Learn to write profiles that feel unique and fresh
— every time.
Maybe you’ve done your own research on these questions and come up empty. Maybe you’ve told yourself you’ll figure it out when you’ve got a little more free time.
I know these problems intimately — I’ve lived them.
The good news? There are answers to all of these questions.
And finally, after years of research, testing, and refining, I’m ready to share them with you.
I remember the first profile I wrote for a college magazine in 1998. I carefully crafted interview questions for an alumna, wrote (and rewrote) my lead, and included the perfect quote about how her college experience had positively affected her life.
Fast forward a few issues: I had written a lot more profiles — and I’ll admit I was feeling a little bored. I was also feeling uncertain about my work.
Maybe, like me, you found that your profiles were starting to feel stale, and you worried your readers might be able to sense that.
I wanted some inspiration and some good ideas.
Was there a manual out there with a better set of tools that I could use to do my work? Specific of profile packaging I hadn’t tried? Approaches I hadn’t considered?
I considered myself creative. But what I really wanted was a few step-by-step processes that would make every profile I did better.
So I went to conferences to listen to the world’s best profile writers share secrets of their craft. I loved their talks, but I’ll admit I couldn’t really relate to their stories of interviewing world-famous celebrities or carving out months to report and write a single story.
I took week-long writing intensives to learn more, but found that most people at these events wanted to write their memoirs or a novel — no help to me.
I read countless books about writing — Bird by Bird, On Writing, and many others. But their advice just didn’t feel specific enough to my situation.
You may have experienced the same thing.
You go to the conference keynote talks.
You take the classes.
You read the books and blog posts.
Maybe you get energized and take lots of notes!
But you might find, once you return to your office, that those ideas don’t apply to the profiles you have on your to-do list.
I was looking for best practices and a better roadmap, but none existed.
It was time for me to get to work.
If you’re like me, you want your work to be as good as it can be! You just need some help that applies to the work you’re actually doing.
I decided to create my own toolbox with the exact things I had always wished these conferences, courses, and books had included.
I got on the mailing lists of some of the very best alumni magazines in the country. I spent hundreds of dollars every single year to subscribe to some of the most creative and groundbreaking consumer magazines. I reverse-engineered the work of great profiles to understand what made them tick, then I applied their techniques to my own work.
I collected hundreds of examples, carefully organized them, and built a vast collection of ideas that I could refer to whenever I needed.
When I was feeling stuck, it felt like a secret weapon.
I went into interviews feeling confident that I had good questions that would provide illuminating quotes and anecdotes. I knew I could come up with a creative lead that went beyond the newspaper-style approach of “who, what, where, when, why, and how.” I knew even without much material, I could create a story that would grab a reader’s attention like velcro.
Instead of humdrum profiles, I had the tools to turn otherwise boring profiles into pieces that editors loved and that sources wanted to send to friends and family.
Sometimes, they even won awards:
To make sure this course delivered on its promises, I stress tested it with dozens of editors and writers for alumni and university magazines just like yours. Here’s just a sampling of what they said about an early version of the course:
“The course was fantastic! You provided creative and useful strategies that we are going to implement in the very near future.”
“I got more practical and actionable advice from this one-hour webinar than I’ve gotten out of multi-day conferences. Well done! I’ll be back for more!”
“I really enjoyed [the course] and feel inspired to take some new approaches!”
“All of it was useful! I think I most appreciated the packaging templates and the ideas for compelling leads in narrative profiles.”
“Great course. Well worth the money!”
“Well-structured, clear and delivered on all the promised areas.”
“The summary cheatsheets will be helpful to refer back to on an ongoing basis.”
“Loved the practical advice and fresh perspective on how not to do the same old, same old.”
“Really enjoyed the packaging and roundup examples.”
“I loved the great lead formulas and examples, really enjoyed it and was well worth the cost and time.”
A: That’s okay! Once you buy, you’ll have lifetime access to the course. Take it now, take it in a month, take it in a year. I want you to make the most of this course when it fits into your schedule. You’ll get access to the course immediately upon joining, but you can watch whenever it’s convenient for you.
A: No. This is a series of videos and worksheets that you can view and download anytime.
A: Yes! While most of the examples I provide are from print publications, the majority of the tools and techniques can be applied to profiles that appear online.
A: If more than one person on your in-house team wants to take the Breakthrough Profiles course, Breakthrough Profiles: Unlimited has you covered. Simply purchase the Unlimited course and send your receipt to email@example.com with the names and email addresses of anyone else on your in-house team (same email domain) who wishes to get access to the course. The purchaser will get immediate access to the course. Someone from our team will add the remaining members within 24 hours. They’ll each receive a welcome email and access code.