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Who’d be a business owning, Channel swimmer’s spouse?

Channel swimmer in action
Husband swimming the Channel – photo courtesy of James Spencer-Matthews

In case you’re reading that question and wondering what the answer is, well, it’s me. I would. You’ll hear lots of business gurus telling you that business success is all about you – how dedicated you are and how far you’re prepared to go outside your comfort zone to reach your goals. The truth is that it’s not always just about you. For me (and I’m guessing most of you) there are competing priorities. The people you love don’t revolve around you. They all have their own needs, ambitions and dreams that need to be recognised and included in your own plans.

Some of them are predictable, others not so much. Sometimes you have to shift things to let someone else live their dream. In my case, it came in the form of a Channel swimming husband.

The dream

My husband has been a swimmer all his life, but when I first met him, he mostly did it in nice warm swimming pools. Pre-kids I’d go along to some of the same training sessions, sticking to the slow lane while he zoomed along with the speedy people in the fast lane. I can’t say for certain when the Channel swimming dream was first mentioned, but his open water career started a long time ago. We used to travel to grand prix swims around the country at weekends. They were mostly good fun, apart from the Scarborough swim where it rained so heavily that the spectators got wetter than the swimmers did.

Somewhere along the way, the Channel started being mentioned. Then it got serious.

Channel swimmer training

It won’t surprise you to learn that Channel swimmers need lots of training, and not just on endurance and technique. You’re not allowed to wear a wetsuit, so you train to withstand the cold. You also need to sort your head out. Most people who pull out will do so because their brain told them they couldn’t do it.

Obviously, there’s lots of swimming in cold water. This is sometimes lovely – there’s a lake up the road from us where the whole family can go along. However, a swimmer’s need to train with other Channel swimmers means living with a man who disappears off to Dover for the weekend, or to a training camp in Croatia. I admire single parents generally, but never more so than during those weeks.

The stress

You might think that most of the stress of being a Channel swimmer’s wife is in the juggling. It isn’t really. He’s training for his third swim at the moment, so I’m mostly used to it. (Oh yes, did I mention that being a Channel swimmer is addictive? He keeps saying things like ‘five is a nice round number’.) The real stress comes when someone you love is swimming through a shipping lane. My logical brain knows that his support boat has a professional crew and two of his friends looking out for him. I reassure myself with the statistic that there have only been ten Channel swimming fatalities since 1926. Yet I still don’t breathe easily until he’s on dry land.

I know that most of you probably don’t have a Channel swimmer in the family. That’s not why I’m telling you this story. It’s because we all have things that we juggle and I wanted to you know that I get that. If you’d like to work with a writer who knows how life works for you and will help you tell that story to your own customers, get in touch and let’s have a chat.

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Case study: a Christmas blog for a non-Christmassy business

A Christmas blog for a locksmith - case study
Photo by Katrien Grevendonck from Pexels

How do you market your business at Christmas when your service isn’t seasonal? A Christmas blog sounds like a great idea but what on earth do you talk about? If the problem you solve could come up at any time of year, you might find yourself struggling to make it festive.

The good news is you just need a bit of lateral thinking. You might also need a writer who doesn’t work in your business every day.

The client

The client came to me through an SEO expert they’d been working with to improve their search rankings. They’re expert locksmiths based in Scotland and serving a clear geographical area, so their SEO campaign was helping them to build their local reputation. They wanted to let local people know about their employee credentials and show why their service was better than the competition.

They were already starting to see results and then came the question of the Christmas blog.

The challenge

The great thing about being a locksmith is that people could need your services all year round. This is good for business but not so great for your Christmas marketing. Do you ignore Christmas altogether or try to include it? The client had only just started blogging and didn’t want to lose momentum. They also realised that a Christmas blog would be more likely to attract readers. The question is, how do you make it interesting and relevant to your audience?

The Christmas blog solution

Luckily for the locksmiths, they were working with me, a writer with a strong lateral thinking streak. It turns out that people lock themselves out of their houses much more often at Christmas, simply because they’re distracted or out of their normal routine. There’s also the increased risk of burglary when your house is full of presents. We talked about simple solutions and included details of what a locksmith could help with. It was helpful and sent a clear message.

So, there you have it – a Christmas blog for a non-Christmassy business. If I can help you to create one of your own, email me or book your no-obligation discovery call here.

