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Art & Life with Donna Scoggins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Scoggins.

Donna, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was a bit of a late bloomer. When I made up my mind to change my career path, I recalled a conversation where someone asked me if I’d heard of the book called, “How to be a Writer.” Just as I was thinking the title sounded ridiculous, the acquaintance added, “You open it up and every page says, ‘Just start writing. Just start writing. Just start writing.'” So, I did. I sold the first thing I wrote to “Cosmo,” and they published my story “Is the Model’s Life for You?” in December 1995.

It wasn’t long after that, a friend asked if I did copywriting. At the time I had no idea what copywriting was, but of course I said yes. I love words, and the challenge of using as few of them as possible to make a statement or tell a compelling story thrills me. My next big break came when I reached out to someone I had modeled for at Neiman Marcus, and she got me an interview for a position as a freelance writer on “the book” team. I worked there as an ongoing freelancer for 10 years, for Kelly Carter, my amazing mentor. These opportunities allowed me to build my portfolio and gain valuable experience in writing for luxury brands and retail clients.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I have a passion for words, and for some inexplicable reason, paring them down and stringing them together to create an impactful statement or story is a challenge I adore. I write about people, products and services, for marketing collateral, websites, and packaging, and I feel honored that people trust me to “speak” for them. I love helping clients define their brand. I’ve written about everything from egg rolls to golf to couture fashion to cars and fantasy gifts that cost tens of thousands of dollars. I get to learn about new things all the time, and so my job is never monotonous.

I love collaborating with a designer and/or creative team, but I prefer to keep my status as a freelancer. I’ve always said that when you work as a freelancer, everyone is happy to see you because you are there to help! It’s a different dynamic, and it comes with a certain amount of respect for your expertise. Copywriting is not unlike songwriting, and I’ve explored the latter despite the fact that I can’t play, read music or sing. Songs tell a story. It’s such an amazing craft. I’m also about to branch out and do some ghostwriting. Of course, mum is the word on the details!

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
First, I have always been a freelancer, so I’ve never really known anything else and I think that helps. As a freelancer, life is either feast or famine. It’s the cost of doing business, and I guess it boils down to the fact that I’d rather have the freedom to create in my own way.

When I started writing I was married and still modeled, so I had a support system and additional income. Gradually I began to write full-time. Ideally, one has a large and ongoing client, as well as a variety of smaller clients. I had that with Neiman Marcus and Pier 1 for a total of about 14 years. For the last four years I worked extensively for another client on a retainer and appreciated the stability.

I’ve always made a point to invest in my website or electronics (and even a car) when times are good, so that I’m prepared and can attract new clients if my workflow wanes. It’s important to stay flexible, adjust to the ever-changing trends in your field, and network with those in your sphere of contacts, too. And let’s not forget the importance of visualizing what you want to manifest!

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I often work “behind the scenes,” so to speak. But you can learn about me, view a portion of my portfolio, and check out my blog (which I’m just starting to explore) on my website:

My recent or most notable jobs (though not necessarily accessible now) include writing a Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog, solo; writing AAdvantage and AAVacations copy for American Airlines; writing ads and landing pages for Lexus, Audi and Infiniti vehicles for Sewell Automotive; rebranding Lillian Vernon; creating marketing collateral for Arcis Golf; writing for Pier 1 (online and landing pages); a holiday jingle for Galleria Dallas—and the list goes on. Sometimes I have to look at my own website, or my billing software, to remember all the clients I have worked for!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Joe Grisham

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