“When you undervalue what you do…”

“…the world will undervalue who you are,”says Oprah of the Winfrey.

Indeed, she is so very right, as always, I suspect. Sickening, really, people who are always right. It brings out the child in me.

images (2)

For my internal (now external) debate on whether or not I undervalue myself, blame Seth Godin, who kindly emails me every day with his thoughts, even when I don’t want to read them. This was from yesterday.

“Double and half (freelancer math)”      N.B. I think Seth means MATHS!

“Successful freelancers need to charge at least double the hourly rate that they’d be happy earning doing full time work. (In many fields, it’s more like 4 or 5x).

And they need to spend at least half their time getting better at their craft (and helping the market understand and appreciate what they do).

Your mileage may vary, but one sure route to becoming an unhappy freelancer is charging just enough and hoping that the low price will keep you busy all the time.”

See?

Accountant-Cartoon-728x520

I’m getting better at this but when I’m asked to quote for a job, everything inside screams, ‘Don’t charge too much! They’ll find someone cheaper. You won’t get the job.’ – so it’s a battle for me to come up with a realistic charge for my services and, yes, generally I DO undervalue myself and that means I don’t get paid as much as I might. Not that I’m an unhappy freelancer, you understand. My glass is always half full, or even overflowing, simply because I love my job.

But here are the recommended rates for freelance copywriters in the UK, as suggested by:

logo

Hourly: £30-£100 depending on experience.

Daily: £250-£800 depending on experience.

I AM very experienced. My clients come back to me again and again, because they know I produce top quality work on schedule or sooner and that I work weekends and through the night, if necessary, to get a job done on time.

I have never dared to charge more than £30 per hour.

There is this little niggling doubt in my head that I should rephrase that sentence starting,’My clients come back to me again and again, because…’ to incorporate the sentence, ‘I have never dared to charge more than £30 per hour.’

There I go. Undervaluing myself again.

download

I’m not alone, which is something of a relief.

images (1)

I’m not sure about the second half of that statement.

I rest my case.

“If you’re a good marketing person…”

“you have to be a little crazy, ” said Jim Metcalf. I can’t pretend to know who Jim Metcalf is. (Sorry, whoever you are).

Neither can I pretend to be a good marketing person. I can, however, vouch for the fact that I’m a little crazy. That’s what this last month has done to me. Sent me a little crazy.  Marketing and craziness – a chicken and egg situation?

download

Hence, no blogs recently. Not enough hours in the day or brain cells in the brain.

I’ve been researching in depth into the work of good marketing gurus. For which read, I Googled ‘good marketing’ which may or may not amount to the same thing.

One of them advocated this for novelists, in answer to the question how should we divide our time once the book is published:

70% for creative writing and 30% for promotion

(He forgot to mention the time needed to earn some money copy writing, unload the dishwasher, go shopping, walk the dogs, cook the dinner, clean out the chickens, exercise the horses, shave under the armpits, use the bathroom, sleep, breathe occasionally…you know, all those necessary little tasks which keep body and soul together).

il_340x270.522619243_o9z4

Image by Anthony Falbo

I am proud of the marketing I’ve achieved. It has been good marketing.

Endless word of mouth…

images (2)

A book-signing event which could lead to other book-signing events and, certainly, Of Night and Light to be stocked by W.H. Smith…

Book-Signing-5-12-14-300x225

Workshops at Bede’s School which will act as pilots for other workshops…

safe_image

Thank you to everyone for the huge amount of support you’ve given me. I’ve been humbled and delighted in equal measure.

And, you know what? I feel as though I’ve been fed through a mangle!

images (3)

Good marketing? Yep.

Time for creative writing? Nope. For NaNoWriMo – 15000 words. A small triumph in the circumstances.

And now…

More good marketing but DEFINITELY some writing, or my brain will explode.

And that could be messy.

Pay Per Click – a potential customer speaks out!

(A customer of products and services, not a customer of Pay Per Click!)

At a meeting yesterday, with a new client, website content, blog writing, SEO and Pay Per Click were discussed.

