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Are you setting boundaries between your personal life and business marketing?

The image shows a laptop, book and phone wrapped in chains. This is setting boundaries at its least technical and most extreme.
Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-android-smartphone-on-top-of-white-book-39584/

I’m a big believer in sharing some of your life in your marketing. Here’s why. The question is, how much do you share? It’s one thing to give your audience a glimpse behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean giving them access to your entire private life. Everyone is different; what’s right for you may be inappropriate for someone else. Here are some of the things I thought about when I was setting boundaries between my marketing and life behind the scenes. I hope they help you too.

Can you talk about work?

I ran a blogging workshop at a business retreat a few years ago and one of the attendees told me that she couldn’t talk about her day job. At all. She’d signed a non-disclosure agreement. She was building a business on the side and could talk about that but couldn’t share any anecdotes about her work history or experience. It’s an extreme example, but if you work with sensitive information or have a duty of confidentiality towards your clients this could be an issue for you. The problem is that case studies are a great way of showing future customers the kind of challenges you deal with. I often share an anonymised version of a case study in these circumstances. If it’s something distinctive or highly personal I’d still recommend contacting the client in case they recognise themselves.

What do you want to protect?

Your family might support you in your business but that doesn’t mean they want to feature in your marketing. My husband has appeared in the background of a few Zoom calls, but he’d be deeply uncomfortable if I put him on Instagram. I talk about my children because it helps me to connect with other business-owning mums, but I never share images of them or mention their names. This is the kind of boundary that it’s best to set by having a conversation with the people closest to you. My kids aren’t old enough to consent to be on social media, so I don’t put them on there. That’s why I acknowledge their existence but don’t share details.

You might think this is a small issue, but it can cause rifts if you make assumptions. (Google ‘why don’t we see Aimee Osbourne’ if you don’t believe me.)

Setting boundaries around personal details

Setting boundaries isn’t just about protecting your family members and throwing caution to the wind when it comes to your privacy. On a practical level, sharing too much personal information puts you at risk of identity theft or being scammed.

You might have started your business because of something you went through and want to help others with. Connecting with your audience might mean sharing some incredibly personal details. You might be talking about your experience of baby loss, medical treatment or mental health issues. Your audience might read about your experience and emotions and be relieved that they’re not alone. At the same time, you might feel that some details are too personal. Remember, it’s your decision. If it feels like too much, leave it out. I know you want to help your audience but think about what’s right for you too.

Do you need some help creating marketing with the right boundaries? I can help with that. Book a call here and let’s have a chat. Or, sign up to my mailing list for blogging and marketing hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.

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Why you need to show your life in your marketing

A woman celebrating - you can put life into your marketing too.

You’ve probably seen loads of marketing advice telling you that you need to share your knowledge and establish yourself as an expert in your field. That’s all true. When you have a small business, you need to go one step further and share a bit of your life with your customers. The big brands can build a corporate image around their values, but you need to show your audience who you are as a person. Here’s why you need to put some of your life into your marketing.

It makes your audience feel part of something

Content marketing is designed to help you build a relationship with your audience so that they’ll buy from you. When your marketing creates a community, it helps your audience feel as if they’re part of something amazing. That might happen because of chats in the comments on your posts or what you share in your Facebook group.

The easiest way to make your audience feel included is by giving them a glimpse behind the scenes. If you create products, you can share videos or posts of you making something. Someone might see the work in progress and decide they must have the finished product! Case studies are brilliant if you’re like me and offer a less visual service. You can show prospective customers the process so they know how you work and can read about the results.

Shared experience connects you with your customers

Maybe you started your business because you came through a challenge and wanted to help other people do the same. Your story needs to be central to your marketing. It shows your customers that you understand what they’re going through because you’ve been in their shoes. You can build trust by talking about your experiences. This is particularly good for business or health coaches, personal trainers and parenting experts.

Showing your life and the experiences you share with your customers can also work in another way. Whilst it might not be directly relevant to your business, sometimes you just want to work with someone who’s on the same wavelength as you or support their business. I work with lots of business-owning mums and it gives you a shorthand that makes communication easy and fun.

