Meet Dana Neuts
A love of writing and storytelling
Since I was a kid, I have always loved writing. Back then, I wrote short stories to amuse myself and submit them to writing contests at school. Later, I wrote poetry and song lyrics to express my teenage angst. My love for writing was put on hold when I became an adult, attending school part-time, raising a family and working in the financial services industry. I eventually earned my bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University, which freed up some time to rediscover my love of writing. I started writing freelance articles for the local community newspaper – the Lafayette (Indiana) Leader – and writing “advertorials” (now called sponsored content) for a local publisher in the newspaper advertising industry.
Starting Virtually Yourz
I moved to Washington state to take a new job and was laid off nine months later. During my job search, I found I was either overqualified or underqualified for most positions, so I started my own business – Virtually Yourz – in 2004. Initially, I had planned to become a virtual assistant, falling back on my office and administrative skills, but my clients gravitated to my writing, editing and marketing skills instead. Gradually, I built my business writing for the Bellingham Herald, NW Business Magazine and the Whatcom Independent, while also writing, editing and doing marketing for clients. I wrote book reviews, website copy, blog posts, ad copy, newsletters, press releases, email copy, and more. And when social media took off, I was there to learn about it and start marketing my clients’ businesses that way.
In addition to working with dozens of clients across the country, and writing for the publications noted above, my articles have been published in print and online in dozens of publications including:
– 1889 Magazine
– 425 Business Magazine
– 425 Magazine
– AARP Bulletin
– American Profile
– Computer Source
– Government Security News
– Grow Northwest
– Highly Sensitive Refuge
– HS Today
– Kent Magazine
– Neighbors Magazine (Washington Farm Bureau)
– Northwest Travel & Life
– OnTrak Magazine (Amtrak Cascades)
– Renton Magazine
– Seattle Business Magazine
– Seattle Met
– Seattle Woman
– Showcase Magazine
– South Sound Business Magazine
– South Sound Magazine
– Subscription Insider
– The Independent Journalist
– The Seattle Times
– Writer’s Weekly
As an added bonus, in 2014, I interviewed Suzanne Somers for 425 Magazine and, in 2009, I won 1st place in the humor category of the Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest for my article in Seattle Business Magazine titled “The Other Woman,” about my husband’s passion for his first smartphone.
I have also been an entrepreneur and publisher. In 2007, recognizing a media gap in my community of Kent, Washington (about 15 miles south of Seattle and 15 miles north of Tacoma), I started publishing iLoveKent.net, an award-winning hyperlocal blog that focused on events, nonprofits, businesses and other community news. I built a good following and hired other writers to help manage the site and our growing social media audiences. I hosted political debates, held meet & greets with readers, and became a respected presence in the community. I sold iLoveKent.net to a local media company at the end of 2017 to pursue another opportunity.
Hiatus to work for my community
In 2017, I was recruited to serve as the City of Kent, Washington’s communications manager. In this role, I was responsible for all internal and external communications for the city, supporting communications within the mayor’s office, handling media relations, managing social media, and assisting departments with their communications needs. I also worked as a public engagement coordinator in the public works department where I helped communicate major projects to the community. While I loved those positions, and felt I did well, I was laid off in July 2020 due to COVID-related budget cuts.
In addition to my BSBA from IWU, I recently earned a master’s degree in management and leadership from Western Governors University. Since getting my bachelor’s, it has been a dream of mine to get my master’s degree, but it was expensive, and I didn’t see what the ROI would be. Fortunately, WGU made it possible to complete my degree affordably while getting an excellent education. I completed my master’s in 12 months, and am hoping to teach communications, writing, small business, or related topics at the community college level.
On top of my work life, I am passionate about nonprofits. I was heavily involved in the Society of Professional Journalists from 2005 to 2016, including two years as chapter president of the Western Washington Pro SPJ chapter, three years as regional director of a five-state region, and a year as president of the national organization which, at that time, had about 7,000 members. Since then, I’ve been involved in the Kent Downtown Partnership and Kent Community Foundation, including two years as president. I am currently volunteering for UR Community Cares doing social media consultation and writing and the Covington Chamber of Commerce, consulting and assisting with writing projects. Nonprofits are near and dear to me, and it is important to me that I help where I can.
In my free time
When I’m not working or volunteering, I love being outdoors, including walking, hiking, and enjoying nature. I also love travel and combining travel with being outdoors. A friend and I have developed a fondness for birding, so we have gone on three nature trips in Washington and Arizona in the last year. It’s the one safe activity we can do during the pandemic. I have also returned to my creative roots – drawing, painting and fiction writing.
Want to learn more?
If I sound like someone you might want to work with, please reach out via email or complete the form below, and I’ll get in touch. Thanks for your interest.