How preparing proposals is like dating again

Ok, I’d better start with a disclaimer.

I haven’t actually dated since 2005 and, granted, things have changed a little bit. I never swiped right - or left - and those friends who dated someone they met online in the early 2000s were seriously in the minority. Rather than take the advice of a well-meaning friend to ‘go where your dream guy will be hanging out’, I figured my odds were better in a seedy club than a bookstore. I must have been on to something. In 2006 I met my husband in a Thai nightclub, and the rest is history.

Couple standing holding hands

But, I digress.

I’ve been prepping a bunch of copywriting proposals lately, and it’s all starting to feel a little bit like the dating dance. Let me explain.

You put yourself out there

You’re on the web and social media, often using big, bold shots of your face (nowhere to hide) and brand promises for people to decide, would I like to work with this person? Whether you’re in the business of business or dating, this part of the process can feel pretty confronting.

Someone shows interest

There’s a bite via your website contact page, or someone slides into your DMs - well, hello there! The vibe feels right, and you respond. From there, a phone call, coffee date or longer email eventuates.

First contact goes well

So far so good. You’re enjoying each other’s banter, and you feel you’re understanding each other and what this prospect is looking for in a copy relationship.

The second date

You were right. The stars have aligned, and your potential client has requested a proposal. Now you have the chance to really show your copy chops. What you can offer that will help boost their business, the ways you can take the pressure off them, or build their reputation as an industry authority. There’ll be a plan, proposed timeline and summary of the conversation so far. You’ll agonise over the pricing because you want to offer you as much value as you can while still valuing your time and expertise. Then you’ll take a deep breath and hit send.

breathe

One of these three outcomes will likely eventuate:
Ghosting

Either you’ll send the proposal, then follow up once, twice and...crickets. Or, the client signs off on the proposal and then ignores the commencement invoice. You end up feeling like your date has shown up for dinner, seen you and left (awkward!) or that an ex has got back in touch. Either way, it’s pretty hard not to take personally.

Sometimes circumstances change, and we copywriters are pretty understanding types. We’d much rather get your honest feedback about a proposal so we can amend things to make sure everyone’s happy. Just shoot us an email - we won’t bite. Even better, try the phone where there can be no misinterpretation of tone!

Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen

If you wanna be my copywriter, you gotta work with my budget (sung to the tune of Spice Girls). Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it works. My rates are very competitive within the industry. You can pay more for your copy, but you can also get it much cheaper. When you work with me, you’re also investing in my years of communication experience, and my responsive manner and attuned listening skills come as standard. If you’re likely to be offended when I politely decline your request for a discount, please don’t ask.

When it comes to dating, the ‘treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen’ approach is an unusual strategy. It may have worked for my first boyfriend Lachlan back in 1995 (and I use the term boyfriend VERY loosely), but I’m a little savvier these days. Here’s a thought - in business or dating, just be a nice person.

This could be true love

Sometimes, like in the Green Mango on that hot January night in 2006, the stars align, and a lasting partnership is born. As a copywriter, these are my faves. There is mutual trust, respect and understanding. Revisions are communicated clearly and in a timely fashion, and invoices are paid on time (or early, even more dreamy!). The good news is, there are plenty more clients in the sea (or something like that), so you don’t need to settle. When you finally find true client love, you’ll feel the difference.

We found Emma to be great to work with, easy to contact and responsive, understood our needs and those of Council, and has a quick turn-around on content. Emma met expectations, wrote to a high standard, completed work according to schedules and deadlines, and to our corporate style. We will use her for future writing/editing/interviewing jobs.
— Rose D'Angelis, Stonnington Council

Think we could be a match made in copywriting heaven? Come and find out.

Want to read more love letters? Find them here.


How to get daily gratitude actually working for you

I’ll be honest. I always thought daily gratitude was just a little bit woo-woo, even for me.

What I’ve discovered is that a little bit of gratitude, done right, helps me to feel thankful not just for the big things but also for the smaller ones. Admittedly, this is a recent addition to my daily routine, but one that’s helped me to start the day on a positive note.

