The power of gratitude-based marketing for your brand

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Two tiny words mean the world to customers:

thank you.

When it comes to building customer loyalty, gratitude is the holy grail.

Have you ever received a personalised thank you from a business? If so, how did it make you feel?

Offering that personal touch to our customers after a purchase may seem like a small gesture, but it can go a long way in boosting our relationship with our customers, making them feel appreciated and valued.

In today’s digital age, customers are overwhelmed. Their brains process, on average, a staggering 34gb of online information a day. Our human relationships have become online and digitised- chatbots and ai have overtaken real-time, face to face interactions.

Out of all the ways you can say thank you, offline approaches are becoming increasingly more powerful as a way to surprise and delight your customer - after all it’s easy to insert <name> into a thank you email on Mailchimp, isn’t it?

“Thank you notes are effective because they’re a bit of a lost art. Think about the last time you actually sent a handwritten letter, instead of quickly firing off an email or a Facebook message. Those mediums allow for incredible efficiency, but a handwritten card goes beyond the ephemeral nature of our digital inboxes and creates something tangible and meaningful” - Shopify


Why are thank you letters so effective at building customer relationships?

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They’re different:

By doing something that most of your competitors wouldn’t have the inclination or the time for, you’re standing out from your competition. To take a step that to some may seem old-fashioned, you’re adding a thoughtful touch to any customer that purchases from you.

Everybody likes feeling appreciated:

Handwritten notes are the ultimate way to build customer loyalty, and even brand champions.  Your customer is spending valuable time and money interacting with your brand, so by showing your appreciation you’re far more likely to boost their loyalty to you, and continue shopping with you.

Can help boost engagement:

Writing handwritten notes to customers can only serve to strengthen the relationship you have with them. You need to ‘surprise and delight’ in order to boost engagement, and that’s why taking the time out to write a personal thank you note will impress your customer. You’re not just a number to them; you’re a human who you’re interested in building a relationship with.

Aim for hearts, not wallets:

In a recent Forbes article, they note that:

The emotional response that is most likely to drive loyal behavior, according to Boncheck, is gratitude.

It’s really a no-brainer that gratitude increases loyalty.

When your partner thanks you for taking the bins out, it feels good, doesn’t it? That’s the power of appreciation, and it’s no different when building a relationship with our customers.

Thank you notes are likely to be re-shared online:

A handwritten note, if done well, looks cute, and is a true rarity in today’s age. That kind of personal touch will not only get talked about, it’s more likely to get shared on social media - further leading to more valuable and positive exposure for your business.

Rectifies poor experience:

Writing a thank you note to your customers strengthens the emotional bond you have with them. At present, they’re probably just indifferent to your brand, and those lukewarm to disengaged customers will be easily won back just through showing you care.

Drives profits

This kind of ‘gratitude-based marketing’ is not just a passing fad. According to the Pareto principle, 20% of your customers drive 80% of your profits, so it makes sense to focus on cultivating that relationship with them will drive profits. Why? Generosity pays off. Not only will it make those important 20% more likely to buy from you, it will increase sales of referrals from these people, too.

Gives a memorable finish to an interaction:

Hex, a fashion tech accessory brand, made it’s name on Instagram after sending 13,000 personalised handwritten notes to customers thanking them for the purchase. Your customer has been with you along the sales funnel - from seeing an ad about your product, right through to purchase, so this approach really sweetens their overall shopping experience with you.

More human, and thoughtful:

Above all, in today’s digitised world, writing thank you notes to your audience shows that you’re making the effort. In an age where it’s so easy to fire off an automated thank you email, a written note is a gesture that feels human, authentic, and real.

Driving customer loyalty by writing handwritten thank you notes (or these cool letters from Pensaki) could be one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies in today’s digital world.

After all, you can’t buy loyalty - you have to earn it.






Developing A New Relationship to Time

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We don’t need the 9–5 to be productive; we just need more energy

What time is it?

I look at the clock. It’s 3:05pm.

Even though I only looked at it about twenty minutes ago, it feels like an hour.

I sigh and rearrange my desk. What can I do now?

I’m pretty tired, I’ve been in the office since 8:30,(but up since 6:30am) and already had a couple of meetings, spent two hours in deep work on a project, and had my lunch, as well as sending off lots of emails, and going on a call.

Pretty successful and productive day, so far, I think.

But I still have two hours left on the clock. I’m not allowed to go home until 5pm, when my ‘official’ work period is over, and we’re all allowed to go.

So what do I do? Start that big task I was going to do tomorrow? But I don’t feel like it, and I don’t have enough energy. Can’t I go home and chill now?

I know, I’ll go and make a drink. That will kill 15 minutes.

Sound familiar?

This was literally my internal monologue for most days when I was working in a 9–5 employed office job. It went on for YEARS.

My day always dragged around that time, and time went slowly.

Finally, I decided to work for myself. I didn’t want anyone else deciding how I spent my time, it was stressing me out.

I needed to reclaim it.

Time can make us a slave

In the Western world, time rules our minds. It changes how we perceive things.