Pay Per Click? Not my area of expertise AT ALL.

download (2)

Let me tell you the effect is has on me, as a potential customer, when I’m searching for a product or service online, using Google:

I AVOID all the search results at the very top of the page with the little yellow icon telling me it’s an ad.

I AVOID the column of search results on the right hand side of the page which I assume are also ads.

I choose the sites at the top of the rankings that are NOT (apparently) driven by Pay Per Click.

My client, though he uses PPC campaigns sporadically – trying them out for a while then turning them off for a couple of months, then trying again – was of exactly the same opinion as me.

Don’t even get me started on Facebook ads…

images (1)

(I don’t!)

SO – out of my comprehensive poll of two people – that’s 100% completely ANTI pay per click, from a customer perspective.

The psychology of it? I’ve been trying to analyse it, from my own opinions. I think it’s because I object to being manipulated (ha ha ha in this day and age!) and I don’t like the idea that big players who can afford the allegedly outrageous costs for PPC seem to have an unfair advantage over the little people. This sort of search engine ranking, it seems to me, is nothing to do with the quality of the product or the service but simply a function of a marketing budget (or lack of one).

It’s like paying (or begging) for votes in a contest – so that the result is generated from a popularity contest not a reflection of merit.

Me and my innate love of the level playing field…

images (2)

But it must work for businesses, mustn’t it? Why else has it become a business in itself?

I began to wonder if I really understand PPC at all, from a business perspective, so I started reading up about it and I must say I glazed over in the first twenty seconds – until I found a website with a section entitled PPC University. NOW it begins to make sense!

However, even this site admits, “Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically.”

I’m sure this is why MY business isn’t busting out all over – doing well but could do weller!

But I’m comfortable with how I go about promoting myself.

And I’m not comfortable with the idea of PPC.

Good luck to me.

download (3)

It’s a jungle out there.

 

 

 

The blogs do work

Randomly as ever, my title about blogs was inspired by this wonderful (well, I think so!)  song by The Verve.

If you’re not now ready to throw yourself off the mantelpiece or drown yourself in a cup of cocoa – I’m pleased to report something. About blogs. One in particular.

images (2)

It’s received wisdom that blogs make a difference to your business. That’s if the content isn’t copied from another site, you update it regularly and whatever you write is engaging, fresh and relevant.

I blog every day, but I’m not selling anything – except, I suppose – me.  My blog is like Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way, morning pages. Or, in this case, evening ones.

It gets me writing. People like it. I don’t obsess about how many, how often and all that. I used to, but that was a slippery slope to insanity. The most important thing to me is that…

images (1)

Writing business blogs is slightly different. With a different outcome in mind, at least.

First the Great Google God loves the revived content. It can be an effective – and cost-effective – word of mouth marketing tool. (Perhaps it would be described more accurately as word of finger marketing?)

Blogs are the perfect opportunity to talk about products and services, share news and hype anything at all. It’s definitely handy for creating a buzz at a moment’s notice without the need for expensive mailing. Just keep it current…

images

I write a monthly blog for a food and wine importer. I’m being a bit secret squirrel about it, on the grounds of client confidentiality, since I write it as though it’s from the mouth (fingers?) of the company owner.

Since I started, in November last year, visits to the site have grown steadily, as have on-line orders. (Don’t ask me for the Google analytics, I’m just reporting what I’ve been told!)

In January, I wrote a piece about a particularly fine bottle of wine. Of course, I had to taste it. Quite a few times. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

To our delight, the blog was picked up by an award-winning magazine – and the wine, and concomitantly the company, was selected as Discovery Of The Month for May. Imagine the interest and the sales figures NOW

images (3)

See…as I said earlier…

The drugs don’t work. The blogs do.

The difference between Friday and a fried egg.

download

…I mean, Friday

Douglas Adams (my Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy hero) has something to say about this crucial fact in his book, The Salmon of Doubt

“For Children: You will need to know the difference between Friday and a fried egg. It’s quite a simple difference, but an important one. Friday comes at the end of the week, whereas a fried egg comes out of a chicken. Like most things, of course, it isn’t quite that simple. The fried egg isn’t properly a fried egg until it’s been put in a frying pan and fried. This is something you wouldn’t do to a Friday, of course, though you might do it on a Friday. You can also fry eggs on a Thursday, if you like, or on a cooker. It’s all rather complicated, but it makes a kind of sense if you think about it for a while.”

