Verblio Freelance Writer Spotlight: Michelle Halsey

For September’s freelance writer spotlight, I’ve had a ball highlighting Michelle Halsey, a humorist with a flair for the abnormal and a talent for creating 5-star content.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Michelle’s Verblio stats:

  • Time with Verblio: 1.5 years
  • Total posts sold: 341
  • Top industries: Agriculture, Home repair & maintenance
  • Expertise: Permaculture & gardening, Crime scene clean-up, Outdoor rec, Veterinary/animal health

Since joining Verblio in April of 2017, Michelle has sold over 100 pieces of long-form content (1000+ words) with 95% of those receiving perfect 5-star reviews. She has rapidly found (and successfully wooed) some of the weirdest and most niche clients on our site, including a crime scene cleanup operation and an avant-garde Australian honest media company (yea, it’s a mouthful).

Michelle majored in creative writing and journalism and has since worked as a writer and editor at a slew of different publications from a daily newspaper to a monthly lifestyle magazine, as well as at a PR & advertising firm. She has written and managed content for a retail business, in addition to editing and contributing to a national retail trade publication. Though she’s a bit camera-shy, her partner, who’s a professional comic artist, created this amazing drawing of Michelle hard at work:

woman-writer-typing-cartoon

At Verblio, Michelle’s favorite clients are those who take their marketing seriously, but not too seriously: “If you’re trying to keep your reader’s attention, you don’t want to bore them to death,” she says. And she has definitely got a point—content that’s engaging helps potential customers stay on your pages longer and signals to Google that you’re providing value to your readers.

One of Michelle’s regular clients is a family-owned heirloom seed company who realized that to amp up their inbound marketing, they needed to give their blog some extra spice. With a little humor and a healthy dose of puns, Michelle turns 1500-word blog posts about cinquefoil and hyssop into entertaining and even guffaw-inducing romps.

A recent post about catnip offered advice for building a “grow operation” just in case this feline “drug” becomes scheduled by the government. “This article is hilarious!!” the customer raved. “25/10 rating seriously great job! My visitors will love this one!” Spoiler: it involves cat gangs and street-smart puppers swimming in cash.

dalmatian-holding-stacks-of-cash-money

A little compassion can also go a long way in industries where the content space is crowded or the topics themselves are drier and more difficult than the Marathon des Sables (don’t ask, it’s an ultramarathon across the Sahara desert…).

One of Michelle’s regular clients offers services in Biohazard Remediation, including body removal, for example. When asked about the strangest job she’d ever had, Michelle replied:

“I don’t really think it gets stranger than writing, in detail, about how a human body putrefies when it’s been left in a hot apartment for several weeks… or months.”

Gross. But Michelle isn’t deterred. She says that writing fiction extensively has helped her understand how to create content for clients in tough industries and explain what they do without turning away their potential clients:

“Some of my most loyal customers require a highly-empathetic approach to extremely sensitive subjects. When you develop fictional characters you figure out how to see things from different points-of-view.”

Michelle thinks of this a bit like Method Writing, where you try to inhabit the mind of your characters in order to portray them more realistically. Except, in this case, she’s trying to get into the mind of a reader in need of a body removal service. Not an easy gig! She says that the whole ‘method writing’ thing makes her boyfriend a bit nervous when she’s writing about murder clean-up (“…or wedding planning, for that matter,” she quips).

cat-rolling-in-catnip

(What? Did you think I was going to add an image of a body clean-up?)

Incidentally, I did make the mistake of asking Michelle what she had learned while working for Verblio.

“Did you know that an adult blowfly can smell blood from a mile away?” she offered. “Well, now you do! Enjoy your lunch!”

Yes, from nematodes to narcosubmarines, Michelle has done quite an odyssey through some of the more unusual topics requested by our customers. She says that she comes by this honestly—both the humor and the horror:

“A family friend bought me one of those flower-covered blank books when I was maybe seven, and I filled it with horrifying stories about witches, dragons, and cauldrons full of eyeballs… Not long after—fourth grade, maybe—a schoolmate and I began writing really off-color skits for our drama class. We had a little coaching from her dad, who was a well-known humor columnist. As a result of our last production, we got a whole lot more ‘coaching’ from our principal.”

Today, Michelle lives in a small mountain town and loves to spend time playing in the outdoors, when she gets the chance: fishing, hiking, kayaking, archery, shooting, and even skijoring! If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically nordic skiing with a 4-legged assist:

 

person-skijoring-with-dog

 

Though she has lived in big cities, too, Michelle says that she much prefers her small-town home, which she refers to as the “world’s worst trailer park with the world’s best view.” She (allegedly) makes a top notch chicken pot pie casserole and consumes an inordinate number of podcasts while working on her property, building fences and clearing trees. A few podcast favorites include Snap JudgementDisgraceland, and Hardcore History. She also works with several organizations that provide support to survivors of domestic abuse.

Thank you so much to Michelle for being an outstanding part of our writer community. If you’re hoping to work with talented writers like Michelle, drop us a line! We’ll be happy to help you find the perfect person to pen your next piece of content, whether it’s about biohazards or business analytics.

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Molly Krumholz

As Manager of Writer Operations and Data at Verblio, the best part of my job is working with — and for — a nationwide community of content creators. As a former freelance writer myself, I believe in the power of flexible, online work to create opportunity for people whose lifestyles don't fit the traditional mold. Outside of the office, I spend every spare minute in the mountains: skiing, splitboarding, rock climbing, ultra running, thru-hiking. The farther, the higher, the faster, the better.

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