I’m a business, just like you

These days the internet is full of experts and yes, I have to admit that if I want to find out how to do something (find a recipe, train a dog, lose weight) then more often than not, I turn to my friend Google.

When it comes to business advice, it’s just the same.

Whether you want advice on email marketing, staffing issues or money laundering regulations, it’s all out there. Some of the advice is helpful, informed and current (the HMRC website, for instance, although a little vague in some areas is reliably up-to-date) but equally there is some questionable advice out there too.

So where do I sit in all this? How am I justified in offering anyone a copy/content writing service? Why should you read my business advice blog posts?

Here’s the thing. I’m a business, just like you.

I have to adhere to all the rules and guidelines that any business has to. There’s the tax return, the website upkeep, marketing, data processing regulations, and all the other ingredients of running a business.

My advice comes from a place of knowledge, not just in creating content, but in starting and running my own businesses.

What did I learn this year?

  1. Like most of you, this year I had to reframe my businesses to make sure they complied with GDPR – privacy policies, customer consent, related emails, the way I store information, etc.
  2. I changed the way I used LinkedIn. Whereas before it was more of a ‘placeholder’ for my online presence, now I use it as a way to network and reach out.
  3. I re-assessed my use of social media. With the algorithm chances of certain social media platforms, I decided where I would concentrate most of my effort (and it isn’t Facebook).
  4. I learned that it’s ok to take time off from making blog posts when work is really busy, and clients take priority (hence the lack of blog posts in May).
  5. Finally, I learned that I don’t have to follow all the business advice out there if it isn’t suitable for my business or personality.

I learned a lot more too, but I hope this shows you that we have a shared experience.

So, if my advice helps you, then brilliant. If it’s not your kind of thing or relevant to your business, well, thanks for reading, and that’s brilliant too.

And just in case it helps, I’d like to introduce you to some of those ‘experts’ I personally find helpful and turn to time and time again.

My Experts

The Freelance Lifestyle – run by long term freelancer Emma Cossey “to provide freelancers with down-to-earth support and practical advice”.

A Branch of Holly – run by ‘Holly’ to offer help with your online presence. I love her videos.

Talented Ladies Club – founded by Hannah Martin and Kary Fisher, the TLC website offers advice on work, life and so much more, with blog posts from hundreds of contributors.

Social Bee NI – Louise Brogan offers advice on building your online business. I especially find her podcasts helpful and a great excuse to switch off from work with a coffee.

Creative Boom – founded by Katy Cowan for creatives and their businesses, this is an inspiring website offering a mixture of posts on creative projects and business advice.

Jess Creatives – Jess offers advice on branding, online strategy and design.

Marie Forleo – Marie is an inspirational entrepreneur who isn’t afraid to clown around or give tough advice. Her videos, whether offering business tips or life advice, always make me smile.

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How to be authentic in business (and why I was terrible at selling make-up)

Authenticity in business is a phrase I hear a lot these days. Whether it’s being used as a response to hard-sales and cold-calling or a method to build trust with your customers, it sounds wonderful but perhaps a little vague. What exactly is it to be ‘authentic in your business’?

My past life as a Virgin Vie lady

When my children were toddlers, I signed up as a rep for Virgin Vie. Remember them? They’re not around anymore but, as the name suggests, Virgin Vie was linked with the Virgin Group. They sold cosmetics, body care products, jewellery, in fact everything that their American and firmly established rival, Avon sold.

At the time I lived in a small village where everyone knew everyone else’s grandma and outsiders, like my family and me, were looked at as somewhat odd. Despite my ‘oddness’, I made a number of friends and when I started out in my new capacity as a Virgin Vie lady I somehow persuaded them to hold house parties where I could display my glamorously packed and somewhat overpriced wares.

While my husband tackled the children’s rebellion, sorry, bedtime, I dressed up, applied my Virgin Vie make-up and generally coiffed my appearance, leaving my house later with a goodie bag of, well, goodies and my heart stuffed far up past my tonsils.

It was the same for each party. I would be greeted by the evening’s host and introduced to the party-goers, then I would lay out an attractive display of shiny goods and make my presentation.

I always made a decent amount of sales and repeat orders generally followed. In fact, I had mums stopping me at the school gates to place orders. My supervisor was happy with me. My husband was pleased that I was bringing in money. My status as ‘odd’ seemed to melt away (or it was now an acceptable oddness). Yay – go, me!

Except, I didn’t feel any level of ‘yay’. I felt, well, wrong. Being a Virgin Vie rep gave me an excuse to get out of our toddler-invaded house on an evening, dress up, go to parties, and contribute towards our household income. There was nothing wrong in any of that. It just wasn’t me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a night out and a reason to dress up as much as anyone else but combining it with sales and sometimes having to put on a false smile (like when one parent spent the evening ranting to me about how Power Rangers was turning her son violent) while I described the virtues of a product I would personally never use, had me screaming inside.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a rep for a company such as Virgin Vie or Avon.  There are a lot of hard-working, successful individuals out there  making a living from just this kind of opportunity and I applaud them.

It wasn’t the role itself that was wrong. It was me in that role because I wasn’t being the ‘real me’. I was putting on a false face to represent a brand I didn’t believe in.

This is where ‘authenticity’ comes in. The authentic me enjoys dressing up but equally is happy to go bare-faced, and dress in jeans and a t-shirt. Make-up is a nicety, for me, not a necessity, so I couldn’t, in all honesty, sell it in the way that Virgin Vie wanted me to.

I’m also not a natural salesperson. I’ve learned how to sell over time, but in a way that feels ‘authentic’ to me, and I never like to sell something to someone that I feel isn’t of true value to them.

So how does authenticity work in business?

