In July of 1938, Herb Caen wrote the first of what would ultimately result, 52 years later, in 16,000 It’s News to Me columns for the San Francisco Chronicle — each consisting of about 1,000 words. On December 17, 1989, Fox aired the first episode of an edgy animated television series called The Simpsons. Over 30 years later, the network has renewed the show for its unprecedented 31st and 32nd seasons, guaranteeing the series will reach an astounding total of at least 713 episodes. Finally, in 1764, The Hartford Courant published its first newspaper; 256 years later, it continues to produce daily newspapers, making it the oldest continually publishing paper in the United States.
It is with great pride that we take yet another step toward reaching the historic longevity of these media giants. Welcome to the third installment of Crowd Content’s Writer Spotlight.
This month, we honor the lasting dedication of Caen, The Simpsons, and The Courant by getting to know one of the earliest members of Crowd Content’s esteemed writing and editing teams: Sapphire Knight — aka Tracey.
ALSO – Need to hire freelance writers?
Just last month, Tracey reached her seventh year with Crowd Content — a feat achieved by few others. It all began with a Marketplace order compelling businesses to use new, cutting-edge click-to-call technology. Seven years and over 4,600 orders later, Tracey continues to provide our clients with high-quality content, serving primarily as an Managed Projects editor.
While you may have chatted with her in the forum or through order chat, it isn’t until now that we uncover the true person behind the friendly comments and helpful feedback. Let’s dim the lights, grab some popcorn, and dive deep into this no-holds-barred interview.
Though she’s made the rounds through Toronto, Belleville, and Smiths Falls, Tracey keeps returning to a small tourist town in Prince Edward County, Ontario. After spending years in the healthcare industry, she chose a new path and earned some IT certifications before operating a successful consultancy in Smith Falls. But, following the birth of her fourth child, Tracey sought a new career that would allow her more time at home with her children. It was then that her writing career began — well, the paid part of her writing career.
“I’ve wanted to be a writer for as far back as I can remember,” Tracey says. “I started working on the craft at 13, but at that time, instead of paychecks, all I got were rejection letters. It wasn’t until 1998, so about 22 years ago, that I started writing professionally.” Like many of us, getting those first payments for writing seemed surreal to Tracey. “I remember when I got that first paycheck for writing, and I remember worrying that I’d wake up some morning just to find out it had all been a dream.”
Tracey’s focused heavily on the IT niche, writing weekly columns for three popular IT certification websites and working on long-form projects, including an MCSE study guide, a Project 2000 BlackBook for Coriolis Technology Press, an A+ Certification Passport for Osborne/McGraw-Hill, and countless educational materials for a company called Total Seminars. Tracey also writes fiction under several pen names and has been both traditionally and self published, and one of her works was mentioned in The Washington Post in December of 2015.
So, how does this lead her to Crowd Content? As it turns out, our CEO, Clayton, played a role in her recruitment. “When I became burnt out by the IT industry (I never had more than four weeks to complete 600-page books because everything changes so quickly), I started looking for another venue that would allow me to work from home. In early 2013, I visited the WAHM writing discussion boards and noticed a post by a gentleman named Clayton. He’d just started a new company and was looking for writers. I applied immediately and was accepted as a four-star writer. As soon as I started here at Crowd Content, I knew I’d found something special.”
Something special? While I’d never stoop to solicit compliments for our platform, I felt the need to dig deeper. “There are so many things that set Crowd Content apart from other platforms, including pay rates, twice-weekly pay days, the clients, the chat boxes and the forums,” Tracey volunteered without prompting. “I think the main thing that sets us apart though is the people. We have a great bunch here, and everybody is so friendly and helpful.”
Tracey does acknowledge that we’re not perfect, however. When asked how we could possibly improve, she offered this: “I would love it if we had a dedicated support phone line for writers and editors. When you’re chasing a deadline and the power goes out, it can be difficult or impossible to email support or post in the forum. I think having a contact number would be useful to pass information along to the project managers, who would then be able to reassign an order or provide an extension. That way writers wouldn’t get strikes due to something beyond their control.” Actual conversations with real people? How very progressive of you, Tracey.
With over two decades of writing and editing experience, including these last seven years with Crowd Content, Tracey knows a thing or two about perseverance and getting noticed. She offered this advice to new writers: “Keep at it. If you’re not seeing many jobs in the marketplace, keep going until you start getting direct orders and also use your time to apply for managed content work. If you’re receiving revision requests and are starting to doubt your abilities, think of it as a learning opportunity and keep going.”
She feels that tracked changes are a critical resource for new writers. “It’s also important to check the tracked changes on your orders, both when they come out of editing and after they’ve been through QA. Sometimes when we’re in a hurry, we might go ahead and make changes without sending a revision request or making a note in the chat box. Reading through your tracked changes will help you see the little things that you might not have noticed before and help you perfect your writing.” That’s solid advice.
Many writers know little about the life of an editor. When asked what she finds most challenging about editing, Tracey responded, “I think the most challenging thing is being mindful of different writing styles. Just because someone’s writing style differs from mine, doesn’t make their style incorrect. I often ask myself before making edits whether the edit is truly needed or if it represents one of my preferences. If I decide I’m making the change based on my own preferences, I don’t make it.”
With those little nuggets of wisdom out of the way, let’s wrap this up with the real reason you’re here — the things only those closest to Tracey could possibly know.
Do you have any hobbies or unusual interests? “I don’t know that it’s unusual, but I spend a lot of time researching ancient and medieval royal history and following the every move of current day royals.”
Who is your favorite author? What’s your favorite book? “I wish I could say something profound here, but unfortunately, I can’t. My favorite author is probably Jackie Collins, and my favorite book that I’ve ever read was probably The Man Without a Face.”
What’s your favorite restaurant or meal? “My favorite meal is steak and perogies smothered in cheese sauce with bacon bits. It’s a heart attack on a plate, but I can’t get enough of it.”
What’s your favorite TV show or movie? “My favorite movie is Catch Me if You Can. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do enjoy Chicago Med.”
Complete this sentence: When I’m not working, I… “love to read. I’m always reading something.”
Tracey now joins the annals of those in the spotlight before her, including Lee Soren and Carrie McCarthy, and we thank her for taking the time to give us a peek into her personal life. It’s through the hard work of writers and editors like Tracey that Crowd Content has become a trusted source of publish-ready content across the globe.
Join us next month as we attempt to deliver an unprecedented fourth edition in this series; maybe it’ll be about you!