How to survive when your business isn’t your job.

Are you crazy stressed trying to juggle a business and a day job? Here’s how to make is easier…

 

juggling a business and a day job

Calm down, Mrs, freaking out isn’t going to help.

 

Get ready for the “no s***, Sherlock statement” of the day: building a business takes time!

Sometimes way more time than you had hoped or anticipated. And what this likely means is that you’re going to be building your business around your day job — no easy feat.

When you’re just starting out, it isn’t too bad.

Excitement about your new venture has you so wired you feel as if you’ve been hooked up to a Red Bull IV. But this gets old, fast.

You wonder…

Are you ever going to be able to send off that resignation letter you drafted months ago? Can you cope with a 50+ hour week? Will the staff in your local even recognise you by the time you get the chance to have a pint with your mates?

How can you survive when your business isn’t the only job you have?

Check out the tactics that have helped me keep my sanity (well, mostly) while juggling a business and a day job.

Make time for self-care.

It’s so blinkin’ obvious but are you actually doing it? Honestly, how many times have you worked through your lunch break, skipped your workout, or reached the end of the day only to realise you haven’t even finished your first bottle of water?

I’ve done all of these, and occasionally still do when I’m swamped with work. And you know where it leaves me? With a thumping headache, zero creativity and an overwhelming desire to raid the kids’ stash of Christmas chocolates. I’m guessing you can relate?

So here’s the plan.

Breathe: it’s kind of important.

Let’s all promise ourselves that we will drink water throughout the day, we will get out for a walk in the fresh air as often as we can (hook yourself up to a podcast while you’re walking if that helps you feel less guilty), and we will cook real food, from scratch. It only takes 10 minutes to throw some soup or stew ingredients into your slow cooker in the morning before you head to work. You’re far less likely to bung a ready meal in the microwave when you get home, if you’re greeted by the smell of homemade soup, right?

Oh, and I know that evenings are probably your only chance to work on your business but I guarantee that even a 20 minute run or workout DVD will give you an extra hour’s worth of energy to get stuff done before you hit the hay.

Find ways to multi-task.

There are always ways to use your time more productively. Watch training videos or listen to podcasts while you’re cooking or ironing. Bring your laptop with you while your kids are in football training, or write notes for your next blog post and brainstorm marketing ideas while you’re on the train to work.

Okay, not what I meant when I said multitask…

Outsource what you can.

If you find that planning your editorial calendar or writing your blog content takes forever, then outsource it to someone like me. If you feel like you spend your whole life on social media, try hiring an SM expert or a VA to take care of your accounts for you. Or if it’s your finances that give you the biggest headache and take up all of your time, look into taking on a bookkeeper.

It’s might sound counter-intuitive to spend money on things you can do yourself — especially if you’re squirrelling away as much cash as possible in preparation for going full-time self-employed — but you need to consider if doing these tasks are really the best use of your time.

Getting on with your own client work might make you far more money than you would have made if you’d spent the time battling your admin.

Try working in batches.

I try not to jump from task to task. Even for a writer, I think sometimes it takes a wee while to get back into writing mode, so I try to work in batches — if I’m writing I’m writing, if I’m editing, I’m editing, if I’m translating, I’m translating.

The first task in any batch is always the hardest, but once it’s out of the way, my brain seems to be in the right mode and I can usually zip through the rest of my workload with relative ease.

Could you adopt similar practices? If you do your own writing, can you dedicate a few hours one day to sort your content for the whole month? Or set aside a spare evening to work out your social media updates for the week?

You’ll find you get much more work done that way, leaving you with more time to play with and hopefully a bit more sleep!

Figure out when you’re most productive.

If your energy or creativity are at their peak first thing in the morning, it would be worth setting your alarm an hour or so earlier. You’ll be far more productive and after a hard shift at the day job, you’ll be able to justify chilling on the sofa for a bit, having made a dent in your to-do list before you’ve even left the house.

Or, if you prefer working in the evening, try to get as many of the household chores out of the way while you’re getting ready for work so you’re not loading the washing machine when you’re at the height of your productivity.