It can be easy to get bogged down in the challenges of a freelance lifestyle, rather than embracing and celebrating the awesome bits. By carving out five minutes before I jump into my email or an important copywriting project, I'm choosing to start the day feeling uplifted, and with an I-can-conquer-the-world vibe.

grateful for a shelf of books

From zero to hero

So, how did I go from zero gratitude to a daily habit? I heard about a better way. I had a bit of Marie Forleo in my ears over January, as some of you probably did too. She shared her method, and it really resonated with me. Rather than merely listing everything you’re grateful or thankful for, you choose just one each day. But, this is where the magic happens. For that one thing, you list five reasons why. Let me give you an example.

Today I wrote that I’m grateful for my freelance life.

  1. It allows me flexibility, extra precious when I have a young child in my world.

  2. I can choose which sorts of clients I work with, based on whether it’s a good fit for both of us.

  3. I can work from home in my new office. Or a cafe if I fancy a change of scene. Or a library, or a coworking space. You get the idea.

  4. I can start my day with a strength training workout, which gets the creative juices flowing, and also leaves me more time in the evenings to hang with my family and friends.

  5. I can continue to grow professionally and personally, following my passions and unique areas of interest.

In this past week, I’ve expressed gratitude for my neighbourhood, my husband, my son, my business and fresh water. It’s a new practice for me, so I’m starting with the big and perhaps obvious choices. As I continue to explore it, day after day, it’s going to get me thinking more deeply about all the small blessings that surround me.

Small Blessings book Emily Brewin

Speaking of Small Blessings...a GIVEAWAY!

‘Small Blessings’ also happens to be the title of talented Melbourne author Emily Brewin’s second novel, out now with Allen & Unwin.

(In case you missed it, you can catch my interview with the inspiring Emily here).

I’m thrilled that I’ve got a copy of the book to give away. Oh, and another small blessing. A $100 voucher to use towards any of my copywriting services! (A new author bio or blog post, perhaps?)

For your chance to win both of these fab prizes, head to Instagram. But, be quick. The lucky winner will be drawn this Sunday night 10th Feb at 8pm. Good luck!



Part 2: Introvert? Here's How to Navigate Social Media.

Welcome to Part 2 of this series - why you need a social media presence if you’re in biz, and how on earth to cultivate one - from one introvert to another.

If you missed Part 1, check it out here first. It’s all about why you need social media for your business, even if frankly you’d rather poke your eyes out. I look at how to begin, outline several platforms and the differences between them. Today’s post is all about the c-word, content, helping you decide what to post, as well as how often, plus a bunch more tips and tricks. Enjoy!

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Ok, but I don’t want to put myself ‘out there’ too much.

I’m not going to lie. Social media does require you to put some of yourself online. But, the good news is, you can choose how much. Now, before you rush to say, ‘I’ll never post a photo of myself on social media’, remember this. People buy from people. That’s in bold and italics for a reason! Truthfully, the more people can connect with you, the more they’re inclined to keep you top of mind and feel like they can relate to you and your business. So, think of popping a pic of yourself up as short-term pain for long-term gain.

You might decide not to include your partner, children or family in your business socials, which is entirely up to you. My family do appear in my copywriting biz socials, but I regularly reassess this decision.

Is it too soon to talk about professional photos to show you at your best? If the ‘people buy from people’ part resonated with you, some profesh piccies might be just what you need. I feel much more comfortable posting these sorts of shots than candid ones (which may be one of the reasons I’m yet to do a Facebook live! Baby steps, people...)

What type of content should I post?

In part, your content will depend on what type of business you have. Here are ten suggestions of the kinds of posts you could incorporate into a weekly content calendar (plenty more to come in my upcoming workshop!):

  • Advice about topics related to your industry

  • Anecdotes about your brand or business story

  • What you’re reading

  • Good advice you’ve received

  • Quotes or words of inspiration

  • Testimonials from happy clients

  • Shoutouts to other businesses or accounts you love

  • Anecdotes or stories about your local community

  • Explanation around your processes

  • Things you enjoy doing in your life outside of work

How often should I post?

There’s no need to worry too much about this in the beginning, especially if the current frequency is zero. You could start with once a week and build up from there. If you’re aiming to grow a healthy swag of followers, once or twice a day may be your goal. Be realistic, while acknowledging a certain level of commitment. You can post on the fly or, schedule in advance with a range of tools, whatever suits you best.

You’ve got this!

