About Kimberly Ballard

I am Kimberly Ballard and I am going to speak to you directly in the first-person narrative throughout my new website. It's a little unorthodox, but since I rarely get to use my own voice, I'm going to have fun with it!

First, a little philosophy — I believe in small business. I will always encourage people who are unhappy in their jobs or who get up and go to a job every day where the threat of layoff hangs like a cloud over them, to pray hard, and then trust God to lead you as you step out in faith to do what you love. It may be a hobby, a parttime job, or extension of your current profession, and it may even require your getting some additional education or training — but if you are unhappy, you have the power to change it. It isn't easy, but it is worth it.

Introduction to an HR Manager's Nightmare. Unfortunately, I was not a child prodigy. I have had a lot of jobs over the past 30 years, and I have had to work hard at every one of them. In the end, they have served me well because they gave me the versatility and scope I needed and wanted, to build my own small writing business where I could help other small businesses with affordable marketing and writing services. But it was not as straight a path as I make it sound!

I have come to realize we set our own paths with our attitudes and approach to life, whether we think we do or not. My father instilled in me the necessity for hard work and integrity, but early on, he found what he loved and never wavered from it: teaching golf. I on the other hand, loved a lot of different things, and I never had a clear path or plan to get anywhere. It was a bone of contention between us through the years but once I realized in late 2008 my path forward had come to an end and it was time for me to forge my own path forward — I did it with relish and all the frustration and irritation past and present, fell away.

Writing is Serious Business. A little-known sports writer once quipped, "Writing? Nothing to it. You just sit down to your typewriter and open a vein." You may think that is a bit dramatic considering I am not writing a novel or my memoirs, but it is true I believe, of everything you write. At least it is for me. I take every writing job — large or small — very seriously. I do not sit down and rehash the rhetoric of an industry except where it is necessary, or reword the messaging of a competitor. I consider every business and every person unique, requiring a unique message.

I know it is a blessing to be able to write in so many different media, and to have so many diverse and wonderful clients, all over the country. In fact, some of my case study work for Digium has me interviewing businesspeople worldwide: the UK, Italy, France, Turkey, Malaysia, Australia, Northern Africa, South America, and more!

Once Upon a Time. I started journaling at about 9-years-old (that's me on the right with my sister Kellye) and even though I do not journal as much anymore, I get to write for you every day and I absolutely love that. I also have a New Year's resolution to start blogging on a regular basis, so be sure and hold me to it!

I was born and raised in Birmingham, AL but my family moved out to the country when I was in junior high school. We spent every summer I can remember at my grandparent's lake house which my Papa Ballard built in the early 1960s. It was nothing fancy but we never longed for fun or love.

My Dad, a teaching golf professional of some renown, bought a golf course, motel, and marina on the river in Pell City, about 30 miles east of Birmingham in the early 1970s. We renovated the former club house (which had its own pool and tennis courts) located on the golf course. I was not obsessive about golf, but I have always loved it and spent many a day playing and jogging on the course. 

As paradisical as it was, my Dad expected me to work for an allowance, so at 15, I began working a few hours a week for the bookkeeper after school, and in the golf shop. At 16, I worked during summers as a life-guard at the swimming pool in 104° heat. Dad also recruited me for every club tournament. I loved it.

Let me clarify — my family was not wealthy — just very blessed and as my father says, golf opened many doors for us. My best friend Jane Hummel and I shuttled tour players from the Birmingham Airport to Pine Harbor for golf lessons with my Dad — some of them are quite famous today!

Roll Tide. I can't remember when I didn't have cats and when I didn't love football. I met Bear Bryant in our golf shop in 1977. I couldn't believe it! I stammered something like, "Oh, Coach. I am so excited to meet you." He leaned across the counter and took my hand in a handshake. "Paul Bryant. It's nice to meet you little lady."