Sacrifices are inevitable so don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

If you’re missing your Saturday morning lie in (for those of you who don’t have kids!) or you’ve missed the last three episodes of ‘Strictly’, you might need a wee reality check. Yes, these things suck, but they’re the sacrifices you have to make if you want to build a successful business.

Keep reminding yourself that it WILL be worth it in the end.

You did it! Insert cheesy success photo here.

That said, don’t spend so much time focusing on the future, that you leave yourself feeling miserable now.

Ignore the guilt: have a drink with your pals, take your kids to a movie and switch off for a while. After all, when you do eventually hit the business big-time, you want to be sure you still have people around you to toast to your success!

 

Are you juggling a growing business and a day job? I’d love to hear you top tips for how you’re managing to keep all of the balls in the air without dropping your sanity! Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

 

 

 

 

How to stop Impostor Syndrome holding you back.

how to deal with impostor syndrome

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Is Impostor Syndrome holding you back?

How do you feel when you see those super-confident entrepreneurs at networking events? You know the ones who can just grab hold of the mic and tell the room how awesome they are. No apologies, no hesitation. They’re amazing and they know it — and I’ll bet their sales conversion rate isn’t too bad either.

I’ll bet they find it pretty easy to write their web content too.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks business owners come up against when writing their own web copy, is the inability to sell themselves. There are a few reasons that we might find this aspect of copywriting so difficult (I go into this in more detail here) but for some of you, I’m willing to bet that a sneaky little doze of Impostor syndrome might just be to blame.

Now, if there’s a way to banish that particular demon for good, please, please let me know (we’re rather good friends, Impostor Syndrome and I, although he comes to visit far less often than he used to, I’m happy to say). But, while we’re waiting for the answer, there are a few things you can do to make sure he doesn’t hang around for too long when he does pay a visit.

Make yourself a brag book.

Arrogance isn’t cool but damn, you’ve worked hard for the things you’ve achieved, so you’re allowed a few bragging rights. Think about everything you’ve accomplished in your career, the last year, the last week, whatever, and write it down. Add pictures if you have any. Any qualifications you’ve earned, courses you’ve completed, work you’re particularly proud of, relationships you’ve built, demons you’ve faced — write it all down and give yourself a shiny star sticker (okay, that’s the nursery teacher in me coming out now, but who doesn’t love stickers?).

Any time Impostor Syndrome comes knocking at your door, shove your brag book right in his horrible little face and send him packing.

Talk to your pals.

Or your Mum. But only if they’re the kind of people who’ll tell you the truth. This isn’t the time for those friends who tell you that you look good even when you know you’re looking like a troll. This is the time for the folk who call you out when you’re being a brat. When your tact-free friends tell you that you’re awesome at your job, you know you it’s the truth. Impostor syndrome won’t get a look in.

Keep your skills fresh.

There is only one occasion that you’re allowed to listen to Impostor Syndrome’s whispering. If he tells you that your skills are getting rusty and you’re not keeping up  with your industry, and you know he’s right, you need to take action.

I know running a business takes up a ridiculous amount of time (hey, I’m right there with you on that one!), but you HAVE to schedule time to work on your skills. You could set yourself a regular appointment to read key industry publications or dedicate some time to completing at least one new course each year.

By far my favourite way of upskilling, is content marketing. Every time I write a blog, whether for clients or for my own blog, I’m learning. All of the research that goes into every blog post is a fantastic way to consolidate existing knowledge and it’s a great incentive to keep abreast of industry developments. And the best thing is that I’m completing serious marketing goals while I’m keeping my skills fresh. Impostor Syndrome, be gone!

Acknowledge that we ALL suffer IMPOSTOR Syndrome.

Yeah, he pays every single one of us a visit at some time or another. Don’t for one minute think that the fact that he’s banging on your door means that you actually are an impostor. We all have those moments of shaky confidence and the suspicion that everyone in the world is doing life better than we are. They’re not.

Let’s make 2018 the year we get rid of Impostor Syndrome once and for all. Whether you’re drafting a social media post, taking centre stage at a networking event, or tackling the dreaded ‘about me’ page copy, I want you to remember that you rock. You’ve got this!

