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“That’s one of the great things about being my own boss – I don’t have to write on topics that don’t interest me.”

Mikey Rox is an award-winning writer/journalist and the founder of Paper Rox Scissors, a copywriting and creative consulting company. His work has appeared in more than 100 regional, national and international print and digital publications, including CNN.com, Wise Bread, Money Crashers, FlyLyf, The Advocate, Instinct magazine, The Baltimore Sun, and The Examiner newspapers, among many others.

Paper Rox Scissors is focused on copywriting and creative consulting for clients across many industries, including fashion, architecture, technology, pet services and products, home decor, and more. They provide copy for websites, collateral material, e-mail marketing campaigns, and social-media marketing; logo and website design as well as print design; and pay-per-placement publicity services.

Mikey Rox, Paper Rox Scissors - Owner

MO: How have you managed to build a thriving award-winning company by yourself with initial investment of only $2,000?

Mikey: Determination. From the time I graduated college in 2003 until I started my own business in 2009, I dedicated myself to learning several genres of writing – including direct-mail fundraising; Internet marketing, and freelance journalism – through the positions I held at various agencies. But I was never quite content working for somebody else. I wanted to create my own schedule, build my own client base, and have the freedom to choose the projects I wanted to work on. After speaking with my husband about my goals, I decided to quit the 9-to-5 grind and concentrate my efforts on building my own business and brand. My initial investment into Paper Rox Scissors was $2,000 for the website. It was all the money I had at the time to put into the business, but the website was the most important piece of the puzzle; I needed that in order to market my services. Once the site launched, I pursued clients via Craigslist – because it was free; 95% of my clients have come from that site – and my client list continues to grow almost monthly.

MO: How did you discover your passion for writing and who or what were your early influences?

Mikey: I enjoyed reading when I was a kid and I always liked the idea of entertaining someone through writing. As a fan of teen magazines in the ’90s, I was attracted to the idea of writing feature articles that were in line with my own interests. I attended a college that didn’t offer a journalism program, but I loved the school so much that I didn’t want to transfer any place else. Without a built-in program to teach me the ins and outs of journalism, I choose to apply for internships that would teach me those skills. After I built up my clips, I decided to pitch other publications for projects. It all sort of snowballed from there.

MO: I was reading some of the articles you write for the site WiseBread.com and was impressed that you managed to write an interesting and engaging about 23 uses for apples. Can you write about anything at all?

Mikey: [Laughs] No, I can’t write about anything at all. And that’s one of the great things about being my own boss – I don’t have to write on topics that don’t interest me. The reason that my articles are engaging and interesting (to some, at least) is because I’m interested in the subject. If I wasn’t, I doubt the article would be an enjoyable read.

MO: What’s been the most challenging aspect of creating your own business? On the flip side, has there been anything that has been easier or more fun than you anticipated?

Mikey: The most challenging part of my business – and I think any business – is getting clients and subsequently keeping those clients happy so they stick with you. There’s so much competition in New York City and I’m small potatoes, but that’s worked in my favor. I’m offering clients affordable solutions to their marketing and advertising needs. These are clients who want top-notch service and deliverables but who don’t necessarily have the big budget to hire the big guns. I don’t think there’s anything that’s been easier than I’ve anticipated. I’m running this show by myself with the help of an assistant. I’m the head of business development, account executive, lead writer, accountant, the IT guy – the list goes on.

MO: You’ve recently added publicity services, which have taken the business in a whole new direction. What motivated you to expand into this area and how is it going so far?

Mikey: I identified an opportunity and seized it. I met with a prospective client who wanted publicity services. I told them that I didn’t have a whole lot of experience in that area but that I was willing to give it a shot. I came up with a pay-per-placement fee structure that would allow me to pursue PR on their behalf in a way that didn’t cost them any money if I didn’t land any placements. Luckily it worked out for both of us. I had success almost immediately. With those initial placements under my belt, I promoted the publicity services and have since signed almost 10 new clients who want low-cost, high-yield PR.

MO: Out of all the awards you’ve won, which one has been the most meaningful for you?

Mikey: In 2007 I placed second in the op-ed category of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association’s annual Excellence in Journalism competition for an article I wrote on gays in the military for The Examiner newspapers. I was proud of that article when it published and I received lots of mail from readers – both positive and negative. When competition time rolled around, I felt that piece was good enough to submit. I’m still proud that the judges seemed to think so as well.

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