The spring of 1978, just before heading off to the University of Alabama, San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie came to visit my Dad. I was not quite 18 and having grown up watching Kenny Stabler at the Oakland Raiders, and Joe Namath at the Jets (Family mythology says I sat on Joe Namath's knee before he left Alabama for the Jets.) I certainly knew who John Brodie was, even though he was already retired from football and about to play the Seniors Golf Tour.

The City By the Bay. John invited me to come stay with his family in Palo Alto, CA for 6 weeks before I started school. He had 5 children about my age and a huge house. I had never been anywhere but Atlanta, Birmingham, and Panama City, FL. I will never forget the first time I came around Half Moon Bay and San Francisco lay like a jewel before me. I gasped out loud! I had never seen a more beautiful city then or now — at 17, it took my breath away! 

John's wife Sue bought me an Annie Hall outfit complete with boots and long vest, and took me to have my hair streaked with blonde for the first time in my life. We finished off the evening watching my first broadway play (Annie).

The Pickwickian. I've never been known for being cool. I have always been somewhat of a bookworm, and I am even more so now than ever with a library of over 2,000 books. Sue Brodie had a library full of Agatha Christie mysteries and I must have read 10 of them while I was there. I love historical fiction (not historical romance!) and grew up with Charles Dickens as my all-time favorite writer. Although his writing style is somewhat out of fashion, I still love his long, descriptive narratives. Most people think of him as dark and dreary, but my favorites of his works are his less well-known comedies like the Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club — truly one of the funniest books I have ever read.

I worked my way through the University of Alabama chopping up whole chickens and battering them for frying at a campus deli, ringing customers at the registers when needed and selling advertising for the UA Crimson White newspaper. Outside of football games, college was uneventful. I made mostly Bs and Cs because I didn't try very hard; fell in love with the theatre and acting; scoffed at fraternities and sororities; and lost my virginity.

George Strait, Huh? I graduated from Alabama in 4 years with a BA in Advertising and a double minor in Marketing and World Literature. After college, I went looking for a job in Baton Rouge, LA, a city comparable in size and economy to Birmingham, but far enough "away" that I could say I was on my own. I was interviewing at ad agencies but no one would hire me so they sent me to an elderly radio station owner who interviewed me for his new radio station. He asked whether I did drugs and I stammered an appalled "Of course not," and he hired me on the spot as a sales rep (did I even know what that was at the time?). Only then did I discover this new station wasn't in Baton Rouge. It was "a short but beautiful drive across the coastal marsh..." he said, "on the Mississippi coast, just outside Mobile."

I was 21 years old and I had a job at a country music radio station on the beach! Yippee! But little did I know until the next day that you can't see the beautiful coastal marsh along Interstate 20 between Baton Rouge and Pascagoula, MS, but you smell it the whole way — much like an open septic tank until you reach the Pascagoula exit, where fumes from the catfood manufacturing plant take over.

I was not a fan of country music then. I grew up on Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan, Dean Martin, and the Kingston Trio. My grandparents watched the Porter Wagner Show with Dolly Parton singing and selling "Git yer fl'our towls in boksis ah Breeeeze". When I left the station 4 years later, I left my wall-size poster of George Strait hanging over my desk for the next up-and-comer. How I had grown up in the backwoods of Alabama and never noticed how sexy a bow-legged man in a cowboy hat could be, I will never know.

Chasing the Perfect Campaign. Sales was much more lucrative than any other position in the radio station but I still struggled with wanting to write. Since the station didn't have a copywriter, I wrote my own radio spots. It was the summer of '84 when my date and I flipped through a fast food drive-thru on our way to a rock concert in Biloxi, MS... I believe it was Rick Springfield. We grabbed a bag of burgers and fries, eating in the car. I opened my sandwich and there was a bun, but I couldn't see any meat hanging out from under it. I lifted the top bun and there was a meat patty, 3/4 the size of the bun.

May no one ever find Waldo again if I am exaggerating ... I turned to my date and said, 'I'm going to write a commercial called Where's the Meat for a hamburger joint one day.' Within the year, Wendy's launched the famous Granny campaign asking Where's the Beef?

