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The Shift: Issue #28

NUJ #FairDeal4Freelances – a 10-point plan; Calls for a Freelance Commissioner; Free creative training courses.

The NUJ has published a freelance charter as part of its #FairDeal4Freelances campaign.

It calls for:

1/ Trade union collective bargaining to improve T&Cs for freelancers side by side with staff.

2/ Fair written contracts for asserting your rights.

3/ Respect for their creators’ rights and unwaivable moral rights.

4/ Equal rights with employees: sick pay, maternity, paternity and parental leave, unemployment benefit, full access to benefits.

5/ Choice over how you freelance and are taxed, with an end to advance tax payments.

6/ Work free from pressure to operate on a PAYE basis or through umbrella companies.

7/ Equal health & safety protections including training & insurances.

8/ Fair fees and terms and prompt payments.

9/ Dignity and respect at work, free from bullying, harassment or discrimination.

10/ Equal professional rights, including the right to protect sources, seek information and uphold ethical standards. See more.

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How digital marketing has changed during lockdown – some stats for your strategy

Covid-19 has radically changed how we work, shop and live our lives – speeding up digital transformation already happening. And as consumer behaviour changes, businesses have had to adapt quickly.

We’ve had a look at some of the big data coming out of lockdown to help you plan your digital marketing strategy for 2021. Eight months on, some clues are coming out as to what trends will be long term.

What’s clear is digital is leading the way and helping companies to respond to the loss in revenue with the pandemic, which means reorienting business models to be digital-first is vital to keep pace with long-term changes in consumer behaviour.

Advertising spending pre and post-Covid

Data from the World Advertising Research Centre (WARC) shows brands are slashing advertising spend for 2020 to the tune of 50 million globally. Their latest Global Ad Trends report shows almost all product categories will see a decline in ad investment this year. However, best practice shows brands should continue to spend through difficult times to position themselves for recovery.

Consumer trends during lockdown

Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends survey explores the rise in online shopping, banking, video streaming and healthcare in response to the lockdown.

  • About 40% of respondents did more online shopping during lockdown
  • 14% had more remote (phone or video) appointments with health practitioners
  • 1/3 streamed more films and TV series on vod platforms

Here’s Google’s new data on six lockdown consumer trends here for the long-term.

Localism is accelerating

In the UK 43% of consumers believe local businesses are good for the economy and 57% said after lockdown they’re more likely to spend money at a business that offers locally produced products or services. Google searches for things ‘near me’ have rocketed. Highlight the local aspects of your product or service. Make sure your website is optimised for local search and update your Google My Business listing.

Be seen and heard in the community – there’s a focus on ethical and sustainable brands doing good and being helpful. 65% of people say a brand’s response to the pandemic will hugely impact their likelihood to buy its products, and that businesses have a big part to play in helping society recover. Strong brand values are important. Communicate what you’re doing locally to help during the crisis.

Social media communities

Ofcom’s latest report Online Nation shows a 61% growth in social media engagement during lockdown. We’re looking for new ways to keep connected, informed, entertained and fit during the pandemic.

TikTok reached 12.9m UK adults in April, up from 5.4m in January. Twitch, the popular live streaming platform for gamers, saw visitors increase from 2.3m to 4.2m. Video calls have doubled during lockdown, with more than 7 in 10 doing so at least weekly. Houseparty grew from 175,000 adult visitors in January to 4m in April. Zoom had the biggest growth, from 659,000 adults to reach 13m adults over the same period.

People are moving away from conventional forms of communication – landline and SMS to messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Is your business there?

Video is essential

Video is now an essential, not nice to have. Ofcom’s report shows 9 in 10 adults, and almost all older children aged 8-15 are using sites like YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok to create and share videos online. 1/3 of adults now spend more time viewing video-sharing services than broadcast TV. There’s been an explosion in user-generated content, and creators are making money from it.

It’s easier to watch videos when we’re working at home, and we have more time. Could you bring in more ‘how to’ tutorials next year? It need not be expensive and high production – a handheld iPhone clip is authentic and can be just as effective. Rob Kenney’s YouTube channel, Dad, how do I? has two million followers and has been described as wholesome and the purest thing. His content went viral and he’s now teamed up with retailers.