Sharing your life shows people you’re human

When you spend time running a business online, you’ll inevitably come across people who forget you’re a human being with feelings. They think that those nasty comments will bounce off (if they even think before they type). Sharing posts that show people what your life is like when you’re not at work helps to remind people that you’re a real person. It could also help to distinguish you from another, similar, business. I haven’t had anyone tell me they want to work with me because I’m a rugby fan so far, but you never know!

One word of caution; use posts like this sparingly. Every so often is fine but your customers aren’t your friends. They don’t need 500 pictures of your baby, cute puppy or to hear about how hungover you are. Just an occasional reminder that you have a life outside business.

Are you ready to put some of your life into your marketing? I can help with that. Book a call here and let’s have a chat.

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Why you need to start using emotional marketing

A woman experiencing emotional marketing.
Photo by Ekaterina Bolsova via Pexels

Does your marketing get in touch with your customers’ emotions? I don’t expect you to have them sobbing into their cornflakes all the time, but emotional marketing can be incredibly powerful. The adverts that you remember are the ones that made you feel something. Think of that McDonalds Christmas ad that made every mum wish her children would stop growing up so fast and you’ll get what I mean. Emotional marketing doesn’t have to be hysterically funny or make your audience cry to be effective. Here’s why you need to start thinking about your customers’ emotions when you create your marketing content.

Know like and trust

You may have heard this one before, but the know, like and trust factor is one of the key things you need to build if you want a successful business. People are learning to trust their local small businesses, but they can still be wary of handing their money over to someone who might disappear into the night. If you regularly share marketing content that shows your audience you’re a real person they’ll start to trust you. Make it something human and relatable and they’ll start to like you.

The great thing about emotional marketing is that you can be yourself. That might be terrifying, but it helps you to attract your kind of people. Your marketing makes them feel seen and understood. We’ve all learned the value of community over the past two years; emotional marketing can help you to build a community around your business.

Decisions come from the heart as well as the head

Have you ever made a logical decision then hesitated because it didn’t feel right? Or had a gut feeling about something that eventually proved to be correct? Our brains process emotional information far more quickly than facts. In fact, emotions bypass the logical part of the brain altogether. It means that emotional marketing helps you to create a great first impression before your customers know anything else about your business. They might still make a list of pros and cons, but it’ll probably come later. Or be completely irrelevant if they don’t like you.

That doesn’t mean that your marketing has to be ‘likeable’ as long as you make your audience feel something. Creating a connection is the most important bit.

Emotional marketing can be used in different ways

As you might expect, different emotions get different results. Negative emotions are more likely to encourage people to take action. Content that makes them laugh or feel happy is more likely to be shared. Your business will influence the kinds of emotions you want to evoke, but it’s important to include a mixture. You might help people with a challenge that makes them feel stressed or anxious. Maybe you want them to think about something difficult that they didn’t know about. It doesn’t mean that your marketing needs to be relentlessly depressing. You can still share the positives. This is particularly true if you’re showing your audience the before and after – more on that in a future post.

Are you ready to get some emotion into your marketing? I can help with that. Book a call here and let’s have a chat about how I can help you.

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Case study – creating flexible packaged services for Fishers Solicitors

Flexible packaged service case study

My work with Fishers Solicitors’ started thanks to a conversation about my packaged services at a networking event. If you’re at all familiar with my work, you’ll know that’s a common occurrence. I’m usually involved in the conversation in question, but this time I wasn’t. That’s the beauty of networking with people who remember what you do. One of the partners at Fishers was talking about marketing and the fact that their marketing manager often needed members of the team to write blogs. The trouble is that busy solicitors generally have more pressing demands on their time. It was proving to be a struggle. I was swiftly introduced for a chat with Chloe, who co-ordinates their marketing.

