Entries Tagged 'Running a freelance business' ↓

The Single Most Important Business Lesson I’ve Learnt

Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting

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.

Always learning

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.

Why?

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

How to Boost Referrals For Your Business

Most marketing strategies concentrate on email, direct mail, social media, print marketing and web marketing.Referrals worth their weight in gold

That’s good news for us professional copywriters as it means there’s plenty of work to be had.

But there is one other stream of customers that’s not been mentioned – referrals.

Referrals (or word of mouth marketing) are worth their weight in gold. After all, people are coming to you as a direct result of someone else recommending your products and services.

As a result, they already know about the quality of your work, your level of customer service and what makes you stand out from other providers – so most of the hard work has already been done for you.

So how to you get more of them?

Sowing the referral seeds

Put simply, there are no short cuts to generating referrals.

If you want people to talk about you favourably to others, you’ve got to provide them with good reason.

1. Above and beyond

Every contact you have with a customer before, during and after making a sale has to be perfect.

You must constantly exceed their expectations and make them feel valued.

That’s easier said than done, especially when faced with one of ‘those’ customers, but it will be worth it in the end.

2. Staying in touch

Once you’ve completed a sale and your customer’s gone away happy, it’s very tempting to move onto the next person. But what about the relationship you’ve just spent weeks (months or even years) developing with the person that’s just walked out the door?

The relationship is far too valuable to let slide, so make sure you keep in touch with regular newsletters, offers and great information.

How about offering an incentive for referrals – perhaps a discount on future purchases for every person they introduce to you?

How ever you decide to approach it, keeping the relationship going is vital  - after all, if they’ve bought from you once, the chances are they will again.

3. Engage

Marketers band around the term ‘Engaging with your audience’ quite frequently. So what exactly do they mean?

Well, if you want someone to buy from you and develop a long lasting relationship with your company, there has to be something in it for them. You could argue that the product/service they buy is enough, but today’s customers are far cannier than that and expect much more.

Offering them useful, relevant and interesting content will help you engage with them. They see it as getting something for nothing; you see, it as a way of maintaining contact and keeping your company’s name firmly lodged in their mind.

But more than that, if your content is really useful to them, you will be opening up the opportunity of it being shared with their friends and colleagues. Facebook ‘Likes’, re-tweets and other social media sharing tools will help spread the word about your company – and that can’t be bad.

So you see, if you want to boost and encourage referrals, you must engage with your customers and go above and beyond what they would expect.

Take some time out to review your current procedures; what efforts do you make to retain customers and stay in touch? How many referrals do you receive?

Perhaps it’s time to give some of these suggestions a try.

5 Essential Business Travel Apps

The following guest post was written by Ben Holbrook for all you freelancers out there. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.

 

5 Essential Business Travel Apps


For a more efficient working life

In the last few years, smart phones have made it easier than ever to work freelance and/or run a business from anywhere in the world. For those of you looking to maximise your time and energy, here are my Essential business travel appstop 5.

FlightTrack
It’s more important than ever when travelling on business to be aware of flight delays, gate changes and weather difficulties. FlightTrack gives you all this information and more. Check departure information and detailed satellite maps when your flight is in the air, and find the arrival gate and baggage claim number when you’ve landed.

TripIt
TripIt takes some of the strain out of managing your booking reference numbers by putting them all in one place. Input numbers for flight confirmations, hotel booking and car hire so that you don’t have to carry around lots of bits of paper. Even better, the app will sync to your phone’s calendar, notifying you of important events.

Packing Pro
The most important step of any business trip happens before leaving the house, and that’s packing your bag. Packing Pro lets you plan what to take more efficiently than writing a list by hand. Choose from the vast inventory of items to compile your own list or select one of Packing Pro’s sample templates and modify to suit. Alternatively, input trip details like the weather, number of people and length of stay, and Packing Pro will come up with a list for you.

TripLingo
No app is going to help you master a foreign language in a few hours, but TripLingo provides you with enough phrases to make a good impression. Choose how much time you want to spend learning a language, what you want to learn, and whether you want to be formal or informal. TripLingo will come up with what you need. The app is available in French, Spanish, Japanese and more.     

Picksie
After your business meeting, this recommendation app, Picksie, helps you find a spot to unwind with a latte or grab a bite to eat. It’ll looks at your current location, date, search history and past preferences to make recommendations on things to do tailored to your needs. That can be a restaurant, film or event. It’ll even look at the weather, so if it’s raining it won’t suggest an outdoor event. 

When Ben isn’t working from the beach you’ll find him writing reviews of the best London hotels for efficient business travel and meetings.