Ministry of Prose: making words work for your business

One in a semi-regular series of ponderings, musings and contemplations on the interaction of words and psychology in business.



Felling the money tree

September 2015

Earlier this week I politely gave notice to half a dozen clients, including two of the biggest cloud technology companies in the world, that Ministry of Prose would no longer provide writing services to them after the end of October.

They've been exemplary clients and I have no complaints about any of them. In fact they've been lovely, even offering encouragement and advice about what I might do when I'm no longer writing for them.

This might seem a strange way to run a business. But there's at least some method to my apparent madness.

Content marketing is in vogue. Companies all over the world are using words to influence their potential customers, because words work. I'm good at writing and editing, which is why Ministry of Prose was hired by those companies. Brief initial contracts have been extended by months and years. I've written hundreds of thousands of words to help organisations sell their products and services. Effective words, influential words, persuasive and compelling words.

So, box ticked. I've proved beyond all doubt that I can do it. I've built another business from zero to thriving and profitable in just two years. If I should ever need references, I have an inbox full of glowing praise from high-profile clients.

Now what? More of the same? More writing about cloud accounting, small business guidance, online file storage, email tools, technology strategies and related matters? I could do that for the rest of my working life and live comfortably on the proceeds. After all, writing isn't exactly an onerous way to earn money. As Terry Pratchett said, it's indoor work with no heavy lifting.

But I've decided to stop for a while, take a step back and see what I could do that's more fulfilling. I believe there are more worthwhile uses for my talents than writing convincing corporate prose. Like a middle-aged ninja mercenary (complete with greying ear hairs), I'm tired of working solely for the money. I need something more.

I received some interesting suggestions in response to last month's blog post. I'm not yet sure which, if any, I will follow, but they've helped me make my decision. It's time to move in a different direction.

I have retained some clients, those whose work I believe is genuinely making a difference to people's lives. I may take on others that meet the same criteria, while I think about what to do next. But from now on, everything I do has to have a positive, meaningful influence. It has to count.

Alex Cruickshank is CEO and Chief Wordsmith at Ministry of Prose and likes to shake things up from time to time.

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