Matt Haig wrote a brilliant book, How to Stop Time. In a nutshell, the book tells us to ‘live in the present moment’.

“The longer you live, the harder it becomes. To grab them. Each little moment as it arrives. To be living in something other than the past or the future. To be actually here.
Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?” 
― Matt Haig, How to Stop Time

Last month, I watched a brilliant discussion between the guys between the Ascend Podcast, and my guilty crush, the lovely Bruce Parry.

Bruce has visited and lived with many remote tribes around the world, and he talks about an Amazonian tribe that lives in the present moment so much that they have no real words to describe abstract time.

Bruce says of these remote tribes:

‘they feel much more empathically in tune with the environment… they have a much deeper sense of being in the space…they’re connected to themselves, they’re much more in their bodies, they’re not caught up in their heads like we are’

So we need to get out of our heads, and into our bodies.

It’s already begun to happen.

Mindfulness: the growing trend to slow down time

Why has mindfulness become the buzzword of the last few years?

Is it because we all know we should be living in the moment, but it’s just so difficult sometimes?

All the big corporates have embraced this trendy concept over the past few years. Apple and Nike have embraced mindfulness principles, and there’s countless TED talks on living in the moment.

Google have even taken it a step further, launching a whole ‘Search Inside Yourself’ Mindfulness Academy.

Even Thich Nat Hahn led a Google Workshop on mindfulness.

But is a mindfulness meditation practice effective if you’re thinking about your 100 emails in your inbox?

Or if you’re feeling the pressure to buy a house by a certain time?

Perhaps it’s not just about slowing down our minds. Perhaps it’s about slowing down our actions, too.

The eternal now

Eckhart Tolle’s bestselling book, The Power of Now, gives a firsthand account of a man that decided to have a different relationship with time:

“When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. The realm of Being, which had been obscured by the mind, then opens up. Suddenly, a great stillness arises within you, an unfathomable sense of peace.”

I had read this book, but I didn’t pay any attention to it, until I spent 10 days in silence, on a meditation course. It was only when I experienced this that it began to make sense to me.

Free from the shackles of having to do anything by a certain ‘time’, I experienced a totally different sense of reality, which I documented in a video, ‘Keeping your peace in a busy world’.

Unshackling ourselves from time

A couple of weeks ago I watched a beautiful video of a well known world traveller on Youtube that was hiking in Northern California, and didn’t have a timepiece for a few days, just taking in the lush surroundings instead.

‘It’s really cool how you come more into the moment, and forget about this mental linear concept of time, and ‘I gotta do this, and I gotta do that, and I gotta make sure I have time to get to the office…’ Gabriel, Living Without Time

The way we are approaching time is changing.

Remote work companies such as Buffer focus on outputs, not time spent at a desk.

The 4 day working week trial in New Zealand was a success, as was one UK’s company’s introduction of a midweek day off.

The world is starting to wake up to the fact that we don’t need a certain amount of time to produce something valuable — we just need the right amount of energy.

That’s why Deep Work is becoming so valued — because it takes a lot of energy. You can’t do a piece of deep work in 20 minutes, and you certainly can’t do it with a hurried mind.

Joel Gasgoine, the CEO of Buffer, has ‘Deep Work Wednesdays’ where he has little to no meetings and ‘ uses lengths of unscheduled time to read and reflect on high-level vision and strategy.’

Why does he do this?

Because the state of consciousness you are in is important in order to produce a certain result. A relaxed mind and body means increased creativity and ideas.

He frees himself from the constraints of time so his mind can become more free.

You can do the same.

Don’t trap yourself with time

We can’t just throw away our watches, diaries and calendars. That’s not how it works.

But we can free ourselves from the mental burden of time.

  • We can free ourselves by ignoring what you think you should do by a certain time- not having to meet a certain life goal at a particular age, whether that’s getting married, having babies, travelling or buying your first home.

  • We can have days where we live without time, like Sundays, where perhaps we have a digital detox or a ‘Digital Sabbath’ and aim to be completely present in our bodies, perhaps doing some bodily focused activities like gardening or yoga.

  • We can start by giving ourselves better boundaries in relation to time, especially when we feel hurried, stressed or pressured by someone else. We know we could get the job done in one hour, but we tell our boss two hours because then we will be able to do more thinking around it and do a better job. To see what I mean, check out the difference between spending 10 seconds on drawing a picture of Spiderman vs 10 minutes.

We know that mental health is in crisis for many of the Western world. We have too much on our minds, too many thoughts to juggle, and too many activities, and not enough ‘time’ to do them in.

Perhaps it’s the relationship to time itself that we need to consider, and start making space for ourselves.

Give yourself the gift of letting go of time for a bit today.

You deserve it.

18 tips to improve your income and wellbeing in 2019

We only need to look back for one reason.

To ask ourselves ‘What did I learn?’

All of our experiences, bad or good, have the seeds of wisdom within them. And even if you think they’re not there, they are. They’re just hidden, like seeds in a fruit.

