Half way through the year

June has been and gone, and it was another insanely busy month for me, with the result that I’ve made virtually no progress on my PPL and have had very few days off. The workload looked like this:

  • 29 educational articles (2,000 words each – 58,000 words in total!!)
  • A business profile/proposal doc for a client
  • A sales email promoting a new resource website for another client
  • Another whitepaper for the same client
  • Some social media updates for the same client
  • Two blog posts for Air Experiences
  • A three-hour meeting writing blog posts and promotional letters for another client
  • A blog post on online accessibility for another client
  • Six more events listings for the prestigious/luxury client

On top of that:

  • Our parents met for the first time when we all had lunch together in Cirencester; they got on really well!
  • We’ve flown to the Isle of Wight for the day
  • We’ve flown to Dover for the day
  • We visited Packwood House
  • We’ve started crewing for the hot air balloon again
  • And I’m still volunteering for Guide Dogs every Thursday morning, walking dogs/puppies

I’m coping ok with this much bigger workload, though I sometimes wish I could have more time off. It gets pretty intense when I’m struggling to get everything written and then I have edits to make on top of that, and new projects to price up, invoices to send/chase, accounts to keep (theoretically – still behind on that!), and a life to live. Hence why I’m not updating this blog so often now!

As ever, you can keep up to date with my non-work activities over at www.cosylife.co.uk.

I’m still here

Hi all,

Just to let you know that I am still here. Hopefully you’re not missing Diary of a Freelancer too much. ;-)

May has been busy on an unprecedented scale. I must have written and edited many tens of thousands of words, including:

  • Tonnes more long education articles
  • Nearly a hundred meta descriptions and introductory texts for a software client
  • A blog post for a lovely lady who’s about to publish a craft book
  • Three digital marketing whitepapers
  • Two case studies for an industrial client
  • Four blog posts about Thailand and Burma for a new travel client
  • Some copy for my wedding photographer client
  • Two pages for a solicitor via a digital marketing agency client
  • An Italian pizza delivery menu and slogans
  • Copy for eight pages of a sign-maker/graphic design website

Phew! No wonder I am suffering from repetitive strain injury and general exhaustion. On top of all that, I’ve somehow also found time to:

    • Pass three more PPL exams (communications, meteorology, aircraft general knowledge)
    • Pass my aircraft radio practical exam (with flying colours!) to obtain my aircraft radio licence
    • Fly solo again for the first time since September
    • Fly in a very fancy motorglider, including in an aerotow (pulling a glider)
    • See Jimmy Carr
    • Fly to another airfield for Sunday lunch
    • Meet up with various friends and family in Oxford
    • Buy a MacBook Air
    • Buy a coffee machine (and learn how to use it!)

I’ve written a few blog posts on my other blog about non-work activities – check out http://www.cosylife.co.uk. I’ve only had three days off this month, and I’m hoping that June will be a little more forgiving.

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 30

Monday

Bank Holidays don’t mean anything when you’re self-employed, and today I demonstrated that fact by carrying on working on the email marketing whitepaper I’m doing at the moment. I had just enough time at the end of the day to walk into town and see what was left of the Festival of Motoring – the streets of Stratford taken over by classic cars. The cars looked quite incongruous outside Shakespeare’s birthplace:

photo 1(28)

Work is constantly on my mind at the moment because I have so much of it, as a result of which I am currently feeling anxious and stressed for much of the time.

Tuesday

I will add “lonely” to the list of anxious and stressed today. One of the perils of working from home/being freelance I guess. Still, I got a fair bit done – I finished the whitepaper and wrote another long education article. I am bursting with ideas for things I want to write for myself, but have no time for anything beyond my occasional Cosy Life posts.

Wednesday

Today I learnt that my policy of always checking in advance that meetings of any kind are still on is a good one that I ought always to stick to. A meeting with a new client had been arranged a couple of weeks ago for today, and I had incorrectly assumed that if I heard nothing, it would be going ahead. The one time I didn’t think to check that it was going ahead, it wasn’t. So a wasted battle through traffic resulted in my standing outside the designated meeting area for ten minutes, having texted to let them know I was there, until the client called to explain the situation! A complete failure on my part and I shall never again stray from my policy. Still, I treated myself to a sandwich from Marks and Spencers on the way back to the car, so it wasn’t a complete write-off.

