Retired or Semi Retired Baby Boomer in Western U.S.?

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

I’m writing a story for Horizon Airlines magazine on what Baby Boomers – aged 52-68 – are doing in their retirement years and what tips they have to share for others contemplating retirement.

I’m looking for stories about:

  •  How you are taking charge of your health and dietcolored pencils in can msb
  •  What you’re doing to keep your mind sharp
  • Where you are traveling
  • How are you cultivating and nurturing your social life
  • How are you developing new friendships or learning new skills
  • Have you started a new business
  •  Moved into a retirement home
  •  Started a farm
  • How are you pursuing your passion


I’m looking for people in the Western U.S., specifically  including:  Eugene, Medford, Klamath Falls, Redmond/Bend, Coos Bay/North Bend, EurPalouse clouds (2) (640x427)eka/Arcata, and Redding.

Also Fresno, Santa Barbara, Long Beach, Boise, Sun Valley, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Lewiston.     And also: Bozeman, Missoula, Great Falls, Butte, Billings, Yakima, Walla Walla, Bellingham, Wenatchee, Port Angeles, Denver,  Sonoma County, Monterey, and the Reno/Tahoe area.

Seattle, too.

In addition to telling me your story, please include tips do you want to share with those getting ready for retirement.

I am also looking for expert sources who can talk about what Baby Boomers are doing in retirement.

If you’d like to share your story, please put your city and some idea of your tip or story in the subject line, and email me at:

Please  include your age, location and previous occupation in the email. I will select sources for the article based upon your responses, so be sure to include a lot of details.horses running outline (640x427)

Feel free to share this with your friends who are doing cool things in retirement or semi-retirement.

Or, you could leave me your story in the comments.

Your choice. Thanks for your help.






Freelance Journalist Wins 4 WA Press Association Awards

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

Once in a blue moon, I find I need to write a press release about myself. Here’s the latest, which I’m writing for my local newspaper.

 Freelance Journalist Wins WA Press Association Awards

Freelance Journalist M. Sharon Baker won four awards from the Washington Press Association for her online and magazine work.MSFT The One That Started snip (415x527)

The Anacortes resident won two First Place awards, a Second and a Third from the WPA, which is an organization of Washington State professional communicators including print and online journalists, public relations practitioners and students in these fields.

Baker won:

  • First Place, Features, food for “Seattle’s Pizza Wars”, a story about the growth of startup MOD Pizza and other new pizzerias that plan national rollouts, which ran in the March 2013 issue of Seattle Business.



  • Second Place General News for “Startup Generates Electricity from HVAC System Thanks to UW Design, Testing” for the University of Washington’s magazine, The Trend in Engineering.


  • Third Place Business/Technology for “The One that Started It All:,” a story on Microsoft Corp.’s efforts to help startups for ID8Nation’s Seattle digital magazine.


A former reporter with The Skagit Valley Herald, The Puget Sound Business Journal, and the defunct Journal American of Bellevue, Baker has been an independent journalist since 2001. Her recent work appears in Nation’s Restaurant News, Alaska Airlines magazine and Seattle Business, among other publications.

Baker is also a freelance content writer who helps companies connect with customers by writing case studies, white papers, web copy and other marketing materials.



Content Marketing

Beware: Freelance Writers Are NOT Content Strategists

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

Lately, I’ve stumbled across several freelance writers trying to recast themselves as content strategists.

To me the trend is disturbing and shows a lack of understanding of what a content strategist is and does.

Some writers may have been unduly influenced by several content marketing gurus, one of which suggested in 2009 that journalists should consider taking on that title. Only the advice was premature, and shows a lack of understanding of the job title.stopsign1

Additionally many from the traditional publishing world are co-opting the content strategist title, using it to mean they know how to creating engaging content that many people like to share on social media. But sharing doesn’t equate to sales.

The Content Marketing Institute issued an apology recently for its previous inability to distinguish content marketing and content strategy, and is making a large effort to educate marketers and others about content strategy and strategists and how it is different but related to content marketing.

Here’s the problem: Writers are trying to show that they offer more than just a commodity service, and are trying to show ways they can add value.

Here’s what one veteran writer advocating that writers should call themselves strategists said,

“If writers are:

  • Planning blog post topics
  • Setting the blog schedule
  • Designing the social media campaign to socialize posts
  • Writing blog posts
  • Utilizing SEO Keywords
  • Finding photos

Then you’re basically running every aspect of the blog for the client (so) that tag is appropriate.”

Editorial Strategist or Blog Content Manager More Appropriate 

These writers don’t understand that Content Marketing is not just using your blog to bring traffic in. They are operating as Blog Content Managers, not content strategists.

