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How I learned to be honest with my clients

How I learned to speak out and be honest.
Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

Starting out in business is a huge adventure. I was so excited that I’d finally get to work on my own terms and write for a living. After a while I realised that, while things were going well, I felt as if I was wearing a mask that didn’t fit. When I was a lawyer I started working part time after my children were born and I did the same in my business. But somehow, the way I talked about my boundaries had changed. As a paid employee I had no issue with saying “I don’t work on Fridays” but somehow I couldn’t be that honest as a business owner. It was as if I had to deny that my children had any impact on my working life. I felt as if I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I was a part-timer. Here’s what changed things.

Realising that my clients were parents too

When I started my business I expected to work with people who’d appreciate the expertise I’d developed in my legal career. I understood how lawyers and insurers think and knew how to translate that into language their clients would understand. As it turned out, that isn’t what my clients have in common. I certainly work with people who work in insurance and law, as well as loads of other types of business. A lot of them are sole traders. Even more are parents and that’s how the penny dropped. They chose to work with me because I understand the juggle. My client calls typically start with a chat about the family before we get down to business. If a wheel falls off somewhere we both know we can be open and honest about it. It makes for much better relationships all round.

Needing to practice what I preach

The next thing I realised was that I was writing content telling people that they needed to be themselves in their marketing. Sometimes the thing that makes a new client choose you over someone else offering the same thing is, well, you. I once asked a client for some feedback to help me understand what they valued and what they thought my strengths were. In response to the strengths question they put “your personality – show more of it!”  That was ages ago but it’s stayed with me. I realised that while I’d relaxed a lot I was still afraid to show my full, slightly geeky, personality. It’s still a work in progress but I think I’m getting there. The main thing I learned was that I couldn’t ask my clients to come out of their shell if I didn’t do it myself.

Making honest connections

One of my favourite things about this job is learning new stuff. I’ve thought about focusing on one sector a few times but it never lasts. If you get a gathering of copywriters the conversation will often turn to the weirdest thing you’ve ever written about, or the most boring, or just the things you never expected to learn about.

Of course, when it comes to finding the right clients, that’s not the only important thing. I’ve wondered whether I needed to actively like my clients, but I don’t think I do. (Although it would be a problem if I really couldn’t stand them.) If I’m going to write in your voice, we need to have a rapport. That’s definitely not going to happen if we can’t be honest with each other about who we are and what’s happening in our lives.

Do you need some help telling an honest story in your marketing? Book a no-obligation call and let’s have a chat. Alternatively, you can sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips to your inbox every month.

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Is it ever OK to use jargon in your marketing?

Frustrated by too much jargon.
Photo by Yan from Pexels

When it comes to marketing, I’m a big fan of keeping things simple. Let people know that you understand the problem they’re experiencing and show them how you can help. Of course, there are loads of different ways to do that. That doesn’t just apply to the hundreds of platforms you could choose to share your message. It also applies to the language you use. Every business has its own jargon, no matter what industry you’re in. The real question is, how much of that jargon should you share with your customers? When you use insider language you run the risk of driving potential buyers away, simply because they don’t understand what you’re on about. Here are just a few things to think about when it comes to using jargon in your marketing.

Is it really jargon?

Firstly, let me be clear about what I mean by jargon. For me, it can be two different things. Firstly, there are technical terms that a specialist in your field would use. It could refer to a stitch you use when you’re creating something out of fabric or a silversmithing tool that’s designed to complete a gorgeous piece of jewellery. It could also be shorthand for a legal or accounting rule.

The second kind of jargon is the type that we all hear more often. They’re the kind of buzzwords that we feel we should probably understand but don’t. We might have a vague idea but not a detailed one. Some people love them, others find them annoying. If you follow me on social media, I share one of these every month to see what people think of it – I’d love you to join in if you’d like to.

Who are your audience?

