I’m Judi. I’m a writer. I help companies tell stories. I tell a lot of my own, too.
I’ve been in the (official) business of telling stories since 1998, when I sold my first piece to the local paper. Unofficially, I’ve been a storyteller my whole life. I have boxes of fairly hilarious evidence from childhood to prove it. Storytelling claimed my soul long before I claimed it as a career.
It’s silly to talk about storytelling without actually telling stories. So I’m going to tell you one, with the punch line first: It helps to know what you’re truly bad at to know what you’re truly good at.
The story starts with me being certain that I was going to get a Ph.D. in English and be a professor. I got a full ride to graduate school, along with a teaching position. Brilliant! Right? Yes and no. I loved the part of graduate school where I got to read and write and discuss heady topics around a seminar table. But the teaching part was dreadful. It took about a year to realize that (a) I didn’t enjoy teaching and (b) I was a lousy teacher. So I finished my M.A. and got a job at an agency as a copywriter.
There were so many terrific things about that copywriting job. It’s where I discovered that I could make money by writing. Imagine that! Money! (No one ever tells English majors that money is an option.) I also made my first set of professional friends, many of whom are still dear to me. But, because it was a business owned by someone who wasn’t me, there were a lot of silly rules and procedures, and a whole thing about time sheets. One day, the boss called me into her office and told me that I wasn’t much of a team player. This struck me as true at the time—though I’ve since realized I’m an awesome team player when I’m on the right team. But the team thing aside, I took away one key insight: I wasn’t good at working on other people’s terms.
I eventually wound up working for a start-up on the heels of the 2000 tech boom. When I took the job, in my head, I heard “marketing manager.” In reality, I was something closer to an office manager. It only took a few months to add a new entry to the “things Judi stinks at” list. I should never be in charge of people or processes. If I tell you that I am good at those things, I am most likely drunk.
I got laid off from that job after only six months (I have the 2001 tech bust to thank for that piece of luck).
What does a person do if they are bad at teaching, bad at working for someone else, bad at managing people, and bad at creating systems . . . but they excel at telling stories?
Obviously, I became a freelance writer.
That was 2002, and I’ve thrived ever since. Not only did I find what I love to do, I’ve also been able to support my family (I have two school-aged children and a husband who is a wonderful stay-at-home dad). I’ve contributed to dozens of national magazines, worked on production teams for videos and live events, partnered with brands to create content, written for content marketing agencies, and authored two non-fiction books (Sew Retro in 2010, and The Spoonflower Handbook in 2015). My next book, Would I Lie To You? The Amazing Power of Being Honest in a World That Lies, is forthcoming from Kensington Books in January 2020.
I would never have found this beautiful business of professional storytelling if I hadn’t bombed in so many other ways. I tell this story so that you can get to know me (I’m delightful!), and because it illustrates something crucial: I have clarity on exactly what I’m good at and how I can help your organization.
I can help you create extraordinary content for a variety of mediums—from web site content and videos to speeches and articles. What excites me is working with great people, and having the chance to develop a voice and craft a compelling narrative.
One thing I want to make clear because of what’s happening with the rise of the freelance economy: I’m not part of that network of interchangeable writers who churn out content cheaply or write for “exposure.” I can guarantee that I’m not your least expensive option. But I’m often the best. When you hire me for a project, you’re hiring all of me—even the weird parts that you probably don’t know about. They’ll serve you well though, I promise.
Writing is my career and first love, but “plethora” seems the appropriate word to describe my other interests. I spend a lot of time making beautiful things with my sewing machine, trying to shave just 10 more seconds off my half-marathon time, and reading Curtis Sittenfeld novels, Ann Patchett essays, and Seth Godin books. I also love haggling at flea markets, sweating psychotically in hot yoga, pulling weeds from my garden, and tumbling at the local gym where a bunch of us old ex-gymnasts go to have fun (yes, I literally will tumble for you). Recently, I’ve started writing young adult fiction . . . and you can bet I will tell you when my first novel is published.
I live in Cincinnati with my husband and our two young children. I am blessed with a huge extended family. We’re loud and we enjoy each other immensely, and we eat . . . a lot (hence the running). I’m crazy busy and crazy lucky, all at the same time.
I invite you to get in touch with me if you want to chat about a project.
Judi Ketteler's Professional bio
Judi Ketteler has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Now, she is a collaborator in storytelling. She makes her living strategizing with organizations to figure out how to best craft and deliver their message, from web sites and videos to speeches and books. In addition, she frequently works with content marketing agencies and editors at a variety of publications, especially in the areas of health, self-improvement, and culture. Judi has worked with brands such as American Heart Association, Cleveland Clinic, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, ASICS, Origami Owl Jewelry, and Petco.
Judi got her start working at an agency as a copywriter, but has been on her own since 2002. A magazine-industry veteran, Judi has written for dozens of markets, such as Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Runner’s World, Self, Women’s Health, and many others. An essay she wrote for Whole Living won ASJA's award for "Best Magazine Essay" in 2011. She is the author of two non-fiction books (Sew Retro in 2010, and The Spoonflower Handbook in 2015) and her book about what it means to live a more honest life, Would I Lie To You? The Amazing Power of Being Honest in a World That Lies, is forthcoming from Kensington Books in January 2020.
When she’s not writing, Judi loves running, yoga, and flea markets. She lives with her husband and two young children in Cincinnati, Ohio.