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!



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!

 

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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