Income and wellbeing are inextricably linked, because they both pertain to energy. With increased energy, not only are you healthier and happier, but you can also earn more.

Ready to charge your batteries for 2019? Here’s things I’ve learned.

1. Trust your gut instinct

I wrote about what mattered to me on Medium, and got featured by the editors. Not only did it generate 6.7k claps and a bit of income, it generated further paid work and people that resonated with what I shared.

2. Immerse yourself in nature as often as possible

There are ideas that can only come to you when you’re in nature. Being in nature is energising. The more beautiful your surroundings, the better. Biophilia is a trend that will grow in 2019. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the ethos of coworking space Second Home.

3. Be aware of what drains your energy

‘Where attention goes, energy flows” is not just a nice quote. It’s truth. If you are giving your attention to things that aren’t uplifting you, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Are you letting social media suck your attention, and thus your energy? The Shallows explores how the internet is literally rewiring our brains.

4. Practice the art of letting go

I broke ties with one of my oldest friends this year, and even though I love her immensely, I had to accept that we were just going in different directions. If you hold on to something that is moving away from you, you’ll lose a hell of a lot of energy. It will impact your health, happiness, and business. Let it drift if it needs to.

5. Set monthly finance goals, and track weekly for peace of mind

Relieve financial anxiety as a freelancer by setting monthly targets. Track them weekly, and if you’ve hit your target by week 3, you know you can relax or hustle a little harder to surpass it. Trust you will get there.

6. Forget the competition

If you’re too busy paying attention to what others are doing, that mental energy is being lost. Run your own race. I remember one boss who literally stood at his computer watching a video of his competitor and calling him names. Why? It’s wasted energy. Spend that time improving yourself instead.

7. Tell everyone what you are doing

For the most part, it helps to be open as possible. I spent quite a few Fridays this year working at Think NG’s Freelance Friday, where I met a lovely lady. I shared what I was doing, and she later recommended me to do a paid workshop in 2019.

8. Don’t make decisions in fear

When the work goes quiet, it’s very tempting to do that project you don’t really like but know will earn you money. Or, if you’ve not posted for a while, you could just reuse that piece of work you’re not altogether happy with, but don’t do it. Instead use the time to upskill and grow.

9. Find work that feels playful

Keep a track of your emotion logs, like my friend Sam Chillcott. Notice when you feel elevated, and when you internally shout ‘yeah!’ That’s an indication of where you need to go. Excitement is energy. You want to do things that fill you with genuine excitement, and even if you’re not making a living from them yet, try to move yourself in that direction.

10. Use music to boost your productivity

Music is a well known energiser. It also has physical health benefits, and The Sync Project are exploring it’s effects with a large research study. Skeptical? You don’t have to listen to music whilst you’re working if it distracts you. Just by blasting out a tune before you work can help (I love this).

11. Start your day with positivity

As Benjamin Hardy suggests, getting yourself into a ‘peak state’ is advised. It helps set the tone for the day. Whatever uplifts you, whatever you need to get you into a place of calmness, focus, and energy. I’m not religious, but I start my day with Joel — he gives me a pep talk every morning.

12. Skill swap with other entrepreneurs

Utilise your network — is there a way you can help each other to further your impact in the world? This year, I did some marketing in return for some life coaching. Build your tribe. Help your friends.

13. Change your environment for increased creativity

This year, I spent three months in sunny Las Palmas, where I got to meet a lot of inspiring people. The difference it made to my mood and productivity was enormous. I was about 100 x more productive when I got home.

14. Be intentional about solitude for new ideas and learnings

I’m in praise of solitude. Like being immersed with new people and new environments, solitude has its own merits for creativity, learning, and reflection. Ideally, think of connection like a tide, or breathing — sometimes you’re around others, the next, you’re alone. That way you stay in balance.

15. Be helpful, even if you’re not getting paid

When I was working at the Freelance Friday, helping my friend and fearless kayaker Sally Montgomery, I didn’t begrudge giving her pro bono advice even though I was supposed to be working. Doing that led me to start consulting sessions, and within an hour of posting it on Twitter I had my first client.

16Work with nature’s rhythms

You can’t force a water tap to fill a cup quickly if there’s only a dribble coming out. Likewise, you can’t expect yourself to be on fire in your business if you’re feeling tired. Don’t push if there’s no energy there. I’ve learned that our bodies, especially women’s bodies, go through a subtle energetic process relating to our cycles — we naturally have more energy around ovulation. Schedule your thinking time for then, and your days off for the ‘winter’ of menstruation.

17. Try as many income streams as possible

The internet is your oyster! There’s nothing you can’t do, with enough knowledge and research. Test the waters, and so what if it doesn’t work out? You can freelance, get a remote job, write a book, create a product, become a youtuber, create a course, do matched betting, be a user tester, do dropshipping — the possibilities for location independence are endless. One will be a perfect fit for you.

18. Don’t underestimate REST

I don’t just mean sleep. I mean full, conscious REST. Apart from going to sleep, do you have moments when you consciously relax your body to the deepest state possible, not focusing on anything else? R.E.S.T therapy is an actual thing, coined by the researchers of sensory deprivation tanks. I’m a fan of those. But when I can’t get there, I utilise the wonderful Meditations by Rasa. When it comes to meditation, go deep. You’ll be energised.

