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A new business – and a new blog

12 / 05 / 20 | News

Going freelance in the first week of the lockdown has been a strange experience, but ultimately a positive one.

Well, here I am with a new business, and a new blog!

I called the blog The View from the Wharf, because my original plan was to write it from my new office in Penryn’s award-winning Jubilee Wharf building.

But plans, as we all know, don’t survive first contact with the enemy. The enemy, in this case, being the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK lockdown.

So rather than writing this with a view of Penryn River from Jubilee Wharf, I’m writing it with a view of the other side of the road, from my home office.

And rather than setting up as a business consultant for locally-based creative agency founders, as I’d planned, I’m offering that consultancy for free and selling my B2B copywriting services instead.

On the upside, it’s a nice home office, with a nice view. I can still see the Penryn River if I lean out of the window. My family are all here and all safe, and I can work just as well from home as from an office, so I have nothing at all to complain about.

(My husband James might, though, as this is the room he normally uses for painting his Warhammer figures. One day, the Kurnoth Hunters will return to claim their rightful home, but probably not until July.)

A successful first month

Going freelance in the week the UK went into lockdown was an unnerving experience. What if I couldn’t find any work? I’d heard about freelancers losing clients and having projects pulled. How could I start building a new business when everywhere was shutting down?

Thankfully, it hasn’t been like that at all. I’m extremely lucky to have brought one client with me from my old agency (by mutual agreement all round), and I’ve since signed up a couple of others too. So the first month as a freelancer has actually gone pretty well.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing:

Creating materials to support a new launch

I love this project because my electronics-industry client came to me with a clear objective: they’d been tasked to double the revenue for their business area this year. I’m always happy when I feel I’m helping my client to achieve something tangible.

So far, I’ve been working with the client to propose and develop sales support materials like brochures, flyers and emails – helped by a great creative agency (hi David!) and top-notch proofreader (hi Lorraine!) to get them designed, checked and ready for the launch. Later, there will be blogs and white papers to showcase the client’s – pretty impressive – domain expertise.

A 100% revenue increase is a tough ask at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic, but I’m excited to see what impact these materials will have.

Salvaging a writing project that had gone off the rails

Another of my favourite kinds of brief. Copywriting projects go wrong all the time, for lots of different reasons – I wrote about 10 of them in my last blog for Radix. Sometimes, starting again from scratch with a different writer can be a better fix than trying to struggle through many rounds of reviews and edits.

In this case, a research report project had got off on the wrong foot, and the end-client wasn’t happy. Rather than panicking or getting defensive, their agency asked if I could help them fix it. It entailed rewriting two chunky reports to a very tight deadline – an intense project, but the kind of thing I always find rewarding if it helps to mend a relationship.

Interviewing some fabulous women

When I’m not writing for B2B tech companies, I spend a lot of my spare time creating content for TECgirls – a volunteer group that aims to encourage girls in Cornwall aged 6-12 to explore the worlds of tech, engineering and (digital) creativity.

Our long-term goal is to even out the gender balance in the tech industries here in Cornwall. In the short term, we want to do that by inspiring young girls and showing them that TEC can be a girl thing.

Working with talented designer and illustrator Louise Hannaford at Venn Creative, I’ve been putting together the first issue of Sandbox, a quarterly tech, science and making magazine for 6-12 year old girls.

I’ve also been interviewing some inspirational Devon- and Cornwall-based women for the TECgirls blog, and learning all kinds of things in the process – like how lithium is driving the low-carbon economy, and why the COVID-19 pandemic needs engineers as well as frontline healthcare workers.

The thing I most love about these interviews is hearing about each woman’s ‘lightbulb moment’, when it became clear to them, often at a very young age, what they wanted to do for a living.

Each one is different – from hearing a talk about treating hydrocephalus, to looking up at the night sky and finding Jupiter, to seeing the concept art for a videogame.

These small but significant moments propelled each of them to take the less-trodden (by women) path into a tech career. I’m fascinated by their different journeys, and I’m really looking forward to talking to many more women about their work and how they came to be doing it.

Let me know if I can help

I’ve a lot to be thankful for – some great new (and old) clients, a rewarding side-project, and space to work from home. The days are nicely full but I do have some capacity, so if there’s anything I can help you with, do get in touch. You can find me at [email protected] or on +44 (0)7960 636708.

In the meantime, stay safe and stay well.