Could you cut it as a freelancer?

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Those balmy summer months are becoming a distant memory, as the leaves have turned from green to rich brown and reds and the evenings draw in. Parents may find that their life has entered a new phase as their little ones begin full time schooling. Perhaps a new job could be on the cards? Perhaps returning to a career you had pre-children might be a possibility?

Looking ahead, there is one (or two, or three) little areas to bear in mind…… is your chosen role flexible for your children? For pick-ups, drop offs, illness or the other many possibilities our children need us for. Many positions can suddenly appear very rigid, with little or no provision for flexibility, which can be very frustrating during your job search.

There are many options to consider that could work with the school run, ranging from part-time, contract, freelance, full-time or flexi-time to name a few. 

Today, I want to discuss freelancing, a self-employed status allowing you to choose your hours, your clients and your ideal role.

So, what do you know about being a freelancer? You could be a web designer or a social media manager wanting to set up your own business venture. The thought of self-employment can fill people with dread or delight, depending on how good your sales, time management and self-motivation is. Many freelancers will usually have been working on their ‘side hustle’, alongside their full-time position, gaining momentum and building their profile. Before you consider freelancing as a career option, cast your eye over these key areas to see if it could be an option for you. 

Working from home
We have all heard colleagues say, ‘I’m working from home today’. As a freelancer, you will most likely be doing this every day. You will experience freedom to work without interruptions, choosing your own hours around family commitments and scheduling time for your own personal growth. However, this way of working can come with some negatives in the shape of temptations to derail you from your projects.  To combat this, you must operate with a strict workplace mentality and have a designated place to work. Planning and diary management will become your best friends to ensure you stay on focus for your clients. 

Stay organised
Organisation is key to staying motivated as a freelancer. Maintaining your admin and ensuring that you have a tidy workspace, will help you to keep on top of your game and feel more confident and in control. 

Be realistic, say no!
Managing expectations of not just your clients, but your family and scheduled commitments is crucial. Over committing to too many things will leave you feeling overwhelmed and lacking in motivation. Having lots of clients is on every freelancer wish list, but having the right client, who is a good fit for you and your goals, will make you feel much more focused and driven.

Job security
As a freelancer, it is wise to gain retainable work, so you have a monthly income from your clients. This is also an opportunity to build a long term relationship with them, so you can get to know their business and become part of the team. Great for you and great for them. There is however, little protection if the company needs change and your role is no longer needed. At best, you may receive a month’s notice and at it's worst, it's with immediate effect, which can be a worrying time if you only have a few clients. It may be worth trying to get a notice period written into your contract or terms of service, however that is not always a possibility.  

There are many positive aspects of choosing freelancing as a career to work around your family. You can release your inner creative and strive forward to pave your way for your new business. The rewards of freedom and being your own boss are certainly a plus, however could you live with the vulnerability of gaining and keeping clients, that is a choice only you can make.

Why not share your ideas for staying motivated? Are you a freelancer and if so, how are you enjoying your chosen career? That is it for now, thanks, Allyson 

  
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My top tips on how NOT to get information overload!

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This post is a little off the marketing theme, however, I feel it is relevant and I wanted to share my thoughts about it, so here we go……

We all love them, the 10 top tips, the 3 reasons why or maybe the how to get the client of your dreams type of articles. I do enjoy reading them, but I also find that too many tips can become rather unhelpful to me.

I run a small consultancy, it’s just me, myself and I and sometimes I admit, I look to the internet and self-help books and articles for inspiration and motivation. One article links to another article and before you know it, it’s been an hour of what I am doing wrong! The New Year brings a deluge of this kind of reading, which at first can get the creative juices flowing and can set you on highly motivated path. However, what happens when you read too many ‘how tos’?

For me, this can create some negative emotions towards my work such as self-doubt and procrastination.  Add some ‘how to create a 6-figure business in six months’ podcast into the mix and boy, now we’re spiralling into a slightly depressive state! Why would this happen? Well, I have spent some time thinking about this and here is my opinion.