Community groups were the most popular thing on Facebook last year catering to our hobbies, interests and a desire to help out locally. You may not have the resources to run social media ad campaigns, but it’s free to set up a Facebook group – and more companies are hiring community managers to help them grow their business.

Social shopping posts

People are buying products in social media posts on Pinterest and Instagram – and also on LinkedIn via lead generation. We’ve been able to do this for a while, but the process is being refined to remove the friction in the user journey. Take advantage of this but always aim to drive people back to your website.

The rebirth of influencer marketing

Marketing with influencers has been around for a while – we’ve gone from brands working with big followings to micro-influencers with a more authentic, dedicated audience, who are seen as trusted specialists in their niche. YouTube is now giving influencers tools to help them measure their content and make money in new ways, and other platforms will do the same to support creators. It’s worth thinking about working with influencers on campaigns if this suits your business model.

Interactive content is becoming mainstream  

Tech-savvy consumers want to connect with brands in new and fun ways. The increase in online shopping searches for ‘live chat’, ‘virtual try on’, ‘next day delivery’ and ‘apps’ show we are looking for ways to enhance online shopping. Chatbots are one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends in 2020 – the future of customer service. Interactive content is becoming mainstream – think about quizzes, polls, AI ads, podcasts, 360-degree videos, and voice search.

Responsive content marketing and education

We want simple, subtle and responsive content that improves our quality of life. It’s less about celebrity and selling – more focus on empathy and thought leadership. Provide thoughtful and useful content that improves your customers’ lives – tell them how you’re responding to the pandemic now. Be expressive and empathetic as far as it fits with your brand tone of voice – consistency is key. Think about cause-based communications – how you can help rather than what you can sell…

How can you help people to enjoy their time at home? Could you help them to work better and create new habits? Campaigns aimed at personal growth; mental health & wellbeing will do well. People are trying to become better versions of themselves, whether it’s learning a new skill, exercising more or meditating.

Revisit your website and social activity and think about where you can add value. Be positive, aspirational and supportive. Adapt your imagery to focus on social distancing and safety – your digital resources need to reflect reality. It’s vital to build trust at this time, and the best marketing campaigns engage with humans more helpfully.

People need seasonal content, things to look forward to, and reassurance. Be active on your social channels and adapt your messaging to suit the platform – if you’re B2B, focus on LinkedIn. For B2C – Facebook, Google Ads, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube. Facebook appeals to over 65s, while Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok attract younger audiences.

Investing in your customer’s online journey

WARC’s data shows the brands that have spent the last two years investing in their online customer journeys – be it via their website, app, or new technologies such as live streaming are now seeing the payoff. We’ll see a boom in click and collect at stores, pre-booking shopping slots online, and easy delivery. Sainsbury’s have done this well – investing in mobile app and e-commerce whereas Primark has no online presence and saw its sales drop from £650 million a month to zero after lockdown when stores had to close.

Your website is your window to the world – your shop front – so it needs to be up to date, fast and responsive to enquiries. If you’re a service-based business, can you add a tool that enables people to reschedule appointments? We’ve got used to the speed, ease and convenience of online shopping and contactless payments – why would we go back to supermarket queues and traffic jams?

Be agile, creative and experimental

Now is the time to be agile, creative, and innovative with your digital marketing. Don’t get bogged down in the process – act now as every day brings a new challenge. Find new ways to work and make quick decisions to speed up the creative process – automated digital tools can help you to meet this demand.

Digital is a shining light to help you through the next few months. Get your digital elves ready! Carry through the lessons you’ve learned in new ways of working.

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy get in touch – we’d love to chat! hello@perspectivemarketinganddesign.co.uk.

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The Shift: Issue #27

Black Friday deals; How to reduce your digital footprint; Not more content, smarter content to grow your business.