Maybe they should call themselves Editorial Strategists.

Creating content and directing content strategy are two related but very different disciplines, with “strategist” encompassing knowledge of measurement, nurturing, lead generation, marketing automation and data analytics in addition to content creation and content marketing.

Content Strategy: Mapping Prospects to Content, Measuring Success

Content Strategists create the strategy and plan on how to convert an audience into customers using many forms of content. They do not simply measure their success based upon traffic to their blog posts or social media accounts, which is what many writers are offering.

Real content strategists, working with the marketing team, create buyer personas through interviews with actual company customers. They don’t just ask company executives who the company’s target audience is.

The content strategist then creates buyer personas, which can encompass many different points of view and decision-making power. The Content Strategist also creates a plan on how to reach these different prospects based upon where they might be in the buying process, a process she’s hammered out and confirmed with the sales team.

Based upon information she’s gleaned from sales and customers, she then creates content for the different personas and different buying stages, using different avenues of content distribution. She understands where her prospects look for content and knows what kind of content they are looking for.

She has also learned how many pieces of content they need to consume before a prospect becomes a sales qualified lead, and she knows how to analyze data from a marketing automation system if the company she’s working for uses one.

The Content Strategist also knows that the process is fluid and dynamic, and understands that content and buyer personas may change and thus her strategy and execution must be flexible and able to change as the market does.

As you can see, this content strategist does a lot more than just manage a blog and social media distribution of the blog posts.

How do you know whether your writer is also a content strategist? Ask him what his process is for developing buyer personas, and how he measures success of his content. If he spouts social media shares as his only metric, then you know he isn’t a content strategist.

I’ll concede that some writers may have developed marketing chops and have the experience to call themselves content strategists. But I’m sure that only fits less than 1 percent of all freelance writers.

Have you run into writers assuming the content strategist title? Did they have any more experience than simply running a blog? How did you verify their claims?

Case Studies/Marketing/Social Media

Case Study Success: Third Year as Top B2B Case on RainToday

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

For the third year in a row, I’ve written the top B2B case study on, based upon traffic the case drew for the top online resource for sales and marketing for professional services.

My case study on Babcock & Jenkins Inc. was honored for 2013, and featured the story of how the Portland, OR Content Marketing Agency competes with global giants.brownie

I interviewed Lauren Goldstein, vice president of Strategic Planning, who told me how the agency created a highly personalized, database driven, multi-touch marketing campaign designed to rise above the messages that typically bombard B2B technology marketers.

The case story included how the firm used gourmet brownies to appeal to their target audience.

Read how the B2B Agency landed six new customers, and increased sales by more than $1.5 million in the RainToday Babcock Jenkins case study. is the leading site professional services firms turn to for marketing and sales advice. With more than  120,000 members, RainToday serves up great content –insights, advice and tools –from top experts such as Jill Konrath, Charles H. Green and its own experts Mike Schultz and John Doerr.


Reader’s Choice Award May 1

RainToday Reader's Choice badgeI also earned RainToday’s Reader’s Choice Award on May 1 for another case study, which analyzed how Mahoney Internet Marketing used LinkedIn and content marketing to revamp its sales process.


Top Case Study in 2012: Law Firm Rebranding, Content Marketing, New Fees

In 2012, my top case study featured Michelle Bomberger of Equinox Business Law and how she rebranded the firm to appeal to large business clients, and launched a content marketing plan to increase awareness. Bomberger also added unlimited general counsel services for a monthly flat fee, which was a new fee structure. These moves helped her increase revenues nearly 84% in just two years.

Read the RainToday Equinox Case Study to learn exactly what Michelle did.


Top Case Study in 2011: Telecom Firm Guarantee, Implementation Fee

In 2011, my top case detailed how Consulting Firm ATC attracted large clients and grew revenue 50% using an implementation fee and a guarantee. Doing so helped Advanced Technology Consulting of Cincinnati take some of the risk out of the equation when large firms started working with them.

It also gave them a significant selling point, said CEO David Goodwin.

Read about the common small business mistakes Goodwin made and how the implementation fee works in the ATC Case Study.


Will You Be the Top Case Study in 2014?

I’m always on the lookout for service professionals (technology, marketing, accounting, law, and consulting, etc.) that have quantifiably increased their business through a specific marketing or sales activity or set of marketing activities.

Your company must operate in the B2B realm and have measurable results you are willing to share. Email me if you have an idea you’d like to pitch.

Additionally, I love to help companies sell with case studies. Feel free to contact me if you need help writing stories that sell.