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Meet Tia Ross of WordWiser Ink and Boss Meetings & Events in Southwest

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tia Ross.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My first freelance gigs as a high school junior and my first job as a senior involved academic, government, and business editing, writing, and proofreading. A decade later I’d shifted to fiction and nonfiction editing and critiquing services for unpublished writers. As beginners, most of my clients lacked knowledge about the book writing and publishing process. So, to help educate them, I formed a writers’ group and invited experienced authors and publishers to speak about the craft and business of writing for publication.

I designed a website for my local group, and it evolved into what became the first internet-based 501(c) (3) national literary arts association. With special-interest email discussion lists, forums, chapters in a dozen major cities, and an abundance of information, resources, and support for dues-paying members, the organization grew to over 7,000 members in just over two years. In mid-1999, long before the Internet became popular, this was quite a feat!

When members wanted to meet in person, I created a conference rather than endorse a get-together. It was held in Atlanta, offering 24 workshops, lectures, and panels, a 50-author book signing, an awards ceremony, catered functions, poetry slam, and a play production. I made a lot of mistakes while planning that first one, but the event was well-attended, turned a small profit, and I learned a lot about venue selection, contract negotiations, program scheduling, logistics, and speaker management. From there, I directed six more conferences and three retreats across the U.S. from Palm Springs to Fort Lauderdale for that group, and I consulted on numerous other conferences, seminars, and meetings for a growing list of clients.

Has it been a smooth road?
Shortly after producing my second conference, I was named one of the top 37 freelance book doctors in the U.S. in a special issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine. Demand for my services exploded so quickly that the deluge was overwhelming. I had a new baby at the time too, and it wasn’t long before I got burned out. I scaled so far back that I stopped freelance editing and producing conferences altogether and made a career switch to information technology. Web design, technical writing and editing, web accessibility, e-commerce and database programming, content management–I loved it all, but my past kept calling me.

I was being pulled in so many different directions. Conference goers wanted me to hold conferences again because the reputation had grown wings and none that were being held rivaled mine; writers continually sought me out to ask me to edit for them. I’d been missing the work, but I also enjoyed I.T. and technical communications. So, I did it all, bringing the conference back five years later and taking on selective writing and editing assignments here and there in addition to web design, tech projects and my day job in legal I.T.

My struggle became how to answer the question: “What do you do?” It was impossible to fully brand myself or reestablish a clear online presence with all these myriad skills and endeavors I loved! I couldn’t effectively market anything, and I also couldn’t simply pick one on which to focus. Trying to overcome this and choose vexed me for years.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the WordWiser Ink and Boss Meetings & Events story. Tell us more about the business.
My conference, retreat and tradeshow management company, Boss Meetings & Events, provides strategic meeting planning and management consulting for associations, businesses, and other organizations. We also handle site selections and contract negotiations for grade school trips, such as overnight lodging for college campus tours, as well as family, class, team, and club reunions or functions. I find the best value for groups requiring overnight accommodations. That means best in rates, amenities, location, and quality. Clients need only tell me where they’re going, when, and other specifics, and they get back a report, at no cost to them, that outlines their options and pertinent details about each location or property to consider and compare. I handle competitive negotiations and ensure contract terms protect my clients and are free of problematic clauses, restrictions, and phrasing.

My communications company, WordWiser Ink, provides technical and business writing, editing, and design; nonfiction, fiction, and script editing; and technical communications project management. Our project management involves mostly web and content development. I serve as liaison between web developers and my clients, analyzing fees to ensure they’re not overpaying for design or hosting packages and get exactly what they paid for, communicating website issues to developers that my clients may not be able to understand or convey, and advising clients and developers of items needing attention. I know design processes, how developers think, and website functionality and optimization. My clients save time and money and can focus on their businesses with confidence that I’m tending to the details of their projects and will ensure they’re completed correctly, on time and within budget. And developers prefer dealing with me because I speak their language, troubleshoot with precision, and can shorten the process, making their jobs a lot easier. I also edit web content within code or content management systems, saving clients the trouble of exporting to Word, Pages, or other file formats.

I’m most proud of being able to use my talents and skills to help others to succeed. I gave a playwright a chance to direct a production at my first conference 18 years ago, and his career as an award-winning stage director and producer took root and blossomed. I gave subject experts the microphone when they were trying to break into public speaking, enabling them to add to their media kits a professional speaking engagement, showcase video, and media coverage opportunities. I’ve edited books that won their authors recognition and accolades, such as one book rife with errors in a first printing that went on to win an NAACP Image Award with its revised version. I introduced thousands of writers who were afraid to take their writing seriously or pursue their dreams of becoming authors to other like-minded creatives, industry pros, and educators, lending inspiration and guidance where before they’d found none.

One of my favorite quotes: “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

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