This year’s Black Friday is expected to be the busiest on record because of Covid-19 and early discounts. 2020 has seen a 74% surge in online shopping as a result of global lockdowns. 45% of adults received more parcels during lockdown than ever before. Some sectors are booming – electronics, health & fitness, while others are struggling – fast-fashion retailers – Boohoo is offering up to 90% discounts. Work clothes have gone out of the window – I’ve been living in my gym gear since March.  

So far, I’ve bought two online courses from Udemy for £9.99 each and spent a gift card I’ve been saving since the summer. I have a fake Xmas tree this year for the first time – my ‘realistic’ Narnia tree that should last 10-15 years.  

I had a chat with our postie who said he can’t believe the amount of landfill.

Stuff is just piling up, it’s shocking. I can’t talk, I keep buying things on Amazon. But there’s just too much packaging on stuff. We need to make sure it’s biodegradable.

Reducing your digital footprint

Reducing physical crap is one thing, but what about our digital clutter? There’s a secret cause of global warming that we don’t talk about or think about much. It’s more insidious as it’s invisible. I’m lucky enough to work from home on a laptop but reading Gerry’s McGovern’s new book, World Wide Waste, has been a real eye-opener and made me think more about how I work and my digital footprint. Read more.

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The Shift: Issue #26

Sole trader vs limited company or umbrella – what’s best? IR35 changes; Parliamentary debate on the future of work; Seth Godin on creative practice.

I had to set up a limited company last year for a new contract role via an agency. My tax status only came up after I’d done the interview, a written test, and been offered the role. My agent said, “oh, we don’t work with sole traders.”

It was a chunky project – a six-month contract to write a book for a big brand and they were happy to pay my day rate, so I went for it. I set up a limited company via Companies House – fast, no-nonsense, and costs £12. I had to sort out business insurance (took much longer), an accountant, and a business bank account with a UK address for IBAN (EUR) payments.

A bit of hassle for one contract but that was the deal. And I wanted the job, so I did it but not happily. I’ve been a sole trader since I started freelancing back in 2002 and was gifted a limited company once (we broke up, I wasn’t ready; I have commitment issues). I don’t think individuals should operate as companies unless you’re employing someone. Nor should agencies and companies dictate your set up. These roles are often last-minute so you’re under pressure to act quickly or someone else will get the gig.

Anyway, the project went well – a good challenge and I learned a lot. Great to work with a team and have a physical product at the end of it. The contract was due to be extended in February to finish the editing, but this fell through with lockdown. Things have been pretty quiet on the contracting front since. Companies have cut budgets this year, which tends to hit freelancers first, and bigger clients are preparing for IR35 changes next April which will bring private companies into line with the public sector. Many have now banned the use of limited company contractors which is the way most contractors have operated up to now. See more.

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The Shift: Issue #25

Finding freelance work; The rise of the media artisan; Creative Coalition 2020; Interview with TikTok star Kirsteen Atom. ⚡️

November’s NUJ meeting was on surviving and thriving as a freelancer—tips on finding new work and diversifying with trainers Louise Bolotin and Steve Mathieson. Steve works as a freelancer mainly on tech and government—both growth areas and runs data journalism and freelance courses. He’s had steady work during lockdown and has taught himself how to teach online.

In some ways, the world has been catching up with how many freelancers work, and arguably that has given us a head start. We are often used to working remotely.

Louise has worked for BBC Radio Manchester and launched a local news site. She now works as a sub-editor mostly, doing commercial editing work. She was laid off from her local paper just before lockdown and lost her commercial work, so was left with nothing. She’s busy trying to bring work back and has invested in a new website, logo and training.

Most of it has involved spending my way out of the mire, because you sometimes need to spend a bit to earn a bit.

She pledged to do two things a day to find new work and her efforts have paid off—she was fully booked this month for the first time since March. See more.

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The Shift: Issue #23

Frazzled Café: it’s ok, to not be ok; Creating community; Support for creative workers; Career development tips; #NaNoWriMo.