How to survive a freelance dry spell in 7 easy steps.

surviving a freelance dry spell

How to survive a freelance dry spell. (Photo by Brad Helmink on Unsplash)

 

The perks of working freelance are well-documented: working in your jammies, setting your own hours (to an extent), no more standing for hours on the train as you make your way in to the office for 9.00am.

Of course, this comes at a price. The obvious trade off is the complete lack of stability. One month you’re rolling around on a bed covered in £50 notes (okay, not quite!), the next you’re watching tumbleweed blow through your inbox and you’re asking your husband to call your mobile to check it’s still working.

I know we’re not really supposed to admit when we’re struggling but I’m not one for playing coy. I’ll happily admit that just a couple of months ago I fell victim to the dreaded ‘freelance freak-out’. I had had my busiest quarter ever and instead of enjoying the unexpected quiet spell and taking a few days to catch my breath, I started to panic. In my wee head, the busy spell was the anomaly and the quiet patch was the new ‘normal’. I started perusing job ads…

Can you relate?

If you’re currently in the midst of a quiet spell and feeling the onset of your own ‘freelance freak-out’, I want you to stop and take a breath. Assuming you still love your freelance work, this is the time to have faith and just power on through the rough patch.

Some folk turn to praying, others like manifesting and trusting in the universe. Whatever floats your boat. Me, I like action. I’ve put together 7 things you can do today to get that inbox pinging again.

1.Hit up your old clients.

Don’t forget to keep in touch with old clients. If you’ve updated your services, let them know; maybe they’ve been meaning to get in touch for another project and they just need a nudge in the right direction. Perhaps they’ve been meaning to pass your name along to someone who needs your skills but they assumed you’d be too busy to take on additional work. Maybe they’d be happy to provide you with a new testimonial that will help you close a new client you’ve been courting.

If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

2.Send out a newsletter.

People are busy and it’s so easy to fall off their radar. Sending out a newsletter packed with useful content is a great way to remind people that you’re there! Let your list know that you’re currently available and see if anyone bites.

surviving a freelance dry spell

I’m available!

3.Advertise your availability on your social media platforms.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your audience know that you have immediate availability. If you’re usually booked up months in advance, there may be the odd client or two who jumps at the chance to get a project started without having to wait around for you to have a spare week in your diary.

4.Consider launching a new service or event.

Have you had the seed of an idea germinating at the back of your mind for a while? Now is the time to do something about it.

During my last quiet spell, that’s exactly what I did. Based on the conversations I’d been having at networking events, I could see that there are loads of entrepreneurs who have hit stumbling blocks with their content marketing and blogging. I realised that there was a very real need for a consultation service that helps beginner bloggers overcome these blocks. Sure enough, when I offered the service up to beta testers, I had several clients (some old, some new) jump at the chance. Quiet spell over.

Could you apply this to your own business? Could you introduce a new service or hold an event that would help out your target market? Not only will it get some pennies rolling in now, but it could be a great marketing opportunity that will pay dividends in the future too.

5.Get your butt out there.

There’s no point sitting at your desk, crying into your coffee. The best way out of a quiet spell is to get yourself out there — if clients aren’t coming to you, you’ll need to go out and find them.

Book yourself onto a networking event, sign up for a craft fair, go out and meet potential clients.

6.Cold emailing.

If you’re determined to sit at your desk, crying into your coffee, at least be productive about it. Make a list of clients you’d love to work with and send out some emails. Find out more about cold emailing here.

7.Use your contacts.

Do you know anyone in your industry who is swamped with work right now? Let them know that you’re having a tumbleweed moment (they’ll get it, they’ve been there too!) and that you’re willing and able to help them out with any overspill. It’s so important to foster these relationships; after all, there will be months when you’re the one who’s overrun with work and you’ll be able to return the favour.

surviving a freelance dry spell

Get your address book out. Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

8.Hire a sandwich board and parade the streets.

But only if you’ve tried the first 7 tips and haven’t had any luck.

Need some more tips for getting your business out there? Check out this post: http://www.clarecrossan.co.uk/low-cost-marketing-tips/

 

 

How to use social proof to boost your small business.

social proof in marketing

 

A few years ago, I read “50 Shades of Grey”

“50 Shades of Grey”!

