Entries Tagged 'Building a business' ↓
March 4th, 2015 — Building a business, Content marketing, Content writer, copywriting tips
The UK is the 1st country to spend more than half of it’s Ad spend on digital.
GroupM carried out the research, which showed that in 2015, £1 or very £2 spent on advertising will go to digital online media.
Apparently, it can be directly linked to our smartphone culture. According to Adam Smith of GroupM:
“The British are the most enthusiastic online shoppers in the world in terms of spend per head. And there has always been a high level of credit and debit card use [online]. On top of that Britons have rapidly embraced smartphone and tablet use, all of which has fuelled where advertisers spend their money.”
How will this affect your business?
With more and more people using mobile technology for shopping, it’s essential you have a responsive web presence that works across all devices.
Plus, your online content has to be red hot.
How do you do that?
- Your website must be focused on your customers
- Benefits and USPs must be highlighted
- You must offer a simple buying process
Above all, your content marketing must be your top priority.
People will only find you if you deliver consistently high quality content that’s focused on your customers’ needs.
Your customers are interested in getting the best for themselves. They’re not interested in you, only what you can do for them.
That ‘s why it’s essential you separate yourself from your business when writing. Your articles aren’t sale pitches; they should be informative, relevant and be beneficial to your reader.
In simple terms, to make sure your business stays one step ahead:
- Invest in making your digital marketing as strong as possible
- Make sure everything is written for your customer
Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting
January 14th, 2015 — Building a business, copywriter, copywriting, marketing, Press releases
It’s the age of the entrepreneur. Businesses are springing up everywhere, so how do you get yours noticed?
As a start-up you have no track record, no testimonials, no social proof. That might sound like a brick wall, but if you can prove to the media that you can change the world you will get your story heard.
Your pitch: I can change the world
The usual course of action for a new business trying to get noticed is to write umpteen press releases, but journalists are inundated with them so how about trying a different approach?
Writing a pitch, tailored to the journalist you’re targeting, will help you stand out, but only if you write it from a benefits point of view rather than as a sales document. Give them everything they need, from your logo and contact details to ideas for your story. Remember though, as I said earlier, this isn’t a sales document. You must prove you can change the world.
What do I mean by that?
Your business, whatever it does, will solve a problem, create wealth, make someone smile or take their pain away.
Because if it doesn’t have a tangible benefit it’s not a business.
Your job is to understand that and show the reader (in this case the journalist you’re pitching to) how you change people’s lives. The “people” are their readers, so if they can smell a great story you’ll have their attention.
Who do you contact?
It’s all well and good creating a great pitch, but who do you send it to?
Every newspaper, magazine, TV and radio channel has it’s own audience. Your job is to do your research to find the journalists who write about the problems your company solves.
Because their audience will be the people who will buy your product or service.
If you want to maximise your coverage you have to match the journalist with your message.
Once you have your list, don’t just send cold pitches because they are likely to be ignored.
It’s all about who you know. Look at your contacts, is there anyone who can help you? Perhaps there is someone who can make an introduction for you?
Get in touch with journalists and build a relationship with them. See if you can help them out before pitching to them. Try to meet them in person. The stronger the relationships you forge, the more likely they are to run with your ideas.
Did they say yes?
If they say yes and run with your story, fantastic, well done. Keep in touch with them and let them know your areas of expertise and that you’re interested in being interviewed or happy to contribute to future stories.
If your idea doesn’t get picked up don’t hound them. Chase after about a week, sending your story again just in case they didn’t receive the first one. If they’re still not interested, don’t just give up. Try sending it to a different contact, even one within the same outlet – just because one person wasn’t interested doesn’t mean no one will be.
If you want people to talk about your business you have to show how you can change people’s lives.
There are too many press releases out there that try to sell. The trick to getting noticed is to show yourself as a company that puts its customers first by highlighting the benefits they receive.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
October 8th, 2014 — Building a business, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, Running a freelance business
If I’m honest with you, starting my own business was never my intention.
Seven years ago, after completing my English degree with the Open University, I was on the hunt for a job. Although my boys were still at school, I knew I needed to get back to work, but I still had to be around for them.
Finding something that gave me that flexibility was tough – after a lot of searching it basically came down to finance or admin in a school (there was no way I was cut out to be a teacher). The problem was, deep down, I knew that wasn’t right for me.
So, what to do?
It was my husband who first suggested I start something on my own. My reaction was to laugh.
Me, running my own business? Yeah, right, like that’s ever going to happen.
My girl friends were great and suggested all sorts of bizarre and wonderful job ideas, but then something weird happened.
The final year of my degree was in creative writing. A local friend of mine had been kind enough to proofread my work and, one day, her husband had read it too. He ran several companies and asked if I would help him out with some content he needed for a website he was developing.