Feeling frazzled? I am. Here we go again with #lockdown2 which all feels a bit pointless as it’s not working. I’ve had my mother ranting down the phone this week. “You can’t stop a virus spreading! We’re just kicking the tin can down the road. They should sack the Sage lot! I’m listening to the other scientists…”

The Great Barrington Declaration is back on Google – big tech has no place censoring debate. It takes a holistic approach – we can’t focus on one virus at the expense of everything else – the economy, our mental health. Partial protection seems like the sensible option – protect the elderly and vulnerable and let the rest of us get on with it. There has to be a better way than full lockdown. We should at least have more public debate on this.

I’ve signed up to join the Frazzled Café, a charity providing a safe space to share your stories. “A place to connect with others to help us cope with the overwhelming stresses of modern life. A place where it’s ok, to not be ok,” i.e. to vent your frustrations!!! See more.

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The Shift: Issue #22

RSA: Making Remote Work Good Work; Hiring a Community Manager; WFH in Tuscany: Live local, think global; Send someone a virtual hug 🤗

I took part in an RSA event this week on how to Make Remote Work Good Work with Bruce Daisley and Alexa Clay.

How are we doing seven months on from the first lockdown? Our mass experiment in remote working – the results are in! 

The data is largely positive—a swift and widespread adaptation to new working practices, cultures & techniques. Every age group is happier WFH. A recent survey shows over ¾ of UK CEOs say WFH is here to stay. Greater flexibility, digital transformation, and less office space look set to be permanent features. Read more.

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The Shift: Issue #21

#CopyCon2020—Top tips for being a successful copywriter; Death to perfectionism; Blogging for business; UX jobs—design systems are the new frontier.

“8 hours of copywriting gold” – 10 speakers, 8 training days, satellite sessions, poetry, illustration, networking, cats…🐱 ProCopywriters’ 7th annual conference and 100% online for the first time.

It’s my first one, so I had nothing to compare it to, but it was a fantastic event—inspiring talks (9 female speakers) and seamless tech. I’m still using the app (Attendify) to replay videos and download docs. If there’s one good thing to come out of all this madness, it’s being able to do global conferences that I wouldn’t have been able to afford. No travel costs and you can listen in while you work or on the go. I can’t sit at a desk all day, so I did a walking Zoom to break it up. See more.

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The Shift: Issue #17

Job hunting, The Social Dilemma, a history of Silicon Valley, slow journalism, how do we live ‘a good life’ in 2020?

I had a chat with two recruitment agents this week. Things are picking up – briefs are coming in and companies are hiring–mostly remote work. Employers are investing in remote training for staff and reassessing office space, so remote working is here to stay. Both were furloughed and are just back at work.

It’s good news for multi-skilled freelancers – we’ll be more in demand as employers may want fewer people on the payroll. We’re also flexible, agile, and used to working remotely.

Skills check–MS Office, Photoshop, InDesign (you can download the free trial for 30 days and do a YouTube tutorial to learn the basics). Google Analytics, HTML, SEO, & social media.

I made a one-page CV on Canva–wasn’t sure if it’s long enough, but they liked it. “It’s good to have it condensed on one page and you can expand as required.” Read more.


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The Shift: Issue #16

Survival Skills for Freelancers; Digital Detox; 5 things…

Day three of the digital diet and I’ve fallen off the bandwagon.

I had to use LinkedIn to post on a client’s page and saw I had a reply from Sarah Townsend about her new book, Survival Skills for Freelancers (treat yourself, she’s put her heart & soul into it). Then I read Eddie Shleyner’s email newsletter and saw he’s giving away a micro-course in copywriting. A compilation of tips from him and his LinkedIn followers—great idea. I had to leave a hashtag on his post to get a copy.

So, I did that quickly and logged off. It’s work stuff, I told myself. I’m not scrolling mindlessly on Instagram.

The only way to avoid using my personal accounts for clients is to set up a work email address to access Facebook and LinkedIn, which I’ll do. I used Hootsuite for a while, but it’s easy for messages to go out on the wrong account… had a few mishaps.

Thoughts so far on the digital detox: I have more time, headspace, and feel calmer. I’m not missing social media, and I’ve made more calls, so actual conversations. Read more.