I am a writer. I like LITERATURE. Do you know how hard it is for me to admit this?

So why did I pick up this abomination of a novel?

Everyone was talking about it. Everyone. And I wanted in on the conversation.

I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

Despite being a grown-ass woman, I didn’t want to be left out. I know, I know, I’m rolling my eyes at myself!

That’s social proof for you.

It’s powerful and if you want to grow your business, it’s time to harness that power!

What is social proof?

Social proof is marketing gold. It is a potent sales tool and if you’re not using it in the promotion of your small business, you’re missing out.

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that influences and changes people’s behaviour.

When we see a product flying off the shelves, we assume that it must be amazing and we join the queue.

If we walk past a restaurant and see that there are only a couple of tables left, we hurry on in. If it’s that busy, the food must be outstanding, right?

When all of our friends are raving about an amazing novel, you don’t want to be the loser who doesn’t know what everyone is banging on about.

Social proof is bloody powerful. It is the sole reason I wasted an afternoon of my life reading ‘THAT book’.

We are fundamentally herd animals. We want nothing more than to seek social acceptance. We bow to peer pressure and we worry that if we miss out on “The Next Big Thing”, we will be social pariahs.

However, many small business owners just don’t appreciate its importance, or know how to use it effectively.

How can you use social proof to boost your business?

Social proof, when used correctly, can improve your credibility, create hype, reassure hesitant buyers and generally make you lots more money.

Here are a few easy ways that you can start incorporating social proof into your business marketing, today.

Testimonials.

I was chatting to a fellow solopreneur this afternoon and we somehow ended up talking about testimonials. She admitted that she hadn’t really thought about asking clients for testimonials or reviews before. She had no idea that she was missing a valuable source of free marketing for her business.

Client testimonials prove that your marketing isn’t just a load of unfounded hype. They show potential customers that your services ARE as brilliant as you say they are, maybe even better. They let everyone know that your products DO work. Your coaching sessions can change lives; your cupcakes really do taste amazing…

Of course, we all hesitate when it comes to asking for a testimonial. We appreciate that our customers are busy people and we don’t want to bother them. However, if you’ve done a great job for them, my guess is that they will be only too happy to write a few sentences for you, as long as you ask nicely!

And, when you do receive these testimonials, don’t forget to shout about it. Add them to your website and share them on social media.

You don’t have to be too ‘braggy’ about it. I like to share any new testimonials alongside a wee thank you to the client for taking the time to provide the feedback.

Social media endorsements.

If you’re a LinkedIn user, it is worth asking clients to add a brief testimonial to your profile or endorse you for skills. Whenever anyone is looking for someone with your particular skill set, they will be reassured that you can provide a kick-ass service and they will feel more confident in reaching out to you.

If Facebook is your social media platform of choice, offer customers an incentive to leave a review or to check-in to your location. You could add everyone who reviews or endorses you into a prize draw or offer a freebie to one lucky person who has checked in to your business in the last month.

There is something very powerful about seeing your Facebook friends reviewing a business or checking-in.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am quite particular about pizza (living in Italy has ruined me!). So, if anyone in my network sees me leave a 5* review for a pizzeria, they know it is probably worth checking out.

When I see my fitness fanatic friend check in to a local gym, I know that when I finally get off my lazy butt, that’s probably the best place to check out.

Case Studies.

Case studies work in the same way as testimonials but they allow for more detail. You can really go to town on a case study, drawing in your audience with a compelling story and making the most of any before and after pictures you may have.

My advice for using case studies is to look particularly to customers who fit your ideal customer avatar. Tell their story; highlight the problem they had when they came to you and how you helped solve the issue. Others, with similar problems, will be able to relate to the story and will be able to picture you solving their issues too.

Brand logos/celebrity endorsements.

Have you worked with any well-known brands? Are your products stocked in a high-end store? Have you sold any products to celebrities or ‘influencers’?

One aspect of social proof is that people tend to look to authority figures for guidance. If you can show that your product or service has been ‘approved’ by a well-known brand or personality, you will instantly boost your credibility and public interest in your brand.