Gather a cheer squad of people around you who get what it’s like to be in biz. There are a whole bunch of us introverts hanging out online already. Once you’ve created your Facebook business page, for instance, join a few Facebook groups where other biz owners hang out. These groups can be a treasure trove of advice, and somewhere to feel part of a community, as well as a potential source of referrals and connections.

Remember that being on social media is a two-way street. As well as expecting people to interact with your page or account, you’re encouraged to do the same! You may even find you build some genuine connections by liking and commenting on other people’s content.

Lastly, know that very few people find the process of being online entirely comfortable. But, the benefits of being on social media for your business make it worth exploring.

A little reminder that this September I’ll be running a workshop for those of you who hear ‘social media’ and run for the hills. This will be a stripped-back, user-friendly chance for you to begin to build an online presence for your business and brand, with no experience necessary. You can register your interest in an upcoming workshop here. Be sure to sign up to my newsletter, so you don’t miss a thing. And, come and say hi on Facebook, Instagram and LInkedIn!

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Introvert? Here's how to navigate social media.

So, you’re an introvert in business? Here's how to get started on social media in a way that’s not wholly terrifying.

If you’re someone with flourishing social media accounts or a little bit of a social addiction, this post is NOT for you! But, if you’re not on social media (but you know you should be) or you’re set up but not posting much yet, read on.

Whether or not your clients or customers actually find you via social media, it’s very likely they’ll take to the major platforms to check you, and your business, out. What will they see when they come looking?

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Why do I need to get social?

  • You may have a business that’s doing well through word of mouth or referrals...but think about how much work you may have missed out on without a website or business social media profile for potential clients to check out?

  • For some people, putting themselves out there as the face of their business is tricky, but it's essential for marketing in 2018. All your competitors know it.

  • It’s much easier than you think. I’ll cover some simple tips to set you on your way.

But, I don’t know where to begin!

Perhaps it’s confidence or the desire for perfectionism that’s holding you back. The simple answer is, begin. The first step is not to worry about getting something perfect before popping it out for the public. Because, the truth is, every day you don’t have a social media platform working for you is a day you may miss out on new clients. And before you ask, a personal Facebook page doesn’t quite cut it, especially if it’s full of cute cat pictures or posts from 2014.

So which social platform/s do I need?

  • Ideally, more than one. Diversifying your marketing is the best way to attract your target audience. Ever heard the expression ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’?

  • Think about where your target audience hangs out. Are they mostly on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Pick at least two to focus on in the beginning.

  • Using the following basic questions, you can begin to build your customer or client profile. Consider their age, gender, hobbies/interests, work and family situation, income and geography.

  • Why would you put all your energy into creating an Instagram business account when your customer base is primarily aged 50+? Or a LinkedIn profile if your customers are mostly teens? The aim is to work smarter on social media, not harder.

How are the platforms different?

Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are a good place to start. Here are the differences between the platforms and the purposes of each.

Facebook

Facebook has a vast user base (more than 2.20 billion monthly users!), much larger than Instagram. For businesses, Facebook is a place to share photos, events, updates, and general news with those who follow or ‘like’ your page. To build your fanbase, post a link to your page anywhere you can, including adding the social icon on your website. Once you’ve established your following, post things that will encourage your audience to engage with your posts. The more often people like, comment on and share your posts, the more often you’ll appear in others’ timelines.

Instagram

Instagram is a fun platform to post images accompanied by text creating a ‘feed’. The platform also offers behind-the-scenes Insta-stories and now live video. Instagram is most popular with millennials, with the user base decreasing dramatically after the 18-29-year-old age group. This is in contrast to Facebook, which has a significant older user base. Depending on what your product or service is, it may align more strongly with one of these platforms.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is specially designed for business and professionals. Users generally go to LinkedIn to showcase their work experience and professional thoughts, making it one of the more essential platforms to use for those in B2B (business to business). Using LinkedIn to post content can be a great way to develop credibility in your industry, so it’s worth starting to build your profile now.

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If you’re still feeling bamboozled, don’t worry! There’s a part two coming up next week, where we’ll dive deeper into the types of content you can post, how to decide how much of yourself to share online and answers to the rest of your burning questions.

This September, I’ll be running a lil’ workshop for those of you who hear ‘social media’ and run for the hills. This will be a stripped-back, user-friendly chance for you to begin to build an online presence for your business and brand, with no experience necessary.

