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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. Tweet Deck👇

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Newsletter

The Shift: Issue #20

Big Tech: The House antitrust committee report; Instagram at 10; No Filter; The rise of the Meta Me; Microcopy + UX writing.

This week, the House Antitrust Subcommittee released its long-awaited report into online markets – how Big Tech (Google, Amazon, Apple & Facebook) have developed monopoly and are abusing their power to stifle the competition. It’s a brick at 400+ pages (+ 2,540 footnotes) and evidence-based – conversations with previous and current employees, users & sellers – a greatest hits of bad behaviour. Amazon has been described as “a data company that just happens to sell things.” An inside look at the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook – here are the most revealing bits. There’s more focus on Google than the other three with some notable omissions: Microsoft, TikTok and Spotify. TikTok is Chinese owned and a baby, so doesn’t yet have the size and breadth… Read more.

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Newsletter

The Shift: #Issue 19

The rise of the creator economy; the ‘unbundling of work’; paid newsletters; the Second Renaissance is coming…

Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen enormous growth in the Creator Economy—independent creators making money from online content. It’s down to the rise of the gig economy, better tech—5G, faster internet, and new social networks & products. COVID-19 is speeding things up – we’re at home and online more.

There’s also been a shift in consciousness towards caring more about being happy in our jobs, having control over our time, and being our own boss. We want to make a living doing work we’re passionate about that creates change. Gen Z’ers grew up with the internet and social media and place a high value on self-expression. I can see how my daughter and her friends interact online.

According to Li Jin, we’re in the process of the ‘unbundling of work’ i.e. moving from companies to independent solo businesses.

A new report from Signalfire takes a deeper view of the ecosystem to give us some context, a history of the creator economy and trends to watch. It’s a fascinating read—useful for investors looking for opportunities and creators needing help… Read more.

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Newsletter

The Shift: Issue #18

How to be productive WFH without going crazy; The State of Remote Work 2020 Report; Inbox Zero.

I did some training this week on ‘how to be productive working from home without going crazy’ with Thanh Pham, founder of Asian Efficiency.

Marie Kondo’s relative, surely!?!

I’ve been working from home for years and enjoy it, but am curious to know what else I can do to improve my set up and make it more fun. We’re six months into this global WFH experiment, and after this week’s government U-turn, it looks set to continue for another six months.

So, what have we learned so far? Will WFH be a permanent thing for companies or just a byproduct of the ‘interim economy’—a term used to describe the theoretical two years it could take for the economy to bounce back after lockdown? A new report on The State of Remote Work Q3 2020, highlights some significant and emerging trends. Read more.

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Blog

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.

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Blog

Q&A: Abigail Baldwin on managing burnout

Abigail Baldwin makes up one half of the creative studio, Buttercrumble, which she founded alongside her twin sister, Chloe. She shares her thoughts on running a business and managing burnout. 

What was your eureka moment?
We both started sharing our designs and illustrations online in 2008. We did this through separate user accounts. After two years, we started receiving more commissions. Naturally, as twins, our style is very similar, so we thought “two heads are better than one”. We joined forces to become Buttercrumble and have been working under the name ever since.

What was the turning point?
When establishing a new business, it is an obsession. To get the business running, we had to work other jobs to make some income. This meant we were working on Buttercrumble at weekends and evenings. All hours of the day involved work! Yet, we loved it and knew this was a sacrifice we’d have to make. Eventually, this paid off, and we had enough savings and landed a large commission to enable us to go full time on Buttercrumble.

However, we were still stuck in the mindset that we needed to work as many hours as possible. If we didn’t, the business would fail! We couldn’t let our clients (or ourselves) down. Two years into running the business, full-time, we were still burning the candle at both ends.

I had a string of sickness bugs and Chloe was feeling the strain too. We were stressed, and I dreaded opening my inbox. We couldn’t cope much longer.

After receiving business mentorship from our local council, we learnt it was time to set those clear boundaries. It helped to have an external viewpoint and supporter who forced us to step back and look at the bigger picture.

How did you overcome it?
To prevent burnout, I recommend seeking a peer support group or mentorship. This helped Chloe and I gain a clearer, unbiased perspective. We also meet regularly with our friend (who’s also a business owner). We can rant about any difficulties and let off steam together.

Boundaries are also important. Ideally, the weekend should be a sacred time for family and friends. Admittedly, sometimes I feel bored on weekends and evenings. However, we both try to resist the temptation to pick up my laptop! Boredom is a privilege. It means you’re getting some well-earned rest.

How will you manage work-life balance from now on? Have you made any long-term changes to how you run the business?
We now have set office hours during which we communicate with our clients. We also set up an office phone line, so we can avoid distributing our mobile phone numbers. This means we’re only taking calls during those office hours. At the beginning of every new relationship, we issue our ‘Welcome Document’ which helps to manage their expectations. Transparency about boundaries is key!

www.buttercrumble.com 

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Blog

5 Benefits of Blogging for Business

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have – multinational, SME or creative solopreneur, you still need to be blogging regularly to help drive new (and returning) traffic to your website. These days, it’s crucial to have a strong web and social media presence to grow your brand – and having a blog is a smart, strategic way to do it. If you’re thinking about starting a blog and wondering what it will do for your company, read on.