There are loads of ways you can harness the power of social proof when marketing your business and the best thing is that most of them won’t cost you a penny.

Which one will you try first?

Now, let’s all try to forget that I told you about reading “50 Shades”…

For more posts on running a small business, please subscribe:

7 Benefits of Having a Business Blog

 

Have you started a business blog yet?

Or have you started, uploaded a couple of posts and then let it fade?

I mean, you have other stuff to do, right? You know, designing, coaching or whatever it is that your clients pay you to do…

I get it. Blogging takes time and it takes effort.

You have to set aside time to research, write and (for the love of the wee man don’t forget this bit), promote your blog posts.

Given the whole ‘time and effort’ objection to blogging, you might wonder why I made such a big deal of it in my previous post ‘How to market your business when you’re broke’. Sure, it’s free but is it really worth the hassle?

In a word, yes!

Now, if you’re happy to take my word for it, then you can go and get started right now.

If you still need a bit of convincing, I’ve listed below the most basic benefits you’ll get from starting your own business blog.

1. Improved SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Now, many copywriters are SEO experts—I am not. I’m not super- techy and they keep moving the damn goalposts on this one. Google changes its algorithms more often than I change my mind about my favourite Game of Thrones character.

 One thing that remains constant though, is that search engines love fresh content.

There is absolutely no point getting yourself an all-singing, all-dancing website and then letting it stagnate.

And that’s what’ll happen if you don’t keep updating your content. All of the well cared for websites, with new and exciting content will float to the top of the search pile, leaving yours to sink lower and lower into the depths.

It’s heartbreaking. Especially if you paid a fortune setting up your site in the first place!

The easiest way to introduce fresh content to your website: a blog.

2.Long-tail keywords

While we’re talking search engines, it’s worth knowing about long-tail keywords. This is something that probably deserves a post of its very own but I’m going to stick with just a simple explanation for now.

What are long-tail keywords and how are they going to help your business?

Let’s take my own business as an example. A relevant long-tail keyword might be ‘how to write a great landing page’. In search engine terms, this is going to have far less competition than the more generic ‘copywriter’ or ‘marketing copy’.

The more long-tail keywords your website contains, the more people will be able to find it —providing you are not jamming keywords in just for the sake of it. (Don’t do this! Google will recognise that you’re trying to cheat the system and will penalise you for it. Always remember you’re writing for people, not search engines).

Blog posts are a brilliant way of naturally incorporating long-tail keywords into your website.

3. Building relationships

Blogging is NOT about making sales. Increased sales will happen further down the line, but when you’re writing it’s worth remembering that the main purpose of your blog is to help your customers.

Before you even start blogging, it’s a good idea to spend some time putting together a strategy.

Consider who your customers are, what they want to know and how you can help them. What kind of topics could you cover that will improve their lives or their businesses?

Assuming you’re providing useful content and showing a bit of personality, your customers will come to know, like and trust you. When they get to the point that they’re ready to buy, they’re far more likely to come to you, the person they know, like and trust.

4. Establishing credibility

In a similar vein, by posting useful information about your industry you’re proving to your audience that you know your stuff.

Diplomas and qualifications are great but producing relevant content highlights that you are constantly honing your skills and keeping your knowledge fresh.

This shows your professionalism and your expertise —and instils confidence in your customers.

5. Getting to know your customers

When you’re blogging, invite your readers to comment on your posts. The conversations that can ensue here are a goldmine.

Are customers frequently asking the same questions? Great, there’s a topic for a new blog post or even a new page on your website.

Is there a recurring problem with one of your products? Great, now you know about it, you can fix it and tell everyone about the improvements you’ve made.

Maybe some of the comments are highlighting a particular problem that your clients are experiencing — here’s an opportunity for you develop or repackage one of your products or services.

6.Improve your industry knowledge

Not every blog post you write will require research. You are writing about your own industry after all. Some will though and when you’re researching these topics, I guarantee that you’ll improve your professional knowledge along the way. This will ultimately improve the service you’re offering your clients and help you grow your business.

7.Increased visibility

I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth saying again:

Promote your posts!

There is no point in writing a post that no one will ever read. As soon as you’ve hit publish, promote your post on every social media account you have, including your personal ones.