Now, I’d always wanted to be a writer (fiction), but commercial writing was something I’d never considered. I gave it a go. It was a great success and the copywriting bug bit me.
One thing led to another and within a month I’d created my first website and set about getting clients. They came, they liked what they saw and they stayed. Then more came along and, 7 years later, I’m still here loving every minute of it.
I am not an authority on running a business because I’m constantly learning. There are people out there who have been doing this a lot longer than me, which is why a few years ago I signed up for a course about running a freelance business.
It was great.
I learnt a lot…perhaps a bit too much.
It was the best course I’d ever been on, but it was also responsible for some of my darkest business days.
A hugely successful guy ran it. He made it sound so easy – how to get clients, price your work etc. I came home buzzing ready to try out my new found confidence.
The problem was, once back in my own office I became Sally again. My usual insecurities came flooding back…I knew I was a great writer, that wasn’t a problem, but I knew I wasn’t a great businesswoman.
I desperately wanted to become the person I thought I should be. I came back believing that if I was to be a success I had to be working with huge clients, earning mega bucks and to be constantly working. If I didn’t I was letting myself down, the course leader down and my family down.
But the problem was I was (and am) a very different person to the guy who ran the course and everyone else who attended it with me. I was trying to force myself into a business model that didn’t fit my lifestyle or personality. As a result I went from loving my work to feeling miserable and, for want of a better word, a failure.
Keeping it real
With my confidence at an all time low, I began to question what I was doing.
Did I really want to be in business?
Wouldn’t it be easier to work for someone else?
On the face of it the answer was ‘yes’; I would no longer feel the pressure of finding clients or marketing myself. But if I worked for someone else I would lose the flexibility I loved and the sense of achievement I’d felt.
I had to stick with it – especially considering, even in a slow year, I was earning more by myself that I ever would working for someone else.
Then something happened. A medical scare at the start of this year made me stop and think. I reassessed my life and what was important to me.
My family would always come first. I was a wife and mother and then a businesswoman.
I loved my work and running my business, but it wasn’t the be all and end all.
Now, I work the hours I want to work. I take on the projects I want to work on and work with the people I want to work with.
No, I don’t have a 6 figure salary, but you know what? I don’t care. I earn more than enough to allow us to do what we want to do as a family and that’ll do for me.
What’s stopping me from becoming one of the UK’s largest copywriting agencies? Me, because I’m doing what I want to do and not what others think I should be doing.
What’s the single most important business lesson I’ve learnt?
The answer to that is to be true to myself and to run my business my way and to make no apologies for that. Today, I have a great work/life balance and that’s the way it’s going to remain.
My message to you is to remember there’s more to life than work. Next time you’re still working away at midnight, stop and think about what you’re doing. Is that really where you want to be?
It takes a lot to create a successful business, but it takes even more to sustain that success and create the lifestyle you want to live.
Do you have a similar story? Have you had doubts whilst running your business? Are you thinking about going it alone, but feel too scared to take the plunge? Whatever your story, leave a comment below and share it with me.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
January 8th, 2014 — briefing a copywriter, Building a business, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter
It’s a side of business no one wants to talk about.
But the truth is, at some point during your business career you will experience a relationship breakdown with a client.
It is probably one of the hardest things to deal with whether you’re a freelancer or a small business owner. Apart from the fact it means you’re not going to be paid (at least in full), it also hurts because you always want to do your best for your customers and it can come as a slap in the face when, even though you have, they (or you) decide to walk away.
Why things go wrong
Before I go on, this is written from a freelancer’s point of view (because that’s what I am). Although most of the scenarios are written from a copywriter’s perspective (again, because that’s what I am), they can relate to any service provider (they are also fiction, but good illustrations of why things can go pear shaped).
1. Bad brief
In an ideal world, you would go out and meet every new client. During this meeting you will be able to suss them out and come away with a detailed brief.
Of course, it’s not an ideal world and that can’t always happen.
Getting as much detail as possible from a client is essential, but also not always that easy. Some clients believe that as you are a copywriter they can just say ‘I want 3 web pages written’ and it will magically appear.
Don’t be afraid to ask loads of questions, you have to if you are to get a full and clear picture of what they and their customers are looking for.
A bad brief is a disaster waiting to happen. At best it will lead to umpteen rounds of revisions, at worst it will lead to a breakdown in your relationship with your client, or rather soon to be ex-client.
This usually relates to the client not really knowing what they want.
Someone has probably told them they need a copywriter, but they’re not sure why.
They won’t really know what style they want, what sort of layout, or what the main benefits of their product/service are.
