I’m a bit late posting my round-up of February, which seems a long time ago now, strangely. But here we are, it’s March, we’ve actually spotted a big yellow ball up in the sky, my girls will soon be out of the house, at school, no longer demanding constant snacks and help with the printer.
I really found my rhythm in February. More running, less shouting at the kids (I think the two are linked) and a general sense of figuring stuff out.
Tackling imposter syndrome
One of the biggest problems with working for yourself is you start to listen to the voice in your head that says you’re not good enough. I was disappearing down the rabbit hole that is Instagram, comparing my feed to those of my competitors, wondering if I need to be louder, brasher, more fun. I don’t. I also need to spend less time on Instagram.
There’s a lot to be said for checking out your peers, but you need to do so with caution. Have a look at what they’re posting, look at what generates the best engagement, but then stop and come up with a plan that’s yours. It’s important because if you sound and look like everyone else in your field, you’ll just disappear.
Why I’m bored of Insta
I’ve concluded that Instagram is just a small part of my bigger story. I just can’t keep up with all the algorithm changes and I don’t want to become a social media manager. I’m a writer first, social is just a platform to talk about what I do.
So, my advice is to look at the bigger picture. Make sure your website is updated with regular blogs or articles, look at how you could use LinkedIn more (I found my best client here), Twitter is a great place to research trends and see what journalists are working on and I think Pinterest is often underrated as a generator of leads. This article goes through the best platforms for your industry. Also, consider how you can use long-form writing (or audio) as part of your marketing strategy: post longer features on your website or on Medium; write a guest blog post; create a newsletter with more in-depth content and a round-up of what’s intrigued you; take part in a podcast. And if you’re into audio and pictures, check out the new social app Beams.
Work that’s kept me busy (and sane) this month includes social media posts and strategy for Stansted Farm Shop and ongoing content creation for Parham House & Gardens – we’re working on a total overhaul of the website, which I can’t wait to reveal. I’ve also enjoyed editing the super-interesting weekly newsletter from branding and comms specialist AVM Consulting, which is always an excellent, long read.
So what does this month bring? I’ve signed up for a mobile video course with the lovely Lottie Stevenson. As everyone knows, video is a great storytelling medium. I want to learn how to create video content for my clients, but also pluck up the courage to post more videos myself. Watch this space!
I’m also feeling hopeful; excited about being able to fully focus on work during normal working hours, not at the crack of dawn or late at night. I’m grateful that some really interesting writing and content projects have miraculously landed on my desk – all varied, but lovely brands: tone of voice and content for a New York-based jewellery brand, PR and social for a vintage cycling event, blog writing and web copy for a London-based marketing agency. Can’t wait to share more when I can.
Whilst I’m desperate for lockdown to be over, I do think the last year has been good for people who work for themselves – firms have had to get rid of in-house marketing teams, so they’re tapping into the world of freelance creatives. It’s cheaper and more effective to pull together a dream team of solo consultants rather than investing in an agency, with all the associated (and often hidden) costs. So if you’re a writer/ marketer thinking of taking that leap, now’s the time to go freelance. And if you’re a business looking for talent, you know where to look.
That’s it – sorry, this was a slightly longer missive than I was planning. Have a great month everyone and don’t be a stranger….. drop me a line if you fancy a word. We could even meet for a coffee, soon. Crazy times.
WORDS OF NOTE
One of the funniest stories of February was when Texas lawyer Rod Ponton became trapped in a filter that turned him into an anxious-looking kitten, plaintively telling the judge: “I’m not a cat.” As India Knight commented in her brilliant article about the collective madness of lockdown: “Normally you might have chuckled for 10 minutes but, days after the event, even typing this out makes me want to cry with laughter.” I’m still laughing about it now, a full month later…. the lockdown loopiness continues.
Lockdown has not been kind to women. I’ve certainly never worked this hard. My ‘paid’ work happens before 9am and after 4pm, in order to fit it in around homeschooling. And then there’s the cooking and clearing three meals a day, the housework, the endless laundry. My husband is very hands-on and does help, but his job brings in more money than mine and therefore takes priority. This report, from UN Women, highlights the problem. And this one states women on average spend 4.1 hours a day doing unpaid domestic work, compared to 1.7 hours for men. Where’s the progress, girls?
Is anyone else finding the endless scroll on social uninspiring? I’m hungry for insight, for words that change my perspective on something, inspiration from writers who are not trying to sell me something. I’m after empathy. Apparently, it’s not just me. Brands have noticed, as illustrated in this brilliant article about the use of poetry in communication. It argues that people have had more time to contemplate what is important in life. They’ve had time to stop and think. Advertisers have read the room and realised that empathy is where it’s at with good communication right now.
WORDS I’VE READ
- Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens – powerful story, awesome twist
- Currently re-reading Any Human Heart, by Wiliam Boyd – one of my faves
Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses. Pheromones aren’t a myth. People decide if they like someone after just a sniff.