So now, everyone’s clear. Or not.

Friday, for many people, is that TGIF day, on the downhill slope to the weekend, unwinding, kicking back a little.

images (3)

For me, Friday is the  busiest day of the week, starting at 5 a.m. when I leap (stagger?) out of bed to sort out the dogs and chickens before I head off to a business networking meeting.

No fried eggs here, but scrambled. A bit like my brain cannot afford to be.

Sometimes, I wonder if it would be more useful and convenient if this particular occasion occurred earlier in the week, but, on reflection, it couldn’t be better, really.

It keeps me on my toes for the ENTIRE week. I have to be sure I’m in sparkling form when my form is protesting that surely it’s been sparkling enough for the first four days – that’s if I’m to stand a chance of a) making a difference to others b) generating more work for myself.

Today – and this was before 8.30 a.m. – a guest of mine, an osteopath/acupuncturist – decided to join the networking group, which will, I’m sure, give a boost to his business. And I now have a new client to work with – an accountant – with the potential of writing a regular blog and the content of his new marketing material.

So here’s a little bit of advice from me, given with the very best of intentions and absolutely NO pressure to take on.

take-my-advice-dammit

Make your Friday shine. It will transform your entire working week.

Pause you wretched weakling and take stock of your miserable existence

You are WRONG St. Benedict. Wrong, wrong wrong!

index

By Heidi Haverkamp.
Because it made me smile.

Well, mostly you are wrong, St. Benedict. Except for the need to take stock. Oh, and the need to pause.

The wrong bits:

  • I am NOT a wretched weakling
  • My existence is NOT miserable

So – I am getting loads of new commissions and interest in my copywriting. Loads.

images

JobS, actually.

This is wonderful. I’m very grateful. And, dare I say it?…Oh, okay then, I will…I am proud of myself. All this is as a result of my networking, sharing and marketing, which took courage for me to do. It doesn’t come naturally to me. (Perhaps St. B was right. Perhaps I AM a wretched weakling after all?)

It’s also to do with the quality of my work. No amount of interest will result in commissions unless the work is good enough. More than good enough. It has to be excellent.

As a copywriter, I have noticed there are two states of potential panic:

  1. When you haven’t got enough work
  2. When you have got enough work

images

I’m in sector 2.

I’m in danger of a bit of a meltdown – although my work will never be compromised, dear clients. Just – I won’t have a life.

Time to pause.

Time to take stock.

Time to organise.

There are many aspects to success

…material wealth is only one component. …But success also includes good health, energy and enthusiasm for life, fulfilling relationships, creative freedom, emotional and psychological stability, a sense of well-being, and peace of mind.

chakra-chakra-chakra

Yes, a thousand times yes, Deepak Chopra.

There are many aspects to success? Yes, and many achievements that can be called successes, even if other people look askance and think, ‘Call THAT a success? Well, Caroline, I think you’re really scraping the barrel here!’

Here are three of mine from this morning, all of which delight me.

1. Alfie the horse exploded (I should say, ‘literally exploded’!) on our lesson this morning, at the sight of another horse leaving the yard. He dived, bucked sideways and bolted. I lost a stirrup. SUCCESS – I stayed on and rode through it.

images

2. Rufus the dog is known for his love of playing hide-and-seek when it’s time to go anywhere. Especially when I’m in a hurry. SUCCESS – this morning he came to me when I called the very first time and allowed me to put on his lead!

index

3. I’ve been pitching for copywriting collaboration with an (extremely?) influential client. I didn’t know how it would turn out. I didn’t get flustered and just persevered. SUCCESS – I’ve impressed him with my sample piece of copy and he’d like me to work with him.

yaay__d_by_kowalskixdoris-d4up43w

by kowalskixdoris from Deviant Art

The many aspects to success.

