Diary of a Freelancer – Week 27

Monday

After a super-productive day on Sunday, I took things a little easier yesterday. The sun was shining and I wanted to be outside, so I spent the morning working and then Lee and I went out for a lovely walk at Charlecote Park (photos here: http://www.cosylife.co.uk/places/sunny-walk-charlecote/).

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It once again reminded me how lucky I am and how glad I am that I took the plunge to go self-employed; my quality of life has improved immeasurably. While we were walking in Charlecote we took a call from an Air Experiences customer and sold a voucher, so we were enjoying the great outdoors and earning money at the same time – result!

Tuesday

The Air Experiences phone was ringing off the hook all morning; I think the sun being out is making people think about flying, not surprisingly! Luckily Lee is dealing with the customer service side of things (I take care of the website, social media etc), otherwise I’d never get any of my copywriting work done. I’m so proud of how we have built up Air Experiences from nothing to the point that it’s regularly bringing in sales; we’ve both worked hard on it but it’s starting to pay off, which is wonderful. And it’s a nice thing to have alongside my copywriting business too. On the subject of which, I spent today finishing off an article about great works of art, music and literature produced by people of student age. It was a lovely opportunity to write about Mozart!

Wednesday

I had the day off and spent it with my mum in Stratford – we went to see the RSC production of Henry IV Part I, starring Sir Antony Sher. It was really good, and I’ve written about it here: http://www.cosylife.co.uk/culture/henry-iv-part-1-rsc/

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Thursday

Today I’ve been writing about what famous people got up to when they were at university – tales such as Lord Byron keeping a bear in his college rooms, and that sort of thing. It’s taken ages to research, but it’s been interesting, so it doesn’t matter. I’ve also made my own Korma sauce today, for the first time – this also took ages, preparing all the spices, so I’m hoping it tastes ok! I’ll post the recipe on my other blog when I get the chance.

Friday

The korma was really good. We had the day off on Friday and went flying. It was a good gliding day, with lots of thermals, so we turned the engine off and thermalled up to 4,500ft.

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Saturday

Today I’m catching up on a little bit of work and preparing for our imminent trip to the continent. We are going to see an aircraft we might be buying, and we may even be flying it back! A full account of our adventures to follow in due course…

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 26

Monday

Week 26 already – half a year of being self-employed. How the time has flown by, and what a great decision it was to go freelance!

Monday turned out to be quite manic, as I had an email from my education client first thing asking if I could squeeze a couple more articles in over the next couple of weeks. So I have been frantically writing all day trying to make a headstart on the ever-growing mountain of work. I also finally got round to updating my expenses spreadsheet for the first time since the start of the year, which was a bit of a pain (sorting through months of receipts is never fun – I really must try to do it more often!).

In the evening we went to a most interesting evening at the airfield all about flying safely, organised by the General Aviation Safety Council. The sky looked quite brooding when we arrived:

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We learned (well, I learned and Lee refreshed his memory) all about the various things that pilots should be aware of in order to fly safely – things like how to avoid infringing controlled airspace, how to plan your flight properly, human factors (e.g. if you show off to your mates, you’re asking for trouble; or if there are two experienced pilots on board each expects the other to have noticed a problem and doesn’t say anything) etc. It was really useful and I got a stamp in my logbook to say that I’d attended and this handy free Cockpit Companion, which has all the radio frequencies, procedures, marshalling signals and so on.

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Afterwards there was an update about the future of the airfield. Things seem to be progressing in the campaign, which is good. I voiced my opinion that the airfield, on account of its historical importance, should be listed – apparently this is something they are going to try to work towards.

Tuesday

A busy day finishing off two more education articles. All these articles are 2,000 words each, so finishing each one feels quite an achievement! We treated ourselves to lunch at Subway (not really that much of a treat tbh), and also called in at the garden centre to get some more flowers for the garden and some compost. I planted out these, which I bought at the weekend:

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On the left is a strawberry plant, in the middle are white onions and on the right is a tomato plant. I called it a day work-wise at 4.30pm and made some more scrummy ginger nut biscuits.

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Wednesday

More education articles today, primarily an enjoyable one on famous opening lines of novels and what makes them so brilliant. It’s been nice being able to refer to my own extensive library, writing about such brilliant lines as “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love” (Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez), “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens) and “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” (guess).

In the evening we went for a lovely local flight, which was a great way to unwind at the end of the day. Here’s a photo I took of Stratford; you can see the church in which Shakespeare is buried:

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We also saw a herd of wild deer, but unfortunately I didn’t have the big camera with me so I only have a lousy iPhone one, which I won’t bother sharing. They had no idea we were circling above them, and were seemingly untroubled by the engine noise. The evening is a wonderful time to fly, as the sky is much calmer and the winds have died down. It’s so nice to have longer evenings again.

Thursday

I’m feeling rather knackered as I spent the morning at the Guide Dogs Training School on my first proper shift. On the way there I listened to In Our Time on Radio 4, which was about the ancient geographer Strabo – that took me back a few years! When I got to Leamington I had a brisk hour’s walk into Warwick and back with Blakey, pictured below in a rare moment of calm:

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He was generally good, but there were a few challenges to contend with and at one point he actually tried to eat a holly leaf. When we got back we took a couple of the other dogs into the maze and another pen to get them charging around and burning off some energy. They’re sweet souls, but quite a handful at this age!

When I got home I had rather a job motivating myself to get on with some work. I managed to get a bit of writing and research done though, so it wasn’t a wasted afternoon.

Friday

Today marks exactly six months to the day that I left the world of employment. It’s hard to believe how much life has changed for the better in the past six months, and I was reminded about this fact when I stopped work mid-morning to take a trip to the farm shop for the weekly fruit and veg shop, followed by calling in at the airfield to see Lee. We went to the cafe and sat outside in the sunshine, listening to the beautiful sound of the skylarks and watching the world go by.

