Here at CorpNet, we have a full-time in-house staff that helps us manage business filings for our customers who are ready to start a business or incorporate a company, and we also have remote freelancers who help us with specific projects. One of our long-time freelancers, who you’ve probably seen on the CorpNet blog, is freelance writer Ben Gran.
Even though Ben Gran is based in Des Moines, Iowa and CorpNet is located in California, he’s become an integral part of our team. We originally found Ben on Elance, an online platform for hiring freelance talent, and he’s written dozens of articles and other copywriting projects for CorpNet ever since.
We hired Ben because we needed a skilled business writer who could help create articles that would engage our audience and deliver helpful information about how to start a business. Over time, he’s become ever more involved in CorpNet’s sales writing, content marketing strategy and other “wordsmithing” to help CorpNet look good, find new customers, reach a bigger audience and build our credibility online.
Here’s a CorpNet Staff Spotlight profile of Ben Gran, the man behind so many of our favorite CorpNet blog articles.
Ben first got involved with CorpNet by responding to a project that we posted on Elance.
“I’m a full-time freelance writer and I get a lot of my work via the Elance website,” said Ben Gran. “I remember responding to a job posting in the summer of 2011 from Phil Akalp, Nellie’s husband, saying that they needed a few business articles to test and see if I’d be a good fit for the CorpNet blog. I’m an experienced blogger who has written a lot about various business management and marketing topics, so I applied for the project. Phil hired me, and the rest is history.”
Asked what he loves most about working for CorpNet, Ben said that it’s the personal relationships he’s developed with Nellie and Phil Akalp that make it the most meaningful.
“Nellie Akalp and her husband Phil are the best clients any freelance writer could ask for,” said Ben. “They’re smart, responsive, collaborative, generous with praise, and they’re always quick to pay for the work. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with them on many projects and I would recommend them to anyone who’s looking for great people to work with. Nellie is always open to new ideas and suggestions. She’s got a lot of enthusiasm for her business, and is just a really warm, engaging person in general. I wish every freelance client could be like Nellie and Phil. With some clients, it’s just business – you do the work, you do it well, but that’s it. With Nellie and Phil, I really feel connected to them, I feel invested in their business success, and I hope we can actually meet in person someday soon.”
Ben writes for dozens of different companies and websites, but he’s been particularly impressed by the company culture he’s observed by working with CorpNet.
“I’m not as actively involved with the daily business of CorpNet as the rest of the full-time staff, but I can say that I’ve been really impressed with the breadth of knowledge and the sincere customer service I’ve seen from CorpNet,” said Ben Gran. “They really know their stuff and they pull out all the stops to give customers what they need. Often when people are dealing with online businesses, it can be too ‘impersonal.’ CorpNet makes online business ‘personal’ – in a good way.”
Ben Gran is a big fan of entrepreneurship and has written enthusiastically about new trends in the workforce and economy that are making it easier and more common for people to become entrepreneurs and start a business for themselves. Having started his own business as a freelance writer, Ben draws upon his own experience to help other aspiring entrepreneurs get the encouragement and information that they need to take the leap.
“After you start a business for yourself, every day is like waking up as a kid on Christmas morning,” said Ben Gran. “Of course, you have difficulties along the way, but for me, even my worst days as a small business owner are better than my best days in the corporate world. As a self-employed solo entrepreneur, there are highs and lows, but the highs are higher and the lows aren’t as low as what I used to experience when I had a cubicle job. If you’re not happy with your corporate job, or if you’re having trouble finding a traditional job, I highly recommend finding a way to do your own thing and start a business. It’s the best investment you can make.”
Like so many of our other CorpNet staff, Ben Gran also has some family roots in entrepreneurship.
“Before they retired, for several years my grandparents used to own and operate a small family restaurant in the town of Maquoketa, Iowa,” said Ben. “I remember as a child spending time with my Grandpa Bob while he cleaned up the bar to get ready for that evening’s customers. He’d always give me a can of Tab soda from behind the bar. I’ve always had a lot of respect for people who are courageous enough to start a business and pursue their own way of making a living. Sometimes it can be scary, and sometimes businesses fail for reasons beyond the owner’s control, but the same can be said for a so-called ‘secure’ job at a big corporation. Since life is risky, we might as well have fun along the way.”
Since Ben Gran is a freelance writer working from his own office in Iowa, he doesn’t really have the same “typical day” like the rest of us at the CorpNet headquarters. But in general, Ben works closely with me to keep our blog up-to-date with fresh articles, ideas and inspiration for entrepreneurs and CorpNet customers.
“A lot of what I do as a blogger for CorpNet involves working with Nellie Akalp to generate ideas for blog topics,” said Ben Gran “CorpNet updates their website constantly with new blog articles every day, so we have a never-ending need for new ideas, new stories, and new angles to create interesting content that people will want to read, and that will be helpful to them in starting a business or managing their ongoing business operations.”
One of Ben’s favorite aspects of working with CorpNet is the opportunity to learn new things about the world of entrepreneurship.
“I’m often working on 6 or 12 different blog topics at a time, and there’s always something new to learn,” said Ben Gran. “I find that I have to become a small business expert, of sorts, for any given blog article that I write, whether it’s about marketing, tax benefits, S-Corp formation or any other subject. Being a business blogger is so exciting because there’s this constant variety. I’m never going to run out of ideas for things to write about for CorpNet.”
Working with Ben Gran has been yet another example of the everyday miracles of technology that have enabled so many online businesses to connect and collaborate in the past few years.
“Nellie and I send a lot of e-mails back and forth and we work really well together,” said Ben. “Even though I’m in Des Moines, Iowa and Nellie’s in Southern California, it often seems like we’re sitting across the hall from each other. Technology is amazing that way. We can work with people all over the country and all over the world, more easily than ever before. If you would have told me 5 years ago that today my favorite co-workers and colleagues would be in California, Germany, London, Tokyo and Australia, I wouldn’t have believed it. There are so many great resources online like Elance that make it possible for people to connect and collaborate across great distances. Geography doesn’t matter anymore. Skills, shared interests and mutual trust are all that matter if you’re trying to decide who to hire or who to work with online.”
We’re grateful to have found Ben Gran on Elance, and hopefully we’ll be working together for a long time to come. Ben said that working with CorpNet has been a highly positive experience for him as well.
“Nellie Akalp is a really inspiring, one-of-a-kind personality,” said Ben. “Even after a short time working with Nellie, you can quickly tell that she loves her life, she loves her business, she loves the people that she works with and she loves her customers. She’s unfailingly positive and upbeat and encouraging.”
“When you work as a freelance writer online, it sometimes can feel like you’re a foreign correspondent sending dispatches over the wires, or like you’re a sailor at sea sending out messages in a bottle. You don’t always get that daily, reassuring feedback that you’re doing a good job,” said Ben. “Sometimes clients go silent and you wonder, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ But working with Nellie Akalp is really great because she helps you feel connected. I definitely feel like I’m part of what’s happening at CorpNet, even though I’m ‘just’ a freelance blogger. I find myself constantly brainstorming ideas for how I can help CorpNet find new customers, and I’ve recommended them to friends who are starting a business.”
About Ben Gran
Ben Gran is a freelance writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. He writes blog articles for CorpNet and many other websites, as well as offering business writing, technical writing, copywriting and speechwriting services. Contact Ben via his website at http://BenjaminGran.com