As we approach the end of another year, I paused to reflect on how much ‘being in community’ has helped me to grow emotionally and spiritually, and as a businesswoman.
But what do I mean by ‘being in community’? For me, it’s being an active member of a group that shares similar values. It’s being in spaces where I feel safe and have a sense of belonging. With lots of everyday demands and in the interest of self-care, I’ve had to be selective about how I spend my time.
Here are 5 questions I ask when choosing a community:
Do we share similar values?
If I’m investing time being involved in a group, it’s important that it’s about being supportive and celebrating each other. One of the things I’m most proud of when it comes to the Curvy Convo community that I created for plus-size women is how much we celebrate the achievements of our members Curvy Convo – Olivia Pitt. My ‘Keeping the Dream Alive’ coaching groups are perfect examples of this – check them out here: Group Coaching – Olivia Pitt. I also get that same experience in my early morning circuit classes. There’s no competition, just support and encouragement to give things a go.
What contribution could I make?
For me, it can’t be about just taking from the community. What could I bring to the table? What value could I add? My church community provides me with an opportunity to serve and lead, putting my skills, experience, and personality to good use. In networking groups, bringing joy has often been the most valuable contribution I could bring.
What could I learn?
Stepping into the role of being a businesswoman was alien to me after having been an employee for most of my working life. There were so many things I had to learn (and unlearn!), and I’ve been blessed to find a space in a business coaching group where I can be completely myself, unembarrassed about my lack of knowledge in some areas and fighting off impostor syndrome when it rears its ugly head.
How will it help me to grow?
I’ve been ‘doing life’ with other women of faith as a member of a mentoring group since 2014. This is where I learned about my identity and unique design. It helped me to understand myself a whole lot more than I ever did! I discovered that I am gifted in encouraging others. In the past two years, I’ve intentionally spent time with other women who share my gifting. This has helped me to confidently flow in my gifting, in complete alignment with my business as a Life Coach.
Can I really be myself?
In safe communities, I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable and let my guard down so people can see beyond the smiles and laughter. I’ve shown up at times when I’ve felt broken, rejected, mentally drained, a failure. In virtual spaces, I’ve done the makeup-free, braless in PJs showing up as well – this all counts!
So, my question is, are you in community? You don’t have to navigate life on your own. You have nothing to prove. There’s so much to be gained by meaningfully connecting with others. As you enter a new year, maybe it’s time to consider who you could ‘do life’ with. You might be the missing piece of the puzzle that the group needs. Go for it!
One of my favourite things about my work is the chance to learn about the different ways that creative people work. I loved art at school, but I know that there are artists and designers out there that are far better at creating visuals than I am. Hand me a pen and a notebook, and I’m happy. I don’t panic in the face of a drawing pad and pencil, but I might not show the results to anyone. It makes me happy when I see work from people who can make stuff look beautiful.
This means that I was thrilled when I met Christina from Goldfinch Marketing. She creates gorgeous designs, and she’s also brilliant at techy stuff. It all comes together in beautiful websites that Google will love as much as your customers do. She’s also very good at writing; in fact, she’s so talented I would hate her if she wasn’t also lovely.
This may have you wondering why she’d need me, a writer when she’s already good at writing. Read on…
I met Christina during lockdown when everyone was virtual networking; some of us were home-schooling too. She’s based in Dorset, so the chances of us running into each other in person were virtually non-existent. Like many of us, Christina had taken some time during lockdown to evaluate her business and work out what she wanted to spend her time doing.
She’d started Goldfinch Marketing to help her clients with all their marketing needs, whether that was a new website, graphic design or content writing. Her review told her that she loved web design and graphics work but didn’t want to do content writing anymore. That’s where I came in.
Christina had gradually reduced the amount of content writing she took on, but she still wrote blogs for one client. She told me they were lovely people she enjoyed working for and didn’t want to let them down. At the same time, she wanted to free up some time for other projects, so she wanted to see if I could take over writing a blog for them.
Of course I could. Writing their blog was right up my street; they’re a business offering a professional service, so they needed to share their expertise but didn’t want to be stuffy. I read the posts that Christina had already written to follow the same style and suggested some new topics. I also wrote social media edits for each blog post so that the individual paragraphs would work as standalone posts. The client was still happy, and Christina had time for other things.
If you need a new website, I recommend checking out Christina’s work here. Alternatively, if you want to outsource your content writing, either for yourself or one of your clients, let’s have a chat. You can book a call with me here.
Mary watched the fields flash past her window in a green blur as Sam steered the car along the narrow country road. They’d only just left the M1, but she already felt like they were in the middle of nowhere. Bliss. She flinched slightly as the branches of a dark green conifer clattered against the window. The sat nav announced their destination was half a mile on the left. Mary leaned forward in her seat, hoping to see the little house where they’d be spending the next three days.