It is also worth adding any new posts to your newsletter or automatically emailing any new content to your email subscribers.

This is a great way to increase your visibility and stay at the forefront of your customer’s minds.

 

I’d love to know…

If you were on the fence about starting a blog, has any of the info here changed your mind one way or the other?

Have I missed anything out?

If you’ve been blogging for a while and spotted an obvious benefit that I haven’t mentioned here, let me know!

For more posts on marketing your small business, subscribe here:

 

How to market your business when you’re broke.

Marketing tips for when your piggy bank is empty.

 

You don’t need me to tell you that marketing your fledgling business isn’t optional. No visibility, no customers, no business. No good!

However, business start up costs can be pretty intimidating and the likelihood is that, for the first few years, if not longer, you simply won’t have much of a marketing budget to play with.

Luckily there are hundreds (if not thousands) of low-cost or free marketing strategies you can play around with to get things up and running.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a to-do list the length of my arm to get through today. Rather than bombard you with ideas, I’m going to highlight the key strategies I’m focusing on at the moment:

1.Networking — in person and online

2.Using your existing contacts (you have more of them than you realise)

3.Cold emailing (how to do it without annoying people)

4.Creating valuable content

 

1.Networking

If you do nothing else to market your business, make sure you spend as much time as you can networking. Whether in person or online, this is, without a doubt, THE most effective low-cost marketing tool around.

In person

There are some amazingly effective networking groups out there that charge an arm and a leg just for joining — and that’s before you’ve shelled out for your train ticket, the event ticket and the cost of the coffee/wine/valium you’ll need to purchase to get yourself through the event.

If we look at this from the point of view of your ROI (and this IS how we need to view these things), say you pay £500 for membership, depending on what type of business you’re running, you may only need to score one or two clients, at most, to make your money back. Add to that the fact that you’re likely (hopefully) to get repeat business, word-of-mouth advertising and referrals from said clients, it probably is a worthwhile investment.

However, I’m writing this post specifically for those of you who simply don’t have £500 to spare right now.

I have to tell you — don’t panic!

Assuming you don’t live out in the sticks, there are loads of networking events out there that don’t cost a penny. And some of them are downright awesome.

As soon as you’ve finished reading this, start googling. In fact, go and have a look right now and don’t come back until you’ve registered for at least one event. It’s cool, I’ll wait…

Right, is that you sorted?

While you were doing that, I searched for “networking groups Glasgow” and this was the first result Google hit me with: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/scotland–glasgow/networking/

Once I’ve sorted by date, I can scroll through and see which free events I can fit into my schedule. There are a good few to choose from and I know it’s just a matter of trial and error until I find the events that suit me.

Some will be great for meeting potential clients. Some will be more useful for meeting potential collaborators. Some will provide useful tips for how to improve how I run my business. None will be a waste of time and literally all I need to pay for is my bus fare into the city.

Online

social media marketing

I’m a massive fan of networking in person, however, as an introvert and a busy mum, networking that can be done from my own living room (or from the café of a soft play centre) is worth its weight in gold.

It goes without saying that you should constantly be working on your own social media accounts, building relationships and posting useful content, but don’t neglect  the possibilities of online forums and groups.

To use Facebook as an example, there are a million and one different groups for entrepreneurs. Some are specifically for mumpreneurs (sorry, I know, I’m not a fan of the term either!), some directed at women business owners, some are aimed at specific industries or specific countries or regions.

Before you get lost down the rabbit hole, it’s best to come up with a strategy.

Realistically, it’s better to join one or two relevant groups and take the time to use them properly rather than joining every group you come across and then not having the time to actually contribute to them all. Begin by building up relationships, offering advice and providing value. Keep an eye out for people looking for the skills or products you offer and don’t be afraid to pitch your business if there is a job posting.

2.Use your contacts

Don’t be so busy trying to find new contacts that you forget about the useful contacts you already have. I can almost guarantee that you know someone who needs your skills right now.

It may be your neighbour’s sister’s dental hygienist but until you put yourself out there you’ll never know.