There is one kind of audience where using jargon is not only fine but downright useful. That’s when the people you’re talking to are in exactly the same business as you. This can also extend to well-informed amateurs too, particularly if you’re talking about cake making or selling craft supplies. When I was a lawyer, having a shared language meant that you could get straight to the issues in a case because you both understood the rules. I didn’t fully appreciate how useful this was until I encountered lay people who were representing themselves. Everything took three times longer.

If that doesn’t apply, consider whether your audience will understand the terms you’re using. Get too technical and they may feel you’re blinding them with science. That only serves to make you less relatable. Use too many irritating buzzwords and they might feel you’re downright untrustworthy.

We’ve all had enough of buzzwords

Buzzword bingo can be an entertaining way to get through a dull meeting, but I generally feel as if we’ve all had a bellyful of them this year. There seems to be a new one every week. I shared my least favourite Coronavirus buzzword a while back (unprecedented, in case you’re interested) and asked people to share theirs. There were loads and every share made me groan. There weren’t just buzzwords but whole phrases that would once have seemed caring but now just make people want to vomit.

It’s made me question every single ‘I hope you’re well’ and come up with new alternatives to ‘in these strange times’. If I’m honest, I haven’t found one I’m completely happy with. It’s become even more important to use straightforward language that helps us to be understood.

If you need no-nonsense marketing copy that speaks your customers’ language, get in touch! Or sign up to my mailing list for handy hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.

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Are you speaking your customers’ language?

Speaking your customers' language helps you have really interesting conversations.
Photo by Anastasiya Gepp from Pexels

Have you ever read something that was so far above your head it might as well have been an aeroplane? Did you look at the opening sentences and realise that it meant absolutely nothing to you? Believe it or not, this can be a good thing. I know a lot of small business owners get worried about using language that will exclude potential customers. The truth is, if you’re specific about who is most likely to buy you can talk to them in a way that will resonate. They’ll read your stuff and think ‘this person really understands me’. That’s when they become a customer. If you read something that really isn’t for you, you can move on. Hopefully that’s what it was designed to do. But if you’re not speaking your customers’ language it means you’re not reaching them in your marketing. Here’s how to put that right.

Is your customers’ language formal or informal?

The first thing to work out is how you want to talk to your audience. Your brand identity will be a big part of this. Do you need to be taken seriously or can you have a bit of a laugh? Of course, there are no absolutes. Even professionals like accountants or lawyers are allowed a sense of humour. You might be an expert who’s trusted because you use straightforward language and don’t try to bamboozle clients with loads of jargon.

Think about how you’d talk to a customer if you met them face to face and take it from there.

Are your customers experts?

I ask this because speaking your customers’ language means meeting them where they are. If you’re a physiotherapist writing something for other medical professionals you can assume they’ve got a fair bit of pre-existing knowledge. A beginner’s guide to human anatomy would just come off as condescending. If, on the other hand, you’re talking to people who don’t know anything about what you do, using industry jargon will just lose them.

It’s all about finding the right level for the audience you want to attract.

Which platform are you using?

The language you use should stay consistent across all of your platforms – up to a point. If the way you come across on your website is totally different from how you are on social media or in person, you’re only going to create a massive disconnect. Doing that means that your customers don’t know which version of you to expect. You end up losing the trust you’ve taken time building.

However, there are different ways to express your personality. Your website should be professional but you can still show the same sense of humour that you have on social media. It’s just more relaxed on social.

What are you trying to achieve?

This is the really important bit. When you talk to your audience, what are you trying to achieve? How do you want them to see you? Professional but approachable, friendly, fun, trustworthy? Do you want them to respect your expertise but still feel they can talk to you as a friend? I suppose the real key is to think about what your audience needs from you. What do they need to know about you to take the step from social media follower to customer?

When you learn to speak your customers’ language that’s really what you’re doing.