She tried to forget how her mum had looked at her as they packed up to leave — disheartened and a little bit sad. Mary had known in advance that two days would be enough. Christmas Day with her parents and her younger sister was always fun, and she loved seeing the extended family on Boxing Day, but she knew Sam struggled. Her family’s Christmas centred around eating, drinking and watching TV, and Sam started to get cabin fever. They’d gone for a walk, but a stroll around a suburb was a long way from his childhood, spent climbing the Malvern hills whenever he got the chance.
Mary remembered her childhood Christmases when everyone had stayed together in her grandparent’s house from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. It had been heavenly when they were children, but now she wondered how the adults had managed to stay sane. Perhaps that was why her Dad and Uncle John had started drinking so early on Christmas morning.
Next year it would all be different.
“There it is!” Sam said, sounding as excited as a five-year-old. He indicated and turned off the narrow lane onto a block-paved drive. Mary sighed happily. The cottage was just as lovely as the photos suggested, with beautiful red bricks and fields stretching away into the distance. She turned to look at Sam, and her smile widened when she saw his face. He looked more relaxed than she’d seen him in months.
“It’s beautiful, Sam.” They climbed out of the car, and Mary stretched her arms upward, lowering them again to rub her back. “Oh, God.”
“What? You OK?”
“Yes, I’m just such a cliché. A little Weeble with an aching back.”
“You don’t look remotely like a Weeble. Much sexier.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. Remind me of that when we’ve got a newborn, and I feel like I’m made out of rice pudding.”
Sam looked down and rubbed her belly. “It’s a strange thought, isn’t it? Next Christmas, we’ll have a ten-month-old crawling all over the place.”
“Yep. Weird. Anyway, let’s make the most of the peace and quiet and get inside.”
“Your wish is my command, oh Weeble-ish one.”
Mary laughed, reflecting that Sam was lucky she hadn’t picked up her handbag, or she might have walloped him with it. She watched as he took their suitcase out of the boot, opened the passenger door and retrieved her bag from the footwell. They definitely wouldn’t be able to travel this light next Christmas. She realised they’d have the perfect excuse to stay at home.
“They’ve left us some teabags and milk,” Sam called as Mary shut the front door behind her. She smiled at his unerring ability to find the kettle wherever they went and followed his voice into the kitchen, where he was already rummaging in cupboards looking for mugs. “I’ll take the case upstairs when we’ve had a cup of tea. What are you smiling at?”
“The fact that nothing starts without tea.”
“Quite right too.”
She wrapped him up in another hug, stroking his cheek as she kissed him.
“Do I need a shave?” he asked, feeling for stubble.
“Nah, you’re OK.” She groaned as he rubbed her back, then felt him hesitate. “Don’t worry, that was a good groan.”
“Did you see the pictures of the bathroom?”
“With the lovely slipper bath? Yes. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to a proper soak. The only problem is, you might have to hoist me out.”
Sam tried and failed to suppress the snigger. “Sorry. Tell you what, let’s have tea, and I’ll check whether I’ve got a signal in case we need to call the fire brigade.” He ducked away as she tried to slap him on the shoulder.
Mary followed Sam up the stairs as he carried the suitcase into the main bedroom. It was glorious, with a king-sized bed and views out over the fields to the woods beyond. The listing had said that there were 14 acres of land across the farm, and they were welcome to walk anywhere they liked. Sam had put the case down and was gazing out of the window. She told him that she was going to run a bath and headed across the landing to the bathroom. The smell hit her before she opened the door. She hesitated, half wanting to know what was behind the door and yet not feeling ready to face it. She realised she was standing completely still with her hand on the doorknob and felt faintly ridiculous. Eventually, she decided to stop dithering and turned the knob, pushing the door open in a single movement.
It wasn’t the first time she’d seen a dead body. She’d been there when Sam’s mum had died eighteen months ago when cancer that treatment had held at bay for three years had finally overtaken her. This was different. Emma had looked peaceful. This man’s life had clearly ended with violence. Even if the rope hadn’t been left, tied tightly around his neck, his face would have told her that. Mary had always thought that people who found dead bodies screamed, but she didn’t feel the need. She was shaking, transfixed by the man’s contorted face.
“Mary? Are you OK? Is anything wrong with the bath?”
She almost called back to tell him that, yes, there was a dead body in it. That made her feel ridiculous, and she giggled, clapping her hand to her mouth at the inappropriateness of it all. She turned and headed back to the bedroom. “Don’t go in there,” she said, “because there’s a dead man in the bath.”
“What? Are you kidding?” He turned to look at her and realised that she wasn’t. “God, you’re shaking.” He took hold of her and sat her down on the bed. “You’re sure he’s dead?”