The challenge

When I spoke with Chloe it soon became clear that they needed more than blogs. Like a lot of professional service businesses, they had access to a bank of articles that they could share but they also needed content that was unique to them. The practice covers a range of different services so they have plenty to talk about. Chloe told me that she gets lots of content ideas from the different teams but that execution is an issue. They struggle with formatting and getting their message across in the right way. She wanted to create a discussion-based blog that is topical and pushes their strategy. They’re also regular contributors to a magazine where they answer a legal question each month and want to add new content to their website too.

The solution

My packaged services are built around creating a set number of blogs each month. However, they can also include other types of content too. While Chloe wants to build an effective blog to build Fishers’ reputation and position them as thought leaders there’s more to it than that. Since we started working together, I’ve written blogs, a new page for their website, a magazine Q&A and a news item that can also go out as a press release. Chloe and I speak once a month and she introduces me to other members of the team so we can have a chat. That means they can just tell me what I need to know in a few minutes, rather than trying to write content in a way that’s completely new to them.

Does your business need flexible content at a predictable cost? I can help with that. Just email me or book a chat here.

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Do you ever feel you’re pulling yourself in different directions?

A woman going in different directions.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I don’t think I’m alone in having a lot of different things in my life. We’ve all got those metaphorical balls (the ones we juggle, but occasionally the other kind too). There’s all the life stuff; the home, partner, kids, family and friends. Delete or add as applicable. I keep finding myself saying ‘let’s have a catch up soon’, then organising a coffee takes about a year. That’s even before I get to the bit where I run a business too. You’ve heard all this before, I know. The only reason I’m talking about it now is because I seem to have had an influx recently. There’s been more paying work, which is extremely lovely. Conversations about self-care seem to have become a thing too. As I write this the words of a wise woman telling me I’m hearing it for a reason are floating at the front of my brain. There have been new ideas that I can’t seem to make a decision on. Then there have been people asking about my book. Have I told you about the book? Maybe I haven’t, so let’s start there.

It’s always been about the book

Before I had the faintest idea that I might write content marketing for businesses, I wrote stories. I know that we all did that at school, but I carried on. Ideas for crime novels pop into my head at regular intervals. The one I’m working on now existed as an idea for a few years before I started making some notes, writing random scenes as they occurred to me. When I was a commuter I wrote on the train. Now I’m editing; it feels as if I’ve rewritten the thing about eleven billion times but I could be exaggerating. It’s a murder mystery, set in Leicester and I’m almost ready to send it out into the world.

I think I might be scared

There’s the problem, you see. I feel as if everything has been pushing me towards this point. Even the self-care conversations, because I know I need to look after myself to deal with whatever different thing comes next. It’s also why I keep getting new shiny ideas. A bit of me wants to get on with it. A much bigger bit is utterly terrified. What if it’s rubbish? (Apparently most first novels are.) There are characters inspired by people I love and tiny snippets of my life in those pages. It feels personal. The other nagging feeling is the fact that being a published novelist is my dream. I don’t know what happens next if the dream comes true. Will my life still be my own if I take it in a different direction? Will I become a magnet for trolls on Twitter? No idea.

What shall I do next?

This is a silly question, isn’t it? I need to finish the two little edits that are bugging me and send my manuscript out for someone else to read. I’ve got friends who’ve offered and I know where to get a reader’s report. An author friend (yes, I have one of those) even got me an email address for a published crime writer who’s happy to look at a couple of chapters for me. So, I know the answer to my own question. I just need to get on and do it.

Why am I telling you this story? It’s because I’m a writer and that’s what I do. I can help you find the right story to tell in your marketing so you can attract wonderful new customers. If I can help you with that, let’s have a chat.

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5 ways to turn your blog into digital products

Digital products - creation in progress.
Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA from Pexels

I resisted creating digital products for ages, mainly because I’m a service-based business and I love working with people one to one. There are many business gurus who will tell me it’s inefficient, but it makes me happy. At the same time, I realise that there are people who need something different. Who aren’t ready to work with me yet but might be one day. Lockdown changed my view too. I realised that there was very little point in me talking about staying visible if I didn’t give people tools to help them. It prompted me to create an eBook that people could buy, even if money was tight, that would help them to DIY their content.

