At the end of May, I was completely honoured to be invited to speak at Freelance Heroes Day in Wolverhampton. When I started out in my freelance journey, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. To be honest, I’m not sure anyone does. You might think you know what you’re doing, but there will be a hell of a lot of challenges and curveballs along the way, and when you look back you’ll realise how naive you were at the start.
So I can’t tell you how lucky and grateful I am to have met Annie Browne at Welsh ICE, who introduced me to a wonderful online community. Annie co-runs Freelance Heroes – a community of 6000+ (and growing) freelancers connected via a Facebook group, Twitter chat, and series of events.
Given that I’m not a morning person, getting up to Wolverhampton for 9am was always going to be a struggle, but I had my trusty business sidekick Alexis with me so the 6am start and 2 hour road trip was a breeze. And of course, we made a pitstop at Gloucester Services – you know, the amazing farm shop one – so that I could fuel up on hot chocolate and brownies.
There were a number of speakers imparting their wisdom upon us all that day, and thankfully I was near the end. This gave me time to actually wake up, relax, and remember what I was going to be talking about. Can you already tell that I’m a bit of a Last Minute Larry when it comes to things like this. (Although not anymore thanks to Alexis and her impeccable organisation skills which have transformed my life and my business).
Anyway, the day was absolutely brilliant. Not only did I sharpen up my digital marketing skills from listening to the other digital speakers, but I also learnt a lot about freelancing and growing a business. So, if you weren’t lucky enough to nab yourself a ticket this year, make sure it’s top of your To-Do list for 2020. And because I’m a pretty generous person, I’ve written my takeaways from each talk below for you.
First up was Kelly with a talk on Goal Setting. This was something I really wanted to get better at as I seem to have millions of dreams and no real plans. Kelly inspired me to stretch my goals and I managed to jot down a few goals for 2019. However, one particular part of her talk stayed with me, and the line I remembered was:
“How can you grow your business when you cant even get out of bed in the morning?”
This resonated with me. A lot. During the lowest periods of my depression, I literally, physically cannot get out of bed. Then I feel guilty that my business isn’t growing at a million miles an hour. But when I look back on the last year of my life, the fact I’ve even kept my business going through everything is something I should probably be quite proud of.
WORK LIFE BALANCE
The next speaker was Annie with a talk about work life balance, or rather work life blend. Annie is the ultimate queen of organisation, which I believe is the key to enjoying your life. For me, clutter and disorganisation leave me demotivated at work and unhappy at home. So I really needed to listen up during Annie’s talk. Annie explained how the concept of work life balance suggests that we have to take away from one area of our lives to be able to do something else in our life, which ultimately leaves us off balance. So perhaps the concept of work life blend seems more appropriate.
Annie’s talk was full of wisdom but the point I chose to remember was this:
“Clients aren’t always waiting for you. Your children aren’t always waiting for you.”
So next time I’m stressing that I’ve not sent a proposal, or finished a piece of work – the client probably hasn’t noticed. And next time I’m feeling guilty for being the last mum to pick Luna up from nursery, she probably doesn’t care because she’s most likely having one hell of a time on the bikes and play equipment that we don’t have at home.
Unless you’ve locked yourself away recently (which is actually quite a likely occurrence for a lot of freelancers), you’ve probably heard of the incredible Steve Morgan and his even more incredible book: Anti-Sell. Steve’s talk was all about how to sell when you hate selling, and drew on a lot of themes from his book. I won’t spoil it or spill any secrets because, well, you should just buy his book and find out for yourself. But the one thing I will mention is something I’d not particularly thought about before:
“Keep your cool and don’t be hot headed.”
THE DIGITAL FORUM
After lunch, the focus turned to digital marketing with four talks from digital marketers. First up was Simon Badman who spoke about how influence has changed over time.
Isn’t is funny how we will no longer trust an ‘expert’ but we will trust a stranger’s trip advisor review.
We’re all pretty savvy nowadays to Z-list celebrities in bikinis trying to sell us charcoal toothpaste on Instagram, but we trust our friend’s and family’s opinions don’t we?
Next up was Andrew from Optimsey (who I’ve actually followed on Twitter for ages). Andrew spoke about local SEO – something which is really important to me as a local service business, but also really important to my clients. SEO is something I don’t know a huuuuuge amount about, although I’ve always been good at optimising my own Google My Business profile. But as for my takeaway?
Well I never really knew what the “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” was all about.
Thinking about it, it’s quite self explanatory, but at least now I can help some of my service area based clients out a bit more!
Karen Arnott followed with a really useful talk on web design. Karen talked the audience through a series of steps to think about when putting together their website. I loved Karen’s talk because everything she said was bang on. So many people jump into making a website and focus on ‘making it pretty’. Yes, of course your website needs to look good but it actually needs to have a purpose and work properly too. My takeaway point from Karen’s talk was:
“Design comes last.”
After Karen, it was my turn, and I spoke about online advertising, particularly Facebook Advertising. I won’t bore you to death with details of my own talk, but the one thing I will say is:
“STOP PRESSING BOOST POST!”
Once I’d spoken, all the digital speakers came together to answer questions from the audience. I’ll admit, I felt a bit nervous up there. As a so called ‘expert’ I was supposed to ‘know everything’ so I was worried someone would ask something and I’d be sat there with no answer. (Although I’m not sure there’s ever been a time that I’ve not had an answer for something)
CONTENT AND SEO
Then, it was an absolute pleasure to listen to Stacey MacNaught. I didn’t actually write anything down during her talk, not because nothing was worth writing down, but because everything was worth writing down. I don’t even have a clear takeaway from Stacey’s talk – I just wish I could listen to it all again and soak up all her incredible content and SEO knowledge. I suppose the one thing I will say is that you should definitely follow Stacey on Twitter, and get in touch with her if you need help with that kind of thing. Oh and:
“Pointless content will steal all your time and money’
The day was drawing to an end, but there was one final speaker to go – Ed Goodman. Along with Annie, Ed was one of the organisers of the event so it made sense for him to ‘close the show’. Ed reminded everyone how fantastic the Freelance Heroes online community really is. It’s not about pitching for work. It’s not about taking. It’s about supporting, giving, and being part of a community. Ed finished with a quote which is quite well known, but also very relevant:
“People will forget what you said and what you did. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel”
To get involved with Freelance Heroes Day 2020, head to freelance-heroes.com to await the release of tickets!