The Short version
Who we are
True North Content, in five bullet points:
- More than 50 years’ combined experience
- Our clients range from multi-national enterprises and government to local start-ups
- We can write pretty much anything you choose to throw at us
- We’re happiest wrangling complex subjects that others can’t (or won’t) touch
- No egos, just top-notch work.
Why we exist
Our mission boils down to one thing: creating content that’s useful.
Easy to say. Hard to do.
People call us up when they sit down to write, and get stuck. When you try and write about your expertise yourself, you get caught up in what you already know. You need someone with the perspective of the people you want to reach. Someone who has the smarts and persistence to really wrap their head around the subject. And the empathy to step right back, and take the perspective of the people you want to reach.
Hard-edged analysis and careful listening — that combination is what True North Content does best.
The Long version
The long version
This is where I share more of my personal story, and what drives me. I even use the word ‘journey’, but only once.
True North Content was founded by me, Matt Fenwick. I always loved words: somewhere there is a photo of nine-year-old me, clutching my Christmas present to my chest, lying on the floor, overcome with delight. It was a Collins Dictionary-Thesaurus.
I hauled myself through Uni, picking up an Honours Degree in Law, along with a University Medal In English. Pretty soon, though, I realised that it wasn’t law itself that captured my interest, but two other questions:
- How do you distill complex information?
- How do you translate that so it makes sense to people?
Not only was I an incurable word nerd, I was also hopelessly idealistic. I thought that writing had a role to play in helping people.
I still do.
For a while, I worked in government communications, moonlighting as a freelance writer. I trained up in PR and web communication. My day job started to go stale. In government, there was little room to step back, and ask ‘why are we doing this?’ When I discovered content strategy, I realised I’d found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I also realised that to pursue the work I loved, I should go after it myself. That’s when I left government to create my own business (a journey you can read about in my book, Life without Lanyards).
Steadily, True North Content grew. Larger projects came through the door, so I built up a network of hand-picked writers, editors and strategists.
On your project, there could be any combination of specialists, but I’ll always be in the middle, pulling it all together and making sure it’s work that we can all be proud of.
Expertise: Content Strategy, Writing, Training and coaching
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (Honours, Class 1), University Medal in English, Bachelor of Laws (Honours, Class II), Postgraduate certificate in professional communication
Animal he most closely resembles: Basset hound
Natassja Hoogstad Hay
Expertise: Digital marketing strategy, social media, writing
Qualifications: Masters in Communications Management, Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Bachelor of Asian Studies
Animal she most closely resembles: A cat (Russian Blue)
Expertise: UX research, strategy, project management
Qualifications: Graduate Diploma in International Business, Advanced Diploma in Professional screenwriting, Bachelor of Arts
Animal she most closely resembles: A panda
How we work
We’ll adapt our process to suit, so we start with an open mind and pin down the process from there.
One thing we should let you know upfront – we’re more thorough than most content providers out there. If you’re looking for a content writer who does one thirty minute skype call then dashes off and pumps out the pages, we’re probably not the right fit.
Much of that content reads like it was copied off the back of a cereal box. It’s not distinctive and often, it just doesn’t work.
Quality counts for us, so we want to understand your business. That doesn’t have to take a long time. Just the right time.
We’re not precious. It’s your content, so we work to your schedule, your availability, and your goals. The reason that we’re upfront is that we don’t just want to land another client. We want you to feel comfortable that you’re in the right hands, and know exactly what to expect.
Now we’ve got that out in the air, let’s talk process. Here’s how a typical writing project runs.
1) Initial discovery session, to identify goals, business requirements and constraints. We’ll also spend time finding out about your stakeholders: who’s input is needed, and what’s the best way to source this.
2) Research: we use a broader spectrum of approaches than what you might have seen elsewhere. That means we use a combination of empathetic listening, geeky data crunching, and hard-nosed sleuthing.
3) Engagement: we’ll liaise with your point person right throughout the project, and use online project management software, so you know exactly where the work is up to, in real time.
4) Delivery: we will create the high-level frameworks and presentations, and alongside that, we will also give credible, concrete recommendations.
1) Understanding your goals. We work out what you need. If you’ve got a clear goal in mind, we can move through this stage fairly quickly. Or, if you need help defining your objectives, we may suggest a targeted discovery exercise. It’s your call.
2) Writing a proposal. Once we understand your needs, we put together a proposal. This sets out what we’ll deliver and how, as well as our terms and conditions. A few things to note:
- We mostly work to fixed-price contracts, as that gives both parties maximum focus and control over costs. We’ll spell out the circumstances where additional costs apply (where you want extra work).
- Hourly-rate contracts are also doable if you’ve got a strong preference for this.
- We’ll list inclusions and exclusions. For example, we’ll say roughly how many pages are going to be written, and how long we’ll spend on project management. We’ll also let you know what’s out of scope, so you can make sure that’s covered.
3) Once you approve the proposal, we send an invoice. Billing will typically be broken up with a percentage due upfront, and the remainder due a given time after this. For larger projects, we may also include progress payments.
4) We get to work. On larger writing projects, we’ll send through an early set of pages to test our approach. That way, we can get feedback fast.
5) We adjust and revise. When you give feedback, we go away and fine-tune the content. Some clients worry about giving feedback. Please don’t. This is your content, so it’s our job to create content you’ll love.
6) Time for editing. When the content is approved, our editor will review the whole lot for any typos or formatting gremlins. Bringing in someone with fresh eyes right at the end is important: it’s easy to get too close to your content and miss things. Our editor’s job is to get your copy pristine and error-free.
7) Wrap-up. Champagne is popped. Boxes of Cadbury Celebrations are opened. You may wish to name your next child after us, but it’s not essential.
“Matt has a great passion for words… not just words to fill a gap, but the right words to convey true meaning and elicit the intended emotion from the reader. I will be using Matt and his skills over and over again in the years to come.”Don Grgic