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When I got home I continued with the article I’d been working on in the morning and also had a nice call with a potential new client, who found me through this website (it seems to rank well for location-specific searches, which is perfect for me).

Saturday and Sunday

We had the day off on Saturday and used it to go flying. Back to work today and I’m about to start work on an article about movie adaptations of books. Should be fun!

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 25

Monday

I had such a nice weekend off, helped by the glorious weather. We went flying, stocked up on fruit, veg and cheese from the farm shop, had our first barbecue of the year and plenty more besides. I needed that after working so hard, and since I didn’t have any immediately pressing deadlines, I didn’t feel too guilty about taking three days off in a row.

I began Monday by sending out some invoices and planning the week ahead. I am an obsessive maker of lists, which is how I stay on top of so many different bits of work for different clients. I spent the rest of the morning working on copy for a book publisher’s site, and snacking on the mouthwatering ginger nut biscuits I made at the weekend. The client I wrote the press release for last week got back to me and described it as “spot on”, so no edits required – just what I like to hear. I spent the afternoon writing an education article for another client.

Tuesday

We’re working for the rest of the week, so we had our ‘weekend’ today. We had a rather disappointing trip to Cadbury World in Birmingham. We thought Tuesday would be a nice, quiet time to go; how wrong we were! It was heaving with horrid screaming school groups, which marred the experience somewhat (also, how is Cadbury World a place you go to on a mid-week school trip? “Education” these days…). Apart from a couple of interesting bits of history (we both thought not nearly enough), and quite a lot of free chocolate, it didn’t live up to our expectations or my memories of visiting it years ago with Nanny and Grandad. We were glad we didn’t pay to get in (we got free tickets with Tesco Clubcard vouchers)!

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On the way home we called in at one of our local gliding clubs, as there were some people we needed to talk to. The sun was shining and it was so lovely to be in the countryside after Birmingham!

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When we got home I managed to get a bit of work done while Lee did some gardening. I only did an hour or so but still earned what I’d have earned in a day in my old job!! Not bad for a day off.

Wednesday

I got a bit of work done before heading into town for a haircut, and delayed coming home to do more work by going to M&S to buy steak.

In the afternoon I wrote an article for a new education client (a sister company of one of my other regular clients), who now want a long article a week from me in addition to the two long articles a week I already write for the main branch of their company. I really enjoy writing these education articles, and my own education certainly stands me in good stead. I finished work at 4pm and made banana bread.

Thursday

More education articles on the agenda for today, but first a relaxing start to the day with Radio 4′s The Unexpected Professor by John Carey. It was about his time at my old Oxford College, St John’s, in the 1950s, when the English course included no literature beyond 1830!

When I eventually got to work I wrote half a long education article before taking a break to go and get some fruit and veg from the farm shop. Said farm shop is a stone’s throw from the airfield so I called in there afterwards to meet up with Lee for a hot chocolate in the cafe. I had more work come in by email while I was there – more for the prestigious client I talked about a couple of weeks ago. I’m looking forward to working on that, and got started on some of the content for them in the afternoon, along with finishing the education article started in the morning.

Friday

In the morning I had my second training session at the Guide Dogs Training School – my last before I’m let loose on a proper shift, eek! I’m finding it quite challenging, more so than I expected. Today we drove one of the dogs, a gorgeous black Lab called Petal, to the retail park so we could practise going into shops. She’s a little darling of a dog and mega affectionate, but she’s rather attached to the lady who’s training us, so whenever we had a go at leading her, she was desperate to get back to our trainer! So rather than walking ahead and focusing on the job of not sniffing things, she kept looking back and I had the devil’s own job trying to get her to walk normally, particularly in Sainsbury’s, where it was rather embarrassing as everyone kept giving me funny looks because I had a dog with me in a shop. She was good in sporadic bursts though, and we also learnt how to get them to walk up and down stairs safely, as they have to get used to this for when they are leading someone who can’t see. We finished the morning with a session with another dog – ominously named Meddler – in the maze, where he had great fun tearing around try to find his toys. Awww.

I devoted the afternoon to even more education articles (I have a lot of them on right now – can you tell? – with four a week at the moment).

Saturday and Sunday

We enjoyed an unexpected day off yesterday, as Lee’s instructing work got rained off. We spent it at another fantastic National Trust property, Coughton Court, which I’ll write about on my other blog soon. Today Lee is going on a course to become a gliding examiner, so I’m using the day to try and catch up on the increasing pile of work. I’ll sign off here and leave you with this collage of pics from yesterday’s trip to Coughton:

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Diary of a Freelancer – Week 24

Monday

I slept badly last night so didn’t end up starting work until gone midday. And when I did start, it wasn’t work but a post for my other blog about our recent trip to Upton House (http://www.cosylife.co.uk/places/upton-house/), which I thought would be a nice way to ease myself into a day’s writing. I spent much of the rest of the day working on a number of pages for a small website along with a couple more posts for my own blog, which shall be published in due course.

Tuesday

I devoted the day to working on articles for my education client, and to making a carrot cake. The latter was no mean feat and took up much of the afternoon, but it came out well.

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Wednesday

I started the day by finishing an education article I started yesterday and sending that off. Then I treated myself to a little shopping spree in town, as I have some birthday money left over. I bought a gorgeous travel document holder from Aspire and two heavenly-scented handcreams from Crabtree and Evelyn. I spent the rest of the day working on another education article, as well as having a major tidy-up of my work folders on my computer, which badly needed doing. I had an enquiry come in through my website, as a result of which I have a press release to add to my growing ‘To Do’ list, which shall be first on the agenda for tomorrow morning. Hopefully that will lead to regular work too, if they like it. I enjoy writing press releases, as it’s quite a specific skill and challenge.