Mary nodded. “We need to call the police.”
DI Fitzgerald and PC Jones had been impressively efficient, arriving within an hour of Sam’s call, shortly followed by a pathologist and two forensics staff. Mary sat on the sofa next to Sam as DI Fitzgerald asked her to tell him about her discovery. She’d been surprised at how easily the details came out; the smell, the position of the body and the cord around his neck. Fitzgerald had nodded encouragingly, watching her with his piercing blue eyes. She wondered what it would be like to be a suspect facing that searching look.
“That’s excellent, Mrs Collins, thank you. Can I ask, have you ever seen him before?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“What about you, Mr Collins?”
“I didn’t see the body. I’m a bit squeamish, to be honest.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a cough from the doorway. The pathologist had appeared and asked to speak to DI Fitzgerald. They disappeared into the hall, and when the police officer returned, he was smiling.
“I have some good news for you. We’re ready to remove the body. It looks like we might have a possible ID. You’ll be relieved to hear that I won’t be asking you to view the body, Mr Collins. Hopefully, you can both have a restful night, even if you don’t fancy a bath.”
Mary groaned, “I was looking forward to that.”
Fitzgerald smiled. “A warm bath was the only thing that helped my wife’s backache when we were expecting. The forensics officers have almost finished with the bathroom, so we’ll be out of your way shortly.”
Mary and Sam wished the departing officers a happy Christmas as the last cars pulled away from the house.
“Alone at last,” Sam said. “They were a lot quicker than I thought they’d be. Are you OK?”
Mary nodded. “I’m fine, and surprisingly hungry. What have we got for dinner?”
A large pizza, garlic bread and ice cream later, Mary lay back on the sofa, rubbing her belly. “I think the baby likes pizza; she’s kicking like mad.”
“Don’t you mean he?” Sam teased, sitting down next to her with a glass of red wine. “I’m sorry you didn’t get your bath.”
“I don’t mind. I’m just happy to be here, just the two of us.” She lifted her glass of elderflower fizz and clinked it against Sam’s. “Here’s to the next adventure.”
“Cheers,” Sam replied. His face creased with concern as they heard a knock at the door. “Who can that be? It’s pitch black out there.” He heaved himself off the sofa and put his glass on the table.
Mary felt a shiver go through her. She felt that something wasn’t right, and got up and followed him, reaching the door just as he opened it.
“Mr and Mrs Collins? I’m sorry it’s taken us so long to get to you. It’s been a busy night.”
The two police officers extended their warrant cards into the light.
“A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” ~ Harvey Mackay
I like this quote for its optimism; you can dream, but you only get somewhere when you make a plan and hold yourself accountable for each step. If you’ve planned your goals for the next 12 months, your next step will be creating a marketing plan to help you hit them.
The question is, does your marketing content align with your targets? When you match your marketing to your business goals, you’re more likely to achieve them. Here’s my guide to the types of content that will help you at each stage of the customer journey.
To grow a business, you need to make sure that people have a) heard of you and b) understand what you do. SEO plays a big part here; it lets people find you via keywords that describe your business. Personality-filled, shareable blogs and social media posts will help you to reach more people and stay at the front of their minds.
It’s also worth creating guest posts for other sites and collaborating with other businesses. My favourite local café hosts workshops and shopping events, and it helps everyone involved grow their brand awareness.
This is the stage where you want people to move from knowing who you are to having a conversation so they can decide whether they like you. Asking conversation-starting questions works well here. You can do this in your blog, on social media posts or ask for interaction on your Stories. You can also invite viewers to ask their questions on live videos.
People are more likely to buy things that their friends like, so ask people to post pictures of themselves with your products.
Lead generation is just a fancy term for encouraging them to opt into a closer relationship where they hear from you more often and start thinking about buying. Asking people to sign up for your email list is an excellent first step, as you can send them an email series that shares everything they may not have known about your business before. You can offer a helpful freebie, such as a checklist, eBook, video tutorial or a free trial to encourage them to sign up. Sharing case studies on your website and social media can help as they show your results.
Small business owners often struggle with this, but selling doesn’t have to mean pressuring someone into buying. All the work you’ve done to build a relationship means that your audience knows how you can help them; they just need to take the next step.
Sales content needs to take away any doubts people might have. They might need to understand the process or get more details about the product before they buy. Use your content to talk about the benefits and your process, and include technical information as bullet points in your product descriptions. Sharing reviews and case studies lets them see that you’ve delivered for others.
One final thing. Don’t forget to follow up after the sale to help them get the best out of what they’ve bought. Offering hints, tips, or extra support maintains the relationship and makes you memorable.
Do you want to match your marketing to your business goals? I can help with that. I create content that speaks your customers’ language. Book a call to find out how it works.
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