I knew in my heart that there was no such thing as “job security.” You create your own security. At that time, I had a growing side business. I had switched our family to a plant-based diet and was blogging regularly, had some private clients, and was teaching some local cooking classes. I wanted to take this side hustle full time, but the timing wasn’t right.
I really didn’t want to just get “another job.” I was so over corporate America. But we had just bought a house—did I mention we were closing just five days after I was laid off for the THIRD time? I had to get more work—management consulting to the rescue! I enjoyed most of my time working there, I got to focus on corporate communications, met some awesome people, and had let my vegan cooking business fizzle out when bacon walked back onto my plate.
Being a working mom was always important to me. After I had each of my two kids, I was both anxious to get back to work to flex my brain in a different way, talk to grown-ups, and keep growing. I wanted to be an example for my kids and show them that moms can be successful and still have a healthy meal and a happy mom to come home to. I felt so passionate about being a working mom and not apologizing for it that even wrote a book about it. I woke up every morning at 5 am, spent countless hours inhaling lattes at Starbucks, and stayed up way too late for months to get it done in time for my 35th birthday, and I did it.
Then something changed. I was doing so many things, and I was sucking at all of them. I was doing the minimum at work, rushing around all the time to get to the next thing—work, hockey practice, horseback riding, dinner, rinse, and repeat—oops, forgot deodorant again! I was too stressed and scattered to spend more than a minute saying goodnight to my kids.
Something was broke. I was doing it wrong.
I feel like an dork telling you this because these are all the things I preached about in my book, and I wasn’t listening to my own advice. I got lost somewhere along the way. I felt like I was having an emergency. I needed a change—and I needed it so urgently that I dove in face first.
It was time to create a life I looked forward to living.
Writing amazing copy online was the answer.
Having been a few years into blogging, and writing more; both for myself and for my corporate clients—I realized what lit me up. It was writing! I wanted to do it all the time. I craved more. I offered to edit all our company’s internal communications, they let me, and I loved it. My corporate job gave me a lot of creative freedom with some of my work—and I learned to find my voice. Seriously, they let me send an email to 500 people about national tortilla chip day.
I wanted to help more people with their writing, so I reached out to some of my friends and former colleagues with an offer. I told them I’d give them a few hours of my time to write or edit anything they needed help with in return for some candid feedback and a testimonial.
A few people took a chance on me—and I was able to give them things they could share with the world that they’d been holding onto for ages—a blog post that made magazine's pick up the phone, a website that gave my clients the confidence to quit their job and take their hustle full-time. I also wrote bios that made photographers confident to share their website, proposals that made clients say, “F*CK YA!”, and even a job description that got someone a big fat promotion.
I was onto something. I updated my website, deleted all the vegan recipes, told a few more friends, added a price list and carried on. I didn’t advertise, I didn’t pimp my services to everyone I knew in a slimy way, and something magical happened—people found me, and hired me. Every evening, I’d write and edit my ass off for my new clients. I received rave reviews and they’d pass my name along to someone else, and someone else, and someone else. Before I knew it, I had so much extra work in addition to my day job that I had to start turning it down.
I explained to my kids that for the next few months mommy would be really busy with work. I told them, it might seem like I’m working all the time—and really, I was. I’m doing this extra work now so that I can be around more for you later. I hope they understand someday, or that I’ll make it up to them in the coming years. I told them I’d be able to get them from school at the end of the school day, I wouldn’t need to drop them off at 6:30 am anymore so I could catch the early train or beat traffic. I’d come on field trips, we wouldn’t need to eat breakfast in the car anymore, and I’d probably be a heck of a lot happier.
I dove face first into writing.
After 13 years as a management consultant, managing multi-million dollar projects, I read so much corporate business jargon. Worse—I had to write a lot of it too. I’d push my corporate clients to write more like a human, and bit by bit, they’d notice a difference. They actually wanted to read what they wrote. But then somewhere up the line, it would get rejected and someone would re-jargonize it. You see, I believe we should be brief and clear in all our writing.
This was a life change.
I could not write one more word of corporate speak. It started to physically hurt. The year I finally quit my day job I was sick all the time. I was always run down with some kind of bug.
I closed a chapter that was so familiar to me—13 years to be exact. I officially resigned from my corporate job and dove into being my own boss full time. With the support of my husband, kids, and former colleagues, I get to work wherever I can have an internet connection. This is why after 13 years, I put the corporate-speak down for good so I could write like a human. Instead of using buttoned-up words like “utilize” and “enable,” I choose words like, “use” and “allow.”
Writing is magical.
Today, like magic, I bounce out of bed on Monday mornings and every morning. Sunday blues are a thing of the past. The clients I work with are inspiring and also hate jargon! They’re people who have read jargon and are over it. They want to do something different. I get to be a thought partner to my clients.
Let’s give jargon the middle finger, shall we?
Want to work (drink wine) together? Click here.
When I'm not word jamming with badass clients, find me indulging in salty chocolate and red wine—always at the same time.
peek into my journal & read the Jacqifesto
like a manifesto, but JACQ-ed up!
In spending more time with people than with screens
Working moms should never feel guilty
Most people are trying
Overtipping is a nice surprise
In short emails & handwritten letters
In writing the first thing that comes to mind
In changing my mind
Red wine is my religion
Purse-chocolate is a thing, so is eating it before dinner
In never saying you’re busy – we all are, and no one really cares
Kids have more to teach us than we have to teach them
A well-placed F- bomb goes a long way
Eat whatever the F*ck you want – no apologies
Dogs have human souls
When writing, being brief and human are highly seductive
In white space