In the evening we went to the first meeting of an action group to fight the sale of our airfield to housing developers. Over a hundred people attended and we were pleased by the fighting talk by so many people. It will take a few years and lots of hard work but I think there’s a good chance of stopping the development. We read the proposal from the housing developers last night and it made grim reading. It really hit home seeing the plans drawn up with houses all over the runway :(. A committee is now being formed to take things forward and I shall doubtless be sharing a petition with you all in due course!

Thursday

The day kicked off with the aforementioned press release, which was for a company that does supplies for oil tankers. It’s amazing the variety of different companies I get approached by! Also, an group interview I did months ago was finally published today: http://themeld.co.uk/7-digital-entrepreneurs-talk-business/. I think my answers would have been more interesting now, as I have loads of new clients since then, including international ones!

My morning was brightened when I got this in an email… my own personalised cover of Flyer magazine commemorating my first solo flight!

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Such good memories! I can’t wait to get my PPL finished off finally. That reminds me, I need to study for some more exams…

In the afternoon I worked on more education articles. Today is the 11th consecutive day in a row that I’ve worked, so my brain is feeling rather frazzled and I needed more breaks than normal today. I’m going to have three days off as of tomorrow, so this week’s diary ends here! I’ll leave you with this article, published this week, which I wrote for a website called Smart Women Smart Conversations, which is about how I decided to become self-employed: http://www.swscdaily.com/articles/my-journey-self-employment-and-freedom

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 23

Monday

I devoted the morning to Air Experiences work, as we had a meeting at the airfield with another company about possibly partnering with us. That seemed to be pretty positive. There was a BBC news crew at the airfield, filming a report on the recent revelation that it is to be sold for development. It was shown later in the day and you can see it here if you’re interested: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-26618892. Judging by Twitter there is widespread outrage at these plans, so hopefully lots of people will be formally objecting. Whether or not anybody will be listened to is another matter.

I spent the rest of the day working on various articles for clients, and having a catch-up call with one of my clients. I have a couple of projects coming up for them, including a big one (54 pages to start with!), so it looks as though I’m going to have my work cut out.

Tuesday

After a lazy start, I finished off an article I started yesterday about how to improve your employability when you’re still at school/university. My article on must-read English novels was published – take a look and see if you agree with my choices: http://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/12-literary-works-read.html. Then I had a call with a potential new client, who had contacted me through my website. I am doing a trial of three pieces of content for them, and if they like it, this will lead to a good amount of regular work. And it’s interesting, fun stuff to write about and for a prestigious company too, so I’ll be dead chuffed if they take me on for regular work. Fingers crossed! I also worked on some research for a different client today, which is in preparation for a whitepaper, and I’m in the middle of writing another education article for another client. I worked solidly all day, bar a brief excursion to the butcher – which, I discovered, sells cheese from the Snowdonia Cheese Company, so that was a good find! In other news, the mouse is back…

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Wednesday

An early start to the day (9am!) with a Skype call with my international client about writing more pages for them. After that I did a load more work on my latest education article, and almost finished it before I ran out of ideas, so I put that to one side and worked on the aforementioned research instead. I was in an odd mood and still couldn’t concentrate, so I decided to stop rather than trying to press on when the words just weren’t flowing. I made some flapjacks instead (recipe here: http://www.cosylife.co.uk/recipes/flapjack-recipe/). I always find baking very relaxing and therapeutic (with the exception of macaroons, which are a massive pain).

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In the afternoon I went to my first training session at the Guide Dogs training school. This focused on how to walk them; the techniques, even for these young ones in puppy day care, are different from walking a ‘normal’ dog, as they walk slightly ahead of you rather than to heel, and you can’t let them get distracted by sniffing things or wandering off. I found it quite challenging, as although generally well-behaved the dog was quite strong and boisterous (they are about eight months, so more teenagers than puppies), and obviously trying it on with me a bit because I was new! We got used to each other by the end though, and we managed to tire him out by walking all the way into Warwick and back. I was too busy to take any photos unfortunately, but it was a lovely sunny afternoon, so nice weather to be away from my desk.

Thursday

I am absolutely drowning in work. I have so much work to do that I don’t know where to begin and I don’t even have time to write anything more than this. :(

Friday

Just time for a quick update. I got that job I mentioned the other day – the prestigious one! – and they said how pleased they were with the pieces I wrote for them the other day. I’m tremendously excited to be working on it, and there should be regular work for it, which is great. I’ve already got my first batch of writing to do for this client, and it has been great fun trying to establish the right style and tone for their audience. Among the guidance I’ve received to help me find the right tone are that it should be “kind of Jeeves-ish” and aimed at the young British gentry, and that it can be a little naughty and un-PC! I think I’m going to enjoy this one!

I got some more lovely feedback from another client on an article I wrote for them recently: “Many thanks — your work is always excellent, but this piece really flies like a bullet. It will do very well indeed!” Hurrah. It’s nice comments like these that spur me on to do even better :)

I’ve been exceptionally busy, as you might have gathered from what I wrote yesterday. I’ve had several big heaps of work come in, with several Monday deadlines, so I’m trying to get everything done at once. I didn’t sleep well last night for thinking about it all, so there’s an extra element of struggle to contend with. I have bought the Marks and Spencer’s meal deal for tonight and then I’m going to carry on working late into the evening while Lee goes to the pub. I’ll be doing some work over the weekend too, though I’ll hopefully find some time for a potter in the countryside and a Sunday roast.