In Praise Of Solitude

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There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely

It was a Saturday Night. I’d been reading famous quotes on solitude, as I was writing an article on silence (I know, so rock n’ roll).

Solitude was praised by Mother Teresa, Nikola Tesla, Antony Burgess, Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka and many more interesting people.

Then I googled ‘solitude’. The very first result from Wikipedia, highlighted in a little black box, rather perturbed me.

“Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people. It may stem from bad relationships, loss of loved ones, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, neurological disorders or circumstances of employment or situation.” — Wikipedia.

Wait a minute. This all seems… pretty bad.

I’ve just read that solitude was the answer from some of life’s most brilliant minds:

“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion; free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone — that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born.” ~ Nikola Tesla

“People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.” 
― Karl Lagerfeld

Not to mention the recent research that solitude can make you more successful.

Maybe we’re confusing solitude with the feeling of loneliness. It is one thing to be on your own voluntarily, taking breaks away from family, friends and the world, and quite another to be isolated.

I’ve recently moved into a flat on my own. At first, I was gripped with thoughts such as ‘ugh, this is horrible! So lonely!’ but then after a time it was replaced by a feeling of beautiful serenity.

The shift that happened?

Well, for the first week I was distracted. I focused exclusively outside myself — the tasks I had to complete, work I had to do. I was on autopilot.

But after about a week, I mentally dropped the ball and just sat ‘with myself’. It’s an awareness of the present moment, a connection with it that you just don’t get when you’re lonely. It then became incredibly enjoyable.

Perhaps loneliness is sort of a disconnection from others and also from yourself — whereas with solitude, you’re actively staying present with your own company.

Maybe loneliness can come from being somehow estranged from your connection to your own thoughts and feelings, your dreams, your hopes, your desires.

Because even if you’re surrounded by people, you still can be lonely. In fact, if you’re surrounded by people all the time, it can be incredibly hard to hear what your inner voice is saying — it’s been drowned out all your life.

So I’m in praise of solitude. It’s a truly enriching experience for those who want to fully embrace it.

Solitude can be an intentional experience. The intention is not about removing yourself from people and positive relationships, but for giving yourself moments when it’s just you and the universe.

When embracing solitude, it can be like taking a bath in the waters of silence. You dissipate into the present moment. There is sometimes no sense of ‘I’, especially in nature when moments of solitude can be so serenely beautiful.

If I was a newbie wanting to explore solitude, I might have thought twice if I’d read about it on Wikipedia or Google.

Solitude shouldn’t be terrifying. And if it is, what does that say about ourselves?

This article was first published on Medium.com

The Importance of A Clearly Defined Funnel



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Funnel? I hear you say. What’s that?

If you’re relatively new to marketing, you may not know about the concept of a marketing funnel.

Marketing funnels are how you get your client or customer to purchase your product or service.

Each piece of content you create should relate to where each customer is on their journey.

Assuming you already know who your customer personas are, you’ve done your research and know where they hang out. Now you should target them with your copy.

For example, let’s say a new customer has never heard of your business, and what you offer.

This means they are at the awareness stage, also called the attention stage.

At this level, you want to introduce them to your product or service. You want to get them familiar with who you are and what you have to offer.

A great way to do this is with a video or with an organic social media post.

The content should speak directly to their pain point - what problem or issue are you solving for them?

For example, if you were setting up a premium glamping business for busy executives:

‘Here at Orchard View, we know it’s important to take that time out to recharge. So we offer six perfectly formed bell tents in the heart of the idyllic Derbyshire countryside, equipped with your every need. Take a look for yourself. <video> #unplug #taketimeout’

Now you’ve got your audience intrigued. Is this for them? You’ve whet their appetite with some pretty visuals and an explanation of why they might want your product or service, and now they’re at the interest stage. 💭

These are a smaller subset of people who have taken the next step in their mind. You’ve hooked them in with your first piece of content or communication, and now they want to know more.

Think of it like a second date with someone. You’re definitely interested, but there’s a few more things you need to know.

So this is where you delve into the details. You want to get your readers to click more, to get invested in who you are, and what you’re offering.

An interest piece of content may be a blog post which is a feature about your glamping site. It could be something like ‘This Is Why We Chose This Spot For Our Beautiful Glampers.’

Here you want to tell a story. Maybe you talk about taking your dog for a walk over the peaks and you noticed how that part was the perfect spot to watch the sunset. You want to get your audience emotionally invested in what you’re about, and get them picturing using your product or service.

Next, comes the consideration phase, which can also be called the desire part of your marketing funnel. 🤔

This group are an even smaller part of your funnel. Maybe they’ve clicked on your website, read your blog post, and have now signed up to your email list for news and discounts.

These people are clearly interested in what you have to offer - but haven’t yet took the action to purchase.

Content that can move them down the funnel can come in the form of social proof here, so think stats, case studies, and testimonials from those happy customers. These work especially well on your landing page.

