I do actually like them.
Mondays that is.
Becoming self-employed makes you oblivious to the usual conventions of working – the commute, those odious bosses, those colleagues who insist on socialising with you, when you have a veneer of contempt for them daily, that pathetic salary making someone else rich.
Sundays would see me slide into a trough of angst, with Mondays and work only being ameliorated by the countdown to weekends and holidays.
No more though.
Thats not because Sundays see me taking crack cocaine, or getting so drunk to obliterate Mondays – no, apart from Omeprazole for acid reflux, I’m drug and alcohol free and have been for quite a while.
Freelance you see freed me.
And I’m on a mission to free others.
Think of me as a benevolent ex-teacher who not only recognises that animals are sentient, unlike our government, but also that people have feelings too.
And working for someone else is a bad feeling.
Yes, there’s a leap of faith, a blind jump to make the escape from job security, from that steady monthly pay, that daily commute, those horrific headteachers and senior leaders (as in my case) but I’ve met only two people in life who returned to employment from self-employment and one of them was the idiotic me.
Working, working for others, is a mug’s game.
I look back to those moments where “Have you got a minute?” are muttered and wince at why I never turned to the petty leader and said “Sod off, I’m not listening, I’m striking out solo.” I should have done – and years ago.
In 1998, when I think my state of being annoyed with work, reached a crescendo, the internet was still relatively new. Smartphones weren’t invented and you rationed dial up internet because it cost money per minute and that long cable to telephone point made the room untidy.
There was no real digital gig economy, no chance to become an entrepreneur, an online minor celebrity, your own boss, but now we have no excuses to allow ourselves to be handcuffed to an employer and act gratefully towards them for giving us a pittance.
So here’s a quick layman’s guide from me, who’s set up Farrell Walton Estate Agency (RIP, killed by portal costs), Get Pro Copy Ltd and 321 Websites.
2 out of 3 successes ain’t bad.
10 steps below then which help you effectively tell your boss, with a certain Mancunian swagger, to “do one”.
Sort out a domain name but don’t be too hasty. Get Pro Copy is not called Stuart Walton Writer or variations on that because I had a vision, and still have one, that one day Get Pro Copy would be a copywriting collective. It does sound a bit like a photocopying firm and that is regrettable, but I think, in its third year now, the business name, the domain, is becoming established and recognised. Which brings me neatly to:
You need one and would be daft not to invest in one. It has a place on your website, your email signatures, the profile pictures for social media and your business card. Why anyone would resist investing £200 to £600 in a bespoke logo, designed for you, is beyond me. I can’t design them. Obviously. But with all three businesses I’ve been involved with, a logo has been designed. And a strapline.
– a little play on words that sums up what Get Pro Copy Ltd is about – writing, copy and getting it right. 321 Websites is Design | Content | Social – which encapsulates what myself and biz partner Paul Charnock do. Man Stress, which I edit, has the line You Are Not Alone.
Your customers may find you through Google search, but you’re more likely to find them and make connections via social media. I have an active Facebook page, a regularly updated Twitter feed, a Google Plus account, a hyperactive Instagram account (go on, follow me) and an energetic presence on LinkedIn. I do this so Get Pro Copy, 321 Websites and myself, Stuart Walton, can be found and seen to be competent, likeable and trustworthy. I enjoy it too. It’s not a waste of time – it’s my marketing strategy and you, before you tell that boss to get lost, need to develop what Seth Godin calls Tribes – followers of what you say on social media. I’ve got a substantial and loyal tribe. I work at social media for myself and others effectively, I reckon.
BLENDED MARKETING APPROACH
Up there perhaps with synergy and deep dive, but a blended approach is essential. by this I mean don’t neglect print or email marketing, don’t shy away from tweeting because you feel it adds no value. Work at all. You know when you put kale, kiwi, coconut water and some other ridiculous additions in a blender and it comes out all rich and good for you – marketing should be like that. Add a bit of everything. Don’t forget the kale, even though you don’t like it at all.
I partner in a web design company where I craft the content and promote businesses via social media marketing. I have three websites of my own and a portfolio of about 13 to manage with Paul so I’m bound to say you need a website. You do. If only to add credibility to your Instagram bio, your Twitter profile etc. A new mobile-friendly website is much cheaper and more memorable than a weekend at Center Parcs.
82% of us browse online via tablets and smartphones. I’m writing this blog on my iMac (subtle brag), but I don’t boot that up to have a look on Twitter, to window shop on Amazon or eBay or to have some bants on Facebook. That’s all done on iPhone and iPad – a true Apple sheep I am. Your website has to render on a mobile device, images and text have to be perfect and loading speeds need to be fast otherwise that time-limited opportunity will pass you by.
I have care plans, called Life Insurance, Buildings and Contents Insurance, Pet Insurance and Car Insurance. I don’t intend to die, subside, be burgled, end up dogless or as a write off, but I know it makes sense. Your website needs a care plan too. Ours do, meaning you can be sure it’s backed up and updated and secure.
When I write fresh content for 321 Websites, Man Stress, Hogan’s, Pure North Norfolk etc, I know from analytics that web visits increase. Blogging nourishes your website, increases your social media tribe and gets a pat on the back from Google. Blogging is a supremely cost-effective way of getting people on your website and to your social media and allowing them to become followers. If your content is interesting and informative of course. If it’s not, like the bore you avoid at the work social, or the networking event, it gets ignored. Keep feeding your digital presence with interesting and fun content and don’t bore others. Ever.
I’ll be open here: my outgoings for Get Pro Copy Ltd are about £30 a month – hosting and paid for social media platforms. That means I only need to earn £35 a month to make a profit, albeit a tiny one. But you get the idea. Keeping outgoings low means that profit increases. You need to do that.
If you’re reading this and any part of it chimes with you – from the micromanaging sociopathic boss to your £8 per hour salary – and you want out, email me with your ideas and see how I can help you, via Get Pro Copy, or 321 Websites.
Who knows – in 6 months’ time – you may be able to turn round and say to bosses and colleagues, “Goodbye, I’m going self-employed.”
Trust me, a public servant for almost 30 years, and freelance writer for the past two years, there is no better way to live, than being self-employed.