Close.... but not close enough to win the stuffed teddybear!

As I grew weary of cold calling and selling $3 radio spots, the station manager said he understood my not wanting to be a salesman all my life, but I would do well to remember that all my life, I would have to sell. Sales (or business development as the CEOs prefer to call it) is the foundation of every small business — like it or not. Throughout my career, that advice has been invaluable. 

TV Production & Beyond. I moved to Miami in 1987 where I jumped into TV and ad agencies. I spent 10 years in TV news/production. I began as a production assistant and floor director for prime news at Miami's ABC affiliate, WPLG (That's me in the newsroom in 1989). The first night at that job, I got so confused by all those voices yelling at once through the headsets that I ran crying from the studio, embarrassed and humiliated. Turns out I wasn't important enough for any of the disembodied voices to be talking to me, but had it not been for an ex-Grateful Dead roadie and my friend the late Pat Obregon, I would have quit that night in humiliation.

For several years in Miami, I moonlighted in TV, working in a Coral Gables ad agency called Kelley-Swofford during the day as a media planner and account manager. I quit TV when I started traveling to Negril, Jamaica for the agency who represented a brand new all-inclusive couples resort called Swept Away. I was very, very happy at KS but after about 4 years, the owner of the agency got married and sold it. For the first time, I was out of a job.

All the World is a Stage! In 1992, my Mom talked me into moving to Huntsville where she lived. I always missed Florida and was in a slump after things falling apart at the ad agency, so  in 1993, I went to work as the paperback manager at a retail bookstore and spent all the rest of my time performing on stage, and doing a little co-directing and running tech on dozens of shows for community and dinner theatre in Huntsville, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, Florida. I actually won some local awards for some of it! (That's me playing Truvy in Steel Magnolias, a show I did 3 different times playing Truvy twice and MaLynne in another.)

By 1993, I had written a couple of articles for a start-up business and lifestyle magazine, but when it finally hit the stands, there were typos on the cover. I was appalled, so I drove to Birmingham to talk to the publisher about letting me take over the writing and final editing before print. I spent a couple of years as managing editor, but we had no sales staff, no consistent production support, and didn't pay any writers or photographers, so you can imagine it was doomed from the beginning.

In 1995, I started out running videotape (back when it was videotape) during the morning news before becoming a commercial producer, writing and producing my own TV spots and Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for WAAY TV 31 in Huntsville. Knowing I had to stop wasting time in areas I enjoyed but that held no future for me (acting), my 2-year contract with the TV station was up so I moved back to Florida (St. Petersburg) where my old friend Jane Hummel lived. We had known each other since 8th grade.

Without a job, I started temping in corporate marketing departments. It changed my life because from corporate, I could use all my hands-on experience from radio, TV, ad agencies, and publications to do it all. Plus, it was never boring.

My First Byline. On occasion, I would find short-term project work, usually copywriting or pulling cables on a video shoot. In 1998, I made my first attempt at journalism, writing an article on Tampa's new Downtown Channelside District for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. My first byline was heavily edited and I did not know how to work sources at the time, but I immediately saw my mistakes and set about learning how to write features for magazine and newspaper. 

Down the Corporate Ladder. In every company, sales and management need a place to send all their half-baked ideas (some say better half-baked than no ideas at all), new projects, and otherwise bizarre requests. That place is Marketing. And sales representatives do a whole lot of new project creation! When they get frustrated because sales are slow or getting monotonous, they come up with new things and ways to sell, no matter how outrageous or ill-conceived it may be. We, in marketing, have to figure it out. We are the consumate juggler with an inprovisationist's fast, creative thinking.

For the first time, I was in control of the message. I wrote and produced marketing videos, brochures and sales support literature; wrote franchising ad campaigns both for print , broadcast, and electronic uses. I discovered during these years that graphics was an area where I needed support, and later web development. Furthermore, I began writing cover stories for SunKing Publishing, who publishes two international automotive trade industry publications: Mobile Tech News and the Detailers Digest.