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 22

Monday

After a gloriously sunny weekend involving country walks, flying, visits to horse sanctuaries and National Trust properties, and general rest and relaxation, it was a little difficult to switch back into work mode this morning. I rarely have two days off in a row now, let alone three! It did me good to get outside and enjoy the world, and it was much needed. I eased myself back into working by planning out my week using my gorgeous new daily and weekly planners that I got for my birthday:

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I’ve written about them on my other blog if you’re interested in buying them: http://www.cosylife.co.uk/product-reviews/stationery-alexia-claire/

I had a busy day, starting with some edits to a couple of bits of last week’s work. I also finished a voiceover script I started last week, which is for a video one of my clients is producing. After that I wrote a long article on techniques to help you write better essays, and a blog post on my own blog about the candle making (http://www.cosylife.co.uk/product-reviews/candle-making/) I mentioned the other week. I had more work come in:  an extra article for a regular client and some straplines for a local design agency I’ve done the same thing for in the past. It’s already shaping up to be a busy week.

Tuesday

It was an interesting morning, as I had a meeting with a potential new client. They found me through my website and the project is to ghost-write a book, which is new territory for me; I have worked with quite a few authors but mainly on copy-editing and their websites. I really hope I get the job, as it would be a really interesting project to work on. I met the potential client at her beautiful house and was greeted at the gate by two very enthusiastic Labradors!

On my way home I called in to Marks and Spencer and bought some daffodils and mini eggs, to celebrate the arrival of spring. Then I got straight to work on those straplines, which was really hard and fried my brain. After that it was on to some edits to the voiceover script I finished yesterday, and then putting the finishing touches on yesterday’s article and sending that off. I then moved on to another page of web copy for a different client, but my head was spinning by that point so I took a break and baked some banana bread. That did the trick and I managed to pretty much finish the web page by the time Lee got home from work.

Wednesday

I spent the morning at the Guide Dogs Training Centre in Leamington, where I had an induction morning for my forthcoming new volunteer role in the Puppy Day Care Centre. This role will entail looking after the pre-training dogs, taking them for walks and entertaining them while their normal carers are out at work. I’ll be doing one morning a week, and today was just about the health and safety stuff and meeting the dogs I’ll be helping to look after. This isn’t one of them, but isn’t she adorable!

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The ones I’ll be looking after are a bit bigger than this, and even more boisterous (this pic was taken on a rare moment when she was sitting still!)!

I spent the afternoon writing an article for a client about interesting careers and how to achieve them. It made me realise how happy I am with the way my career is going now; I’ve definitely found the right job for me, and I could never go back to not being self-employed now.

On a less happy note, we received some awful news in the evening: our beloved airfield is to be sold and have houses built on it :-(. We’ve spent so many happy days there and it’s such a busy and thriving airfield that we were pretty flabbergasted with this brutal decision. As far as we can make out, it’s not even because the airfield is losing money; it seems to be doing really well, being a popular destination with aviators and home to a number of very successful flying schools. It seems to me that the only reason it is being sold is because of the landowners’ lust for money. Hopefully there will be a campaign to save it, so that we can feel as though we are doing something, but I’m skeptical about how much these things can ever actually achieve. It’s not as if they are selling it as a going concern: they are actually approaching the council to ask them to consider it in their house building strategy. Awful.

Thursday

I had a productive day and managed to get the second half of the careers article written and three quarters of another one on the varying quality of education offered by different universities. This is a good subject for me to write about because having been to Oxford, where one is expected to write two essays a week after somehow getting through vast reading lists for each, it irks me that many other universities are setting students two essays a TERM. How can their degree be worth as much as mine? The answer is that it can’t. As I am arguing in this piece I’m writing for a client.

We were dog-sitting today and took a break to take him for a walk around the village, which was pleasant because the sun was shining when the fog finally lifted. This was the stunning sunset, with a thin layer of mist just starting to form:

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Friday

Continuing the Guide Dogs theme, we went to the Guide Dogs National Breeding Centre this morning for a tour of their impressive facilities and, more importantly, the chance to go gooey over some very small puppies. We’d booked the tour weeks ago, before I became a volunteer. I’ll write more about it on my other blog, but in the meantime, here’s a cute puppy pic…

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I spent the rest of the day with a throbbing headache, and therefore didn’t get as much work done as I’d have liked. I had a client call to discuss some research they’d like me to do for a forthcoming new whitepaper, and then I was meant to have another client call about an upcoming website writing project, but in the end that got rearranged to Monday. Just as well really, as it gave me a chance to languish on the sofa nursing my horrid headache and watching Lee battling with trying to pull up a big plant in the garden, which was putting up rather a fight.

Saturday

We both spent the day working. I had an article to finish off and another one to get started on, as well as a document that a client wanted me to edit/repurpose, so that took up much of the day. I also found time to get some hot cross buns from Marks and Spencer, including these yummy ones for me (I don’t like raisins you see):

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They were a nice note to end the working week on; I’m looking forward to a day off tomorrow to enjoy to continuing warm weather before yet another busy week next week.

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Diary of a Freelancer – Week 21

Monday

When I woke up this morning, my mind was awash with all the work I have to get done, which is both good and bad at the same time. It’s great having plenty of work coming in, but I’m slightly worried at how I’m going to finish it all! I spent the morning proofreading the two whitepapers I finished on Saturday and writing another one. In the afternoon I worked on another post for a different client; this one’s about great works of English Literature you should have read. A nice opportunity to write about all my favourite novels! I’ve had a load more work come in, which is great except that it throws my plans for a quieter week out of the window.

Tuesday

I spent much of the day in Cirencester, having arranged to meet my parents there for a pre-birthday lunch. I got there early and tried (and failed) to do some clothes shopping; in the end I only bought two wooden spoons and some Italian foodie treats from a delicatessen! We had lunch at The Fleece; mine was this very poshly presented smoked salmon sandwich:

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After lunch we had a wander around the church, which is almost grand enough to be a cathedral:

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I had a pleasant drive back in beautiful early-spring sunshine, and as soon as I got home I got to work answering the multiple emails that had come in and on writing an urgent article a client had just commissioned.