I absolutely love Orchard View, I’ve been three times now. From the moment you get there, you just feel this sense of serenity. Myself and my husband instantly relax as soon as we step foot inside, and we know that for the next two days, we don’t have to think about a thing’ - Claire, Cardiff.

Of course, your social proof has to be authentic. Get your customers to comment, like or share their views by engaging with them regularly. Get to know them. Understand them, and find out what really pleases them about your product or service - and vow to communicate that to your potential customers.

In your potential customers mind, all the evidence is now mounting to one thing - that making this purchase will improve their life in some way. It could make their life easier, more enjoyable, less stressful, give them knowledge, help them with a problem - but whatever it is, you’ve answered all of their potential objections along the way.

It’s now time to convert. 🛍️

Here, it’s all about those glittering CTA’s (Call To Action). You want them to take action.

Your call to actions should be subtle at first (maybe a ‘find out more’ at the awareness stage), but when it comes to your conversion content, you want them to ‘Book Now’ or ‘Shop Now’.

This could come in the form of a Facebook ad that you’re retargeting to customers that have already visited your site. Maybe they’ve filled in the booking form, but for one reason or another haven’t yet completed their purchase.

An enticing, beautiful ad with the strong call to action ‘Spaces filling up for April - Book now for 2019’ leads them directly back down your funnel, and into becoming your customer.

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When you create content, make sure you have it all defined throughout each stage of the journey.

Attention - Interest - 💭 Consideration -🤔 Conversion 🛍️

also known as:

Awareness - Interest- Desire - Action

Map it out. Know not only who you’re speaking to, but what stage they’re at in their customer journey.

Want to discuss more about creating content that speaks to your audiences? Get in touch to have a chat.



Making My First $500 With Medium.com's Partner Program

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I must admit, when I first heard about Medium, the online publishing platform many years ago, I thought it wouldn’t take off. An article site for people to share ideas?

How is this going to be more popular than people sharing content on their own blog or on social media, I thought?

But this year I have reconsidered that thought.

Good content on the web is hard to come by, and there are a lot of people churning out articles just for the sake of it. I find that on Medium you find ideas of a different nature - they’re just on the edge of the current zeitgeist to be relevant; yet not so far ‘out there’ to not appeal to a broad audience.

As of last year, Medium had 60 million monthly unique readers. That’s too big to ignore.

Medium established their Partner Program last year in order to encourage more writers. Essentially, your articles are behind a paywall ($5 a month for readers), and you can receive ‘claps’ (the equivalent of likes) in return for payment.

The more claps you get, the higher pay - simples!

Of course, starting to earn is about learning Medium’s platform inside and out - something I am still doing, but I have learned a lot so far, and would like to share what I have learned with you.

  • Write about topics that you have experience in AND that would help others

    My article on the emotional side of freelancing got picked up by the Medium editors, and they put it on the homepage. It got me over 5.5k claps, and a fair amount of new followers. I just wrote about my own experience here, and I was surprised by how many people it helped.

  • Learn how Medium likes to present content

Medium likes to make things look pretty. It pays to learn their editorial guidelines, and read a few of their most-read articles to see the style, tone, and formatting.

  • Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable

Hiding will get you nowhere on Medium. The best articles are personal stories that are real, raw and authentic.

  • Be a good writer

Obvious point maybe, but before Medium, I thought I was a decent writer. Now, I realise I have a lot of work to do. The quality of writers on there are incredible. The best writers can take an idea in their heads and articulate it in such a way that you are captivated, learn something, and can revisit the idea or thought again and again.

Use Medium as a way to hone your craft.

Study the best writers. Notice that how they write is like a stream of their consciousness, clear, and structured, and always returns to the central point.

  • Don’t go for what you think the audience will like - write what you want to write

There are some articles I’ve written and then made unlisted, simply for the fact that I felt that they weren’t coming from a good place within me. By that I meant writing topics that I thought I should write about, rather than ones that I actually feel that are right for me to write about. Writing is all about feeling inspired. If you’re faking that inspiration or just trying to copy what’s ‘on trend’ to write about, it will come across. Medium is all about authenticity.

  • Write regularly

I’m trying to write at least once a week, even if I’m not 100% happy with the articles (nothing’s perfect, right). I see it as a way to practise my writing, and also as a testbed to test the content with my audience - what kind of articles do they most resonate with? By writing regularly, you’ll come to learn not only the types of people that are on Medium, but also perfect your own writing style.

  • Titles and images are VERY important

What is your piece saying? Sum it up in your title. Or give the audience a teaser; a lead in to an interesting idea. Make it something that you would click on if you saw it on there. Also, think about the visual element. You can be fun and use .gifs, but I like to use photos that are a metaphor for what I’m actually writing about. Don’t be afraid to change it if you’re finding that you’re not getting the engagement you expected.