Here’s how blogging can benefit your business.

1. Helps drive website traffic for free

Want more website visitors? Of course, you do! But if people don’t know the name of your business or product, how will they find you online? People don’t generally read blogs – they use keywords to research a product/service or solve a problem. If you’re providing unique and relevant content on your site, search engines will index it, so it’s easily found. Figure out what your customer is looking for, common problems, post useful articles and then share them on social media, so word gets around. Do this repeatedly, and your business will grow organically.

One of the advantages of blogging over paid advertising is that it’s free – you’re providing useful information for as long as your site is live. Tip: set yourself a publishing schedule and stick to it to show search engines that your website is active and needs frequently scanning for quality content.

2. Traffic becomes leads

Once you start publishing regular content on your blog, you’ll naturally attract new readers and return visitors. Always add a call to action to your posts to turn them into leads. Ask them to download a free e-book or white paper in return for their email address, so you can send follow up e-shots. Direct them to your products and services page or ask them to test a new product. You can set small targets and monitor analytics to see which of your posts are getting the most traction and engagement and then create more content around those themes. Tip: make sure people can subscribe to your blog, leave comments, and add share buttons so they can share content on their social channels.

3. Blogging brands you as an expert

Blogging positions you as an expert in your field, and someone others can come to for advice on a subject. If you share useful content that solves a problem or helps people improve their lives or business in some way, they will refer you to others as an authority and send more leads your way. It’s also an excellent platform for thought leadership – share your views on business (as well as your products) to engage your reader and grow your audience. Blogging can lead to new opportunities – more shares on social media, a speaking gig or even a column in a business publication. It also helps you to build authority and trust with customers. If your salespeople don’t know the answer to a question, they can refer a client to the blog as a helpful resource to help speed up the sales process. Tip: Share your opinions and take a position on things – don’t just sit on the fence – to help you stand out from the competition!

4. Scalable business blogging

One of the joys of blogging is that it’s scalable. It’s a good investment of your time as it keeps on working for you. If you write a blog and share it on social media, you’ll get a few click-throughs every time you share it. It will rank on search engines over the coming months and be a continual source of traffic and leads whenever someone searches for info on that topic. Unlike social media, a blog is on your website as long as you want it to be – a knowledge resource for visitors and your team. Tip: Create some evergreen posts about your products or services that aren’t time-sensitive and update them periodically to keep them fresh. HubSpot recommends that we focus on creating ‘compounding blog posts’ which solve problems, e.g. ‘how’ or ‘why’ in the title) as their traffic grows steadily over time.

5. Press & PR coverage

Having everything in one place on your blog (company news, personal stories, ideas & opinions) makes it easier for journalists to quickly find what they need to write about you and your business. Blogs should be open for comments to help you generate new business ideas and test out new products before you commit to spending money on them. Clients and journalists want to read about the people behind a brand, and a blog is an ideal platform for this as the tone is conversational and intimate. Take your reader on a journey and involve them in your business story and they will become loyal clients and share your content for you.

Are you interested in creating a blog for your business? We produce daily content for clients large and small to help them build brand awareness and drive sales. 

This article was originally published on Perspective Marketing & Design here.

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Blog

The Shift: Issue #15

On Staycation; The Big Return; How Companies Can Win at Remote Work; Countryside Communities; Where to Find Remote Jobs.

I’m on staycation till September.

No need to go anywhere—the south coast is like the Med. Why rush around getting to France (& back!) to meet ever-changing quarantine rules so the kids can #getbacktoschoolsafely? Hardly a relaxing holiday. If you’re there, just chill and enjoy it. It won’t matter if the kids miss another week or two. Besides, who’s going to be tracking your movements when you get back? 😉

So, I’ll be attending to the book pile, soaking up the sun, sleeping, walking. Julieta will be back from Italy soon, so I’m making the most of my lack of domestic responsibilities.

Overheard on the beach this week – day-trippers down from London. “Isn’t it great to be out of the city? I feel different down here. The air’s so fresh.” Huge skies too – shifts your perspective.

And some advice from a guy I got chatting to down the pub. “Get your baked beans in. Anything you can eat cold and don’t have to cook. Mix them with curry powder. A year ago, who’d have thought we’d be walking round with nappies on our faces. Being told where to go and what to do…?”

There’s much talk about the big return in September. Read more

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The Shift: Issue #13

A shift in values during the pandemic; how to pull off a successful launch; building an open-source publishing platform; the downsides of WFH; the future of co-working

As you reach midlife, your values shift. Maybe you’ve achieved what you set out to do, but now you can’t see the point of it all. Or you feel you haven’t done enough compared to your peers. You’re halfway through your life and feeling restless. What next?

Psychoanalyst Elliott Jacques coined the term ‘midlife crisis’ in 1965 in a paper on the working patterns of creative geniuses. It was a small part of his life’s work—he had loads of big ideas—but this has become a cultural phenomenon and what he’s best known for. For most of us, it’s not really a crisis, more like a persistent feeling of dissatisfaction in our 40s/50s. “Is this it?” has come up frequently in conversations with friends.

What’s interesting about the pandemic is that it’s left many of us feeling like this—not just the midlife generation. Read more