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Last week, as part of my freelance writing for small businesses, I drove to a local therapy practice to interview the founders about their work.

The piece will publish on a regional bank’s award-winning community site with content that has flourished under direction of the bank’s vice president of marketing. In addition to the regular site for current account holders, the financial institution uses content by local writers to tell the stories of people, events, and businesses around the state. I offered to write about these small business owners after learning their rare and highly respected certifications in the field of therapy.

We sat in one of the rooms and had a conversation that naturally developed as I walked into their peaceful, welcoming building, a place that certainly presents a balanced rhythm of cheerful and serene. 

After almost an hour-long discussion with these two women, I can say with confidence they certainly seem to be an authentic human reflection of the practice they have built and the field for which they hold tremendous respect.

They had so much to say about helping people. And they still have so much to do.

When dialing doesn’t cut it

This enthusiasm would have been limited with a phone call. A Skype interview would not have allowed me to get a feel for the place. I would have missed being able to watch their faces and jot notes as they went back and forth answering questions I hadn’t yet asked while sitting on a comfortable couch in a room with big windows and big sunlight.

Without this in-person experience, my work for the client wouldn’t have been near as good.

I am proud of the piece and the final draft I turned in yesterday. It had my attention at separate times for three days in a row. When possible (and because of the editor in me), I like to give stories at least a couple of sunsets worth of fresh eyes.

This particular story is better for it. 

Sure, I can place a phone call

Driving for every article I write or to meet every person I need to speak with for information isn’t feasible. Sometimes people are located out of my town. Other times, I really only need to get a couple of answers via phone or email.

But when I can, I make the drive. Yes, it is built into my project fee (or added as necessary for hourly work). It’s a cinch to justify to clients. Do you want the best story I can give within the deadline? Is it a reasonable distance or me to drive?

If yes, I’m grabbing my keys.