Wednesday

I had a productive day, finishing off two articles and a whitepaper, writing a blog post on this blog and having calls with a couple of clients. The afternoon’s task was to have a briefing call with one of my clients on a new email marketing campaign I’m working on, and then commence working on said campaign so that I can get it finished in plenty of time for edits before I have Friday off for my birthday (and hopefully Saturday and Sunday off too). As well as making a good start on that, I also had some unexpected work come in from a client I did some work for a couple of years ago, who owns a couple of pizza restaurants in London. He had put together a brochure that he wanted me to proofread, so that was fun, and he paid me immediately too – if only all my clients were that quick! I’m still awaiting payment for work I did back in January for one client.

Thursday

I was dog-sitting for the in-laws in the morning, and managed to finish off that email campaign at the same time. I also made a start on my first page of web copy for the international client, which was an interesting challenge. I’m so worried about this one because I want to do a good job with a difficult topic, and it’s hard to get the angle and tone right when you’re trying to appeal to very different audiences with the same copy. Still, an enjoyable intellectual challenge. I had an intriguing enquiry come in about helping someone write a book, and have a meeting set up with them for next week to discuss it – I’m looking forward to finding out more about it.

On my way home I met up with Lee at the airfield for a hot chocolate and slice of cake, and when I got back I finished off a couple of bits of work ready to have some time off. To kickstart my long weekend I then made a Madeira cake:

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Friday

I wasn’t going to write about Friday on here as it was the start of my three-day weekend, but a work-related quandary arose that slightly marred an otherwise wonderful birthday. The issue was about the ever-sensitive topic of money; a client I’d done some work for years ago, when I was working full time and trying to get some copywriting experience on the side, wanted me to do some work for them at that same very low rate I’d charged them then. Naturally my prices have gone up a bit since then, as prices do over the years (we’re only talking £5-£10 difference here), as I’m a lot more experienced and my time is in demand, and it’s just not viable for me to be working for that little. The research and writing take time, and there are no shortcuts. They rejected a compromise and went elsewhere in the end, which upset me a bit because it made me feel like I wasn’t worth paying a reasonable amount. I didn’t need the work; I have as much as I’d like as it is. But it just made me feel undervalued and like I was being unreasonable, which everyone I’ve talked to about the situation since have assured me was far from the case. It put a cloud over an otherwise lovely birthday though. All part of being self-employed I guess; it’s not all lazy starts and mid-week flying!

On a happier note, here’s a little collage I did of some of the things we did for my birthday:

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On Losing My Voice

I was having a discussion with my dad the other day about the enjoyable intellectual challenges of being a copywriter, and one of the things that came up was the fact that I have to write in many different voices. As a copywriter, it’s essential that you’re able to adapt your writing style to suit the client you’re writing for. Luckily this is something I’ve always been very good at and enjoyed doing, but I’ve come to realise that in getting so used to doing this, and in spending so much time writing as other people or companies, I have started to lose a bit of my own voice.

In the last few months since going freelance, I’ve taken on the persona of an educational institution, a corporate client selling a very niche kind of software, two different American crime authors, a high-end manufacturer of luxury domestic appliances, a commercial property manager, an HR consultant, a supplier of industrial-scale electric generators, an HR agency and a web design agency. And somewhere along the way, my own voice lost its edge.

Not long ago I was looking at some blog posts and diary entries I wrote when I was 18, and I realised with a sinking feeling that they were a lot wittier and more interesting and imaginative than anything I write as myself now. I now feel that, writing as myself, I would struggle to make someone smile, let alone laugh. I read what I’ve written for my clients and am generally very happy with it. But I read my own blog posts and I’m deeply unsatisfied with them. The grammar and syntax is okay, but there’s little of the personality that used to characterise my writing.

Over the past few months I’ve started blogging a lot more on my own blogs so that I am still doing some writing in my own voice, but I feel my own writing has become boring and lacking in personality since becoming so used to writing in corporate styles. I hate reading my own posts and feel deeply inadequate when I compare my own blogs to those of others.

I don’t know why I thought writing this post was a good idea; I just wanted to get it off my chest I guess. I don’t know how to tackle this problem and the lack of time on my hands doesn’t help.

Fellow copywriters: have you experienced this? If so, how do you combat it? If you have any suggestions, please help!

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 20

Monday

Feeling refreshed from having had a lovely day off yesterday, I had a reasonably productive day working on yet another whitepaper, another one on Google Analytics (I’m learning loads!). Having done plenty of work on that, I started to lose focus so we went into town briefly for a change of scene, to take a load of clothes to a charity shop. After lunch I did a bit more whitepaper work and then half an article for a different client to finish the day on something a bit easier to write about (this one’s about various high achievers and how they got to where they are now).

Tuesday

I awoke at 5am and couldn’t get back to sleep because I had so many thoughts rushing through my head about all kinds of totally random things, like the Scottish referendum, how much I hated working for someone else in days thankfully gone by, all the work I have to get done, how I could maybe write a blog post for Air Experiences about weather forecasting, and plenty more besides. I didn’t exactly feel raring to go by the time it got to my 9am call with my international client, but it was nonetheless an interesting call, about how to revamp a page on their website so that it’s more engaging for young people. It’s a page that covers some complex issues and has to appeal to two very different audiences, so it will be a challenge to try to appeal successfully to both at once without dumbing down or talking at too high a level. After that I did some more work on the high achievers blog post and finished the latest Google Analytics whitepaper.

In the afternoon I went over to Lee’s parents’ house and my mother-in-law and I embarked on a new creative project together: candle-making! I’ll write about it on my other blog soon, but overall it went well and the candles did actually burn (they just didn’t smell very nice… scent to be added next time I think)!

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Wednesday

We went flying this morning as the weather was so nice, down to Oxford to take some ‘after’ shots requested by the Oxford Mail now that the floodwaters have subsided (they’ve now published them here: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/11045927.Now_you_see_it__now_you_don___t_as_floods_finally_start_to_recede/?ref=var_0_). Lee took the photos this time and I flew, which was quite a challenge because the sun was out, and therefore it was quite thermic (ergo bumpy). Good practice though! Here’s a photo I took as we were routing through Oxford Airport’s overhead.