On a better note, I had an email from one of my biggest clients after lunch saying that the long articles I’ve been writing for them are proving so successful that they want to (more than) double the number of articles I’m writing for them. Quite how I shall manage to fit all that in remains to be seen, but I’m pretty chuffed! I spent the afternoon working on various bits of work, including a starting a couple of pages of website copy for a solicitor, and starting a new whitepaper on increasing the number of subscribers to your blog.

In the evening we went to a rather disappointing meeting at the airfield about its future. Recent media reports have suggested that the future of the airfield is now secure, but apparently this is far from the case and it is in just as much danger as it ever was. But because the press have said that it’s safe, everyone now thinks it is, and attendance went from about 100 people at the first meeting to about 25 at this one. Poor show.

Thursday

I had my morning at Guide Dogs today, and wasn’t too enthusiastic when I woke up to find it raining heavily. Not a shower – the sort of persistent heavy rain that lingers all day. So I ended up having two long walks in the rain with Blakey and Wendi and the room was filled with the pungent scent of wet dog. Still, they’re so sweet that one doesn’t mind. This is little Petal, everyone’s favourite.

photo 2(28)

When I got home I rapidly engaged my work brain and got to work on another education article, this time about how to research an essay effectively. Then it was more work on another whitepaper, this time about increasing your blog subscribers.

Friday

I started the day with a last-minute request for a press release, and then put the finishing touches on the whitepaper and sent that off. I spent the rest of the day working on more education articles, including one about common English cliches, which was fun.

Finally, just a note to say that I shall be winding down ‘Diary of a Freelancer’ in the coming weeks, reducing it to a fortnightly or monthly update with less detail. It’s been a great way of documenting my first few months as a freelancer, for my own sake, but I don’t feel that it’s providing much benefit for the time it takes (it hasn’t increased search engine traffic, for example) and I get precious little comment or anything about it, so I’m really not sure it’s worth the effort! I also don’t want to continue revealing quite so much about what I get up to; although I only put a fraction of what I do into these posts, I want to regain a bit more privacy. However, please do subscribe to my other blog, Cosy Life, if you want to keep up with the non-work stuff I’m doing.

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 29

Monday
We had a lazy start, having both worked all day on Sunday but not yet really back in the swing of things after our eventful week off. When I eventually got started, I worked on a blog post for a client, revamping one that a colleague of theirs had written. I also priced up a big new project for them, which they have given the go-ahead for; I’m a little concerned as to how I shall fit everything in, as I’m planning on finishing my PPL off in May too! After lunch I wrote a blog post for my other blog about the lovely art exhibition launch that Lee and I were invited to at Upton House over the weekend (http://www.cosylife.co.uk/culture/new-exhibition-upton-house/), and then got to work on another education article.

Tuesday
I started the day by finished the education article I started yesterday, this time offering advice to non-UK residents about the UK schooling system. After that I wrote up my carrot cake recipe for my other blog (http://www.cosylife.co.uk/recipes/iced-spiced-carrot-cake-recipe/), and then it was onto another education article, which I managed to get finished by 5pm so that I could go to the airfield and fly Wilhelm, our new plane. It was my first time flying in the left (captain’s) seat, and we did some really useful revision on how to recover from stalls and so on. When we landed we taxied to the place we’ve been parking Wilhelm, which is a bit away from the other aircraft and next to a deserted carparking area. In said carpark there was a Polish car full of four really dodgy-looking guys, who were drinking and smoking and looking quite intently at us as we parked. We felt pretty uncomfortable and decided to switch the engine back on and taxi Wilhelm over to where all the other aircraft were parked. We called the Police 101 number and told them about it and they immediately dispatched a couple of officers to investigate; there have been fuel thefts from the aircraft there in recent months and it was about 6.30pm by that point, after closing time. From a distance, we saw the police arrive and they were there for *ages* talking to the guys and calling up on their radios. Unfortunately our cars were parked right next to this Polish car (I had driven over to join Lee there so we had both cars there) and we were scared to go back because it would be obvious it was us who called the cops, as we were the only ones at that part of the airfield! So we hung about at one of the flying schools for a while and then ventured over – just as the police were about to drive off with one of the Polish guys! So it looks as though we were right to be suspicious. So that was a bit of unexpected drama on a Tuesday evening!