So make sure that when you’re updating your business Facebook status, you update your personal status too. Tell your friends and family that you’re available for work. Assuming they like you and want to throw you a bone, they’ll share your status and help you spread the word.

And don’t forget to take your business cards everywhere you go. You never know who you’ll end up speaking to at your pal’s birthday party.

3.Cold emailing

I’m the first to admit that this one fills me with dread. I can feel the sweat forming on my brow at the very thought of it but do you know what? I have heard so many small business owners swear by this that I’ve decided to give it a whirl.

Now, it’s early days for me but as far as I can make out, the key to this is not to be annoying; don’t be “salesy” and don’t try to be too clever.

Rather than plodding my way through an A-Z of business listings to find potential clients, I’m having a good think about the types of businesses I really want to work with. For example, there’s a kick-ass pizzeria not too far away that I absolutely adore. I reckon I’d be a great fit for their business, I’m a huge advocate of their product and I KNOW I could help them kill it with their marketing copy. So naturally, they’re on my list.

When it comes to actually drafting your cold emails it’s best to stick with honesty every time. Tell them why you’re contacting them — what do you think you’d be able  to help them with, why are you attracted to that business, how can you help them thrive?

Be brief, be polite and, as with all marketing copy, highlight the benefits you’re providing, rather than focusing on your business.

More on cold emailing here

Obviously emailing is free but if you wanted to push the boat out you could try sending real, actual, I can hold it in my hand, letters. Stamps aren’t as cheap as they used to be but if you really want to keep the cost down you could target local businesses and hand-deliver your letters.

Assuming you find the right businesses to contact and your sales copy is shit hot, you might find that there is more chance of your business card (don’t forget to pop one in the envelope) being filed away for future reference than an email being kept and actually found when needed.

 

4.Creating content

creating content for small businesses

Do you have a blog yet? No? Why the hell not?

Given that many of my clients hire me as a blog writer, you’d be right in saying that I’m an itty bit biased when it comes to this free marketing strategy. However, if business blogging didn’t offer a decent ROI then I wouldn’t still be in business.

Want to know more about the benefits of having a blog?

It’s vital that you come up with a strategy before you start throwing content around and hoping that some of it sticks.

The most important thing to remember is that you’re not writing for yourself, you’re writing for your audience.

Sit down and think about your audience. Who do you want to read your content? Potential customers presumably? Now, rather than think about how you can sell to them, think about how you can help them. What do they want to know? What will help them improve their businesses or their lives?

Delivering quality content in this way shows your potential customers that you know your stuff. You’ll be building up trust and relationships. So when the time is right for them to put in an order, they’ll have confidence in you and will know your product is the right option for them. It’s a win win.

Just don’t go to the trouble of writing a blog and then forgetting to promote it! As soon as you hit publish, get your content out there. Stick it on Facebook, tweet about it, print it out and stick it to every lamppost in your neighbourhood. Okay, maybe not that last one…

(Writing a blog is free but it does take time, so if you feel like it’s something you want to try but you worry you don’t have the time to do it justice or you’re not too fond of writing — I gather not everyone relishes the challenge of a blank screen the way I do — then give me a shout with what you need and I’ll check my availability.)

Which will you try first?

As I mentioned earlier there are thousands of cheap or even free marketing tactics you can try to help grow your business. I’ve focused on these today because these are the ones that have either worked well for me or that I feel compelled to try after many hours of research on the subject.

If you’ve found any others that are working particularly well for you, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

 

How to beat post-holiday blues.

beating the post holiday blues

Hubby and I in beautiful Riva del Garda

 

This is surely the king of first world problems.

You’re lucky enough to have enjoyed a wonderful holiday, soaking up some sun, some culture and, if you’re anything like me, a few bucket-loads of Prosecco too.

Yet the dark clouds descend at the same rate as the aeroplane. Actual dark clouds in my case; par for the course when you’re flying into Heathrow, having departed from sunnier climes!

Not only are you coming home with piles of dirty laundry and a tremendous hangover, the thought of hauling your butt into work on Monday will be weighing heavy on your mind too.

So here’s my advice for how to beat the post-holiday blues — get yourself a job you bloody love!

