Last Friday, I was invited by Melinda and Emma to join them at Larkswold for an afternoon of Calligraphy.
I've had the pleasure of their company and the chilled Larkswold vibe before, and so I jumped at the chance! The first time I visited was with my sister and friend to create some Lino prints and then last autumn a group of friends huddled together to create gorgeous autumn wreaths to adorn our front doors.
These ladies know how to create the most perfect atmosphere for crafting, relaxation and fun.
The marquee is set in the picturesque grounds of Melinda's home - Aldestrop station. The location that poet Edward Thomas wrote the famous poem of the same name. (She frequently has random strangers pop their head through the gate for a sneek peak!).
When you arrive, you feel as though you have known the hosts for years (well, I have but I think everyone feels the same), they envelope you in a warm cocoon of Hygge and each time I am delighted by the beautifully considered decor (think a crafty Cotswold version of the Great British Bake Off). Hay bales, gorgeous scents from home made candles, bunting, fairy lights and of course copious amounts of tea/coffee, Cake (and if we do a good job, it's not unknown to be offered a glass of fizz or a beer!)
This time, I left with my (reasonably good) calligraphy practice, an ink pen, ink and nib to continue the practice at home - and as always a little goody bag from Larkswold to take home too.
We will definitely be back.... I have my eye on the beeswax wraps and my friend is keen to try the silversmithing which is taught my another friend of mine Caroline Craven.
If you haven't already, do take a look at what they offer. You can attend on your own, with friends or even as a corporate event. Either way, I can assure you of a warm welcome and a gorgeous way to while away some hours in the pictureque Cotswolds.
Investing in your business
This month, I celebrate my 5th year in business, and my 3rd year being fully self-employed with Ta-Dah!
Ta-dah! started as a side-hustle… having worked in a corporate career at IBM for many years, I found myself redundant, with 2 very young children, a husband who was working anti-social hours as a head chef and looking for part time work to fit around the children.
You can probably imagine, a part-time and flexible role that paid well were slim pickings!... I ended up working in a call-centre and then in an admin role for a high street retailer just to be able to be able to work flexible hours.
Fast forward a few years, and I found myself picking up some ad-hoc work alongside a part-time job as a business manager for a community enterprise, that meant I could put my business admin skills to good use, and I learned that being a VA (or Virtual Assistant) was an actual career!
Over 2 years, I grew my side-hustle into a viable business.
In the beginning, I could only dream of being fully self-employed and running my own successful business. I was so fortunate to have employers who supported my dream and I was able to negotiate leaving my ‘paid’ job as a Marketing Manager but for them to take me on as a freelancer for 6 months.
That was my lucky break. They signed a 6-month contract, which gave me the financial stability I needed to begin growing my business.
That was 3 years ago and I have not looked back.
But, as with a lot of start-up businesses, keeping the costs down is important as you always wonder where the next job is coming from and you don’t want to over commit.
Looking back, I can see that it took quite a while before I could believe that this business was sustainable. I still pinch myself now!
So, it’s year 5, we’ve had a pandemic and several changes in focus & I am ready to invest!
Starting out, I think I paid £50 for a basic logo (I’ve had 4 iterations since then!)
A box of Business cards
Year 2 – I built my own website (which is still going), had different business cards with a new logo and still kept investments low
Year 3 – I went fully self-employed, all of the above, plus roller banner!
Invested in Athena Networking Membership, which was my biggest outlay, but I knew I needed to be consistent in my networking and have a support group too.
Year 4 – Same as above, but I rebranded - invested in a new logo and new direction of the business focussing on Events….
Year 5 – The Pandemic gave me the opportunity to re-assess the direction of my business now that the events industry was badly hit. Interestingly, at what is probably the worst time financially, my resilience kicked in and I knew that this is the time to refresh and invest in the business for growth.
My motto is always ‘Go big…. or go home!
Taking these steps has involved a lot of thought and trust in my business.
I felt hat by making these investments, I am investing in a business with longevity and one that aligns with my values.