If you’re ready to create some digital products but don’t know where to start, here’s my quick rundown of some products you can create from information that’s already hanging around in your blog.

Turn it into an eBook

Your blog posts share your expertise and helps your audience and an eBook does the same. You might wonder why anyone would pay for an eBook when they can read your blog for free. The answer is that it’s more convenient; all the information is in one place. I created my blog topics eBook using several different posts and adding new content. I’m turning a series of blogging tips into a book too – sign up for my email list and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Create a course

I know everyone seems to have a course these days, but your audience will buy from you because they know you. They’ll also pay for the benefit of being able to ask you questions (without feeling silly) and get guidance that’s tailored to them. It’s just like an eBook except you can help them put the knowledge into practice. You can create an online version, offer face to face training or both, it’s up to you.

Make some checklists

You might feel awkward about charging people for these, but they can be helpful. Turn a blog post with a step-by-step process into a checklist, then people can follow the steps and tick them off as they go. It’ll help them to stay organised and avoid overwhelm. You could sell them alongside other products, like a course or eBook, or even use them as a freebie for your email list and make them paid later.

Put together a template

Templates are brilliant for people who are trying something new and want a bit of help. Sometimes turning a blog post into a template is easy. If you’re talking about what to put in an email newsletter you can create a template that shows people how that might look. You might need to be more creative; if you’re talking about creating something decorative, could you make a template or pattern to give other crafters a guide?

Create a bundle

You might end up creating several products that help your customers to achieve one result, in different ways. People could sign up for a course and get a checklist and template as part of their materials. You could add them to an eBook as a bonus or a thank you to VIP customers. Alternatively, you could just advertise them as one big bundle; you only have to make one sale, but you earn more from it.

Are you ready to create digital products or start a blog? I can help with that. Take a look at my blog writing packages or book a call here and let’s have a chat about how I can help you.

Would you love to get more content writing and marketing tips like these straight to your inbox? Would you like to know when my book for blogging beginners is ready? You would? Then sign up to my mailing list using the form below. I hate spam and you can unsubscribe any time. You’ll even get a free copy of my eBook ‘Stop hiding your business’ as a thank you from me.

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Why I wish we’d stop comparing COVID-19 to the Blitz

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I was listening to the news recently and heard Michael Rosen talking about ‘that’ Downing Street cheese and wine party that wasn’t a party. As you might remember, Michael is a poet who was hospitalized with Covid-19 and spent several weeks in intensive care. He compared lockdown to the blitz during World War 2. Here’s the quote that stuck with me:

“Instead of the equivalent of wreaths at the Cenotaph, what we’re getting is ‘oh, we were partying while you were doing that’.”

Michael Rosen

It bothered me and I couldn’t work out why. Then I realised that we’ve been hearing this kind of Blitz spirit stuff all the way through lockdown. It’s the people who say you’d never have survived if you’re hoarding toilet rolls or can’t even cope with staying at home. They say that everyone pulled together and no-one was out for themselves. The trouble is, it’s rubbish.

Michael Rosen was right

When Michael Rosen was talking about the Downing Street gathering, he referred to the social trauma that we’ve all been through in the last two years. In that sense, it’s a fair comparison. We’ve been isolated from our loved ones and faced huge uncertainty. We’ve longed to get back to normal (whatever that might mean). There has also been fear. We might not have faced being sent out to a foreign battlefront, but we’ve certainly dealt with the reality that a bomb might drop in viral form.

We don’t know what the long-term impact of Covid-19 will be. The Blitz generation grew up (and grew old) in a world very different from this one. I’m still absolutely certain that comparing our society to that one isn’t helping.