Do you need help speaking your customers’ language? Whether you’re looking for sparkling web copy, product descriptions and blogs to promote your business this Christmas, or new marketing for the New Year, I’m here to help. Book your discovery call to find out how refreshing your copy can help you communicate with your audience. Or just sign up using the form below to receive copywriting tips and advice straight to your inbox every month.

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How you can write product descriptions that sell

Product descriptions
Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

When you sell products online you might think that the images you use are the most important thing. Of course, if your images are rubbish you won’t sell much. Your customers need to be able to see what they’re buying and imagine themselves using it. The thing is, the photos are only one part of that. Your product descriptions take it to the next level. The words you use allow your customers to create their own mental images. They take the photos you’ve used and imagine themselves using your products or handing them over as a gift. It doesn’t just show them what they could have, it allows them to see themselves as if they’ve got it already. When you use product descriptions that conjure up the feelings your customers will experience when they’ve bought something from you, that’s the magic that persuades them to buy. Here’s how to do it.

Include the basics

I shouldn’t need to say this, but a high street retailer recently lost an online sale because their kids’ shoe sizing didn’t tell me whether the shoes would fit my child. I know. Don’t let that happen to you. Include basics like price, size and the materials or ingredients used. Some customers will message you to ask, but most won’t. They’ll just go somewhere that has clearer information.

Talk about benefits

Pretty much every sale ever made happens because the person buying the product can see how it will solve a problem or improve their life. Think about how each product will help your customer. It could give them a tidier house, entertain their children or save them time when they’re trying to get out of the house in the morning. Show them what it would be like if they had this product in their life and they’ll bite your hands off to buy.

Engage their senses

This can be a tricky one, but it’s another element that engages your customer’s imagination. Help them to experience a physical sensation or an emotion. How will that gorgeously soft scarf feel when they wrap it around their neck? Let them imagine the joy on their child’s face when they open the perfect gift on Christmas morning. (Or possibly the early hours if we’re honest.) Letting people see what life will be like when they’ve bought a product increases the chance that they’ll actually buy.

Make it scannable

Some bits of your product descriptions work best as a short paragraph. For others, make a list. If your products have features that are likely to be really important to your customers, make them easy to spot.  You might want to highlight safety features, eco-friendly credentials or high quality ingredients. It also makes your product descriptions shorter and easier to read. No-one wants ‘War and Peace’ when they’re just doing a bit of shopping.

Tell a mini story

Telling a mini story isn’t essential to good product descriptions, but it can work really well. For example, if you use materials that have an interesting back story, why not mention it? Talk about the tweed you bought from a family who’ve been making it for a hundred years and how you brought it home to create a handcrafted bag that will hold every working day essential. Tell your customers about the people who create your favourite wine or that extra special cheese. If it taps into something your audience cares about it can work really well.

Do you need help writing your product descriptions? For a limited time only, I’ll write them for you! Get ready for Christmas with brilliant product descriptions that you can use on your website, in your social media posts, emails… pretty much anywhere you like. Click here to book your discovery call to find out more. Or sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.

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Are you taking your customers on a journey?

Take your customers on a journey.

I know, I know, I sound like I’m about to start banging on about the X Factor or something. Not a chance. My Saturday nights are currently spent watching the Marvel movies with the kids. (There’s also the fact that watching Chris Hemsworth unleash lightning is much more my idea of fun.) When I say journey I mean the one that takes new people from finding out about your business to becoming a customer. It’s always important to get this right, but when your customers are already gearing up to buy their Christmas presents it’s absolutely essential. So, here’s my guide to getting it right.

Are they ready to buy?

The first time someone lands on your website they’re probably not going to be ready to hand over their hard earned cash. There could be any number of reasons for that. They might be in the research phase, looking for ideas so they’ve got a few options to consider. Maybe it’s not a decision they can make on their own or perhaps they’re just waiting for payday.

Your website copy needs to tell them they’re in the right place, but what then? How do you prevent them from wandering off and never returning? Encouraging them to sign up to your email list or follow you on social media means you get to stay in touch.

