Who is this MJV?

I’ve never been the kind of guy who identifies as just one thing. I’m Italian, but Jewish (I prefer the phrase, “Pizza Bagel”). I’ve got no problems meeting new people, yet I love to be alone. This multi-faceted reality applies to my professional life, too; I’m a full-time freelancer who writes, edits, and makes mayhem in the multimedia world. In the NBA, they’d call me a triple-threat. I like to say I’ve diversified.

I’ve been writing professionally since 1995. In that time, I’ve written about everything from milking goats to shellfish farms, Clown College to biometrics. My work has appeared in newspapers and magazines, on Web sites, and in a variety of corporate documents. I’ve written advertisements, marketing campaigns, executive speeches, and brochures. I’ve written a couple of DVD and online trivia games. One time, someone even hired me to write the toast he gave to his daughter at her wedding.

My editing business began in 2002. Since then, I’ve edited adventure travel magazines, corporate newsletters, press releases, corporate reports, and blog posts. I’ve updated a number of guidebooks (about Las Vegas, Hawaii, California Wine Country, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks). I even do some brand essence work.

I also tackle multimedia projects. Since 2005, I’ve moderated hundreds of Webinars for high-tech clients, recorded dozens of podcasts, and orchestrated a number of video clips and audio slide shows. I’ve also become a prolific blogger, publishing a blog about family travel, and contributing (both as a writer and as senior editor) to the Expedia Viewfinder blog from Expedia.

Some other work-related facts about me:

  • I work at a stand-up desk, and I usually walk on a treadmill. Because I tend to work late at night, standing up and walking forces me to stay awake. I’m also not good at sitting still.
  • I am passionate about education. I deliver multiple lectures every year on the business of freelancing, and I mentor aspiring freelance writers through my alma mater, Northwestern University. I also have taught college-level reporting classes. And I plan to teach more.
  • I’m an Android guy, a proud Samsung owner. I do not own (nor do I wish to own) any Apple products.
  • I have been interviewed about freelancing and travel writing numerous times over the years. My three favorite interviews have been written up here, here, and here. I also recently did a Twitter chat on the subject of creating corporate content, and a transcript of that is here.
  • I spent the fall of 2013 in London and the summer of 2017 in Chicago with my family. Because my wife is an archaeologist who does lots of research, we get to travel with her.
  • I was a founding board member of the Family Travel Association, and am still involved with the organization today. I also am a board member for my kids’ preschool. Every year I emcee and bid-call the school’s big fundraising auction. (I usually wear a ridiculous costume.)

Outside of work, people know me as MJV (my middle name is Jacob). I’m a father, a husband, a runner, and a Yankees fan. I bet on college football and basketball. I listen to copious amounts of folk music. I eat bagfuls of raw almonds, and always have room for frozen yogurt. I drink brown liquor (especially brandy). I usually wear jeans and a t-shirt. I shave infrequently. And I love cetaceans. If people who worship the Grateful Dead can call themselves “Deadheads,” a whale-worshipper such as moi can self-identify as a “Whalehead.” That’s how the name for this site was born.


Matt Villano
Matt Villano

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