This can only spell disaster. The only solution is to speak with them at length, ask a lot of questions and then make suggestions. It is also a good idea to ask for examples of any particular styles of writing they like. After all, it’s much easier to emulate a style if you can actually see it.
3. Too many cooks
One of the first questions I always ask is what is the review process?
If only one person is to sign it off, who just happens to be the person giving the brief, you can breathe a sigh of relief. But if it is someone else, or worse, a whole gaggle of managers, you could be in trouble.
It’s very unlikely they will all have the same view on content and style, so be prepared for multiple revisions.
Getting a meeting with all the decision makers at the outset is probably a pipe dream, but if you can make it happen, do – getting some ground rules on style from the start will pay dividends later. It’s also your opportunity to let them know how you work and what you expect of them, especially when there are deadlines to hit.
4. Fixed ideas
Now and then you’ll come across someone who knows exactly what they want.
Fantastic! I hear you cry.
You would have thought so, but this can also be bad news.
What happens when their fixed ideas won’t work? They’ve called you in because you are the expert in copy, but when you tell them how their content should be written (i.e. benefits led, second person, informal, engaging etc.) they shout you down and tell you “that won’t work, I want it like this…”
The problem is, what they want won’t work in a month of Sunday’s.
The choice here is to persevere, do what they want and risk ruining your reputation, or walking away due to irreconcilable differences.
The main tip I can give you when taking on new clients is to trust your instincts. Take it from someone who knows. Thankfully, since starting out as a freelance copywriter about 6 years ago, I’ve only had to walk away twice. But if I’d listened to the little voice in my head, I would never have taken on either client in the first place.
I probably agreed because I didn’t have a lot on at the time and had the capacity, but something told me it was a bad idea, and stupidly, I ignored the voice because I knew best.
Well these days that little voice gets the final say.
Your instincts will tell you if the job is right for you or not. It will probably take a little while to distinguish between the good and the not so good, but when you can it will save you a lot of hassle.
Author: Sally Ormond
November 6th, 2013 — Building a business, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
Isn’t it everyone’s dream?
Working from home, no long morning commute, peace and quite and being on time for dinner every night.
It sounds idyllic, but for many it’s a culture shock too far.
So how do you successfully adapt from an office life to one working from home?
Life in the office can be frustrating, political, competitive and noisy.
But having said that it’s a dynamic environment full of like minded people who you can bounce ideas off, have a laugh with and confide in.
Of course, the downside is that you have to be at your desk at a certain time and, at times, can feel pressured to be the last one to leave to show your dedication.
That’s why so many people want to work from home, but is it really so idyllic?
Working from home
I’ve been working from my home office for about 10 years now (in various roles, presently as a copywriter) and have learnt how to cope with the different pressures and difficulties home working throws at me.
1. Designated workspace
The most important aspect of successfully working from home is having your own dedicated workspace.
Using a room that has a double purpose (i.e. your office that’s also your kitchen/dining room/living room/spare room) is doomed to failure from the beginning.
You must have your own space that you can set up as a permanent office that feels separate to the rest of the house.
My office is downstairs. Its sole purpose is as an office so all my computers, papers and files are set up as I want them without having to clear everything away at the end of the day.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep a regular work schedule.
OK, there’s no boss breathing down your neck if you’re not at your desk by 9am, but that doesn’t mean you can just drift in and out whenever you feel like it.
It’s important to structure your day as if you were at the office. Make sure you’re at your desk at the same time each day and finish on time. When working from home it’s very easy to be sucked into the ‘just 5 more minutes’ mentality that inevitably sees you still at your desk at 10 o’clock at night.
Have a set start and finish time. Although be prepared to be flexible, especially if you also have a family to think about.
Without the chatter of colleagues and the lure of the staff room, it’s easy to sit at your desk in the morning and not move until you run out of steam in the afternoon.
Regular breaks are essential to keep your motivation and energy levels up. Get out for some fresh air, have a coffee with friends and make sure you take a lunch break. That way you’ll break up your day (just as you would in the office), you’ll get some fresh air and that much needed human contact.
No one can see you. There’s no boss to have a go at you. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit at your desk in your PJs.
I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that you don a suit when working from home (unless you really want to), but dress smartly to reinforce the fact that you’re at work.
5. I’m working!
Another thing to consider, especially if you live with someone else and/or have a family, is to get other members of the household to appreciate the fact that, although you’re at home, you’re working.
It’s very easy for people to think that because you’re at home you can also get the housework, washing and all manner of other household chores done because simply because you’re there.
It’s up to you to make sure they understand that you are working.
If you want to work from home can be isolating so it’s important that you chat with colleagues just as you would in the office, but on top of that, you must also be:
Pretty much the same qualities you need in an office environment too, you just won’t have the boss breathing down your neck all the time.