Are you tired? Do you run a business? In that case you’re not alone. I’m constantly googling ‘ways to beat tiredness’ or ‘how to have more energy’. Then I remember I have two small children and I’m self-employed. Being tired goes with the territory.
Before anyone says it, yes, I know that combining children and employment is tiring too. So is staying at home with the kids. But running your own business brings its own unique challenges.
At some point, we all feel as if we might be invisible. Our Facebook posts sink without trace, blog posts are ignored and the phone never rings. You probably just need to improve your marketing, but how?
That’s when the doubts start to creep in. Maybe we’re just not cut out for self-employment. Why would anyone choose to work with us when there are better people out there?
I get it. Sometimes the ups and downs have nothing to do with the facts and everything to do with our own brains. So what can you do?
Everyone has tasks that they absolutely dread. They could simply be deeply dull. When I do something I find difficult it seems like I’m wading through mud. If I delegated to someone with a different skill set they’d be racing ahead.
Do you think of yourself as being part of a community? Sometimes it feels as if modern life is increasingly isolated and we’re all living in our own little bubbles. For me, that notion disappears as soon as I arrive at the school gates or my local toddler group. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of living in a village, although sometimes the level of gossip gets a bit overwhelming.
For me, building community means seeking out people who share my life experiences. I feel at home amongst other tired parents and busy business women. There’s just a level of understanding that makes communication more straightforward.
Increasingly, I’m finding my communities online as well as in the real world. That’s particularly crucial when it comes to business. There are a fair few self-employed people in my village but there are loads of them online.
Working from home can be hugely stressful. That’s not to say that working outside the home isn’t, the challenges are just a bit different. At least if you’re going out to work there’s a clear distinction between home and work. You’ve left the house and can’t be expected to load the dishwasher or hang the washing out to dry.
When your home is your workplace you can start to find that work tasks start to seep into the rest of your life. Often, that isn’t the real issue. You can start to find that you’re expected to do the household tasks or take phone calls from your friends and family because you’re “at home”. The fact that you might have a mountain of work to get through doesn’t seem to register.
So what can you do? There are, as you might expect, some practical things but you might have to have some difficult conversations too.
Do your blog posts go unread? Is your Facebook business page like a graveyard? If you feel like giving up on content marketing, you’re not alone.
Trying to market yourself on social media these days is an uphill struggle. Business related posts get thrown in with updates from your friends, other people’s adverts and viral cat videos. The nearest I’ve got to going viral was when my kids had chicken pox.
The rules are constantly changing. Even if you have amazing content it can be difficult to get anything seen, much less read. However, there is one simple thing that you can do to give your posts the best chance of being seen by your potential customers.
I know what you’re thinking. “But I’m great at multitasking! If I wasn’t I wouldn’t get anything done.” It might feel like that, but in reality the opposite is true.
Have you ever heard the term ‘context switching’? Even if you haven’t you probably do it all the time. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a piece of work and then you hear your email alert sound? It probably isn’t anything urgent and you know you could wait until you’ve finished what you’re doing. Yet somehow, you find yourself clicking onto your email to see what’s there. Does that sound familiar?
You might be surprised to know that even a few seconds looking away from the task in hand could really cost you in terms of time.
So you’ve decided your business needs a blog. Or maybe you’re just thinking it might. Congratulations! Writing a blog is one of the best things you can do to connect with your customers.
Blogging allows you to talk to your audience in your own voice about the things that matter to them. It’s almost sneaky when you think about it. A blog isn’t an advert; it doesn’t use the same language.
As I write this blog I’m imagining having a conversation with someone who’s thinking about working with me. It’s structured slightly differently, of course. You don’t have the opportunity to ask me any questions for one thing. Even so, I try to imagine what I’d say if you were sitting in front of me. What do you need to know? What’s going to help you the most?
What do I write about?
I know that a lot of people struggle to know what to write about at first. It’s always a great idea to start with your customers. What do they need? What are their pain points? For my clients it’s generally that they don’t know what to write about or they don’t have time to blog regularly. Sometimes it’s simply that they know what they want to say but when they write it down it doesn’t sound right.
Think about what services you offer and how that helps your customers. Your reader might not be able to afford to work with you yet but you can show them ways to improve things in the meantime. Do you take away the tasks they hate or give them more time to do the things they love? Write about the time saving tools you use in your business. Do you offer affordable childcare that gives them a few hours to work in peace? Suggest ways to help the kids play unsupervised without turning on the TV.
It doesn’t just have to be about pain either. You might offer something that will simply make them happy. If you can help them find the perfect gift for someone they love give them five ideas to get them started (for example five gifts for someone who loves yoga/gardening/mountain climbing… you get the idea). Of course, you could also be helping them with their pain if they normally find shopping really stressful.
Show some personality
Writing a blog with a bit of personality helps your customers to see that you’re a human being who understands them. Whilst you shouldn’t overshare, a general anecdote about something in your life is great. The vast majority of my clients are women who juggle running their own business with family life. We all understand about dealing with the school run and sometimes having to work when the kids are in bed.
Tell your story
If there’s an interesting story about how your business started, write about that. Even the things you think of as commonplace could be fascinating for your customers. How you choose fabric suppliers for your clothes for example, or how you go about making a teapot. Actually, if any readers make teapots, please share that, I’d love to know!
What’s everyone else blogging about?
Think about what others in your industry are talking about. What’s popping up on your social media feeds? Have a look on BuzzSumo or Google Trends to see what’s trending and offer your own take on the subject. The possibilities are endless.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s about your audience. You don’t have to write a novel, in fact it’s better if you don’t. No-one has time to read a lot, they just want something useful or entertaining (preferably both) and carry on with their day.
If you want to start writing a blog, but really don’t want to do it yourself, I can do it for you. Just get in touch and we can have a chat.