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I did some work in the afternoon, first of all finishing the blog post about high achievers (it took me ages to think of suitable people to write about) and then some proofreading for a website a friend of mine is setting up. We ended the day lounging by the pool at the gym.

Thursday

I started the day with some research in preparation for a client call about a blog post I’m writing for them. They described it in the brief as a “tough post” to write, so we had a call to discuss what direction I should take with it and so on. After the call I managed to complete the post, and also started work on another whitepaper for a different client, about creating a marketing strategy. I also heard back about the email campaign I completed over the weekend, and the client loved it, so that was a big relief! The other thing I’ve done today is to write a blog post offering a 20% discount for travel companies, because I’m really keen to get some more work in the travel sector and I’d like to encourage more to try out my copywriting services. I’ll launch this next week, so if you only look at my blog to keep up with what I’ve been up to, I apologise in advance for the marketing post! In other news, the aurora borealis was sadly not in evidence here in Stratford, but then I think there’s just too much light pollution around here.

Friday

We were dog-sitting in the morning, and I had all these plans of what work I was going to get done at the same time, but ended up doing nothing except practising meteorology PPL exam questions (nearly ready to sit the exam I think). In the afternoon Lee had a dentist’s appointment, so I went with him so I could drive him home and did some work in the waiting room. I got a bit done but was mostly distracted by worrying about the horrible things the dentist was probably doing to my poor boyfriend. He was fine though; I was a lot more traumatised by the whole thing than he was!

Saturday

A good start to March, with beautiful sunshine and a sharp frost to wake up to. This is how I started the day:

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Lee was working at the airfield; for me, whitepapers were the unexciting order of the day, though I’d much rather have been out and about in the gorgeous weather while it lasts, and felt most envious of the pilots of all the planes that kept coming over. I had a satisfyingly productive day: I finished one whitepaper, wrote the entirety of another, wrote my next two articles for Warwickshire Life and Worcestershire Life, and somehow also found time to do a load of boring housework too. All within the space of 10.30am to 4.30pm!

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 19

Monday

I didn’t sleep very well last night and had a gentle start to the day, with Lee very sweetly bringing me breakfast in bed (without me even asking for it!) before he left for work. The rest of the day was fairly exhausting, as I worked very hard. First I put the finishing touches on a blog post and sent that off, then I wrote an entire whitepaper for another client. After that I priced up an email marketing campaign project for another client, and then I wrote the second half of a blog post for yet another client about summer travel opportunities, as a reward to end the day with. I’ve written tonnes today and now I just want to collapse in front of Dinner Date with some wine.

Tuesday

The day started with an international call with a new client – my first overseas one, which is very exciting. After that I worked on a blog post for a different client. For various reasons Lee and I were both in a bad mood though, so to cheer us up we went to Charlecote Park, and since the house is now open again we had a look round. I took lots of photos, which I’ll share on my other blog soon, but here’s one for now:

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While we were there we bumped into a couple of people we knew from having done the tree planting, so that was nice. After that we went to the gym for a swim and lounge by the pool/in the jacuzzi. On our way out we saw the International Space Station go over and that reminded me that we are going to see the Space Shuttle in Florida in October, so that also cheered me up. The other good news is that we’ve had a few web orders coming in for Air Experiences, which is encouraging.

Wednesday

A horrible, sad, difficult day, for reasons I’m not going to write about here, so I’ll just talk about work instead. I have a To Do list of paid work that takes up an entire A4 page at the moment, and it’s taking some serious tackling. I had a set-back yesterday because a client asked me to rewrite a couple of blog posts I’d really struggled with – it turned out that there had been attachments to the email brief for the posts, which I hadn’t seen because they weren’t mentioned in the email and I hadn’t scrolled down below the client’s email signature to see that they were there. These attachments turned out to be crucial to the posts, and without them, I had completely misunderstood the brief. So not only had I spent hours struggling with the initial writing of the posts, but then I had to waste most of the morning rewriting them when I had lots of other work that I needed to be getting on with. Sigh. So in the end I only had one short blog post and a bit of whitepaper research to show for the day’s efforts.

In the evening I had some infuriating correspondence with a Rome tour guide company who were looking for bloggers to write for them, but apparently my quoted £30 (reduced from £35) for a well-written, well-researched post is “too high” a price, and he can get “quality” for $32 (£19). Some of us are trying to make a living here. It’s so aggravating when people who want something for nothing, when they insult you by suggesting that your skills are next to worthless, and all I can say is that you get what you pay for. I highly doubt his £19-per-post writers are any good at what they do – that is FAR too little to pay a decent writer. Anyway. Let’s end on a better note. Here’s a cool picture I took on a brief stop at the airfield today (I didn’t fly).

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Thursday

I buried myself in my work all day, which was exhausting. I wrote a long whitepaper about Google Analytics dashboards, finished a blog post for another client and wrote most of one for another (the latter about orchestras, so that was a nice way to end the day). One of my clients got in touch to say that a blog post I’d written for them about grammar gripes had received so many clicks that it was the most popular ever with their email subscribers, so that was very gratifying. This is the post, if you’re interested: http://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/15-common-grammar-gripes-avoid.html. (I think they got the number of points wrong in the title through!) They also published a fun post I wrote the other day about British stereotypes: http://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/8-british-stereotypes-theyre-mostly-inaccurate.html.

I finished work at about 4pm and then spent an hour or so getting started on my PPL exam study again, which I’ve neglected for far too long. I have five more written exams to do, and I’m going to start with meteorology. It’s all about interpreting weather charts and making judgements on whether or not it’s suitable to fly, spotting signs of approaching fronts, and that sort of thing. Quite interesting and useful, and knowing this kind of stuff makes you feel jolly knowledgeable when you watch the weather forecast or look at the sky.