Glaringly obvious, I grant you, but it was a realisation that hit me just this morning.

You see, I’ve been a total grump since Friday. Pity my poor husband and children. We’ve had an amazing holiday beside the beautiful Lake Garda. We’ve had great family time, lots of laughs and amazing food but as soon as the time came to pack our bags and fly home the miseries hit me like a two tonne truck.

Despite not having lived there since my student days, Italy still feels like home. Hearing the language spoken all day, every day, feels like being surrounded by a warm blanket. The glory of temperatures in the high twenties felt like a literal warm blanket (I’m one of those annoying lassies who is constantly complaining of the cold!). And the pizzas…don’t get me started on the pizzas. Mamma mia!

Coming home was a wrench. But it was also a revelation; I’ve realised that, as sad as I am to be leaving the bel paese, I’m actually pretty excited to be back at my desk this damp and drizzly Monday morning.

Because I bloody love my job!

I love the direction my business is heading in, I love that I have appointments set up with potential new clients this week. I love the pile of books I have sitting on my desk, just waiting for a free moment to dedicate to CPD. I love that I’m going to be spending the next couple of days researching a new industry. I love that I’m starting my first day back writing this wee blog post for you guys.

And I LOVE the thought that someone, somewhere might be reading this, someone with a twinkling of a business idea, a desire to get out of a career rut,  someone with the drive to build something for themselves. Someone sick of dealing with the back-to-work blues.

Someone just ready to dip their toe into the freelance life.

My advice to you, I’m going to shamelessly steal from one of the most famous snippets of copy of all time: just do it!

 

I defy anyone not to shed a tear or two at having to leave behind scenery like this!

 

Why you need to know what I’m up to this week if you’re a freelancer.

 

Don’t let an unexpected quiet week worry you…

 

I had my week all planned out, and it was going to be a busy one.

Unfortunately though, a client has had to postpone their project, leaving me with a fairly empty schedule for the next few days.

So do I wring my hands and stress about the change of plans? Nope, not a bit of it.

There are always so many ways to make the most of unexpected free time when you’re a freelancer. So if you’re in a similar position, don’t sweat it. Have a look at what I’m going to be up to this week and see if you could take on any of these tasks yourself to make the most of a quiet spell and push your business forward.

 

Blogging.

First on my list is this very post! After I’ve hit publish on this one, I’m going to have a look through my list of potential blog topics and pick a couple to write up. When life returns to its usual hectic pace, I’ll have a few posts in the bag, giving me more time to concentrate on client work.

(Wait, you don’t have a list? Make one now! Any time an interesting idea for your business blog pops into your head, write it down somewhere, ready for a day just like today).

 

CPD.

CPD is always a hard one to fit in. I bet you have a few books on your Kindle wish list though, don’t you? I know I do! I keep hearing great things about Andy Maslen’s books on copywriting so I’m going to download one of them and do a bit of reading over the next day or two. Or maybe you’ve been meaning to join a Facebook group or forum connected to your profession in the hopes of picking up some tips from other experts? No matter how long you’ve been in your chosen field, there is always something else to learn so jump to it!

 

Work on new business ideas.

I’m starting a post grad course in translation next year and plan to add translation services to my portfolio at some point in the near(ish) future. So before my course starts, I’m setting aside time to refresh my Italian skills. Now, I’m not suggesting you do anything as extreme as learn a language or sign up for a uni course (unless, of course, you particularly want to…) but I’ll bet there’s an idea you’ve been toying with for a while. Offering your clients a free ebook, putting together a specific consultation package, launching a new product? Whatever it may be, this is the time to get the ball rolling.

 

Take some time for you.

I’ve been working pretty hard recently so bugger it, I’m going to take a bit of time just for me this week. Do you find that exercise is sometimes one of the first things to go out of the window when you’re busy? Yeah, me too. But the sun is out in East Kilbride today so I’m going to grab my running shoes and get my sweat on. And I guarantee I’ll either come back home more relaxed or buzzing with new ideas. Either way, I call that time well spent. Even if I do look like a sweaty tomato afterwards.

(Nope, I don’t look anywhere near this good when I run either.)

 

Looks like it’s going to be a productive week after all.