This Creative Agency of Writers Has the Broad Experience & Laser Focus to Help Tell Your Story
MIKE O'DONNELL / EDITOR
With over a decade of experience as a magazine writer, WNW Member Bill Bradley has been a firsthand witness to shifts in the editorial landscape. Though budgets and editorial staffs are shrinking, the skills of a writer and reporter remain invaluable. So after adding in agency experience at the likes of Doubleday & Cartwright, Huge, and Saatchi & Saatchi, Bill saw an opportunity for big publishers and brands to benefit from his skillset and experience. Thick skin? Tight deadlines? These aren’t simply occupational hazards for a writer, reporter, and editor. They’re job descriptions.
So last year, Bill and his partner Noah Davis founded Three Point Four, a creative agency specializing in editorial, content, strategy, and advertising. As freelancers they've worked with everyone from The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and GQ to Gatorade, GE, and Nike. Now they're bringing the same skills and quality to Three Point Four.
“We saw that everyone wants the quality and feel of a magazine. And all the agencies and brands we worked with were constantly griping about their difficulty finding good writers and editors. We saw an opportunity to oversee these projects, rather than work on them in a one-off capacity as a writer. Now we can concept big projects, produce them, find the talent, and deliver what the client wants—which is good writing, beautiful design, and original photography.”
In our interview below, Bill shares why Three Point Four is uniquely equipped with broad experience and laser focus to help big publishers and brands tell their stories.
Tell me a bit about your creative background. Who is Bill Bradley and how did he get here?
I’ve worked in magazines for over a decade. I started at Vanity Fair out of college, then worked at the short-lived iPad-only newspaper The Daily (RIP). I’d always wanted to go freelance, so when The Daily folded I used my three-month severance to launch my freelance “career.” For the last seven years I’ve written for all sorts of publications from Deadspin and GQ to Esquire and Bon Appetit.
What are some ways that you’ve seen the editorial landscape shift since you first started?
It doesn’t pay freelancers nearly as well as it used to. Editors are more stressed because of shrinking budgets and staff. But editors still value reporting and they still need to fill the pages, so there’s work for writers. But it’s a hustle and a grind.
The big shift has been towards branded content. All the big publishers—Conde Nast, Time Inc., etc.—have their own in-house branded content studios these days. It can be a life raft for freelancers, because it typically pays better than traditional editorial work.
How did that spark the idea for your creative agency, Three Point Four?
My business partner—Noah Davis, who is also a veteran freelancer—and I had both been doing more and more branded content to underwrite our reporting, for both the big publishers and the brands themselves. I also had a bit of agency experience, doing work for Doubleday & Cartwright, Huge, Baron & Baron, and Saatchi & Saatchi.
We saw that everyone wants the quality and feel of a magazine. And all the agencies and brands we worked with were constantly griping about their difficulty finding good writers and editors. We saw an opportunity to oversee these projects, rather than work on them in a one-off capacity as a writer. Now we can concept big projects, produce them, find the talent, and deliver what the client wants—which is good writing, beautiful design, and original photography.
What is Three Point Four’s creative mission? What do you feel is missing and what do you want to take up and deliver?
We can help people tell stories—whether that’s written, video, or podcasts. We have a deep roster of talent across all disciplines and beats. We offer companies really good value. We see ourselves more as creative partners—whether that’s to an agency who doesn’t have the capabilities to deliver content to their client or the brands themselves.
Beyond that, as freelancers we never really pigeonholed ourselves to one specific beat. We’ve covered everything, from sports and culture to food and grooming.
People want good content and stories, we can deliver that—without the headache and bureaucracy of a big agency or the frustrating infrequency of tapping writers to deliver the occasional story. Basically: we can manage and produce all types of content, whether it’s a one-off print magazine or a website that updates regularly.
What does the name Three Point Four refer to?
It’s the distance of the running loop around Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where Noah and I came up with the idea for the company over countless afternoon laps. Fellow WNW Member Andrew Janik designed our logo.
How does your background in both editorial and advertising inform Three Point Four’s skills and process?
We’re really good at coming up with ideas, concepts, themes, or whatever a client needs for a project. As freelancer writers, your ideas are currency—it’s how you make a living. We’ve taken that ability and transformed it to branded content.
One thing we’ve tried to stress with clients is that we’re more nimble than typical agencies or studios. As freelancers, we learned how to prioritize what needed to get done and when. And that’s translated to our work with Three Point Four. We set expectations and meet them. We settle on an idea or theme and get the work done. What I found frustrating about agency work was the amount of meetings and triangulation that goes into, like, a slug or hero text. As magazine writers we’re used to working on deadline, so we feel like we can arrive at what the client wants more efficiently than others.
Also, we have thick skin. As a writer you are told that you are wrong and your ideas are bad daily. It’s part of the job description. So when clients try to tiptoe around something they’re not crazy about we have to tell them “It’s ok if you don’t like it. Just tell us.”
Historically, have brands often failed to factor in the importance and benefit of skills like reporting and fact checking?
Yes. Brands want good content that looks and reads like a magazine, but they don’t want to pay for it.
Which Three Point Four projects so far are you proudest of and why?
Since February we’ve been helping a company launch a new consumer-reviews site called Quiddity. It’s kind of like The Wirecutter or The Strategist, but the products are reviewed by a proprietary algorithm. We came in and helped them concept the features program—here are two of our favorites—produce videos, and build out an editorial workflow. They had done a ton of market research, but we basically helped them build the editorial side of things from scratch.
We’ve also been working on the California Questionnaire for Visit California. We were able to leverage our network of freelancers to find writers who could land big names, like Zoey Deutch and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The other projects we’re working on are under wraps right now, sadly. One is a digital magazine for a brand and the other is a print magazine.