Friday

Another busy day spent working hard. In the morning I finished off the article about orchestras and started research for my latest big project, which is the email campaign for one of my clients that I mentioned earlier in this post. It has now been approved, and it involves my writing eight emails, six landing pages, six download pages and six follow-up emails. It sounded pretty daunting to start with, but I had a call with the client after lunch and now that I’ve started the work, I’m getting into the swing of it. My one and only break of the day was a quick trip to M&S for their latest meal deal. It was the first time I’ve been out of the house for a couple of days, and the sun was shining so it was nice to get out, however briefly. I’m going to be working tomorrow as well, so it doesn’t really feel like Friday, but I did stop at 4.30pm to make some banana bread. Hopefully once I’ve got through this massive mountain of work I can have two or three days off (or semi-off).

Saturday

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m spending the day working today, ploughing on with the email campaign. I’m quite enjoying it because it’s a change from the usual kind of content I write, and I’ve done this kind of thing before so I’m not having to struggle with a learning curve. I’m also fitting in a bit of time for my own blogging – see, I can’t stop writing, even in when I’m not working. Looking forward to a scheduled day off tomorrow and hopefully getting out and about.

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 18

Monday

After a lazy start that mostly involved gawping at the floods on the news, I had a productive day. First I started writing a blog post about education for this blog, which I may publish at some point (I haven’t decided whether or not to yet), and then I wrote a long article for a client on the subject of inaccurate British stereotypes, which was fun. After that I wrote another page of web copy for a different client, and I also had time to write a letter by hand to my Grandad. Lee went flying with one of his students and got some more photos of Oxford in flood again: http://www.airexperiences.co.uk/uncategorized/uk-floods-oxford-still-water-february-2014/

Tuesday

I had the morning off and Lee and I had an excursion to Studley, where Lee had found a little shop specialising in beer brewing. Having started the process of brewing the beer with the kit I got him for his birthday, things are going a bit slowly, so we were in need of some advice. The chap in the shop was most helpful and gave us lots of advice, and even better, he had a tiny black Lab puppy behind the counter!! Here she is:

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He let me pick her up, too. She was only ten weeks and so soft and cuddly! *love*

After that we went to the airfield, as the weather had cheered up considerably. We thought we might fly over to Worcester to get some photos of the floods, but by the time we got there the windsock was horizontal. Typical. So we ended up going home and doing some work instead. I wrote most of an article for a client, about Rome (an easy and enjoyable subject for me to write about), and got started on a whitepaper for a different client, about Google Analytics.

Wednesday

After another lazy start involving coffee in front of the weirdly compelling news coverage of the floods, we spent the day working and listening in amazement to the severity of the wind as another powerful storm passed through. It was a productive day; I finished my article on Rome, wrote a page of web copy that a client requested this morning, and did a load more work on the whitepaper I mentioned yesterday. We’ve also been liasing with the Oxford Mail, who are buying the photos of Monday’s flood for a double-page spread in their printed and possibly online editions this week. I stopped work at 4.30pm and made my favourite baked treat – banana bread.

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Thursday

We started the day with a fantastic hour-and-a-half motorglider flight over to Worcester and Tewkesbury to get some photographs of the floods there. It was so nice to be airborne again after many weeks of being stuck on the ground thanks to the weather. The sky was a little grey to the south but otherwise blue sky and sunshine ruled the day, and with clear skies, the snow-capped Malvern Hills were a beautiful backdrop to flooded Worcester. We took it in turns taking photos and flying the plane. Here’s one of the photos I took; the rest can be seen here: http://www.airexperiences.co.uk/aerial-photography/uk-floods-worcester/

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We also found out that one of the photos Lee took on Monday was on the front cover of the Oxford Mail today!

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We’ve been told that our double-page spread should be printed tomorrow, so that’s exciting.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sorting through our photos from the morning, putting them up on the blog and contacting various journalists and newspapers. I also did some more work on the whitepaper, but found it hard to concentrate as I was in aviation/Air Experiences mode. I soon had to knuckle down though, as I had a sudden influx of work all at once: about six whitepapers and four blog posts, for two different clients. I worked late and finished the whitepaper and the first of the blog posts, which felt a satisfying start.

Just before we went to bed I went on Twitter and had a look at the #TomorrowsPapersToday hashtag and found that one of the photos I took of a flooded Worcester Cricket Ground is on the front cover of the Daily Star tomorrow! I wish it had been a broadsheet, but at least this means there should be some cash coming our way soon!

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It was also on BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-26169252. Our blog is going pretty crazy again too – we’ve had 1,250 unique visitors today. Nothing like the last lot of Oxford flood pics (60,000 over three or four days), but still way above average!

Friday
We decided in the run-up to our first Valentine’s Day last year that we weren’t going to ‘do’ Valentine’s Day – i.e. none of the naff chocolates/flowers/cards – it’s all such a cliche and it’s exactly half way between our two birthdays too, and nobody needs that many cards and presents. All that said, this Valentine’s Day was a special one for us because we had been invited by Charlecote Park to plant a tree in their grounds. This came about because of the article I wrote on Charlecote for Warwickshire Life magazine – the people at Charlecote saw it and got in touch inviting Lee and me to plant a tree as part of their new year tree planting project. Lee and I also went to Charleceote on our first date, so it’s a special place for us! I’ll write about the tree planting in more detail on my other blog once I receive the pictures, but for now here’s a photo:

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Happily the weather held off just long enough for us to plant the tree, and after we had done that and posed for photos, we ventured down to Oxford. Our first port of call was a supermarket, where we bought all the newspapers our flood photos were in: the Daily Telegraph, the Mirror, the Daily Star, the Oxford Mail and the i (mini Independent). We also swung by the station to get a copy of the Metro, which also featured one of our photos. A resounding success this time round, and it’s made us a tidy sum to put towards the Florida holiday so yay!

