The History of RedShift Writers
RedShift Writers began as a content writing firm but evolved into so much more. We grew from a single writer who understood the importance of language to a team of writers who regularly collaborates to find the perfect voice for a wide range of clients. Today, RedShift Writers has refined our process through the daily practice of writing, thinking, researching, talking about language, mulling over tone and diction, and finding new ways to tell our clients’ stories.
Every one of our writers has contributed something unique to our company, whether it be a particular style, a fresh perspective, expertise in a specific field, or a refinement of our process. Our clients, too, shape the way we write and inform the stories we tell.
Chapter 1 | A Passion for Writing
RedShift Writers was founded by Daniel J. Cohen in December of 2012. Like most writers, Daniel realized a love of language at a young age. In grade school, Daniel was commended for being a talented descriptive writer; he was often asked by teachers to read his writing aloud. His knack for language soon landed him in debate, where he excelled as both a public speaker and a fierce challenger of ideas.
Inspired by the possibilities of policy discussions and parents who raised him to pay attention to his community, Daniel developed an interest in politics. He attended American University in Washington D.C. where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. During his four years in their undergraduate program, he learned the ins and outs of policy and public communication. He also penned editorials and participated in poetry slams.
During his sophomore year, Daniel realized that politics wasn’t exactly the way that he wanted to apply his talent for language, writing, and storytelling. After volunteering in political campaigns, he decided that he preferred other fields of professional communication such as journalism and public relations.
Daniel was fortunate enough to take a professional writing class that taught him how to write an article, how to write a press release, and how to write a news feature—skills that would be foundational for starting a career as a professional writer.
Chapter 2 | From Passion to Practice
Upon graduating in 2007, Daniel explored education, public relations, and professional writing. He didn’t become a professional writer overnight; he spent six months working phone jobs, substitute teaching, tutoring elementary school students, making sandwiches at a well-known sandwich shop, and hitting every networking event that he could find.
During his stint of odd jobs, Daniel enrolled in the University of Houston’s Communications program with a focus in PR. Determined to continue applying his talent for writing and put into practice the lessons he was learning from his graduate program, he pivoted from making submarine sandwiches and substitute teaching to standardized test prep and social media marketing for a nationally known company called TestMasters.
While working at TestMasters, he helped them build a significant social media following and amplified their brand as the fastest growing test prep company in the country.
Every time TestMasters coached a student to achieve a perfect score on the SAT or other standardized tests, he sent out a press release and picture to local news organizations so the world could see their success. He also promoted the company’s scholarship referral program, which not only helped many TestMasters students cover significant portions of their college tuition but also drove thousands of dollars in revenue for the company.
On top of all that, Daniel found time for passion projects and opportunities to learn more about writing. He covered boxing matches, writing about the details of each match. He covered every blow, block, defeat and victory, which attributed to his fast, punchy writing style.
Chapter 3 | Building a Brand
A year into juggling school, test prep, and boxing journalism, Daniel attended an event sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America. The speaker at this event was Jason Arcemont, owner of BrightBox Brand Marketing. Jason’s presentation focused on the importance of self-branding in public relations.
There were two things that Jason said during his presentation that stood out:
- “What’s written is important. When you write down your story, it takes on authority it didn’t previously have.”
- “In business, it’s important to brand yourself as a problem solver. Instead of saying you’re willing to learn how to do something you can’t do, identify a problem that you can solve and offer a solution.”
Daniel put two and two together. He sent Jason an email that evening, and they set up a meeting.
During their first meeting, Jason asked Daniel what he planned on doing with his career. Daniel told him that he definitely wanted to pursue a career in writing.
”Right now, what I really want to do is write. And I’m still figuring out where my long-term path is. I know that I want to write. I really like doing it. I’m passionate about it. I’ve always been good at it, and it’s always spoken to me since I was little. It’s near and dear to me.”
With that, Daniel was brought on board to write for BrightBox and their clients. He began to brand himself as the person he was destined to become: a professional writer.
At BrightBox, Daniel wrote for energy, industrial, and healthcare clients as he continued earning his degree and teaching SAT prep. On top of all that, Daniel also began working as a corporate writer for The Greensheet, a Houston staple with a catchy jingle and a reputation for connecting buyers and sellers.
Chapter 4 | Starting a Company
You would think a nine-to-five job meant that work ended at five, but in Daniel’s case, writing was an all day affair. He found himself writing from sunrise to sunset. During the day, he handled in-house projects for The Greensheet; during the evening, he wrote for freelance clients.
That experience demonstrated an important truth about the emerging era of digital marketing: content mattered. A lot. Social media, search engine optimization, and modern public relations depended heavily on the quality of your content. Writing had always mattered for PR and advertising, but it was now becoming more important than ever.
Furthermore, options for content writers in the Houston market were limited. There were a handful of content firms, but for the most part, if you wanted strong writing you had to choose between freelance copywriters and full-service marketing firms. Freelance copywriters were often a roll of the dice; many did not have the process, experience, or capability to handle a wide range of clients. Marketing firms, on the other hand, often hired freelancers and charged a markup with virtually no added quality assurance.
Sensing a gap in the content writing industry, Daniel officially decided to start a company. He put out a press release, made a website, and announced Houston’s newest content writing firm:
Chapter 5 | Forming a Team
From the inception of RedShift, Daniel set out with a vision to build the most dynamic team of writers in the City of Houston. The dream was to have writers with diverse expertise, unique perspectives, and ideas that brought something new to the table.