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Why I love being a VA

Guest blog from my VA Ann Hunt

You love what you do, and you are happiest at work doing all those things you love, but how much time is all the admin that comes with it taking? Is it leaving you drained and robbing you of your weekends and evenings that you’d really like to spend with family or friends and have a break from the job? Worse still, is it keeping you awake at night?

Apart from the fact that most of us have to earn a living to keep a roof over our heads, everyone is driven with different goals and dreams, to earn a certain amount, to have that dream house, to move to a certain area, buy that nice car, or to be able to travel are just a few. How lucky you are to be able to do that doing what you love to do.

Why I got started

After a health scare and a wakeup call, I am driven by time. I know just how precious time is and no amount of money can buy it.

This is where I get the passion to do the role I do. Taking away all the time-consuming admin jobs from my clients gives them back time to use more productively and frees up time so they can enjoy the weekend and evening as they wish. By achieving work life balance, they will feel more in control and less stressed and enjoy life and enjoy the success they have worked so hard to achieve.

Why you might need a VA

Outsourcing to a VA is not easy to do, your business is your baby, and no one else can do it as well as you can, damn right they can’t – but is your business doing the admin?

  • Cash flow is the most important thing in your business, when you can see clearly where you stand, what monies are coming in and what monies are going out, then business/cash flow improves.
  • Sending invoices out in time and chasing up late payments is the first thing that improves your cash flow, yet the longer you put this off the more overwhelming it gets = bad for cash flow.
  • If you are too busy to check your emails and you miss all important orders and enquiries, then again this will affect your cash flow as you will not have invoices to send, so no cash flow.

A good VA can be your accountability buddy, someone that wants to see you succeed, and will do everything they can to help you achieve your goals. She is not a competitor. She is someone who you can bounce ideas off and someone who will make suggestions, she is totally on your side.

It may take a little while to find that “right VA” for you, just as every business is different and has different needs, so is every VA. 

Why I love my work

I love working with my clients. Once we have done a bit of brainstorming, have systems in place that work for them and have everything organised, they feel that they’re back in control. Having gained their trust they know that all the admin behind the scenes is in safe hands, that is when I see their business thriving. The client is less stressed, so much happier and enjoying their business. When they have their evening and weekends free to do as they wish then I know that I am doing my role well and that I have achieved what I want from my job.

How nice to be able to kick off your shoes, sit back and relax knowing that all those boring admin chores are being sorted. One happy you and one happy VA.

Kirsty’s note

Ann is a brilliant VA (I can personally recommend her). If you think you might need some support, you can get in touch with Ann here:

Email: ann@ahsupport.co.uk

Website:    http://www.ahsupport.co.uk

 fb.me/annhuntadminassistant 

www.linkedin.com/in/adminann

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Are you ready to start planning your Christmas marketing?

A woman with hot chocolate getting ready to plan her Christmas marketing
Photo by Brigitte Tohm from Pexels

Yes, I’m publishing this blog in May. No, I haven’t lost my mind. If you’re still scarred by the ghosts of 2020, I wouldn’t blame you if you’re leaving your Christmas marketing until the last possible minute. Even the organized people who were sorted by April had to change everything in the autumn. I’m giving myself the gift of optimism this year and daring to hope that we might have a relatively normal Christmas. Even if we don’t, we’ve learned to adapt so we can still plan.

I’m not suggesting that you jump into content creation right now (unless you really want to). All the same, a bit of thought and planning now will make things much easier further down the line, plus you’ll have plenty of ideas if you need to get someone else (like me) to do the creating for you. So, here are a few things to think about for your Christmas marketing.

Start with a blog

You won’t be surprised to hear me suggest this. Even if Christmas isn’t peak season for you, a blog can be reused and shared throughout your marketing, so you build awareness. If it’s your busiest time, a blog gives you a central piece of content that you can break down and share as individual posts. It means you’re more likely to be found by people buying gifts, looking for inspiration or just trying to survive the Christmas stress.

Be helpful

I know that for most of you Christmas marketing is about making sales. That’s OK. The important thing to remember is that you’re more likely to make a sale if you’re being helpful. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Offer them a solution to a problem. That solution might end up with them buying something. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll have created a good impression and started to build a relationship that’s based on trust.