Which one of the three pleases me most? They ALL please me equally, for different reasons.

That’s balance for you.

 

Copywriting resolutions

Copywriting resolutions? What, you mean, like, get more clients?

Nope, not for me – at least, not as a primary goal.

“A writer should be joyous, an optimist . . . Anything that implies rejection of life is wrong for a writer,” said George Gribbin, one time chairman of Young & Rubicam, the advertising agency.

Amen to that!

So – the first of my copywriting resolutions – Write  joyously.

spinning-donna-howard

Spinning by Donna Howard

Last year, I think I proved it’s possible to write joyously about mortgages, probate, wills and financial services. I loved doing that – so, in 2014, bring on more challenges!

“The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships” – from Leo Burnett, another advertising executive.

images

A fabulous description of the work, leading to the second of my copywriting resolutions – Write  boldly.

Last but not least…

index

Stop writing for peanuts!

Last year, I turned down two jobs – pay derisory… That might seem like a small thing to some people, but to me, a freelance writer, it was HUGE.

If you haven’t already, please read this excellent article by Linda Formichelli, The Renegade Writer and all-round guru (to me.)

On Writing For Peanuts

A little extract – “I do not believe that writers who work for cheap are depressing the rates for professional writers…It’s like saying that McDonald’s grill-jockeys are depressing the rates for master chefs.”

That’s me and my copywriting resolutions, then.

Write joyously. Write boldly. Stop writing for peanuts.

happy writer

 

 

Copywriting – the best job in the world?

“Work without love is slavery,” said Mother Teresa, I’m guessing not about copywriting.

Steve Jobs, not yet in line for sainthood, said this: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

Sometimes, when things get a little stressy, when I’ve got more copywriting to do than there are hours in the day…I forget.

index

I really do. I’m very lucky and I’ll never take that for granted.

For the cynics amongst you:

index#

Hah!

Copywriting is so varied,  sometimes mind-bendingly challenging, moving, funny, complicated, serious, joyful, dull needing sparkle…

I love playing with words…

Oise_Tounges_Pinball_Press

Playing with words – DDB Dusseldorf

and copywriting allows me to do that, all day, every day

AND get paid for it (mostly!)

What’s not to like?

Organising is what you do before you do something

…so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.

Wise words about organising. That’s from A.A. Milne. Winnie the Pooh. You know – a children’s book. I should’ve taken more notice when I was 6.

images

Pooh Bear organising a picnic

When I’m not very busy, I’m terribly organised. But then, I don’t have any need to be.

When I AM very busy, I do a lot of organising to make sure everything goes according to plan.

What happens is that the little things get missed off my list and they can have a HUGE impact. In fact, thinking about it, the little things don’t get missed off my list because they’re entirely unforeseen.

images

The presentation on Friday.

I’d done an inordinate amount of organising. Everything was set, just, even though the laptop seemed to be running at glacial speed. Minutes before I was due to start, I had A THOUGHT.

That thought was: “I can’t remember where I left my coat and handbag.”

That thought developed.

“Oh noooooo. My wallet’s in there. There’s a load of cash and my bank cards…I’ll have to cancel them. Driving licence. What a hassle that will be. And my mobile phone. All my contacts. Gone. And my car keys. How am I going to get to the funeral if I can’t find my car keys? How stupid I am. Why can’t I just be more organised? Pete’s always saying I’m an utter ditz. Well, he’s right, isn’t he? ”

So, when I started the presentation, I had to FIGHT to focus on it, not the whereabouts of my handbag and coat.

images

What’s that got to do with organising?

Everything!

The importance of being present.

There’s very little point in organising something so carefully and being so focused on one thing that you’re not present to the world around you and your actions in that world.

Ages and ages ago, I discovered a brilliant book about organising yourself.

It’s hard to make a difference when you can’t find your car keys

index

I worked with it for a while. Things were going better. Then I couldn’t find it…(don’t laugh!)

I’ve found it again, just now. I’m going to work with the ideas.

I want to make a difference in the world.