One of my biggest investments this year has been engaging a copywriter to write the sales page for my new Business Boost Programme which allows me to work 1:1 with female entrepreneurs who have a vision for their business but are struggling with the steps to take to make it a reality.
Through my coaching, I realised that I was getting ‘stuck’ and unable to move forward because I felt the need for the wording to be absolutely right, and to resonate with my ideal client. As soon as I found Anita from Glittering Copy, we clicked straight away and our values were aligned. I knew I had made the right decision in working with her and when she sent me the first draft I replied saying ‘Wow! I want to buy these services. The relief was palpable.
A month or so on, the investment is still paying for itself… not only did it give me the copy for my sales page, but it also boosted my confidence, attracted the right clients AND it’s allowed me to re-purpose the content for my social media (which so many people have commented on positively).
I have now invested in a new website which is being worked on as I type! With a focus on SEO and creating something that will bring me new enquiries.
The coaching has been really valuable, and I look forward to completing my NLP qualification in the Summer and implementing my learnings with my clients as I work 1:1 with them so turn their business vision into a reality.
If you are thinking of investing more financially in your business, my advice would be to try and become aware of the things that you feel are holding you back in your business. Whether that is mindset, skills in a certain area or areas of personal development. These are the things to invest in and you will reap the rewards so quickly.
I am always happy to have a chat over a cuppa (virtual or real) if you would like to talk things through and gain more clarity on where to invest next. Drop me a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s easy to feel that you should be posting in ALL of the places, ALL of the time!.
But take a minute to consider where your ideal client hangs out and engages.
For me, that’s over on LinkedIn and Instagram.
I am not a big fan of Twitter… its moves too fast and I do not cope well when having to restrict the characters in my posts.. (why say in a sentence, something you can spin out into a paragraph or two lol!)
I hang out in the places I enjoy interacting and posting, and where I know my dreamies are.
When writing marketing content, I like to follow the following pillars:
The Pillars of Creating Content
Use Tools to Help Your Creative Flow
I like to use Canva and Trello when creating content and planning.
Canva allows me to use consistent branding and templates which are professional and eyecatching. Trello allows me to keep tabs on which content I am planning on using, drafting the status and see everything in one place visually (that’s an important aspect for me as a creative and visual person).
I keep a list for Newsletter Ideas, Instagram, LinkedIn, and general posts.
I try to ensure that my content follows the pillars above, but also links to the following
Don’t re-invent the wheel: Work smarter not harder when creating content.
I hope this has been useful and perhaps given you a few extra ideas for creating content to market your business.
Leave a comment below and let me know.
I am writing this as you are all no doubt enjoying the long Bank Holiday weekend, and feeling slightly nauseous from the overdose of chocolate and hot cross buns!
This weekend, whilst still in lockdown (although 6 of us did gather in the garden legally!), we enjoyed our family annual Easter egg hunt, a roast lamb dinner and way too much chocolate. But I also enjoyed seeing the many families in my neighbourhood enjoying the Easter Rock Trail that I created for everyone to enjoy.
An idea came to me a week or so ago, that I could create a a little trail of painted rocks that everyone could enjoy – even with restrictions in place. I ordered some acryclic paints online and have found the creation of the arty stones a really mindful and enjoyable way to spend some time. I’ve enjoyed creating different designs and my favourites are probably the cherry blossom.
I left a trail of 20 rocks around the neighbourhood for people to enjoy as they take a walk over the bank holiday weekend.
When my husband asked me why I had gone to all the bother of doing it, I wasn’t really sure of my answer other than it seemed a nice thing to do.
But as I think about it more, I realise that it sings to my core values. I recognise that creating the trail, painting the rocks and offering something to my fellow neigbours to enjoy speaks directly to my values of Community, Kindness and Creativity. So it’s no wonder that I have been so uplifted by organising this – even if nobody takes part – but I am sure they will.
It has really been lovely to hear how many people enjoyed taking part and there is talk of making more next year and creating an annual event!
What has bought you joy this Easter? I would love to hear about your traditions. Drop me an email here