Saturday, 28 February 2015

Working from Home – some ‘Home Truths’

27 February 2015

It has been 2 weeks since my last post – I must do better. Been busy but aren’t we all? I’ve needed some inspiration to write something compelling. I got it today – it was called ‘almost Spring’.

So what does ‘almost Spring’ have to do with working from home? Well lovely, sunny weather especially on a Friday is one of the best things about working from home. It means I got to plan my day around getting out for a walk and fresh air. Oh and had a nice lunch with a colleague and friend.

I find many people who have to work in an office are envious at the idea that I work from home. I can tell you there are as many negatives as positives and it is completely up to you to make it worthwhile.  Here are some highs and the lows:

Working from Home – 5 Good Things: 
  • -          You don’t have to go on public transport during rush hour
  • -          You don’t have to dress up in ‘work’ clothes every day
  • -          You can have flexibility in the hours you work
  • -          You will be home for ‘that delivery’
  • -          You save money on lunches & coffee

 Working from Home – 5 not such Good Things:
  • -          You’re always the one travelling to the meetings & rarely vv (travel is such a time-waster)
  • -          You dress down a bit more than you should (and can sometimes work in your pjs)
  • -          You tend to work too much and at odd hours
  • -          You miss comradery, office gossip and just someone to moan to
  • -          You are 'everyman' from boss to administrator to IT support to cleaner
Okay perhaps I don’t hear any violins yet but you need to make the best of what can be a lonely time. I often crave that buzz of the office with phones ringing and trays of tea being made by someone in the department every hour. It can be hard to concentrate with all the quiet – you can easily lose focus and start to fiddle with household chores.

The benefits of working from home should outweigh the negatives but it is up to you to make it work well. Working from home isn’t suitable for everybody. You need discipline, imagination and other friends and colleagues nearby to make your own water cooler moments (regularly). 

If you are a freelancer or consultant and one of your clients asks you to work in their office part-time, even one morning a week, then jump at the chance. It could make a very big difference to having the perfect work situation. I’m starting to do that now and I can already feel the difference. It makes the time I am home working much more enjoyable because it isn’t all the time.  

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

It’s the Content, Stupid

10 February 2015

Remember that famous slogan from Bill Clinton’s Presidential campaign? Allegedly it was “It’s the economy, stupid”.  The gist being he could talk about all the issues you can imagine but in the end, people would decide who to vote for based on what he would do for their wallets.

It got me thinking that it’s similar with Social Media. You can be good at all the tips & tricks of the Social Media channels but in the end of the day, it’s simply what you are talking about that cuts through. When I do a Social Media strategy for a client, I definitely focus on content and keywords but probably not enough. I intend on doing more.

It may sound logical but I’ve come across so many people who struggle with what to say in their tweets and posts. While lots rely on pictures to do the talking, which do make for engaging posts, I believe it is what you say with those images and how you say it that really counts.

I’ve noticed in recent months on Facebook that my personal posts, with short and ‘nice’ or funny stories, get the most reaction. I don’t post with an image and I often think at the time they are too long but I am amazed at the reaction. Seems I’ve either tugged at someone’s heart strings or I’ve told a funny anecdote that others can relate to and that’s what gets a response.

As with email marketing, a headline can make or break you. Funny, ironic, sarcastic or a little bit rude (just a bit) works a treat in getting people’s attention. If you don’t require a title, then a short intro sentence using those sorts of tones should work too. Just think about how you might react if you are in the receiving line.  How many emails do you ignore every day and which ones get your attention.

In thinking about content, I tell clients who are stuck for ideas, start with a calendar. Use an A3 sheet of paper and split by the twelve months and plot the usual big holidays first e.g. Christmas, Easter, bank holidays etc. Then do a bit of research to find out some unusual holidays (e.g. ‘National Cheese Day’ ‘Dogs go to work with owners Day’ and similar) and stick those in the calendar. Then consider key dates specific to your industry. If you’re in travel and tourism, think about the high travel season or type of holiday relevant to the time of the year e.g. beach, skiing, day’s out. Or research all the main industry shows and events. FAQs make great content. Keep filling in your calendar and suddenly you have twelve months of content, without much effort, planned.

Do think laterally too in terms of content. Don’t just talk about your own industry or business – figure out how you can take advantage of a totally unrelated topic and turn it into something relevant for you and your business. The Chelsea Flower Show may not seem an obvious connection to an Osteopath but if you just think about all those gardeners bending down and making their displays, well sure you can imagine there might be some very sore backs. Suddenly, you’ve got an interesting story with a link. And you can be sure the Chelsea Flower Show will be trending all over social media (don’t forget to use those Hashtags!).

Finishing off, I remember another famous saying ‘Content is King’. I certainly think so – in fact it’s true royalty!