What if they have questions?

So, you have a potential customer looking at a product they really like but they need to know more before they buy. Put as much information as you possibly can in your product descriptions (along with a bit of personality). Don’t be the person that loses a sale because you didn’t display the price or because you were vague about sizing. (That sounds obvious, but even major retailers get it wrong.)

There will always be customers with questions so make it easy for them to ask. Have a contact form on every page or make sure your Messenger button is clearly displayed. Part of a successful journey is making it simple to answer queries.

Making it easy

This might sound obvious, but if you want customers to buy you need to make it as simple as possible. The last thing you want is for their customer journey to end because they can’t find the ‘add to cart’ button or don’t understand how to order. If you offer a standard product, this should be relatively easy. Where there are different options on a single product you can include a drop down menu on the order form. If it’s something truly bespoke, is it simple for customers to start a conversation?

It’s simple really. If it’s easy for your customers to place an order, you’ll get more customers.

What next?

Once people have bought from you, what then? Do you want them to wander off into the ether, never to be seen again? The truth is that it’s easier to convince someone who’s already bought from you to do it again than it is to find a whole new customer. You’ve already taken them on the journey, built the trust, wowed them with your service and sent them a product they love. If they’ve already signed up to your mailing list or follow you on social it’s easy to stay in touch. Tell them about other stuff you think they’ll like. (How to do that without being cheesy is a whole other conversation, but if you need help with it get in touch.)

Is your website ready for Christmas? If your product descriptions could do with some extra shine book your discovery call to find out how I can help. Or sign up to my mailing list for writing hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.

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Why your website copy matters

Getting started writing website copy.
Image by Bongkarn Thanyakij via Pexels

Creating a website for your small business can be pretty daunting. If you’re doing it yourself you need to decide which platform to use and how to make it all look great. If you’re not, there are loads of different professionals out there who will build it for you, but which do you choose? Even businesses who employ web designers to create their site for them often decide to write the website copy themselves. After all, how hard can it be? Or how important is it really? Here’s why your website copy matters and why you need to get it right.

You need to talk to your ideal customers

When a new visitor lands on your site you have less than 15 seconds to show them they’re in the right place because you have what they need. That means it isn’t about you. It also means that you need to use language and images that speak directly to the kind of customer you can help. I know that small business owners are sometimes reluctant to do this. They worry that they’re excluding people. The truth is, if your website tries to talk to everyone you don’t hit the mark with anyone. When you’re specific about who your products and services are for you’ll get customers who love what you do and that you’ll enjoy working with.

You need to sound like you

Your website copy will work better if it’s in your voice. OK, maybe a polished version of your voice. Your personality might be the difference between a website visitor choosing you or someone else. The way you do this in practice depends on how you work. You might want to sound professional and approachable, completely down to earth or a total eccentric. It all depends on your brand and how you want to come across. It’s especially important if your service means they’ll deal with you one to one. If there’s a massive disconnect between how you come across on your website and the way you are in person you can lose the trust you’ve spent time building.

Using keywords well

I know we’ve all heard about SEO and the importance of targeting the right keywords so you get found in searches. The thing is, the way you use keywords in your writing is really important. There’s no point using all the right keywords to bring people to your website if the site itself is unreadable twaddle. There used to be a school of thought that website traffic was the only important thing. It resulted in lots of blog posts and website pages that made no sense. Thankfully, times have changed and Google now prioritises content that’s actually useful. Your website copy should include keywords but the most important thing is that it’s easy to read and helpful.

Focus on what’s important

As I said before, your website isn’t about you. It’s really about your customers. You might be incredibly excited about the new product or service you’ve created and want to tell everyone. That’s great, but you need to pause. Ask yourself what your customer will get out of this. What are the benefits? How will it help them go from having a problem to an easy life? Your copy needs to show them that. It needs to take their aspirations, values and beliefs about themselves and wrap it all up in one clear message. When you can do that, you show them that you understand them on a personal level. That’s what turns them into customers.