People cheated during the Blitz too

The reason I have a problem with the whole idea of a modern day ‘Blitz spirit’ is that it glosses over historical reality. There’s a nostalgia which imagines that every generation before this one was somehow perfect. We’re fed a wartime image where every neighbourhood pulled together. The trouble is, not everyone did. There were lots of examples of neighbours looking after each other and community groups organising resources and support. But then, as now, there were plenty of people out for themselves too. The blackout provided plenty of opportunities for crime. People behaved badly when they got the chance because they didn’t know when the bombs would drop. Even fundamentally decent people found ways to bend the rules. Which reminds me…

The rules are different this time

Covid-19 brought a set of rules that separated us from our loved ones so we’d all stay safe. In the 1940s my dad didn’t see his parents for months at a time because he was in a ship on the Atlantic. Near the end of his life, he told me that every day had been a bonus since then. He knew that a torpedo could come through at any moment and it would all be over. The difference was that when you got the chance to let off steam, you could do it in a crowd. The party that’s unforgiveable now would have been part of life then. The trauma might be the same but we processed it differently.

Why am I telling you this? It’s because even though no two lives are the same, we’ve all got shared experiences and it’s important to talk about them. You might not think that your personal stories can translate to your business marketing, but they can. If you’d like to find out how, send me an email or book a call and let’s have a chat.

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How to write your website homepage

Photo by Monoar Rahman from Pexels

Your website homepage is the main point of entry for new visitors unless they’ve clicked through to read a blog post. It’s one of the most powerful tools you have for attracting new customers but it’s also easy to lose people if you don’t get it right. A website is an ever-evolving thing that you change as you learn more or your business changes, but here are just a few homepage basics to get you started.

Show visitors you have what they need (or not)

When a new visitor lands on your homepage you only have a few seconds to make an impression. It’s important that your headline shows them you can help. It could be as simple as saying who you work with and what you do. If you sell products you could start with images and a bit of explanatory content like ‘beautiful jewellery handmade in the UK’. If that’s what they’re looking for they’ll stay and dig deeper. They’ll leave if it isn’t for them and you’ve only lost someone who wouldn’t have bought anyway.

Show your human side

Even huge corporations have photographs of the people who run the show and it’s even more important when you’re a small business. Showing your face and those of your team (if you have one) helps your future customers to trust you. Include an image along with a brief bio on your home page and you start building a relationship straight away. Your home page shouldn’t be weighed down with too much text so add a click through to your ‘about me’ or ‘meet the team’ page for more.

Make information quick and easy to find

When you write your website homepage, give your visitor enough information but not too much. Put important stuff near the top then work down. (Beyond making sure visitors know they’re in the right place, there are no hard and fast rules. It’s one of those things you can play with and test over time.) Easy navigation is also key. If someone knows exactly what service they want, help them find it. If they need help working it out, signpost them to relevant information; that could be key blog posts, FAQs or a questionnaire.

Include testimonials

If you’re starting out you might not have testimonials yet, but they’re so valuable. They let potential customers see that you’ve helped real people like them. You’re not just telling them you’re good. It works on social media too – you’re much more likely to buy from someone if you can see that your friends like them as well. The technical term is social proof – it’s the digital marketing equivalent to asking around. Start gathering testimonials as soon as you can – I’m rubbish at this so it’s advice for me as much as you.

Contact details

This seems stupidly obvious but make it easy for people to buy. If you have an online shop this should be simple but if you don’t, show people how to book your services. Make it clear and straightforward on your homepage. Also, let people know what to do if they have a question. Give them a contact form. Put your email address or phone number in a prominent place and ask them to use that. This doesn’t just help them – it means that when you get questions you won’t miss them.

Are you trying (and struggling) to write your website homepage (or the rest of your website content)? I can help with that. Just click here to book your no obligation chat.

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3 ways you can put your personality into your marketing

Photograph of Kirsty France, demonstrating how to put personality into your marketing.
Photograph by Amber Gosden

It’s a cliché for a reason – people buy people. Most big brands don’t build themselves around the personality of the owner, but small businesses like ours have to. It can feel utterly squirm inducing to put yourself out there in your marketing, but it’s worth it. Your personality is the biggest difference between your business and every other similar one out there. Need more convincing? Read this. If you’re already sold on the idea of putting more of your personality into your marketing, read on. I’ve got some great ideas to get you started.

