Tracy Strike, Karen Probst, and Angela Van Daele are the team behind Spark Content, located in Uptown Waterloo. They have worked together for almost ten years, but decided to officially start their own business earlier this year.
They provide writing and editing services to smaller businesses that need occasional work, and larger businesses that need a boost during their busier times. They apply plain language principles to their work, which helps keep the content clear and concise. They also help clients with translation projects, and have a lot of experience in technical documentation (i.e. product user guides, or online help). They can write and edit almost anything, including flyers, blog posts (I find myself wondering what they will think of this blog post...), or brochures.
Though Spark content is a three-person team, they can pull in professionals from other related areas, such as graphic design. No project is too small or too big! They have experience across multiple industries and have worked with companies of all sizes.
Besides working, Tracy has a bit of a bird obsession and enjoys spotting new arrivals at the feeders or marveling at the colours of the regular visitors. Karen seems to be in a perpetual cycle of home improvements to fine-tune her spaces to make them hers. Angela enjoys whipping up new vegan recipes and is also a developing yogi.
Each day, the three of them get their kids off to school, then meet to go over projects. They usually work together, which makes it easier to bounce ideas off one another. For some clients, though, one or more of them will work on-site to get feedback on the work, or more information to help develop new content.
What is the best part of your job?
We enjoy the flexibility of working at different locations and with different companies. It’s inspiring to be in the middle of the growth in Waterloo Region and see the amazing things coming out of the area.
Do you have any promotions or upcoming events?
To introduce ourselves to local #kwawesome businesses, we’re offering to review one item (up to a maximum of four pages) for free. We’ll provide some copyediting comments to help businesses improve the readability and weed out any typos. Have a marketing flyer or menu that you need a second set of eyes on? We have three pairs to lend!
What made you want to start your own business?
We saw the value of working for ourselves while still being able to fit our personal lives into the same bubble. We know our strengths and how those strengths are best used; starting our own business meant that we could determine how to best serve our clients using those strengths. And, when talking about our individual goals, we realized that we could offer more to our clients as a team, and we’d benefit ourselves by having the support of a team.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
We feel that we’re pretty unique since we’re contract writers that work together as a team. Typically, you’d find individuals doing this work. But, our ability to work as a team really benefits our clients. If needed, we can get the work done in a shorter amount of time by using all of us. We also have the flexibility of moving work around amongst ourselves if delays occur so we can balance the ups and downs of schedules better than a single writer. But clients only pay for the work, so there’s no increase to their cost.
What is your background/experience/education?
All three of us are graduates of the University of Waterloo. Karen and Angela have degrees in English - Rhetoric and Professional Writing and Tracy has a degree in Mathematics. Math isn’t a usual route to writing, but it provides a strong background for the logical thinking for technical writing. We've worked at several high-tech companies in the region, so we have solid experience with the software development process.
What do you wish you knew (but didn’t) when you started your business?
We wish we had known earlier how many great resources there are for new businesses. It might have pushed us to start even sooner. There is really a lot of great information and so many people who want to help businesses in the region grow. It’s encouraging to have people rooting for you and offering support.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs in Waterloo Region?
Just do it! Reach out to your network to get introductions and find the right service providers. There are always people to help you with the things that you don’t know about (like income taxes and HST).
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