Wednesday

I had a challenging morning working on a page of web copy for my international client, once again trying to make a complex topic into something understandable for someone who knows nothing about it. As I know nothing about it myself, making sense of it myself was half the battle! My brain was feeling a bit frazzled by the end of the morning, and I struggled to concentrate on my next bit of work (a whitepaper about email marketing, for a different client), so I decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and walk into town. I had a voucher for four free packs of seeds from The Works (no purchase necessary!), so I chose courgettes, sunflowers, sweet peas and Nigella (Love in a Mist). On the way back I treated myself to a jam doughnut milkshake (yes, really), and when I got home I took some further time out to plant my various new seeds in the few spaces we have left. I spent the rest of the day mostly working on even more education articles, as I have been given an extra one to do for Monday.

photo 1(27)

Thursday

It was my morning with Guide Dogs this morning, so most of the morning was spent walking first Wendi and then Blakey, which was very good exercise. Here’s a photo of Wendi and me in the park!

photo 2(27)

The rain held off just long enough for me to walk them, and then it absolutely poured down, so I timed that well. When I got home I had more work waiting for me from my international client, just a small bit, so I did that and finished my latest education article in the afternoon.

Friday

I’m a bit stressed out, as I really have too much work at the moment. I had an education article to write today that took longer than normal because it required a lot of research (it’s about Oxford-based companies that were founded by Oxford graduates – I resisted the temptation to put Air Experiences!), which delayed my schedule. I had a call with another client to brief me on another big project I’m about to start for them, and also had to carry on with some whitepaper work that I started the other day. When I needed a break I popped out for half an hour to get the Dine In deal from Marks and Spencer for the weekend, and then it was back to work. It’s far better to have too much work than too little, of course, but it’s constantly on my mind because of just how much there is to get done! Gah!

Bank Holiday weekend

It’s been a mixture of work and play this weekend. Lee unexpectedly didn’t have to work, so that was nice. I worked on Saturday morning and we went flying in the afternoon, and then had the whole of yesterday off and back to work this morning. Head over to my other blog for what I’ve been up to over the weekend: http://www.cosylife.co.uk. Here’s a taster!

photo 3(18)

Diary of a Freelancer – Week 28

Hi everyone!

No Diary of a Freelancer this week as I’ve been away – travelling to Germany to buy an aircraft and flying it back! It was rather an eventful trip and you can read all about it over on my other blog, Cosy Life.

Part one is here: http://www.cosylife.co.uk/flying/day-bought-plane/

And there are a couple more to come about the journey back, so pop your email in the ‘subscribe’ box to make sure you don’t miss any updates!

Back to work today and I’m swamped again, so normal service resumed next week. :)

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/).

DSC_0137

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/

photo 1(23)

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.

photo 2(23)

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:

photo 2(19)

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.

photo 1(19)

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:

photo 3(14)

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.

photo 4(10)

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:

photo(16)

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:

photo 1(20)

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.

photo 2(20)

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)!

photo 1(10)

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!

photo 2(8)

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:

photo(8)

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.

photo 1(9)

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!

photo 2

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…

photo 1(8)

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).

photo 2(7)

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:

DSC_1478

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!

IMG_5979

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:

IMG_5983

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…

IMG_6014

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):

IMG_6044

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.

Travel companies: get your exclusive 20% copywriting discount!

Are you a travel company? Are you looking for someone who’ll write engaging travel-related content that keeps people coming back to your website and boosts your Google rankings?

I can help – and better still, I can give you an exclusive 20% discount!

Here’s a little overview of my travel sector experience…

Whatever the destination, and whatever the angle, I can promise you well-researched, interesting copy that people want to read and share. What’s more, with my SEO background, I know what works when it comes to content that boosts your Google rankings.

Travel writing is my biggest writing passion and I’m keen to work with more travel companies, so if you’d like me to write for you, get in touch now and claim your exclusive 20% discount off your first piece of content to try my services for yourself.

Smallprint: offer valid for your first piece of content from me. Offer expires 31/3/14.

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:

photo 2(6)

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

photo 1(7)

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:

photo 3(6)

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:

photo 4(5)

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!