The Day I Survived Without My Laptop

If you were ever a ‘Sex and the City’ fan, you’ll no doubt remember when Carrie’s computer went to heaven and she spectacularly lost everything. Those were pre-cloud days, and she lived life on the edge, without backing up. Now, that was a huge technological fail. So, mine? Not in this league, but still enough to throw a spanner in the works.

I didn’t need to log on to Xero on Tuesday last week and, thankfully, I’m not an accountant. Xero - my reliable, trusty accounting software - was down for the day. Eeep! But just the following day, I went into panic mode as I realised with horror that my laptop had gone into work with my husband. I had inadvertently left it in the boot while doing childcare pick up and general toddler wrangling. After letting out plenty of initial frustration, I took stock.

I had three precious work hours ahead of me, courtesy of my little one’s grandma and grandpa, and I was not going to waste them. Here’s what I did, and what I suggest you try if ever you find yourself in the same boat.

1. Go old-school!

I put pen to paper, the old-fashioned way. With a newsletter due in the next 24 hours, I had no choice but to go old school. What did I discover? How much I love the feeling of my pen running along the page. The break from staring at a screen was also pretty refreshing. Sure, I had to skip formatting, links and image placement for now. But, I quickly finished a draft that would take very little time to type up later. Dare I say, perhaps the copy flowed even quicker by hand?!

2. Prioritise

I went in to my Trello app via my phone and got my priorities in order. Yes, it meant juggling a few things around, but it also meant I used my time productively. Funnily enough, it also gave me time to focus on the tasks I’d been avoiding…

3. Go big

...Such as big picture dreaming. I’ve long had ideas brewing that I rarely make time to ‘work on’, such is the daily grind. Today, rather than see them as big day-long tasks, I spent some bite-size chunks on the big picture and goal stuff. And, you know what? It didn’t take long to get some serious clarity.

So, am I glad I left my laptop in the boot of the car? Would I do it again? Not purposefully of course, but it’s great to know there are ways I can be productive without it.

Obviously, I'm back online now! So, if you've been meaning to get in touch, you can do that here. I'd love to see if we're a good fit.

 unplug-from-technology

The magic of collaboration

If the idea of working jointly on a project or activity incites hellish flashbacks of uni group projects, stick with me. Collaboration is not a dirty word. Done right, it can open up some pretty awesome opportunities, bring new people and ideas into your world and play an integral part in the future success of your business. Whether you’re a product or service-based business, you can form connections with others, and grow your business by investing in and collaborating with these connections.

One of the best things about running my own business is the opportunity to collaborate with other people. I may work for myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss interaction in the workplace. So, now I simply create it. Through collaborating with others, I can experience a feeling of connectedness. Starting out in a brand new industry in my mid 30s, I found myself totally out of the networks and loops that I had built up over 12 years in the education sector. My career had changed, but so too had the nature of networking.

Here’s why you should consider collaboration for your small business.

For inspiration:

It’s easy to get stuck doing things a particular way. Need a new perspective? Online tools and blogs can inspire you, sure, but try human connection for the ability to discuss, share and communicate inspiration and information. Who knows? You may end up with a fresh technique, tool or new content idea. Someone to bounce ideas off can trigger creativity, and also provide an objective point of view.

To grow your network:

Nothing terrified me more than networking when I started working for myself. Going along to my first networking event felt like a torturous first day at school. Each time I approach new people, my stomach does a little flip, but I do it anyway. I didn’t leave my last career with a huge list of contacts or clients. I’ve built them up from scratch. And I truly believe in the power of human connection. So, if I don’t continue to put myself out there, chatting about why I believe in my business, how can I expect it to grow? An added bonus, of course, is that I’ve met such wonderful people whose services and products I can access. The reality of being in business is that you need to consistently make connections, to encourage referrals and new work. Every time you reach out to someone, you are expanding your network, whether or not it results in collaboration.

To learn:

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I’m driven by a desire for lifelong learning. I actually hanker for it. While sometimes the breadth of what I don’t know seems overwhelming, it’s also very motivational. Collaboration brings with it the opportunity to learn from someone with a different skill set, strengths and perspective.

To problem-solve:

There is definitely power in numbers, in terms of accomplishing something or solving a problem.

Here are some of my favourite collaborations to date:

Creative Darebin Networking Breakfasts - a weekly breakfast for creatives in my hood ticks all the boxes. Casual conversation over coffee with like-minded types? Yes, please.

She Will Shine Women’s Business Network - a totally unstuffy, supportive and inspiring girl gang offering networking nights, power groups, dinners and the rest!

Hood Mama Edit - a slick photo shoot collaboration masterminded by Holly at Motherhood Melbourne and shot by legend behind the lens, Jess Worrall.

