Victoria responded to my request for small business owners to showcase themselves and their businesses on my blog to provide insight, advice and inspiration for others who are starting up/thinking of starting up their own small businesses – including me!
The idea originally formed because I was fascinated by people’s stories and reasons for setting up their own businesses and I wanted to learn as much as I could in order to educate myself for the benefit of my own business.
I wanted to find a way to ask the questions I wanted the answers to but I realised that if I was interested surely others were interested in the answers too! In addition, I wanted the businesses willing to share their stories to get something in return so I devised the ‘Small Business Showcase’ blog series which will give each small business featured promotion across social media. Win-win for everyone!
The same 10 questions were posed to all small businesses via questionnaire – here are Vicky’s replies:
1) How would you summarise the service(s)/product(s) your business offers?
Small businesses exist because passionate, talented and knowledgeable people profoundly believe in the product or service that they provide. Sometimes it’s difficult to put this expertise and enthusiasm into words though and this is where I come in. I am a freelance copywriter and I specialise in producing thought leadership communications (white papers, expert articles and case studies) that answer the questions that clients or customers may have about the business, its products or its services. This helps to position the business as an authority within its sector and ultimately contributes to increased sales and grows trust in the brand.
2) How long have you been a small business owner?
Not long at all! I landed my first client in August 2017 and set up my business soon after. The first year was really tough – I was writing every single spare minute that I had whilst also working as a Philosophy Lecturer and looking after my three pre-school children. I was very lucky to land a couple of fantastic clients early on and this gave me the confidence to pursue the freelancing even though it was a bit of a struggle at times. I’m so pleased that I stuck it out though because the hard work has really paid off and I have been able to reduce my teaching hours this year in order to focus more on the business. Hopefully the coming year will be a bit less of a juggling act.
3) What inspired you to set up your business?
I originally stumbled into copywriting when a friend asked me to help her out with a communications project that she was working on. I quickly picked up on the brief and really enjoyed the work. My natural writing skills, academic background and attention to detail made me a good fit for copywriting and I started looking into it as a potential career. I was fortunate to be offered a couple of days work in a communications consultancy soon after and this really confirmed my decision to pursue copywriting as a viable business. I’m really pleased to say that it’s all worked out really well and I continue to work for the communications consultancy on an ad hoc basis in addition to having my own clients.
4) What platforms/strategies do you use to promote your business?
LinkedIn is the platform that I use the most for networking – I find my connections so helpful and supportive and I’ve landed more clients through this platform than any other. I have a business page on Facebook but I’m generally not very good at promoting myself on social media – so far I haven’t really had to as most of my clients have come either through referrals or through LinkedIn, but I think that will probably have to change in the future.
I write articles for a local magazine (Southsea Lifestyle) and have contributed features to a couple of national publications which helps with my visibility as a writer. My blog (www.jellynightmares.com) has appeared in the national press and receives a lot of traffic and this has also helped to promote me as a writer. I attend networking events which I really enjoy because I like meeting new people and I’m particularly looking forward to putting some faces to names at September’s LinkedIn Local event in Portsmouth.
5) What do you consider your greatest business achievement so far?
I’m just really proud of myself for doing it! It’s been really tough at times and I’ve felt pulled in so many different directions but it’s been so worth it and I’ve received some lovely testimonials from clients. My students’ A Level results were also brilliant (although that was down to them not me) and my children are all still alive (just about) so although I would never want to repeat a year like the first year- it turned out fine and I’m feeling really positive about the future.
6) What do you consider your greatest business challenges?
The things I find the hardest are probably true for most copywriters who are just starting out. Working out exactly what the client wants (my briefing questions have improved dramatically over the year!) and pricing. I am very conscious that I undervalued myself massively in the beginning and although I have now increased my prices in line with the industry standard, I still sometimes have self-doubt. Reading client testimonials and seeing how much my portfolio has grown helps with this!
7) What resources/training have been most beneficial to your business so far?
In terms of resources it will most definitely be my website. For the past year I’ve been using a DIY Wix site which has a lot of limitations. I’ve been working with Junction Six Design to produce a new professional site which will showcase my writing properly and I anticipate that this will be hugely beneficial to my business. Junction Six designed my blog site for me and I noticed increased engagement with the blog as well as receiving lots of positive comments from my followers as a result of their endeavours.
8) What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Go for it! It’s hard work but the joy of being your own boss and working to your own schedule makes it worth it. If you can limit the financial risk by continuing to work in your current job then I would absolutely recommend doing this. Although my first year in business was very busy and quite stressful, the fact that I had my lecturing salary coming in every month meant that I could afford to take risks with my business and didn’t feel pressurised into taking on projects that I didn’t feel comfortable with. It also meant that I could charge low fees at first in order to grow my portfolio.
9) What are your future plans for your business?
I am really happy with how my business is growing at the moment. I am working with some fantastic clients and have a couple of really interesting projects lined up from October. Ideally I would like to earn enough to be able to reduce my teaching hours down to one day a week. I don’t think I’ll ever leave teaching completely as I love working with students and would find it hard to give up the philosophy, but it would be good to be able to reduce my hours and be able to spend more time working from home.
10) Are there any other small businesses you would like to give a shout out to who have been an inspiration/support to you?
Junction Six Design I’ve mentioned before but Simon and Emma have been just brilliant in being able to understand exactly what I want, putting up with a constantly changing brief (sorry guys) and still delivering a high quality product within the deadline. Check them out if you are after web design or graphic design work.
John Espirian, who I know has been showcased previously, has been relentlessly helpful and was kind enough to feature me in his list of recommended copywriters which was incredibly flattering and has helped hugely with my visibility on LinkedIn. John is a great guy and any copywriters out there should follow or connect with him immediately- you’ll learn a huge amount of really useful stuff I promise.
Gill Andrews is another LinkedIn hero of mine. Gill posts brilliant tips about website design and I follow her avidly- she’s also really friendly and super helpful as well as being incredibly knowledgeable. I should also mention my fellow associates at the Hoxby Collective- I’ve received a huge amount of support from other Hoxbys and the Hoxby vision of flexible and collaborative working is a philosophy which makes so much sense in the technological age. Definitely worth checking them out if you are a freelancer.
And I must mention you of course Claire! I’m very flattered to be featured in your blog and it’s great seeing your business go from strength to strength. I always enjoy reading your posts on LinkedIn and it’s been nice getting to know you better by working with you on this.
Any other comments?
My ‘Small Business Showcase’ blog series will be published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday – previous showcases can be read here, here, here, here, here and here and here.
If you would like to feature your small business too, please email me at email@example.com.