Does that sound complicated? If you need some help, get in touch. I can help you edit what you already have or write your website copy for you. Alternatively, sign up to my mailing list for handy hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.

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Christmas in September? Are you kidding me?!

The adventure begins - Christmas in September
Photo by Simon Migaj from Pexels

I know you probably don’t want to think about Christmas and believe me, I’m with you. All the major retailers can do one until after Halloween. But we can’t do that. When you’re a small business owner the best time to think about Christmas is July. Or April. Or maybe even January. Certainly any time other than December. Yet that’s what so many of us do. Here’s why you need to need to resist the urge to say ‘bah, humbug’ and get into the Christmas spirit as soon as possible.

This year needn’t be a write off

There’s no denying it, 2020 has been monumentally crap. I don’t normally use even the mildest swearwords in my blog so you can tell it’s bad just by that. We’ve all struggled in different ways. Yet there have also been bright spots. I’m not going to rehearse them all here – for one thing, I’ve no desire to create something that could be used on the BBC with some inspiring music behind it. I’m highly tempted just to pull the duvet over my head and wait it out until spring. The trouble is, I’d miss the chance to make the best of the last bit of the year. We don’t know what’s going to happen next but we can still make a plan to end the year on a high. If the plan needs to change, that’s OK. We’ve spent the year practising for that.

If thinking about Christmas is taking you back to early lockdown, don’t worry. There were lots of businesses worrying about being seen to profit when others were struggling. Selling Christmas gifts could bring those feelings out again, but it shouldn’t. You’re helping to make people happy and putting food on your family’s Christmas table. There’s nothing wrong with that.

You can share some Christmas cheer

The other good thing about planning for Christmas is that it will make people happy. There’s been a whole heap of doom and gloom but I’m starting to hear people get cautiously excited about Christmas. We’ll almost certainly have to adapt to whatever the rules turn out to be. Our expectations have probably already been lowered but we can still have some fun. The days leading up to Christmas feel different from the rest of the year. They’re just a bit more sparkly. That’s true even if you’re stressed out with kids, shopping and running a business.

There won’t be Christmas fairs and school plays this year. I’ve no idea whether Santa will have a socially distanced grotto. But the lights and Christmas trees can still go up and you can make your social media feed a winter wonderland. (If you feel like it.) We’ll all be looking for new and different ways to find our Christmas spirit and your business can contribute to that.

You don’t have to have a Christmassy business

If you’re reading this thinking ‘hang on, my business doesn’t sell anything to do with Christmas’, don’t worry. You can still have some fun. Show people what you’re up to, even if it’s only with photos of Christmas jumper day or the office tree. There are even ways to create a Christmas blog post that will give your audience something to think about or make them chuckle.

Of course, you could even turn the whole thing on its head and say ‘bah humbug’. There would be plenty of people agreeing with you and you might even make them laugh. If it reflects your sense of humour you could find yourself with a whole new audience.

If you need some help with your Christmas marketing I’ve got two useful things for you. If you don’t have the time to plan and write your own Christmas marketing, I can do it for you. I’ll write 24 social media posts to take you from 1st December to Christmas Eve, along with a Christmas themed blog post tailored to your business. You supply the images and I’ll do the rest. If you’d like to find out more book your no obligation discovery call here.

If you’d rather do it yourself you can buy my eBook with ideas for posts from 1st December to Christmas Eve, here. Or sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox.

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Why small businesses shouldn’t do clickbait

Why small businesses shouldn't use clickbait
Photo by Lisa Fotios via Pexels

You’ve seen clickbait even if you’ve never heard the word before. You might even have clicked through. They’re those posts with headlines like “you won’t believe what this 80s soap star looks like now” and “the groom burst into tears on his wedding day – the reason will shock you”. The dictionary definition talks about content that’s designed to attract attention and encourage people to click through. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? As small business owners we’re all trying to create content that will bring engagement to our social media platforms and visitors to our website. But if you’re tempted to attract visitors with clickbait, don’t. Here are just a few reasons why.