Guest blogs on other sites (psst...did you catch me on Seriously Milestones last night?) and interviews with people I admire, like my chat with author Emily Brewin.

Opportunities that have come my way only because I had the courage to reach out. I’ve had some of my freelance articles published and generated new copywriting work this way.

So, what should I consider first?

Before you reach out, think carefully about who to partner with and why. Do your goals and values align? Do you have the same target audience? What can you each bring to the table? How will the collaboration idea work? On a practical level, you can use your combined leverage to connect with more people and spread your message. Social media campaigns don’t need heaps of money or followers, but they do need a genuinely engaged following to be successful. Other ideas are to feature one another, such as by guest blogging or promoting each other’s services. Photo shoots can work too. For the Hood Mama Edit, bloggers and writers wore the products supplied, then created content. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with your ‘so-called’ competitors either. There’s power in numbers, and clearly common interests. The question may be, why wouldn’t you?

How do I get started?

I’d encourage you to begin online, via Facebook groups or networking sites. I love connecting with fellow freelancers and copywriters this way. Search your local area for IRL networking options too, or chat to your friends. They may know someone they can put you in touch with. You don’t need to meet in person if that’s too tricky. There’s always Skype for chats, Google Drive for doc sharing and Trello for project management. Keep it easy! Just enjoy the process.

What collaborations have you been a part of? Let me know. Or if you've got a great idea about how we could work together, let's chat!

 

 small-business-melbourne-collaboration-motherhood-melbourne
 she-will-shine-melbourne-copywriter

7 Simple Ways to Instantly Refresh Your Home

We’re already 11 days into 2018...what the?! How are you going with your resolutions for the new year? If you’ve been spending time with me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m not really into making them, but more about choosing themes that resonate with me. I’ve noticed a lot of people choosing a word to focus on for the year, which I love the idea of.

No matter your style - resolution, theme, word or ‘no thanks’ - this post may interest you. See, refreshing your home ties into many facets of your life. If you work from home, as I do, it helps to keep me interested and motivated. If you’re home with young children, you’re spending an awful lot of time in the same space; change is not quite as good as a holiday, but it helps! Making small adjustments around your home can help you to move out of a rut, look at an issue in a new way or simply make you feel calmer or more positive.

Here are 7 super-simple and affordable ways to make your home your sanctuary in 2018.

Rearrange the furniture

This one will cost you nothing (except if you get carried away and purchase new things, for which I won’t be held responsible). Rearranging my room was one of my favourite things to do as a teenager. It often really impacted the energy or vibe of the space. I’m no feng shui expert, but you could incorporate a few tips through some basic research on the interwebs.

Incorporate plants or greenery

If you've been following for a while on socials, you'll know I struggle to keep plants alive. This is why I have a mix of real and really convincing faux plants and flowers in my home. My pick of hard-to-kill plants right now are the aluminium plant, aloe vera and the humble fern.

Replace cushions or cushion covers

I used to have to justify this one to my husband, but now he’s totally on board. Changing the cushions has awesome room-updating potential. Plus, it’s waaay cheaper than replacing the couch.

New bed linen

Or, my favourite lazy option, wash and air dry the linen on a good drying day. There’s nothing like the feeling of fresh sheets. (Also, when did I start talking exactly like my mother? Eeep!)

Clear the kitchen bench

Take everything off the bench that you don’t use every day. Find an alternative home for it. If there is none, question whether you still need it.

De-clutter

We’ve moved house twice in the past 14 months (yes, fools) so I’ve done this step a few times recently. Gosh, it’s such a great cleansing activity. Go through any serious-clutter areas in your home, such as wardrobes and toy baskets every six months and be ruthless. I pass quality items on to charity and good friends as part of this process, which ups the feel-good factor.

Visual happiness

This may mean art, pictures, your child’s artwork or photos of family and friends. There’s no right or wrong way to display things as long as they bring you joy.

Tell me, what are your tricks to instantly refresh a home? I’d love to know, so I can try them out.

P.S. Now that your home is refreshed, are you keen to refresh your business message for the new year? I can help with that too. Be in touch to see what a copywriter can do for you in 2018.

 copywriter-and-content-creator

5 Grammar Rules You Should be Breaking

If you get my lil’ monthly newsletter fresh to your inbox, you’ve already had a sneaky peek at today’s post. But, I thought these tips were worth sharing with all of you, so here’s a bigger, better and brighter version to help you break grammar rules with confidence.

Just because your high school English teacher told you so, doesn’t mean all grammatical conventions need to be followed to the letter. I should know - I was that teacher! After all, there needs to be some creative license, especially when you’re writing about your business. What’s more - rules change and evolve over time (which is why we don’t all sound like we’ve just stepped out of a Shakespeare play). It’s time to fast-forward from 1600 to 2017 and get your grammar rebel on.

Sentences can start with conjunctions.

