Thank you for taking the time to stop by! Putting together this portfolio has brought me great joy, and I'm so excited to be able to share it with you.
For the better part of a decade, I worked at my church as the "communications specialist," which involved writing for blogs, email newsletters, brochures, posters, weekly Sunday bulletins, websites, mobile apps, bathroom advertisements (nicknamed "The Flush," I'm sorry to say), outdoor signs, social media accounts, and more.
Below are photos* of a guide from a church-wide Bible study project, a quarterly women's newsletter, and a class for hoarders (led by a licensed therapist)—all of which had to be written for audiences of different ages and backgrounds.
*I have lost the majority of my digital portfolio from this time period, so I apologize that I don't have proper PDF files of these.
During the interim between my time as a church communications specialist and my current full-time job, I launched the Second Breakfast Media website as a place to advertise my freelance proofreading and copy editing services. Since I knew that many of my prospective clients would be students or new writers, I wrote and published weekly blog posts with relevant advice and resources. It was a really fun way to find and connect with the people I wanted to work with. Here are two of my favorite articles:
Earlier this week, I celebrated my sixteen-year blogging anniversary! I was in high school when I first started writing for my friends in an online journal at Diaryland. It was somehow dreadfully banal and terrifyingly melodramatic at the same time.
As the blog itself developed, so did the writing—the angst of the Xanga and LiveJournal years evolved into more meaningful stories and adventures at Rachelskirts.com. The following are three of my favorite pieces from the past few years:
My first long-term foray into freelance writing was for a now-defunct personal finance website called Dimespring. Each month, I shared relevant advice and lessons learned from my own perspective with my own voice—a voice that was shouting, "Please, learn from my mistakes!" I've found and republished two of those blog posts here:
This book is an introduction to Auto Layout for iOS developers and is updated regularly to keep the code current and the "best practices" relevant. In 2016, I was brought on as the official copy editor—despite my lack of experience with Swift—because of my reputation for being tech-savvy and my passion for respecting the author's voice (in this case, charmingly snarky).
In hindsight, I have to cringe when I realize I was hired at my church because I kept finding errors in the weekly bulletin and sharing those mistakes with the reigning editor. When she resigned—for completely unrelated reasons, I hope—she suggested that I apply to take her place.
Thankfully, I found a wonderful mentor there who helped me grow and mature, and my reputation as a grammar snob was forgotten. Instead, I became the resident "wordsmith" and tried to be a resource among my coworkers.
Each year, I edited hundreds of brochures, booklets, postcards, webpages, blog posts, tweets, email newsletters, and more.
One of the most rewarding experiences of my life was working with Stories from the Trenches, a website for women to share and connect through what can feel like some of life's loneliest experiences: loss, abuse, illness, divorce, parenting, and heartache. I shared below about my work as creative director, but I especially enjoyed the hours I spent editing. Each piece was an opportunity to help someone express her pain, her growth, and her healing—and an opportunity to highlight the elements that would connect with an audience of women looking for hope, encouragement, and support. Of all the stories I edited, these two are favorites:
I own the @GrammarNazi account on Twitter (which I use sparingly and only to answer grammar questions—nicely—or to shut down grammar jerks), and I have also squatted @GrammarSauron just because it makes me laugh.
Before I had my own home, I slept with the Chicago Manual of Style in my nightstand.
Three favorite punctuation marks: semicolon, em dash, and ampersand.
A very wonderful woman in my life underwent a life-changing tragedy when her newborn son was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She wanted to use her story to create a community for women, a safe place for them to share their "stories from the trenches"—to no longer feel alone in their journeys of pain and healing. As cliched as it might sound, it was an absolute honor, joy, and privilege to work with Jen (and her team) to bring that vision to life.
As creative director, I took responsibility for creating the branding (logo design, social media templates, color palettes, and font families), designing the website, writing copy for the website, developing a submission process, doing the final round of editing on all submitted stories (including layout, typography, and imagery), creating and maintaining a secure forum, editing and publishing the weekly email newsletter, designing marketing campaigns for events and themed story series, and overseeing all the volunteer writers and editors and artists.
I could go on about this project for ages, but I'll stop. There are links above to the website and social media pages, and you can see a few of the story and series graphics below.
Below, I've shared photos from one of my favorite events, a Good Friday "multimedia walk-through experience." In the forty days leading up to the event, we shared a special devotional series on the church blog (written by a colleague, edited and published by me) to allow people to prepare for a more meaningful experience.
For the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, the entire church was converted into a bit of a maze, designed as a self-guided tour through a series of exhibits to recreate the last hours of Jesus' life before the crucifixion. Each guest received a booklet with more information about each key "scene," along with Bible verses and reflective writing prompts.
A few years ago, I asked Internet friends and strangers to help me tell a Mad Libs story via a video collaboration. I had enjoyed participating in a daily vlogging project for several years and truly loved the process of filming and editing YouTube videos. The response to the idea (which I pitched in this blog post) was overwhelmingly positive, and a new series was born.
While I was already comfortable with iMovie, I learned a lot about converting videos, adding elements of text and music, etc. Because I can't help myself, I also created a series of email templates in MailChimp to send out invitations and reminders to each week's participants. I bought a domain and asked a nerdy friend to help me generate sign-up forms and a database to allow people to join for a single video or participate in a regular rotation. My brother helped illustrate thumbnail images for each episode.
It started as a truly very silly idea and remained a very fun project throughout. Even neighbors and coworkers—people with no interest in social media or video—were clambering for a chance to submit their weird words. Here's one of my favorite episodes:
For three glorious episodes, I was able to sweet-talk my brother into doing a podcast with me. He and I really hit our stride as siblings and friends after I came back from college in Texas, and he gets my sense of humor in a way that no one else ever will. Since we also have a shared love of video games, sci-fi, and cartoons (and a shared hatred of chewing noises), I thought it'd be fun to record our conversations for friends and strangers to enjoy.
I bought two Blue Snowball microphones, found a site that offered royalty-free intro/outro music, and taught myself how to use Audible. It was really quite fun, and we only really quit because my brother found other ways to fill his time. I look forward to getting back into it when I find another co-host, but in the meantime, you can check out all three episodes at the website above.
I mentioned a few grammar-related Twitter accounts earlier, but I actually have a collection of nearly sixty-five usernames. Oops. One of the best ones I managed to acquire by being an early adopter of social media: @LOTR. I've been using that account to tweet through the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies, one line at a time, for nearly a decade now. I queue up the quotes in Buffer and have them tweeted on Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m. Central, which is precisely when my phone starts blowing up with notifications.
My first reward for this insanity is that I got to partner with Warner Bros. for a bunch of giveaways before the trilogy was released to Blu-ray. But my best reward is that I get very cute replies and messages from the 20,000+ Tolkien fans who follow that account. They're the sweethearts of the Internet who can find joy in a silly tweet like "Mushrooms!"