Your business depends on trust

One of the biggest problems with clickbait is that the preview that persuades you to click rarely matches the content. Plenty of stories are emotional but it’s rare for something to be genuinely shocking – if it was it would probably be headline news. The trouble with clickbait is that it gets plenty of traffic by promising something sensational but usually doesn’t deliver. That’s fine if your business generates revenue by having lots of channels and plenty of people who want some mindless fun and are willing to click through to get it. Small business owners don’t work that way. We have limited time and resources and our marketing needs to build trust. Throwaway articles just don’t do that.

You won’t get the visitors you want

How do you build trust with your customers? You post useful content that helps them solve problems and demonstrates your expertise. An important part of that is making sure that your blog’s headline tells them what to expect. Imagine if the headline to this post had been ‘doing this will DESTROY your business’. Then you click through and find out it’s about clickbait and think ‘I’d never do that anyway.’ The contents of this post aren’t going to be useful to you at all. With the current headline you might have clicked through because you’d considered trying some clickbait or because you’d never thought about what the issues could be. Either way, I hope you’re learning something. Being upfront in your headlines mean that you get the visitors you can actually help.

Google hates clickbait

If you’re writing a blog because you want to make it easier for people to find you in a search, getting lots of traffic really helps. It would be easy to think of clickbait as a great way to do this. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong kind of traffic. When Google sends its spiders out to rank your site, it doesn’t just look at the number of visitors you get. It also looks at bounce rate* and visiting times. If someone lands on your site, looks at one page and leaves, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They might just have been looking for your contact details. But if lots of people do it? It tells Google that visitors aren’t spending time reading your content so it’s much less likely to be authoritative and useful. You really want people who spend a few minutes reading and maybe clicking through to look at other things.

Do you want to know what really works? Writing useful content that helps your audience. That way you can demonstrate your expertise so your readers start to trust you enough to become customers.

*The number of visitors who only look at one page on your site before leaving.

If you need any help with that, get in touch to see how I can help you write content that speaks your customers’ language. Or sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.

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How to structure your blog post to get more readers

Planning your blog post structure.

You might think that the way you structure your blog post isn’t that important. You couldn’t be more wrong. What you write is really important but the way you set it out is, possibly, even more crucial. If your blog post is one big block of text, guess what? Your readers will switch off and go somewhere else.

It’s also worth remembering that people don’t always read everything you write. (I know, it upsets me too.) They might have found your post looking for one quick piece of information. If you structure your posts to make things easy to find, your readers will love you (and possibly bookmark your post for future reference). Here are just a few of the basics.

A good headline

I’ve started with this because it goes at the top, but it’s a good idea to review your headline once you’ve written the post. Clickbait is annoying so make sure your headline reflects what you’ve actually written. This is especially true of titles that start with things like ‘5 tips’ or ’10 things’ (these are great as they also give you a built in structure).

Using power words and emotional language in your headline helps your readers to engage. Words like ‘you’ or ‘your’ helps them to feel that you’re talking to them. You can test the emotional value of your headline using the Advance Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer and get some ideas for power words in [this handy list from CoSchedule.

Introduction

A good introduction will get your reader hooked and wanting to read more. Opening with a question often works well because it either gets people nodding or shaking their head straight away. It has the added benefit of weeding out anyone who doesn’t need your help because they just stop reading. You could also start with something surprising or controversial that leads into your topic. The most important thing is to give readers a preview of what you’re going to talk about. It helps to build trust because it shows your readers you know what you’re talking about.