  • Realise their audience is vastly different to other platforms

People who read on Medium want to better themselves. In fact, they are people quite committed and dedicated to their own personal growth. When I first posted my freelancing article on other platforms, it got one or two likes from my social networks. I could have thought (as I used to think) that my writing wasn’t valuable or didn’t help anyone, but the truth is it just needed the right platform to be appreciated. The Medium platform may not be right for you or your business, but the partner program is a good way to test the waters.

  • Link your social channels back to Medium

From that one featured article, I’ve had people contact me through Twitter, add me on Linkedin, and ask for my work to be published in their magazine. Medium is powerful! Don’t underestimate the power of connecting back with your Medium audience on other platforms. Build relationships with those people - these people get what you’re about!

  • Submit your stories to online magazines that publish on Medium

This is something I haven’t really explored too much, but I have three publications on Medium whom I can submit my articles to, and it will go out to their followers, thus increasing my overall reach. I’m going to search for more online magazines that fit who I am and what I write about.

Summary

From Sept-Oct, I earned just over $514. Not a huge amount, but not bad for what I essentially see as a enjoyable pastime. The total hours I spent writing? Probably no more than 4. But that’s not the point. The point is I am writing about things I love and getting paid for it.

Here’s a copy of my most recent Medium report. It’s shortened slightly as I have a lot of articles on there now, but as you can see, the majority of income came from one article.

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For now, I will continue to focus on growing Medium as one of my income streams by writing through their Partner Program. I believe it’s an exciting time for Medium, and it’s clean and simple platform and app means that it can only go from strength to strength.

Do you have questions about writing on Medium, or building a remote freelance career? Get in touch to see how I can help.

The Art Of A Good Brief

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When it comes to commissioning any type of creative work, a great brief is a must.

Not only can a brief make or break a marketing project, it also sets the tone for your working relationship between you and the agency or freelancer.

Some people may think ‘Why bother with a brief? I’ll just tell them what I want over the phone, and we can begin!’

A brief is essentially your roadmap for the project. Without it, someone could get lost along the way.

Whether it’s a series of emails to your customer list, a product description, or a video script, a clear brief sets expectations from the outset and allows both client and freelancer to establish exactly what is needed, and by when.

Here’s what a good copy brief should consist of. I’ve also included project sample text so you can see how it could be filled out.

Copywriting Brief

Title of Project: (i.e. Onboarding Email for New Volunteers - Christmas 2018)

Description of project: ( ‘We need a new welcome email for volunteers that have signed up in the run up to Christmas who are about to do their first charity visit)

Format of project: (Copy for Mailchimp, up to 500 words. Include x2 alternate subject headings)

Rework of existing job, or new: (New job)

Background to your business: (‘We are a charity based in the UK offering hospital visits to sick children to brighten their day)

Include website URL and any supporting documents: (‘MakeAWish.org’)

Target audience: (‘Volunteers who have signed up to our newsletter’)

Core message: (‘We are happy to have you on board and we look forward to you brightening the lives of children who are ill in hospital’)

What is the personality of your brand, and your values? (‘We are warm, friendly and accessible. We value being kind and this is reflected in our tone of voice’).

What do you want your audience to think and feel with this content?

(‘We would like our volunteers to feel welcomed and supported, and that we are pleased they are on board. We want them to think that they have made a good choice, and that they are looking forward to making a difference’)

Who are your competitors? (N/A)

What is your call to action? (To get the volunteers to join our Private Facebook group)

When is this required by? (Final version of copy required by 1.11.18)

With a clear brief, the freelancer can see exactly what’s needed, and ask questions if appropriate. Depending on timescales, a call can be undertaken to discuss the brief before the project begins too, if needed.

A good brief should be clear, and to the point.

It doesn’t always need to have all of the segments listed above - sometimes more helps, or sometimes less - it depends on the size and scale of the project and the business itself. But keep it to one page of A4 if you can.

So why bother with a brief?

Having a clear brief can save time, because everything is in writing, and agreed before the freelancer starts work - so no questions in the middle of the project to clarify things.

Agreeing on a brief beforehand can save money, because by stipulating the proposed scope at the outset and mutually agreeing on the direction, it can mean that amend times are usually minimised.

Clear briefs can also save on resource - by documenting your work, you’ll be able to dig out old briefs, tweak them a little, and pass them on to the next freelancer or agency. It also gives you a template to refer back to when you’ve completed your project and want to review your marketing goals.


The Emotional Side of Freelancing

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There are so many articles out there about how to get freelancing right, and there is so much to think about: the invoicing, the client communication, the hustle, the accounts, and more.

What I have learned in three years of working as a freelancer is that it can be an emotional rollercoaster, too. Just like an actual rollercoaster, freelancing can be immensely thrilling, exciting, and sometimes can make you feel a little bit sick. Without management or HR to review your work, and without a regular salary in place or colleagues to bounce ideas off of, those dips and twists in your work life can throw you emotionally if you don’t know how to handle them.

Yet, despite the rollercoaster, working as a freelancer has helped me become more emotionally stable. As a freelancer, I am my business. This means I have to stay grounded, consistent, and calm as I go about my work. I have also needed to develop and maintain a steady sense of peace, because freelancing, by nature, can be so uncertain and unstable.

