Tentatively optimistic of Hampshire

It really is the New Year, end of January and its bitter outside. How are you? I hope you’re keeping warm and safe and not feeling too depressed by lockdown 3.0. I’m interested to hear if you’re approaching things differently this year knowing we’ve been here before. I’m wrapped up and can be found mainlining tea in my office although I’m feeling optimistic. This year has got off to a much better start than I predicted.

I started my copywriting course, finally! Rather than squander our second week off at Christmas, Pete and I decided to have a little structure of sorts. Wake up, though not before 10am because you know, we were on holiday, breakfast, train, lunch, social media/news catch up, followed by a couple of hours of both of us studying. And we stuck to it. I’m struggling to wake up early after having so many lie-ins though.

There was something quite pleasing seeing us both study and work together to achieve our dreams. I sat in one area of the sitting room, Pete the other; headphones in and off we went. I made a dent in my course, covering topics I knew already, and others I didn’t. It also made me reflect on the web copy I developed last year, rethinking the way I would have approached the copy if I had to do it again.

I’m nearly at the end of the course and focusing on homework; one piece I must nail is coming up with a ‘spec ad’ in collaboration with a designer. This could be a banner ad, poster or leaflet co-developed by me and a designer for a brand I choose. The idea is that if I want to work as a copywriter, I need to showcase my writing but without any paid copywriting work under my belt it’s a bit tricky. I have a number of examples of creative writing, but I need more copywriting experience than just my web copy examples. The spec ad needs to be designed and written in the same style and tone of voice of the brand I choose so that if a prospective employer or client saw it, they wouldn’t be able to tell whether it was real or not. Ergo showcasing how well I have captured the tone of voice of the brand, and the designer’s creative skills.

What I have found interesting doing this course is the sometimes-conflicting advice I’m receiving. I follow an award-winning copywriter, Kate Toon, who I think I’ve mentioned last year. Listening to one of her podcasts, she and her co-host copywriter don’t agree that you need a spec ad to start out and be noticed; they feel a blog has more clout. Kate says she generates a lot of her business from people who have read her blog, rather than her portfolio.

I am torn, because I do find myself more drawn to Kate’s way of working, style and she has more experience than my current tutor. I am however going to do the spec ad, if only to see what it’s like working with a designer, and how hard I find it. Because I’m still a bit dubious that writing copy for banner, ads, posters etc. is for me!

To do the ad justice, I need clear space in my diary, and hold on to your hat’s folks, I’ve managed to obtain approval for my 4-day compressed week! I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen especially as I was starting a new role, but the new boss is impressed by my work ethic and thinks it’s achievable. What a relief. It’s now all systems go, no more excuses for me.

Another area I need to focus on is beefing up my social media presence. I made a concerted effort one weekend to do more on it, and oh my gosh doesn’t social media marketing swallow up your day before you know it! I spent nearly 4 hours re-doing my Facebook business profile, linking it to my business Instagram account, which has been renamed @staffordwrites. I researched the best scheduling tool (Later) to schedule my posts to both accounts, developed content and built on an idea I had last year to showcase my work: ‘Thank You Thursday’. It’s aimed at giving coverage to brands I’ve worked with, both raising their profile and my writing, and I managed to get my first post created, scheduled and ready to go. I felt quite proud and satisfied at the end of it all. And needing a lie down.

Come Thursday though nothing had been posted. Zip, nada, rien. I wasn’t impressed. And although I’ve tried to fix things, I can’t schedule any posts via Later as it’s a FB issue. Whilst trying, unsuccessfully to fix the FB problem, I stumbled across their scheduling tool which does work, and while it doesn’t give me all the data Later does, I’ve spent way too much time on FB trying to fix it. It will have to do for now.

I’ve updated LinkedIn again and it seems to be creating more interest too. Do you remember my column from July? I discussed my thoughts on the job descriptions I was seeing on The Dots and one that had caught my eye – Chief Change Maker. Well, a Chief Change Maker contacted me about a prospective role as an Innovation writer. Unexpected and very much welcomed and I’ve responded. Even if it comes to nothing, the connection is a good one and who knows what might happen further down the line. I mean, to just know a Chief Change Maker is exciting.

While January started in lockdown, again, and the weather outside is either freezing or wet, this year, dare I say it, has the makings of a good year. I’ve a spring in my step and nervous excitement about possible opportunities. All I want now is a good dump of snow please!

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