Subheadings

Subheadings are important for two reasons. Firstly, Google likes them. It shows structure which suggests that you know your stuff. It also helps readers who might only be looking for the answer to one question. If you’ve planned a post with a specific number of tips or recommendations, your subheadings can just be a list. If you’re describing a process that needs to be done in a particular order, you can list out the steps and use those as subheadings. Otherwise, plan out what the post needs to cover so you can focus all of the relevant information within that section.

Conclusion

What do you want people to take away from this blog post? Briefly summarise what you talked about so the overall point is clear. You could also list key points or actions readers can take next. Also consider including a call to action. This could be a prompt to sign up to your email list, a question for readers to answer in the comments or anything else you’d like. The idea is to encourage readers to engage further with your business so that you can keep building the relationship and encouraging them to become customers. Practicing what I preach, I’d like you to come away from this understanding that building a clear structure into your blog posts helps to make them user friendly and easy to read.

If you’ve written a blog post that you’re not happy with, or would just like to hand the whole thing over, please get in touch. I can write your blog for you or help you to edit one you’ve already written.

Or you can complete the form below to sign up to my mailing list for monthly blogging and marketing tips straight to your inbox. You’ll also receive a free copy of my guide to getting your business seen online as a thank you.

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Why I’m thrilled we’re going back to school

A thrilled mum whose kids have gone back to school.

Lockdown has brought challenges for all of us. It’s made us more aware of what we actually need in our lives. Everyone’s experience is different. You might have struggled with isolation, or you could have the opposite problem. One of the strangest things for me, as someone who’s used to working at home on my own, was the sudden invasion of the rest of my family. In fact, I’m still sharing the office with my husband. The biggest challenge of all was home schooling. I’m not sure I can actually call it that if I’m being totally honest. I don’t know if my kids learned anything from me. It’s been a tough time and I’m absolutely thrilled that my two have gone back to school. This is why.

Mental health

The thought of schools closing sent me into a blind panic. My work relies on peace and quiet, especially when I’m getting into a new project. I made a plan of things I could do at the kitchen table while the kids got on with some work, thinking I could organise my way out of it.

I couldn’t.

The one thing I didn’t take into account was how much time I would spend supporting my anxious children. Sometimes they’d cry. Other times they’d just hide in their bedrooms or spend an hour and a half procrastinating over a five minute task. The truth is, they were sinking. Home and school don’t normally overlap this much. Home is a safe place where they get to play. It isn’t me handing out handwriting practice. My youngest went back to school for three weeks at the end of term and he was like a different child. Even though school was different, he thrived on regaining some sense of normality.

Mum guilt

Guilt is a familiar concept to pretty much any working mum. Everyone’s coped (or not) in their own way. I’ve spoken to plenty of business owners who have basically ignored their kids. School work generally depends on the child accessing what school have sent without much supervision. I felt as if I was doing a half-arsed job on everything.

Some of my friends talked about what a privilege it was having their children at home so they can teach them. That made me feel even worse. There have been some silver linings, but mainly I just wanted my happy, clever kids back. I couldn’t deal with my own thoughts and stresses about the situation. How do you support the people you love the most if you can’t even function yourself?

A functioning business

I’ve been lucky. We’re a self-employed household but my husband’s work has continued from home. We’ve had to make decisions based on finances but we’ve never been at risk of homelessness. There’s also the fact that lots of my clients went quiet just when I needed them to. The projects that they might have called me about were put on hold. It might have been a struggle financially, but at least it’s given me the time to focus on the things that really needed my attention.

Now the country’s opening up, I’ve started to get busier. There have been a few mornings where I’ve abandoned the kids to the TV. It’s been the only way to keep things going. Cue more mum guilt. Going back to school means that they’re spending the day with people who are there to take care of them. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling massively relieved about that.

I’m telling you this story because I know I’m not alone in having these struggles. My clients have them too. Talking about the things you share with your customers helps you to build trust. If I can help you find the right story, please get in touch. I speak your customers’ language.