I stayed in the corporate marketing environment, working for Film Technologies until they sold the company in 2003; moving to Our Town, a marketing company for the New Mover industry until 2006 when the bottom dropped out. I fell and broke my left ankle and right foot in October 2005 and my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in Huntsville in January 2006. Although it proved to be the most difficult and chaotic two years of my life, I maintain moving back to Huntsville to care for Mother was the right thing to do. It brought me back to God and led me to where I am today with KimberlyWritesCreative.

I worked as the corporate marketing manager for a start-up variable data printing technology company for about 9 months in 2007. I enjoyed it until the Board of Directors took over the company and they filed bankruptcy. Fortunately I bailed before all that went down and went to work on a short-term contract with the Huntsville International Airport during the 2008 Summer Airshow.

I did some sales support and a little writing for one issue of Who's Who in Huntsville magazine but I tell people this and it is the absolute truth... if it helps anyone out there to trust in divine intervention to bale your butt out of a mess, I am living proof all you need to do is ask, listen, and act!

The Voice of God. I was in a bad place after my contract ended with the Airport Airshow in July 2008. I was sitting in church one Wednesday night, deeply troubled and frantically worried about my disastrous job situation, facing age 50 and the appearance, however false, that I couldn't keep a job. I was near tears with no prospects and I just started praying... 'Lord. You know how bad it is. I am not a loser although I have been a pretty solid failure and I just don't know what to do!'

Some people call it the 'still, small voice,' but the Lord has never spoken to me in a small way. It takes knocking me up along the side of my head. What people don't understand about God is that He never changes because He is never wrong the first time. He is also always glad to hear from you, because He wants to help all of us if we will just humble ourselves and ask. His answer was absolute. It was not a soft blanket falling over me or a passing thought. It was a revelation that hit me between the eyes: "STOP LOOKING FOR A JOB AND START LOOKING FOR WORK. THERE IS PLENTY OF WORK OUT THERE. GO GET IT."

It changed my life forever. I joined the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, and a networking group. I got on the phone and rather than calling around begging for a job, I started asking people whether they could use some help with writing their websites or doing press releases, or writing a brochure. The work has not stopped since!

2008 to Present. I woke up on January 2, 2010 and realized I had not had a "go-to" job the entire year 2009. I had survived on building up my own clientele and it was growing thanks to referrals and repeat work. (That's me and Patty Satterly with EVENT magazine at this year's Christmas Party. She and I have been with the magazine from the beginning.)

I met my good friend Bruce Hiles with Designwise in 2010 and we have worked on a dozen or so websites the past couple of years. I write them and help clients with the navigation, their PR and newsletters, and sometimes maintain their content management system (CMS) for them. Bruce is a graphics designer and master web developer. His business partner, Philip Busk is the SEO Magician and essential to any website after launch.

Thanks to a great support system (still looking for an affordable graphics person), with my vast amount of marketing, advertising, and journalistic experience in diverse industries and topics, I can provide many marketing, writing, & PR services not just to SMBs, but to ad agencies who need a copywriter; video production companies who need scripts; web developers who need a content writer; and publications who need a contributing writer.

We control our own outcomes. It is called personal initiative and self-reliance. It isn't always pretty getting there but it's the journey that counts! I know it's a long story but I will wrap it up with a synopsis of my capabilities:

  • Website content & navigation
  • Website CMS maintenance
  • Feature stories
  • News stories
  • Media writing (Press Releases)
  • Case Studies & professional white papers
  • Scriptwriting for marketing videos
  • Scriptwriting & producing TV & radio commercials
  • Video editing
  • Sales & Sales Support
  • Lots of Retail Sales
  • Advertising Sales across multimedia
  • Media planning & strategy
  • Behind the camera TV production
  • Creative headlines & copywriting
  • How-to & operational/procedural manuals
  • Multimedia ad campaigns
  • Newsletters (electronic & hardcopy)
  • Ghostwriting
  • Acting!