Know Your Neighbors: James Millar of Atomic Copy

Today we’d like to introduce you to a new neighbor. A craftsman. A man of his word. James Millar is a copywriter who is passionate about his work. After reading this piece, you may be inspired (or re-inspired) to look at your work in a whole new way. James shares a lot of great advice, including: “There are a million quotes we could use to feel good. But being good requires us to do something.” (Yes, I am completely contradicting the message of this quote by using it to inspire you).

Take a few minutes to meet James, learn more about his journey to freelancing (and Oak Park) and an offer he has to share with his OP/RF/FP neighbors.

Around Oak Park
We’re going to talk about your work, but first – tell us a little about yourself. When you’re not working where can we find you? Who are you with?

James Millar
I live with my girlfriend who teaches Middle School in Chicago’s Morgan Park community. We have two children: a German Shepherd named Bellow (after Saul Bellow), and Chuck the alley cat. They run things around Madison Street; we’re just here to pay rent.

I walk. A lot. Oak Park is the most walk worthy city I’ve ever been in. Yesterday, I grabbed a slice of pizza, checked out a little league baseball game, bought groceries, and passed 40 dream homes all within a few blocks of my apartment.

I spend a lot of time at Carnivore Butcher and Sugar Beet Food Co-Op. But if I’m not pretending to be Charlie Trotter in my kitchen (my dog, the sous chef, was fired after making a bad omelet), my girlfriend and I are out finding new food spots downtown or on Harrison St. Oak Park has a tremendous amount of cultural experience to take part in, and if you’re not walking around town, you’re missing out. I’m writing this in the Maze Branch of the Library after enjoying Buzz Cafe’s wonderful breakfast. What’s not to love?

AOP
How long have you lived in Oak Park? What brought you here? What does a perfect day in Oak Park look like to you?

James
I live on Madison St. between Ridgeland and Oak Park Avenue. Absolutely love how central it is, and although I’ve only been an Oak Parker for nine months, it’s been exciting to see how the street is forward thinking in its development.

For years, I enjoyed walking around Oak Park and learning about their cultural history. After teaching in South Dakota for a couple of years, I was looking at moving back home to Illinois, and Oak Park was naturally the place I wanted to be a part of.

The perfect day in Oak Park is as follows:

Step outside. If you haven’t found three things to fill your day, you’re not looking up.

Do this every day, and perfect days will become a perfect life.

AOP
Since moving back to Oak Park, you’ve started working for yourself. Tell us about that. What did the path to this point look like?

James
I’m a freelance copywriter based in Oak Park. I’ve been doing this since moving here 9 months ago. Before copywriting, I was a Writing Teacher on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and before that, I was at the University of Chicago working as a math tutor and program organizer in a pilot research study designed to reduce gun violence in Chicago. When looking to move back to Illinois, I wanted to combine my interests in a way where I could work for myself, so I’ve been working and studying the field of advertising while residing in America’s best little city. My background is in Education, Psychology, and Philosophy. I see Copywriting as pulling from all of those fields. You have to know what people are looking for in order to write copy.

AOP
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when starting off on your own?

James
I’ve been inspired not so much by what people say (which is funny, because you know, I write words for a living…) but rather by what they do. So for me, I gather inspiration from the way people conduct themselves. The seriousness they put into their work, the long hours they’re willing to spend, the significance they see in producing the highest quality product every time. Everything we do for a living is a craft, and we should treat it as such.

There are a million quotes we could use to feel good. But being good requires us to do something.

AOP
And what is the biggest lesson this experience has taught you so far?

James
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you haven’t learned it yet. Once you know everything, you’ve become complacent, and you’ve lost the one quality that brings you ongoing satisfaction in a job: curiosity.

AOP
In your opinion, what three things should someone consider before starting their own business?

James
1. What in the world keeps you up at night?
2. What can you do to prosper from that feeling in a socially acceptable way?
3. Never ever stop learning to be better.

AOP
How do you stay organized? Any tips?

James
Prevention is the best treatment for a disorganized life. If you or someone you know is suffering from disorganization, please know that there is help. By making a process that you repeat daily, you too can feel the freedom of being organized.

AOP
If you were given three more hours a day to use as you please, how would you use them?

James
Cook and read. Cooking allows you to practice creativity, and reading allows us to prepare for creativity.

AOP
What did you want to be when you were a kid?

James
An adult.

AOP
What is your favorite song right now?

James
Beyonce’s Formation.

AOP
How would you describe yourself? How would others describe you?

James
Me: Dramatically Underperforming Comedian
Others: Driven. Curious. Wise.

AOP
Finally, you have a special offer for Oak Park/River Forest/Forest Park residents/businesses. Tell us about that.

James
The first two businesses I sign for a project from this area will receive 15% off of copywriting services. I have a Music Producer client from Hollywood, a hospital client from Minnesota, and a Financial Services client from Itasca, but I haven’t had my first Oak Park/River Forest/Forest Park client.


To get in touch with James (and/or take advantage of his offer), visit:
James Millar
Atomic Copy
Email: Jamesmillar@atomiccopy.com
Phone: 312-981-9023
Twitter: @atomiccopyjames
Website: www.atomiccopy.com

About

Kelli is a contributor for Around Media Group. She also (intermittently) writes about the restoration of her 100 year old Oak Park house (and other stuff) at downwithop.com. In her 'real life' she works as a Marketing Research Director. And in her free time she loves hanging out with her husband/friends/family, wine, comedy, design, biking, organizing, traveling, meeting new people, taking classes and exploring OP/RF/FP - not necessarily in that order.

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