Or how to make the most of quiet times It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to get me thinking about a much-needed rebrand. But it did.
When I started freelancing, I landed a substantial retainer alongside some assignments for a range of international tech companies. I found myself in the fortunate position of juggling lucrative copywriting assignments and not having to worry about outreach. While I was working with a range of tech, finance and lifestyle brands, other parts of my business were being neglected. Chiefly: branding. A couple of months into the pandemic, I finally decided to do something about it. It felt like a massive relief.
It’s easy to be unkind to yourself about the things that you’ve been putting off. Instead, why not take the opportunity to start planning for when things pick up again? If you’re experiencing a lull like I did at the beginning of March, here’s a checklist to help you keep your business healthy.
Work out what isn’t working This one can hurt. In my case, a mixture of inconsistent branding and sporadic marketing meant I didn’t always feel confident selling my services. If you’ve ended up doing the inevitable (insert Ross from Friends Gif) PIVOT, then make sure your online presence is consistent. Get your branding, website and social media sorted to reflect your new offerings. Other areas you can consider tweaking: onboarding, cashflow, customer experience/UX, understanding your target market.
Busy? Let’s keep it that way It’s tough to make time to secure future work when you’re busy. However, as a freelancer or business owner, you can’t bank on being busy all year round. I’ve found it crucial to carve out time — even in busy periods — for outreach and inbound marketing. Putting in time when you’re busy will pay off in the long run.
Call in experts, or upskill If there’s a job you can’t do yourself, find an expert. A marketing guru, professional copywriting agency or web designer can all help you add value to your business. And they’ll often get it done faster than you’d be able to. Although you can always use online courses (Udemy etc) to upskill.
Don’t rely on existing clients Relying on a small number of clients can be a dangerous game. Lose a couple and you’re in trouble. Make sure you dedicate some time to building new relationships, even when you’re happy where you are. Another important reason to find new business is that it can be hard to raise your rates with existing clients without damaging relationships.
Focus on opportunities The pandemic has been devastating for plenty of sectors. Speaking from personal experience, I know it’s easy to get demoralised. At Sterling Copy I’ve (understandably) not worked with travel clients for almost 6 months. However businesses in the ecommerce, proptech and lifestyle sectors have, in my experience, been doing a roaring trade. Not to mention companies with recent venture capital backing. Do your research and find out where there’s still a demand.
Sick of work? Leave your desk behind
It’s natural to put pressure on yourself when times are tough. However, many creative ideas come from not thinking about work. Advertising Guru David Ogilvy talked about “going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret.”
While I’d struggle to stay awake after a liquid lunch, I am a fan of running, boxing and yoga as ways of getting out of the office. Find whatever helps you switch off and get away from your desk.
Also: be kind to yourself. It’s tough out there and you’re doing great :)