We had the good fortune of connecting with Kitty Carlisle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kitty, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I have loved reading ever since I can remember and I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing something – mostly poems and short stories when I was younger. When I finally had the chance to go to college (later in life), I focused at first on a business degree because I felt strongly about going into business for myself. As I continued my higher education, my goals changed slightly and, though I still knew I wanted to work for myself, I saw a career path that would allow me to do what I love most: read and write. As a freelance and contract editor and writer, I help individuals and business owners present their messages in a professional and grammatically correct manner, which I enjoy very much. The variety of work I have – from social media posts and blogs, to website content and LinkedIn profiles, to manuscripts and more – keeps me interested and excited about helping others compile their messages or complete their books and everything in between. I am the objective party who not only makes sure their work is grammatically correct, but that it also makes sense and reaches the correct audience.
I didn’t see anyone providing such a personalized service for both individuals and business owners and I knew I could do that and do it well.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I have an eye for detail and can usually spot even tiny errors such as an extra space between words or sentences that aren’t supposed to be there. Along with my grammar skills, I take great pleasure in rooting out errors and fixing them. However, there is more to good writing than proper punctuation; consistency and flow are also important. And keeping the target market in mind is an integral part of the process no matter the content. I love polishing professional messages so that a business owner sees an increase in sales, or editing and optimizing a LinkedIn profile so that my clients can more easily grow their network and find the job or career they desire. Editing and optimizing website content is one of my favorite things to do because those clients often see an increase of traffic to their site because of the work I’ve done. When I work on a manuscript, though, I tell my authors that I rip apart their work before anyone else gets a chance to do so. I find those inconsistencies and errors and suggest changes so that their readers can simply enjoy the story and not question how someone can suddenly row a boat with two oars when one of those oars was broken or lost in a previous chapter.
Many editors do similar work. But I am known for both writing and editing in the client’s voice. That means I’m not substituting what I think should be written, but what I’ve learned my clients want to convey. It’s their words – I just make sure those words are correct and make sense and that the content meets their objectives. This definitely sets me apart from others in the same industry.
It has not been easy growing my business, but it has certainly been fulfilling. I’m still learning how to market myself and even how to charge for the various projects that come my way. I don’t have a set price list since everything I do is unique to each individual client. I’ve learned that I need to value my services appropriately or I’ll be taken advantage of. I’ve also learned that I need to continue to develop additional skills if I want to be successful so I’m always reading articles or registering for webinars to add to my skillset. Success looks different to different people and I take my success very personally.
I love what I do and I’m always looking for ways to do more of it and to improve my processes. I chose my business name, The Grammatical Activist, because I find comfort in the rules that govern language and my part in adhering to those rules, while also being cognizant of the way language evolves.
One of the things that makes me happiest is when a past client returns for me to edit their next manuscript or help write or edit the content for their new website. They know how I’ve helped them in the past and they are counting on me to do so again.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I adore the outdoors, so my favorite spots are not found inside any building. I always take visitors to Grand Canyon, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Lost Dutchman State Park, and other scenic places around the state if I have a week in which to do so. Kayaking on the Verde River is also a great experience. Packing a light lunch and eating it while breathing in the desert air – especially if it’s recently rained and you can smell creosote – is a favorite activity of mine. An easy hike I’ve taken several visitors on is the Hieroglyphics Trail near the base of the Superstition Mountain range. They get to enjoy the views, hopefully a little waterfall, and maybe even see a rattler on the side of the trail.
My volunteer work with AZ State Parks & Trails’ AZ Family Campout Program allows me to spend time in many of our state’s beautiful parks. We teach families how to camp, but our program also allows us to kayak, hike, shoot archery, learn about the environment, and so much more, so I am always happy when I can share that information with others.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of our family visits to our local library. The aroma, the quiet, the reverence. My love of books and reading can definitely be attributed to my parents. Thank you Mom and Dad, for igniting that passion in me. And to all the authors of the books I’ve read and continue to read that give me goose bumps, make me cry and laugh, leave me wanting more, and compel me to want to do the same for the readers of my work some day, I thank you.
All images are mine except the Central Arizona College Wall of Success picture (where I’m accepting the award). The credit for that image & that image only goes to John Aulick.