In a nutshell, we worry about what everyone else is doing, rather than focusing on our own business and goals. I ask myself questions such as “what if their tips are better than mine”? or “maybe I should be working on this rather than that”? These types of questions are completely counterproductive. They create self-doubt and take your energy away from your intended task to a place where the questions will have no end. Yes, there will always be someone with a different way of doing things, their tried and tested method is the best, but what is important is how YOU want to do things. It is your business, your life, your path and you know your strengths and weaknesses.

Ok, so let’s take me as an example. I am a very good copywriter; (modest as well hey)? I have a degree in Marketing and HR and I have worked with some amazing businesses over the years. My experience on paper is great, however, I am human and sometimes I worry that there is someone better than me out there. Realistically, yes, there maybe, but I know I am good at what I do, and they are good at what they do, so I just accept that and let it go. Going back to the top tip articles, treat them for what they are, another person’s opinion. You can acknowledge that and move on.

The point I am trying to make is that self-help books and ‘how to’ articles are good in small doses. They serve their purpose in our lives and the person writing them is just like you and me, they don’t know everything, especially not the best path for your life or business.

So, bearing all this in mind, here are my ‘top tips’ for preventing a self-help overload:

1.     Read your chosen poison with an open mind, don’t take their advice to heart and look at the content with a critical mind.
2.     Try not to focus on too many areas to improve. Sit down and think about the key area you want to work on and what will impact on you the most.  Focus on finding your podcasts, articles or books in that area. Taking on too many at once will not help in you achieving progress.
3.     Remember these individuals are not the all-seeing eye. They are only offering an opinion on what works for them. Please don’t try to fit into their mould and if it isn’t right for you, move on and try something or someone else.
4.     Don’t rule out speaking or confiding in your loved ones, friends or employer to get advice, they know you and they may have a simple fix to help?
5.     Most importantly, realise your own potential. You do not need a podcast or top tip to make you a success; it is in all of us with hard work and a positive attitude. Use the self-help and top tip articles to assist you, not as a problem solver.

What is your experience of the self-help craze? What are your top tips for managing information overload, does this affect you?

Thanks for reading.


Bye for now. Allyson
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What impact can Social Media Management, PR and a talented copywriter have on your small business?

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You are on a journey with your business, and there is no doubt that understanding where you want to be and how you are going to get there will put you on the path to success.

The power of a well-structured plan, incorporating your social platforms and promotion through local media and news outlets will help to grow your profile and brand. However, ensuring that you have the right words and tone, that is where an expert steps in.

Let’s break this down into some bitesize chunks:

Social Media Management

Social Media Management, exactly what is that? Well, it sounds quite simple, ‘I can do that’ I hear, but if not done properly, this relatively new form of marketing can make or break your business.

There is a definite science behind social media, encompassing your reputation, your customer service approach, evidence that you understand your customers and industry, whilst creating and curating rich content for your followers. To understand if your social accounts are performing, time needs to be scheduled to monitor the analytics, the progress, the crash and burn posts and the successes. This area of your business is exceptionally fluid, it will change, twist and turn and hence why giving ownership of this area to a professional, could produce untold riches for your businesses profile. 

PR

Public Relations or PR for short, just what do you think of when you hear these words? Companies getting into trouble and a huge PR firm swoops in and saves the day? Or maybe the very idea of having a PR professional would be out of your reach as they are too expensive?

PR is what your local paper is made from. Local businesses and organisations, promoting their wins and successes, or maybe a launch of a new product. Perhaps they have helped a local charity and want to shout about it? All of these stories and more could be you and your business. Local papers want to hear about newsworthy editorial, and hiring a PR bod will help you to decipher what is relevant to put forward and what should perhaps be promoted internally or on your social profiles. Again, having the expertise to help you, will ensure you have a fighting chance to get your name and story mentioned.

A talented Copywriter

Ok, so you may not have heard of a copywriter, or maybe you have, but you do not understand completely what we do.