Register your interest in an upcoming workshop here and make sure you're signed up to my newsletter, so you don’t miss the details. And, of course, come and be social with me on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn - I don't bite!

Jess Worrall, Photographer

Jess Worrall is as genuine as they come. A hilarious lady (she insists she’s much funnier than her Kiwi husband), Jess is also an absolute legend behind the lens. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jess, as she not only managed to snap some pics of me that I quite fancied, she nailed shots of my then 17-month-old son, smiling and in FOCUS! Holy moly, that’s skill.

A former social worker, Jess now has a flourishing photography business and relishes in taking candid pictures of families, lovers and babies. A mother of two little ones, Jess is passionate about capturing families in the raw. She snaps the unique, connected, genuine moments between people, rather than opting for staged portraits.

Whether you're a parent, have your own business or just appreciate a good photo, I know you'll love reading about Jess. Enjoy!

Image: Lecinda Ward

Image: Lecinda Ward

In the work you do, how important are the right words?

The right words are often more important than the image itself. When I was starting out as a photographer, I really thought I could hide behind photos and not worry too much about words. I was so wrong!

I learnt very quickly that just sharing images wasn’t enough to help me to stand out in a sea of talented photographers. I needed words to accompany my images. My dream clients needed to connect with me as a human and as the face behind the camera.

It’s still my biggest struggle as the right words don’t always come easily. Sometimes it takes me half an hour to write a one-sentence caption for an Instagram post. Finding and expressing yourself with words is crucial, no matter your business.

What gets you up in the morning?

My kids...at 6 am on the dot every.single.morning.

What led you to your current career choice?

I’ve always loved photography. At school, I always had a camera in my hand and took photos of my friends. When I was 19, I travelled overseas and my passion for travel photography really took off. I purchased a DSLR for a trip to Africa but didn’t really know how to use it. I kept it on auto the entire time but was still thrilled with the photos.

I always thought of photography as a hobby and never saw myself as technically strong enough to pursue it as a career. It was my ‘dream job’, one that I didn’t think would ever eventuate.

I was working full-time as a social worker until I had my daughter in 2014 and my son in 2016. When my son was almost 1, I was looking to return to social work but had difficulty sourcing part-time opportunities. When I really thought about it, the prospect of going back to a job that demanded so much of me emotionally, while I was still incredibly sleep deprived, didn’t thrill me!

Thanks to a very supportive and encouraging husband, I decided to try and make my dream job a reality. I began doing portfolio building shoots with friends, purchased a logo from Etsy, built a website and the next minute, I found myself in business!

What are the most effective ways you market your business?

I’ve largely been connecting organically with people via Facebook and Instagram. Local area Facebook groups have been really effective for referrals, with happy clients passing my name on to others. I had an incredible collaboration experience with Motherhood Melbourne last year and found that to be a great way of connecting with some amazing brands, small businesses and entrepreneurs (including you!). I’d love to invest some more time into my marketing this year.

How has the landscape of your industry changed since you began?

I’ve only been in the industry for a year, but I’ve been thrilled to discover how supportive the community is, both locally and worldwide. I wasn’t expecting so much emphasis on community over competition. In fact, I’d been worried that other local photographers would feel like I was stepping on their toes. That could not have been further from the truth, which I’m so grateful for.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to other freelancers/small business owners?

Don’t worry about what other people are doing and don’t compare yourself to others in your industry. It’s so easy to tell yourself you’re not good enough or your work isn’t worthy. The truth is though, everyone is at SUCH different stages, there’s no way you can truly compare yourself to anyone. I really believe if you’re passionate and committed to what you’re doing, you’ll grow your business and find your clients.

I’d also advise setting boundaries for yourself. For the first 10 months, I put every ounce of time and energy I had into my business and took on far more than I could actually manage. Eventually, I realised that saying ‘yes’ to every single enquiry was not good for business, my family or for me.

How do you best feed your creativity outside of your work?

Photography is definitely my biggest creative outlet, so I feel really fortunate to be able to do that for work. I absolutely push myself further creatively when photographing my own kids. Trying new techniques and ideas with them feels much safer than it does with paying clients.

To learn more about Jess Worrall Photography, visit her website.

If you’re a photographer who needs a hand with the wordy part, let a copywriter help!

Image: Amy Rushbrook

Image: Amy Rushbrook