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After that we had lunch at Yo! Sushi:

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And then went to the Ashmolean Museum, which I’ve not been to for so long that I’ve forgotten how to find my way around!

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We just had time to call in at Paperchase for a lovely cuttings book for all our press cuttings, Marks and Spencer for the Valentine’s Dine In deal and then my friend Hanna’s work so that we could collect yesterday’s Oxford Mail that she’d saved for us because it also had our photos in. We did very well for press coverage, as we also featured in various local papers and the National Trust website in conjunction with our tree planting! Here are a couple of the links:
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1355822789882/
http://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/2014/02/14/news-Flying-couple-plant-tree-at-roots–96931.html

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And here we are in the Oxford Times – this is the feature that appeared as a double page spread in there Oxford Mail printed edition: http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/11010273.Flooding_from_the_sky/

We celebrated in the evening with Champagne, steak and chips. All in all, it was the best Valentine’s Day I have ever had! :)

Saturday and Sunday

Saturday was spent with my grandparents, which was lovely, and today the weather is glorious so Lee is instructing, and I am trying to make a dent in the mountain of work I have to try and get done before the end of the month. Wish me luck – I’m going to need it!

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 17

Monday

We’re both suffering from colds/man flu this week, with the result that I got just two hours of sleep last night and felt knackered all day. Nevertheless, I still managed to launch my new blog, CosyLife.co.uk. I also got another article published on Warwickshire Life, which you can read here: http://www.warwickshirelife.co.uk/out-about/walks/notes_from_a_warwickshire_pilot_ridge_and_furrow_1_3281033. On top of that, I wrote three quarters of an article on common grammar mistakes. By the time the evening came round we were both so shattered that we couldn’t be bothered to cook, so we guiltily ordered a Dominos pizza. This is another reason I need to live in a village in the middle of nowhere!

Tuesday

After another night with no more than two hours’ sleep, I had a lovely day out in Cirencester with my dad. We went to the Corinium Museum (which mostly had a Roman focus) and had lunch at a nice place called Jesse’s Bistro. You can read all about it here:  http://www.cosylife.co.uk/places/cirencester. The day was also notable because I got my first ever parking ticket, which I was gutted about as I’m very conscientious about that sort of thing! I think it was due to the machine not having recognised all the change I’d put in before it issued the ticket, and stupidly I didn’t think to check the time on the ticket. I won’t be making that mistake again!

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Wednesday

I spent most of the day working, writing a blog post for one client and finishing another long article for another, the one on grammar gripes – a good topic for me to tackle, as I have strong views about the importance of correct grammar! We went to the gym late afternoon and I nursed my heavy cold in the herbal sauna and steamroom, which are basically like giant vats of Olbas oil and work wonders on blocked sinuses. When we got back this beautiful book had been delivered, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, which cheered me up enormously.

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Thursday

I slept really badly yet again owing to the horrid cold. I dragged myself out of bed at about 9am and spent most of the morning reading the newspaper and feeling sorry for myself. Once again books cheered me up, with the arrival of 21 vintage Observer books that I bought on eBay – the start of a new collection. I love second-hand bookshops, so this will give me something to look out for each time I go into one!

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In the afternoon we went over to Leamington Spa for a tour of the Guide Dogs Training School, where all the gorgeous puppies learn how to be guide dogs. I’ve written about it here:  http://www.cosylife.co.uk/places/guide-dog-training-school-tour/.

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When we got back I finished off a page of web copy for a client and started writing another article for a different client. This one’s about literary terms, so it’s taking me back to my school days of studying English Literature. There are so many terms I’d forgotten about, but it’s reminding me how good I used to be at interpreting poetry – a skill I fear I have now all but lost. Amazing how one loses skills when one doesn’t use them, though I daresay I could get back the knack for it if I put my mind to it. There are all sorts of lovely poems about the country in The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, so perhaps I should start there.

Friday

Thankfully the cold from hell let me have a better night’s sleep last night – I only woke up once or twice, which was a significant improvement. After a lazy start, I wrote some more of the literary terms article, which I’m enjoying. The post arrived and to my delight, my dad had posted me the chocolate he bought me in the Corinium Museum shop but forgot to give me before we went home, with a handwritten postcard included, which I loved (I’m a sentimental sort and always treasure these things). In a bizarre coincidence, I also had a weighty package in the post from my Times Plus subscription which also turned out to be a slab of chocolate (I hadn’t ordered any – it was just a random subscriber gift), so that was the best post I’ve had in ages, as I only ever get bills. Nothing like random nice surprises in the post to cheer one up when one is under the weather.

In the afternoon we had planned to go to the cinema to see The Wolf of Wall Street, but we were half way to Coventry when we decided that neither of us actually felt in the mood for the cinema after all. So we spontaneously decided to pay a visit to the Coventry Transport Museum, which turned out to be surprisingly brilliant. I’ve written about it here: http://www.cosylife.co.uk/places/coventry-transport-museum.

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After that we popped into Ikea to stock up on candles and headed home for lasagne and a film. All in all, an excellent Friday.

Saturday

I spent the majority of the day working, but I enjoyed it. In the morning I finished off my post on literary terms, and in the afternoon, interspersed with watching Borgen, I wrote another blog post for a different client as the wind howled dramatically around the house. In the evening I made an amazingly simple Golden Syrup sponge pudding, the recipe for which is coming to my new blog soon…

A quick note about my new blog

As promised, this is just a quick note to let you know about my new blog. It’s called Cosy Life and it’s where I’ll be writing about personal stuff – e.g. recipes and outings – from now on. Diary of a Freelancer and any other copywriting-related posts will continue on this blog.

If you’d like to continue receiving all my updates, please head on over to Cosy Life and enter your email address to subscribe. Hope you like it – let me know what you think!

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