Here we go. A copywriter, (me), well I write anything a business or organisation needs. This can range from website copy (SEO) friendly of course, brochure text, newsletters, articles, press releases and social media posts to name just a few. My job is to ensure all copy is on point, accurate, interesting and gets the required message across to the reader. Words are such a powerful tool; they can make you laugh, cry or get angry and want to act. Having this skill working within your business can set you apart from your competitors, it can give you that edge and help to ensure that you will never worry about bad grammar or spelling mistakes again!

I have offered my experience and advice on what you should expect from each of these vital areas of your marketing mix. These areas should work in sync together to create a seamless plan of action and bring success for building your brand over time.

I am very fortunate to work with some amazing small business clients and over the years, I have learned what works and what doesn’t.

If you would like to discuss these areas of your business in more detail and how you can achieve a flawless marketing experience with results, please get in touch using my social accounts or email allyson@claritycopy.co.uk


Bye for now, Allyson
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Motivation...keep it going

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It's a fact that we all start the New Year with a renewed sense of vigour to achieve more, laugh more, blog more, read more or whatever it may be. My resolutions this year are in fact to be more organised, read more, be more proactive and take my business to a different level by the end of the year.
These all seem achievable right? However, the reality of life, kids, work, family can all take over and your well intended plans and deadlines can get shifted, leaving you feeling a little disheartened and your focus a little cloudy.
As a self employed person, motivation can sometimes waver, as you are constantly trying to grow all aspects of your business from social media to client base. There is only you to do these things and only 24 hours in the day, so what is a girl to do? Well, I can only share how I overcome my motivational hurdles, and here they are:

Working from home
I have worked from home for many years, and I love it. I adore the peace and quiet, the freedom to work without interruptions, choosing my own hours around my family commitments. This way of working can come with some negatives however, in the shape of temptations, to watch T.V, catch up on some household chores, or have the occasional gossip on the phone to my friends. (me.....never)!
To combat these potential problems, I have a designated place to work and I have to be strict with myself. I plan out my day in the diary, even outlining a half hour lunch. Ticking off a to do list is a very rewarding outcome at the end of the day, ensuring you are motivated and self disciplined.

Stay organised
Now this is a massive part of staying motivated. I am not just referring to your actual working methods, but the surroundings you are working in. I'll be honest, last week I had a real cull of admin related mess quite frankly. My office had become a dumping ground for all sorts of bits, shredding, filing, Christmas cards, paper..which was not good for creativity or motivation. Keeping on top of your admin will help you to keep on top of your game.

Get dressed for goodness sake
This is just such a no brainer for me. Why would you not get showered, dressed and looking professional just because you are working from home? You are in effect in an office, so the same rules apply. This is a must to ensure your productivity, motivation and personal development is maintained. Make sure you spritz some nice perfume or aftershave on for good measure, look good and you will feel good, trust me!

Self belief
This is a bit of a sharing moment! Yes, I have times where I lose my ability to recognise my skills and can at times, lose my self confidence.  I am sure that this happens to others who spend a lot of time working alone and constantly pushing themselves. If left, this can have a significant impact on motivation, and in some cases can lead to reduced productivity. How do you pull yourself back? Easy, step out of yourself, look at your achievements and for me, communicate your emotions. I am very fortunate to have a super supportive network around me, and discussing your fears and perceived obstacles can give you right royal kick back to it!

Health
It is a fear for all self employed people to be ill. When you are ill, you feel sorry for yourself and want to melt into the sofa and watch that daytime TV! How can you? Who will manage your clients if you can't? Well, to be honest, I find that the flexibility of working from home helps here. Just being able to reply to emails and queries remotely while sipping your Lemsip can maintain some form of motivation.
Being poorly is no fun, but it happens. Clients will understand, it is just important to keep them well informed and deal with any urgent enquiries. My advice is to eat well, drink plenty of water and exercise as often as you can. I am actually starting an exercise programme from home this week. I want to grow my energy levels and tone up. We know exercise is a great mood lifter and I'm looking to maintain my optimistic outlook so......Watch this space!
These are just a few of the areas to focus on which I feel are very important. Embrace your business, pat yourself on the back now and again and enjoy the journey to success!
What helps motivate you? Drop me a line and share....
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