Write the way you talk

Grammar is a slippery little beast. I know the rules which means that I can bend and occasionally break them for effect. (Like starting a sentence with a conjunction – my ten-year-old was horrified by that one.) The great thing about content writing is that the overall effect is more important than sticking to the rules. You can write the way you speak and your content will often be better for it, as long as it gets your point across.

If you find it difficult to sit down and write, start by recording yourself. Imagine you’re explaining something to a customer and go from there. You’ll be able to hear the phrases you naturally use and include them in your writing. You can then edit your writing yourself or send it to someone like me.

Show your face

If this idea makes you want to hide under a rock, I get it. I’ve built up my confidence over time but there are still days where I’ve planned to go live and talk myself out of it. The reason I do it is because it helps people get to know me. When you show your face, it gets more personality into your marketing. It makes it more likely that people will pay attention because they recognise you from earlier posts or face to face networking. You stop being a faceless business owner and turn into someone they can trust.

The easiest ways to show your face involve video, whether it’s live, prerecorded or a reel. Plan what you’re going to say then just press the button and start talking. The more you do it, the easier it gets. If you really can’t face that yet, start with photos that have you in them and build from there.

Tell a story

The human brain loves stories. We associate them with happy childhood memories or good times with friends. Telling a story in your marketing can put your audience in the main character’s shoes or give them insight into your life. (Which gives them another opportunity to see you as a real human being.) Case studies are a great way to do this as you can tell them the story of someone you helped who is just like them. They can identify with their struggles and see you as the solution.

Sharing a story from your life is ideal if you share common ground with your audience. You might have been in their shoes in terms of life experience, for example as a parent. You could also have felt the same emotions, like overwhelm or imposter syndrome. It doesn’t mean sharing your life story but giving a bit of yourself will help you to build a relationship with your audience.

Would you like to put more of your personality into your marketing content? I can help with that. Just click here to book your no obligation chat.

If you’d rather get to know me a bit first, you can sign up to my mailing list for blogging 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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Case study: Just Jules jewellery

Jules from Just Jules jewellery at work in her studio.
Image by Just Jules jewellery

Freelance life has its ups and downs, but sometimes you get lucky. One of my lucky moments involved meeting the lovely Jules Baines from Just Jules jewellery. I met Jules networking (I know, this is a recurring theme for me). We became friends and I bought a lot of gifts from her (because she’s a genius who can always be relied on to come up with the perfect present). It meant that when she needed some help with her marketing and content creation, I already knew all about her brand and how she looks after her customers. Now we work together regularly and it’s always new and exciting.

What Jules needed

When we first spoke, Jules already had a flourishing website and she shared occasional blog posts alongside news and updates. She wanted to make more of the blog and start posting more regularly. Then, as we chatted, she started talking about the other website updates that were going to happen. She didn’t feel that the copy in certain areas really reflected her brand, so we talked about ways I could change it. Then, before you know it, we’d landed on the subject of product descriptions and how much new stock gets added to her website every year.

Since then, we’ve worked on blog posts, updated website copy and product descriptions. The work is always fun because Jules is incredibly creative and the brand takes in jewellery, candles, wax melts and home décor.

How we work

Since I first started writing for Jules, we’ve had a global pandemic and Just Jules jewellery has become a permanent fixture in a bricks and mortar shop. (The Lifestyle Barn at Bawdon Lodge Farm, in case you’re wondering. If you’re in or around Leicestershire I highly recommend a visit.) The website is still thriving, helping Jules to stay in touch with her customers.

We get together about once a month and work out what we’re going to do next, then I go away and do the work. This often involves Jules sending me loads of gorgeous pictures, which is a lovely thing to have in your inbox. I’m about to start work on a Christmas blog and can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

You can have your own Just Jules shopping experience at the Lifestyle Barn or visit her website.

I can create the content you need, when you need it. Let’s have a chat and you can find out how it works.