I have always wanted to work for myself, and that, so far, has meant tackling every issue that has annoyed me about jobs I’ve had in the past. I’ve had many stomach-churning moments in this process, and have experienced a lot of positive moments and accomplishments as well. The positives make the lifestyle worth it, and how you deal with the stomach-churning moments — let’s call them dips — ultimately determine the success of your business. Here are some of the dips I have seen come up pretty regularly in my experience as a freelancer:

When the work (seems like) it’s drying up

I have noticed that freelance work often comes in cycles and correlates pretty heavily with your mindset. Panicking about paying the bills and the fact that no one you reach out to with ideas seems to be getting back in touch just won’t help you. I have learned to embrace the fact that I experience cycles of really busy periods, along with bouts of time when things feel a bit quieter, or when contracts naturally come to an end.

When work dries up, you need to remind yourself why you started. Did you want to work for just one person, on a never-ending, boring business? Of course not! You like the variety freelancing brings because it means you get to work on lots of small projects. Sometimes these last six months, and sometimes they don’t — that’s a good thing.

Don’t be afraid when things feel stagnant — maybe it just means that it’s time to get creative and go to the next level.

Plus, you love the thrill of the hustle! As a freelancer, love of the hustle is part of your nature. Whether you’re sending out proposals or chasing down projects, you can’t let the uncertainty behind the hustle destabilize you emotionally. I’ve realized that, though it may feel a little scary to get back on the saddle after enjoying a nice six to eight months of steady income, you have to remind yourself that looking for new opportunities helps you grow. I like to think about the hustle that comes from periods where I’m low on work like walking into a sweet shop. There, I get to look through a variety of options and search for exactly what will feel tasty and satisfying.

Don’t be afraid when you’re tested like this and things feel stagnant — maybe it just means that it’s time to get creative and go to the next level.

When you start to feel lonely

As a remote freelancer, sometimes you get lonely. Sure, you may be surrounded by other great freelancers if you’re part of a co-working space, or have more leniency in your schedule to meet friends for coffee, but when it comes to running your business, you’re on your own.

My advice? Get help when you can.

Realize that no man is an island. The beauty of living in today’s world is that there is an answer to every problem you have, including lack of community. You just have to find that answer.

Here’s the positive angle on difficult clients: They can build your emotional resilience.

I’ve also learned that loneliness can often come when you’re not focusing your efforts on the right things. Maybe you feel alienated because the work just isn’t the right fit for you, and does not engage you enough to be a real stepping stone on your journey.

Ultimately, we’re all learning about ourselves, so practicing patience with yourself is something that you’ll definitely get tested on as a freelancer. Try to find and build community wherever you can.

Dealing with difficult clients

These can come in all shapes and sizes. Some examples of difficult clients include those who are unresponsive whenever you reach out, some that just don’t seem happy with your work (regardless of how many edits or changes you make), or others who are simply taking advantage of you and have not yet paid you.

Here’s the positive angle on difficult clients: They can build your emotional resilience. Thankfully, I now rarely deal with them, because I’ve learned to be very careful about who I work with, but I do find it interesting how we can often attract clients who, unintentionally, may help us resolve an area of growth we may need.

Once, for example, I got burned when I was asked to do a fairly large package of copywriting work for a brand’s birthday campaign. Time was of the essence, and I delivered a newsletter, promo copy, emails, and some product descriptions over the course of a few days.

It is easy to put the client on a pedestal and to put yourself underneath that pedestal. But it doesn’t have to be like this, even if you’re a new freelancer.

I had asked for a deposit up front, but as the launch of the brand was “imminent,” (or so I was led to believe), I let it go when the company didn’t pay me immediately. Surprise, surprise: To this day I still have not been paid and the brand itself has gone AWOL.

This was the first time something like this happened to me, but it was a good test and helped me shape aspects of my work, including my boundaries, what I should and will insist upon, and what I decide is acceptable for me as a business owner.

Many freelancers can make mistakes like this when they start out, simply due to a lack of confidence. It is easy to put the client on a pedestal and to put yourself underneath that pedestal. But it doesn’t have to be like this, even if you’re a new freelancer. Learn not to let others take advantage of you. Holding your own when it comes to dips like these can ultimately make you stronger.

Marketing yourself

Ironic as it may sound, though I am a marketer, I really do not enjoy marketing myself. I don’t mind sharing my articles, but I don’t want to become a sales channel on social media for my business. It doesn’t feel right to me — I’d rather just use my platforms to share what I am interested in, and be myself rather than pushing “a brand.” Branding myself feels too confining.

As a freelancer, you are allowed to have a wide range of interests and skills and to use your social media to promote them. I have learned that, by being a little more personal and focusing away from pushing a brand, you may connect with the types of people you want to work with anyway.

Freelancing brings an extraordinary sense of empowerment and freedom. You alone are responsible for shaping your destiny.

I recently had a consulting client that contacted me with the following message: “I wasn’t familiar with you before today, but after looking at a few of your tweets I think we might have a few interests in common (I am a Manc with a fondness for raving and healthy living!)”