For me, being authentic in how I operate my business means,

  • Doing what I say I will do. Remember the Ronseal advert, “Does exactly what it says on the tin”? My point in a well-sealed nutshell.
  • Selling and providing a product or service that I believe in, and that I believe is of value to my customers.
  • Being reliable so that my customers know what to expect from me.
  • Being responsive. If a customer, even a prospective customer, goes to the trouble of dropping me an email or leaves a comment on one of my blog posts, I answer back, even if it’s only to say thank you.
  • Presenting myself on this website, in my blog posts, in emails and across my social media accounts in a way that sounds like me. I don’t pretend to be anyone other than Fi.
  • Being consistent, in the content I create and the regularity in which I post that content here on my blog, in emails or across social media.

And here’s the good bit. When I act in an authentic way, I grow more confident in my abilities, my business and ultimately, in me.

So, what about you? How will you be authentic in your business today?

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Why I price by the job (not the hour)

I’m going to start off by saying that every copy and content writer is different. Some may charge by hour, by day or, like me, by job. I can only tell you what I do and why.

Remember on my home page where it says ‘friendly content and copywriting’? Well to me, friendly means treating each customer as an individual and providing a personal service to them. I want to know how I can solve your problem and fulfil the job you bring to me.

When you approach me with a copy or content writing job, I won’t have a price for you immediately. This is because I need to know all the details of your job first.

The factors that I will need to consider include:

  • Do you know exactly what you want, or do you just have a vague idea? If it’s the latter, I may need to take time to develop your idea with you.
  • Before I can begin the job, are there other factors that need to be put in place by you, your business or other freelancers? For instance, you approach me to write new content for your website but before I can start on that, you and your website developer need to plan out what pages will be on your website and what purpose each of those pages will serve.
  • How much creative time do you want me to put into the job? What I mean by this is how much idea generation do I need to do? Are you looking for one piece of writing or three options of how a customer email, for instance, could be written? Do you want me to pitch ideas to you before I even begin on the writing?
  • If I’m writing about a topic or industry that I’m unfamiliar with, I’ll need to add in time for research. If this is the case, how much research can you supply me with, even if that just means the best research sources to use?
  • Do you have a deadline for the work to be finished by? Is this negotiable?
  • How many customer amendments to each draft are to be included in the price of the job, and how these amendments will be communicated, including timelines.
  • Will I be required to attend meetings? I may include these as part of the job price or charge them separately.
  • Will there be any third party involved, such as the website designer I mentioned above, whom I will have to collaborate with and depend on time-wise?
  • Are there any other tasks involved, such as sourcing images?
  • Is this a one-off job or part of an ongoing and regular order?
  • Do you want me to use keywords and write with SEO in mind?

All of these considerations will help me to work out exactly how to price your job.

So the short answer to why I price by the job (not the hour) is that I want to treat you, your business and your job as an individual.

If you’re interested in discussing a copy or content writing job with me, please fill in my contact form to get in touch.

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How and why I chose my logo

Using a logo offers a certain professionalism to any business website or materials. It channels a business’ personality, builds  familiarity and trust, and hopefully makes you stand out from others in your industry.

People remember you and your business when they see your logo, so isn’t it the obvious thing to create a logo that you’re proud of?

When it came to picking my logo, I wanted something that reflected my personality – creative, straightforward, friendly.

The ‘creative’ element came with my choice of colour. Orange is traditionally connected with creativity. It’s ‘friendly’ too.

The two fonts I used, the white FP and the black full name, reflect two parts of my personality trio too. The white handwriting-style font is relaxed and approachable (friendly) whereas the black writing is plain and easily legible – my ‘straightforward’ element.

Seeing as my logo will appear in all kind of places and not just my website where it’s obvious what I do (you only have to look at the website address – fiphillipscopywriter – to get an inkling that, yeah, she probably does some copywriting), I wanted it to be clear what services I offered.

I didn’t want to leave anyone who saw my logo in any doubt what I did for a living so I added the words beneath my name,

Content – Copy Writing – Social Media

with a dot in between each phrase in the same shade of orange as the circle that the white FP sits on.

One of the reasons that I wanted the orange circle with white writing was so I could create a button from it, still recognisable even when separate from the entire logo, for site icons and on other materials.

I also produced a version of the entire logo and the button in a shade of grey for times when colour might be distracting or not possible.

Finally, I put together a style sheet of all the colours and fonts in my logo so that I can use them for future marketing materials and to match against any images I may use.

I like my logo. It feels like me, and even if I do say so myself, I’m proud to present it to the world.

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Who is Fi Phillips?

Yes, who exactly is this woman and why does she think she can help you?

Fi PhillipsThis is she, or should I say ‘me’.

This is probably the only image you’ll find of me on here because, like I said on my ‘about‘ page, this website isn’t about me. It’s about how I can make a difference to you and your business.

Still, I really should introduce myself before we get to know each other.

Fi Facts

  • I was brought up in York – the walled Roman city with the Minster (rather than a cathedral),  the chocolate factory, and the wonky medieval houses on oddly named streets such as Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate and The Shambles.
  • When I was 7 years old, I stood at the top of our street and thought to myself, “This is as mature as I’m ever going to be”. Not much has changed.
  • I’m a literature graduate. Not much to say about that. I like words.
  • I’ve lived in 17 houses or flats so far. The next one will be our forever home – fingers crossed.
  • I’m based in North Wales, just over the border from Chester – the walled Roman city with the cathedral (not a minster), the 13th century Rows (covered walkways of shops) and Eastgate Clock.

I’m a wife, a mum, and a dog-owner (although on occasion I do wonder if the dog owns me). I’m also a playwright (you can find my deadly scribblings at Murdering The Text) and an avid wordy.

So there you go. That’s me – Fi. Nice to meet you.

 

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