I’ve already done it in this post (did you notice?) These days, grammar rules are much more fluid, and using and or because can be a really punchy way to begin a sentence. Don't overdo it, but it totally works sometimes.

Passive voice is sometimes best.

The spellcheck function on the computer loves to tell you when your sentences are written in passive, rather than active form. The problem with that is, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. Occasionally passive voice just sounds better and flows more naturally. If so, use it. (Just a quick side note on spellcheck - it’s not a human. Always read your work aloud to find errors. It also seriously helps you edit and streamline tone-of-voice. Try it!)

Relax - contract.

Unless you're writing very formally, incorporate contractions (they work especially well for online writing). When marketing to a particular audience, your voice should sound conversational to build a relationship with your reader.

One-sentence paragraphs can be wonders.

Online content should be easy for readers to skim. People are searching for quick answers, and don’t want - or have the time - to read your content word-for-word. Reading chunks of text-heavy content is a push for anyone. One sentence paragraphs can visually break up the page or help to drive an important point home.

Slang is a-ok.

Keep your audience is mind - if it fits, use it. Just make sure you're confident with the vernacular so it sounds natural, rather than forced.

Ultimately, talking and writing about your business should be fun. It’s yours! Enjoy sharing it with the world. But if you lack the confidence, clarity or - the biggie - time, then I can certainly help you out.

If you’d like a rule-breaking partner-in-crime, hit me up!

 writing-collaboration-two-computers

What I’ve learnt in my first year in business

That first year in business. Would we still do it if we knew how hard it would actually be? The fact that you’re really ‘on’ 24/7, making very little money and frantically upskilling well outside your comfort zone? I would. Because, as tough as the first year has been in many ways, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Here are 11 important things I have learnt over this past year working as a freelance copywriter.

1. Mindset matters

Your mindset and attitude go a long way to ensuring you can go the distance! Things like goal setting, staying focused and thinking positively really do make a difference. I nourished myself with exercise and yoga, fuelled my passion for learning by listening to podcasts and reading, and networked with like-minded people. Importantly too, I spent time with my family and friends who centred me.

2. A network works

Having a powerful network around you is essential, including family, friends and professionals. Nurture these relationships. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone when it comes to professional networking (even if, like me, the idea terrifies you). I hunted around to find a business networking group that felt like the ‘right fit’, sought out like-minded types on social media and learnt to talk about myself and my skillset.

3. You have value

It is important to charge what you’re worth, perhaps not in the earliest of days, but once you become more established. Some small business owners are dead-against offering mates’ rates or freebies, but I’m open to it in the right context. It can be a good way to build up your client base and gather testimonials. Just make sure you have the time for it or you’ll find yourself resenting it. You might not always make the ‘right’ decision around this - I certainly didn’t - but it’s all part of the learning process. Always ask for testimonials too. They are gold! Let your happy clients do the spruiking for you!

4. Don’t wait

Stop waiting around for the perfect moment to start - it’s not coming. The time is now.

5. Trust your gut

Don’t waste valuable time over-thinking everything. Of course you’ll be winging it at times, especially in those early days. Be kind to yourself and trust that you’ll make the best decision you can in the moment. Just a note to trust your gut (especially when it comes to more difficult clients). Nine times out of ten, you're probably right.

6. Understand your client

In the beginning, it can be tempting to want everyone as your client. Unfortunately, this broad approach may mean you end up pleasing no-one. Try to understand your ideal client or customer by getting into their head (find ‘types’ of your client on social media and stalk away!) and figuring out how you can solve their problem.  

7. Social strategy

Social media marketing is important (engagement over ‘likes’), but it is just one piece of the pie. Spend time focusing on your website, network, write great content (and have the SEO gods smile upon you) and email any potential clients to reach out. I’m personally not on every social platform and I don’t always work with a particular ‘strategy’ in mind when I post. But I’m always 100% me.

8. Good things take time

There will be days where you feel like you’re winning and other days you almost throw the towel in. Take time to acknowledge the wins, however small.

9. Say no to 24/7

It can be so tempting to work all the time, but make sure you carve out time to rest, have a break and fill your cup. You’ll become a better business owner for it. Promise.

10. Systems and processes

Putting systems and processes in place will save you time in the long run. I certainly didn’t factor in that I’d be learning accounting software, or how to create graphics, or a newsletter template. If it’s just you, you kinda need to take it on. Occasionally I will outsource, if the task is way beyond the scope of what I can do, and that’s been great too.

11. You will change

This small business journey will alter you. There will be so many new people in your world, and you yourself will grow. Embrace the changes and all of those people who choose to walk beside you.

As I prepare for my second year of freelance life, I can't wait to see what learnings lie ahead.

Want to be a part of this journey? I'd love to work some word magic with you. Say hello!

 copywriter-workspace-writing-tools