Ideas for product-based businesses

Need some ideas? No problem. If you’re a gift-based business, start by making gift recommendations alongside some lovely pictures and links to buy. You could create a whole series of blogs with gifts for mums, dads, aunties, little kids – you get the idea. If you have gifts for the person who has everything or is difficult to buy for, talk about that. You could even do a round up of Secret Santa gifts if you have lots of stocking fillers to share.

Ideas for business that create the perfect day

If you help to make Christmas easier or more enjoyable, talk about it in your Christmas marketing. Do you do home delivery, help with meal prep or offer gift wrapping? Can you suggest 5 ways to keep the family entertained when they’re full of turkey or sick of the sight of each other? Talk about ways to survive Christmas without getting frazzled or share expert tips for busy people. If you can make the whole thing less stressful, your customers will love you.

What if your business isn’t Christmassy?

Writing a Christmas blog for a non-Christmassy business takes a bit of lateral thinking. It starts with putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Can you offer tips to make extra family time less stressful? Could you help them avoid a Christmas Day emergency? Quick self-care tips are perfect for this time of year. You could just focus on fun – share some Christmas jokes or write a funny blog. My personal favourite is still this one I wrote for an insurance broker about insuring Santa.

Have I got you thinking? If you’d like to talk over some ideas and find out how I could write your blog for you at any time of year, you can book your free discovery call here.

Further reading

If you’d like to go a bit more in depth on the Christmas blog ideas, I’ve got a whole load of them here:

This is for you if your business sells gifts

If you help to create the perfect day

Or if your business isn’t Christmassy at all

You can also sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox every month. You can unsubscribe whenever you like and I won’t share your information with anyone else.

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How you can create seasonal marketing content (even if your business isn’t)

Spring blossom - how to create seasonal marketing.
Photo by Brett Sayles via Pexels

Is your business seasonal? You might have one of those businesses that gets incredibly busy in the run up to Christmas, so it makes sense to focus your marketing attention there. Maybe it’s less obvious, but if you look closer you might find patterns that repeat themselves across the year. Creating seasonal content for your business is a great way to stay in touch with what your customers need at any given time. If you can tune in to the things they’re thinking about you can talk about them in your marketing. Your customers trust you because you’ve shown you understand them and you’re much more likely to make a sale. How do you spot the seasonal elements in your business? Step this way…

Do you have a peak season?

Some businesses have a clear peak season. It could be Christmas for retailers or summer holiday sales for travel agents. (Of course, those bookings might start on Boxing Day.) Your business might have more consistent sales throughout the year, but with customers buying different things at different times. Think seasonal skincare – you might sell more sunscreen in the summer and more hand cream for fingers chapped by the cold in winter. What do your customers need as the seasons change?

Focus on a seasonal issue

Are there things that your customers only need help with at a specific time of year? For me and my primary age kids the long summer holiday has always been a challenge (though home school has made it feel like a picnic). Do you offer the solution to seasonal childcare challenges, buying the perfect Christmas present or getting the tax return in by the deadline? Show your customers that you have the solution to the thing they’re stressed about and they’ll love you.

Look at your best sellers

You might have products or services that people can buy whenever they like, but when do they actually buy? You could join a gym in November, but there’s something symbolic about a new year that spurs people into action. The same probably applies to books that help you discover the ‘new you’. Using these patterns in your marketing doesn’t just help you to sell more. It allows you to help the people who are already buying, by offering extra hints and tips.

Consider seasonal trends

If your business has been going for a while you might have a whole load of information about the way your customers behave. But what if you don’t? Maybe you’re a new business, have never collected much data or just haven’t spotted any patterns. Google Trends is your friend. Learning more about when people search for information helps you to target your marketing around the things they’re searching for. Visit Google Trends and search for keywords that relate to your business.

Other important dates

You can build your marketing content around almost anything seasonal. Talk about gifts for Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday or Easter. If your business has a sporting element you can focus on the major tournaments. There are increasing numbers of awareness days/weeks/months that you can talk about. One plea from me if you take this approach – please make sure it’s relevant. I’d rather hear from a brilliant baker on National Cake Day than from someone who just likes eating it.

Would you like to get next season’s marketing planned and created now? I can help! Book your no-obligation discovery call here or find out more about my services. You can also sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox using the form below.