‘I look at the world as potential disasters,’ Insureon content director says
at’s it really like to work at Chicago startups and tech companies? Blue Sky’s Inside Job lets people on the ground tell us in their own words.
Brenna Lemieux, 31, Content Director at Insureon
I look at the world as potential disasters now that I work in insurance. It’s like, “Oh no! Don’t do that!”
At Insureon, we make it easy to find small business insurance for independent contractors, freelancers and really small businesses. We’re not a carrier. We are an aggregator, so we have partnerships with a bunch of different carriers. It’s a lot like Orbitz, if Orbitz had an independent travel agent you can then talk to.
I started in December 2012, and back then, we were a really small company, and nobody came to our website because they couldn’t find us online. So they hired me to make sure people could find the website.
The way to do that is through original content, so when people search, they should just find us in the natural results. Google rewards fresh content. In addition to publishing things like, “Here’s what a general liability policy does,” we have e-books about “How to make sure you’re not cannibalizing your own profits,” and, “You’re planning a career in IT? Here are 10 things to think about.” We’ve decided to make education part of our mission.
I’m from Baltimore. I went to Towson High. I graduated with Michael Phelps. He dated my best friend, but we’re not really friends now. He’s doing other stuff.
I went to Bucknell University in central Pennsylvania and majored in French and English, with a concentration in creative writing. You know, in college, you have 100 hours a day, so you can do anything. And I did improve there. Improv is for lazy people. You don’t really have to do anything, which makes it a really nice hobby.
After college, I moved out here to Chicago with a bunch of my improv friends. I started taking classes at iO — I still perform there on a team called “Twelve Dollar Bill” — but after a year, I quit to go to grad school for creative writing at Southern Illinois University. My book is out now, a collection of poetry called “The Gospel of Household Plants” (Quercus Review, $12).
Improv and poetry, the two parts I chose, are not the most lucrative. That’s good news for my boss because I’m not going anywhere. But a lot of the same rules that apply to improv apply to marketing writing, like “Keep them engaged!”
Writing should be a window. You should say, “Oh, what a nice view,” not “Oh, what a nice window.” In the business environment, the rule applies, but even more so, because you don’t want people to think, “Oh, she’s great at writing these marketing e-mails.” You want them to think, “Oh, I need to buy that.”
Once I graduated, I freelanced for about a year and a half. There was this really high demand for 500-word, keyword articles, and I could just crank them out. Sometimes it felt like I wrote 40 percent of the Internet. I wrote for Reputation.com. Total Attorneys. GetSTDTested.com (now STDcheck.com), that was my favorite.
I moved back here to be close to my husband’s family, and then we split up two months later. So I was just alone all day, every day. And I was like, “I know what I need: a full-time job.” When I joined Insureon, they just needed everyone to be working as hard as they could, as much as they could. And I just needed something to distract me from my life.