This message shows me that sharing my interests on social media enabled me to connect with a potential client who was on my wavelength, and who I felt that I could actually help. Yes, I do want to work with people that like raving and healthy living (and no, the two are not mutually exclusive!)

If someone does not seem to understand you, on the other hand, they are not your client. This is something that has taken me a long time to grasp, after working with lots of people who really weren’t the right fit for me. That’s okay, because there have been plenty of others who were.

I’ve spoken about the dips, but what about the highs? And yes, there are many — I wouldn’t have stuck it out as a freelancer this long if not. Along with the benefits of working remotely I’ve written about before, freelancing brings an extraordinary sense of empowerment and freedom. You alone are responsible for shaping your destiny.

Did you earn £4k this month? That was all you. Did you get a positive testimonial? That’s awesome — your communication style is working, and you’re building relationships. Is your brain bursting with ideas, and suddenly you want to write? Great! This means your creativity is being sparked.

So go for it, embrace the rollercoaster ride and the highs and the lows that come with it. Use each positive and negative experience to build emotional resilience and stability. Freelancing can be an emotional journey, but it doesn’t have to own you. Ultimately, it can be a journey where you’ll truly learn about yourself, and realize that you’re capable of more than you ever thought.

Writing your brand story

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How do you tell a story?

You may not be aware of it, but we are telling stories all the time.

From the elevator pitch you do at a networking event, to the way you describe your day to your spouse, stories are the way we communicate.

To tell your brand story to a customer is all about showing them who you are.

It is to give them your 'why' - the reason why you're doing this in the first place.

  • What motivated you to set up your business, create that product, or provide that service?

Simon Sinek is one of my favourite experts in this area.

He wisely says: 

'Stories are attempts to share our values and beliefs. Storytelling is worthwhile when it tells what we stand for.' 

Your customers will be more loyal to your brand if you understand why you're passionate about it.

To write your brand story is to communicate to your customer as if they were a trusted friend- and tell them what emotionally motivated you to start your business.

For example:

'After much searching, I wanted to provide parents with a range of affordable yet stylish pushchairs that I just couldn't find anywhere else.'

'My own experience in recovery from addiction led me to study the psychology of addiction, and after I qualified, I decided to become a therapist in order to help others in my position.'

'We wanted to set up a sugar-free cafe as there was nowhere around near us that provided the kinds of guilt-free snacks we really enjoyed at home. So we're bringing our sofa comforts to you!'

When you write your brand story, start with why.

Detail your journey, much like a storyteller.

  • Describe the life situation you were in at the time
  • Tell your audience how you spotted an opportunity to resolve someone's problem
  •  Explain to them how that led you to set up your business

It's important to add emotion - tell the human-to-human story of what you were feeling at the time: 

'I realised that time and time again, the shoes I bought for my children just didn't meet their needs, or were poor quality. I was forever throwing them away. With this in mind I started to think about what an ideal shoe for them would look like - one that would work in all types of weather...'

If writing's not your strength, you can record audio or video, and listen back to it to help you. Imagine explaining it to a friend or a person you've just met, and notice the words and language you use. You can then use elements from the transcription to form your brand story.

Most of all, your brand story should grab the reader emotionally- they should identify with you as a person that's similar to them or understands them, and they should see you as a person that is ultimately trying to help them meet their needs.

Here's a brand story I did for baby brand moKee.

 

 

Want a remote job? 10 Facebook groups to join to find remote work fast

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'Where there is a will, there is a way.'

Let this be your motto for finding remote work. Even if you feel like the chances of finding remote work quickly are slim, don't let that be your mindset. Think abundance and you will find it!

Facebook groups are a great place to find a remote job for the following reasons:

- People spend a lot of time on Facebook

- People are very responsive

- It's a good way to put a face to a name, unlike a CV or resume.

When I first started looking for remote work, I joined all the digital nomad/remote work/telecommute Facebook groups I could find.  Here's a few (some are gender specific, sorry!):

1. Remote Work and Digital Nomads: 51,618 members

2.  Digital Nomad Jobs: Remote Job Opportunities: 26,714 members

3. Digital Nomad Girls Community: 17,165 members

4. Freelance and Telecommute Job Leads 1, 722 members

5. Female Digital Nomads: 34, 558 members

6. Remote Jobs and Coworking for Digital Nomads: 1,691 members

7.  Remote Jobs: 9,472 members

8.  Let's work remotely: remote jobs and digital nomad jobs: 19,723 members

9. Remote Work Hub: 5,262 members

10. Remote Work and Travel: 4,879 members

stats are correct as of August 2018

You have to be quick off the mark when applying, but scan these groups on a daily or weekly basis, and you'll soon find something that's right for you. Your dream job may feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but it is out there!

I'd love to know how social media has worked for you when creating your ideal work life.

If you'd like more specific advice in leaving your office job to become location independent, you can schedule a chat with me.

And if you'd like more resources, including a list of Youtube channels and inspiring books, check out Freedom Seekers.