At first, Daniel tried to find writers by posting ads, frequenting networking events, and utilizing other traditional methods of finding talent. But those methods proved to be too impersonal to find the kind of talent he was looking for. It can be difficult to tell from a resume and school transcript if someone has the curiosity, care, and experience necessary to write great content. People at events sponsored by business organizations typically have their guard up, which can make it difficult to get a true understanding of how they think. Even writing samples can be misleading; without seeing how the samples are developed, it’s difficult to determine whether or not a writer can do the job. In some cases, a great writing sample had less to do with the applicant’s writing ability and more to do with the fact that they had a good editor.
Many of the best writers Daniel found came through word-of-mouth and were vetted with casual, face-to-face meetings in a coffee shop or restaurant. In these relaxed environments, Daniel and potential writers had the opportunity to talk, share their thoughts on language, and express their feelings about the world around them.
Slowly, writers emerged and joined the team.
Cece, a mother and children’s book author with a strong understanding of voice and the importance of empathizing with her audience, displayed a talent for producing thoughtful content across a wide variety of industries.
Natalie—a logical, inquisitive, trilingual educator—met Daniel at the birthday party of a mutual friend. They spent much of the party in a de facto French lesson with her and her fiance, Pierre, that exemplified her love of language and teaching.
Rachel met Daniel through Natalie; their early conversations of her work at the Museum of Fine Arts and their mutual love of local art and performance showed how much she cared about the creative process and attention to detail. She joined RedShift Writers as a thorough, dependable editor.
Cris—who had played music in a band with Daniel in high school—began working on accounts for both B2C and B2B clients. He not only demonstrated a knack for writing creative content but also showed that he could improvise while collaborating with clients to turn their ideas into tangible, fully-realized campaigns.
In 2014, Daniel met two more writers. Joanna had just graduated from St. John’s University in New Mexico, and was exploring the world of journalism. Alex was finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature at Texas State University. The three of them got into a spirited discussion about writing to persuade versus writing to enlighten and decided that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. (After all, education is one of the best forms of persuasion).
Joanna interned with RedShift Writers that summer before moving to New York to pursue journalism. Alex started working at RedShift Writers a few months later, eventually becoming the Creative Director of the company.
Many writers have come through RedShift Writers and have gone on to other endeavors, including well-known journalistic outfits, governmental institutions, and successful commercial brands. RedShift Writers is proud to have been a small yet important part of their stories.
Chapter 6 | Lightning Fast Content Writers. Live to Write. Write to Brand.
Initially, our market position centered around public relations and brand marketing. Our slogan was “Lightning Fast Content Writers. Live to Write. Write to Brand.” We emphasized speed as a competitive advantage because clients wanted to earn a prominent spot in the rapidly evolving digital news cycle.
RedShift Writers’ relationship with BrightBox also influenced us to consider our client’s brand in everything we wrote. We had become accustomed to working with business leaders and their marketing teams to answer the question, “How is this business unique?” We took to books like “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” and “Copywriter’s Handbook”, and strove to write memorable slogans, catchy headlines, and other content that would get stuck in the minds of consumers.
Just as graphic designers have to consider a brand’s visual style—colors, layout, fonts, etc.—we realized that we had to consider how each company talked to their audience. We identified this element of their brand as their voice.
Eventually, we incorporated our ideas of brand voice into BrightBox founder Jason Arcemont’s book The Brand Map, a simple yet comprehensive method for building a brand.
Chapter 7 | Capturing Our Process
As the team grew, we started to notice patterns, habits, and strengths that contributed to our success.
For example, our writers are excellent listeners. We are genuinely interested in learning about the lives and stories of other people. Listening, we noticed, is an integral part of our process. Every successful project begins with listening to our client. Oftentimes, we record these initial conversations (with the client’s consent, of course) and transcribe them. These conversations help us gain a deeper understanding of the client’s voice, how they tell their story, and the details and ideas that are central to who they are.
We also noticed the importance of feedback. When our writers work through a draft, they bounce ideas off of other team members and even members of the client’s team to see what they think. We read our drafts aloud to one another so that we can hear how certain phrases hit our ears and check whether they align with the tone of our clients. We read our drafts to clients as well so that we can work through the language together until every word is in its right place.
Feedback, we found, not only helps us refine each individual piece of content but also helps us refine the direction of our clients’ entire content strategy. Refinement shows us what works and what doesn’t; it challenges us to take a step back and continually improve how we frame each story. As we edit, new strategies and perspectives begin to emerge. We capture these ideas along the way so that we can mull them over, share them with our clients, and use them as inspiration for later initiatives. The more we get to know our clients through the feedback process, the more we’re able to tell their story in a unique and compelling way.
We have documented our process and refined it to create what we now call The Creative Triad: Direction, Production, Refinement.
Chapter 8 | RedShift Writers Today
The Creative Triad rapidly expanded our capabilities. The quality of our work improved. We found ourselves developing and capturing more ideas at a faster pace. We were able to make stronger, smarter recommendations.
As we work through the creative process with our clients, they gain confidence in their own ability to create. The Creative Triad helped us discover who we are, and that spirit and energy of self-discovery has rubbed off on the people we work with.
We analyzed our position and realized that there is a bigger benefit to what we do as writers than simply delivering content well before the deadline. Yes, we write fast. Yes, we write with our clients’ brands in mind.
But the reason why we write content is to tell stories. By telling stories, we can impact the behavior of our audiences, and get to the heart of who the people we write for really are so that their ideas spread like wildfire in the mind of the market.
With your story and our talent for writing, we can change history.
RedShift Writers | Stories Change History