Reflecting on a year of growth

It’s almost the end of 2018 – and I can’t let the year end without acknowledging the amazing 12 months I’ve had!

Around November 2017, I decided to ‘re-launch’ Write Time Marketing in 2018. I’d been the backseat passenger cruising through the Comfort Zone for too long. I needed to climb my way into the driving seat again and dare to drive into Unknown Territory. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride!

It’s definitely been a massive year. Read on below for my key achievements and learnings.

Hosting my own workshops

This year, I threw myself into the deep end and committed to running 4 x 2-hour workshops on blogging, e-newsletters, and writing website copy in the first half of the year. I succeeded in running 3 out of the 4 workshops (the 4th date kind of snuck up on me, so I decided to reschedule that one). I had 3 attendees attend each one. While the numbers were smaller than initially hoped, it meant my attendees got more value. I was able to personalise the workshops according to their needs. The feedback was great and the adrenalin was exhilarating, but I didn’t get around to running more in the second half of the year (see my reasons why below).

However, I did re-run the blogging and web copy workshops at 2 x Independent Business Network Inc sessions and picked up 2 fantastic ongoing blog clients as a result.

Working toward a two-day workshop

One of the reasons why I didn’t run more 2-hour workshops in 2018 was due to a big collaboration with Connie Mottshaw from Online Spider Web. Connie and I had crossed paths in my early business years, but we became reacquainted in 2018. With her digital marketing expertise and my content marketing knowledge, we decided to create an amazing 2-day workshop called ‘Time to Elevate’. It aimed to help businesswomen in Sydney’s Hills District to grow their business via the best marketing tactics.

We spent a lot of time creating a landing page, compiling a schedule, inspecting venues, dabbling with 2 x recorded webinars (very new territory for both of us!), and setting up registration software – but unfortunately, it was not meant to be. With no registrations at the early bird mark, we decided to cancel the event. While we were disheartened, it was a great learning opportunity. We acknowledged the need to work on our personal branding and messaging to get those bums on seats next time!

Attempting a Mastermind group

Around the same time as my workshops, I started up a Write Mind mastermind group. The idea was to get together with like-minded individuals to discuss content marketing related queries and seek advice. These would be paid sessions and provide an additional income stream.

However, despite running a free trial with a group of business mums and getting good feedback – no one registered for the next one. I offered other ‘newbies’ the chance to come along for free the first time – but that didn’t work either. I had one person promise to pay, then never did. And another person attended a workshop thinking it was a free Mastermind, then never paid.

I learned 2 things as a result –

  1. I was focusing on start-ups who didn’t have money to spend.
  2. My messaging between workshops and masterminds wasn’t clear enough.

So I decided to drop the Masterminds after running a few of them.

Starting the Hills District Business Empowerment Network Meet Up

Although I didn’t realise it at the time, my Masterminds might have worked better as Meet Ups. Not only does the Meet Up platform promote your group across their network, but I could have captured the right audience.

But I DID discover Meet Ups in the latter half of 2018 when Connie starting running North West Sydney Business Builders Networking. I really enjoyed the casual approach to networking with like-minded business owners in the area. I knew it was the right approach for building a personal brand and making connections.

To complement Connie’s sessions, I started the free-to-attend Hills District Business Empowerment Network. The group is focused on empowering local business owners to be their best possible self both on a personal and business level. My first one was in November 2018 and I was amazed by the turnout! There were 17 attendees! And I only knew a handful of those people. The rest discovered the group via Meet Up marketing. I met some really energetic people at the event, with some coming again at the December Meet Up where there were about 13 of us. I look forward to continuing the monthly Meet Ups in 2019 and getting some guest speakers on board to add further value.

Building a network

In 2018, I attended regular Hills District Business Mums (HDBM) networking events to meet more business owners. I kickstarted the year by running a blogging presentation for the group in March, which produced a great branding and speaking experience (I’ll talk more about my speaking opportunities a bit later). I thoroughly enjoyed ‘becoming part of the furniture’ with the group and finding more familiar faces each time – and having people approach me to talk about blogging.

However, the majority of attendees were start-up mums and I started to acknowledge they were the wrong audience for building clientele. Fantastic in forming relationships – yes. But not for growing my business. I still love the training elements of the sessions though, so I’ll still aim to attend these in 2019.

Apart from attending HDBM events, I also signed up to a couple of workshops run by Western Sydney Business Centre. While they are aimed at start-ups, I walked away with some great pieces of information and a couple of contacts.

Investing in myself – Professional Speaking

Up until 2018, I’d still been in start-up mode – and wasn’t willing to spend too much money in the business. That all changed this year!

The Speakers Institute

After attending a one-day one-day session run by the Speakers Institute, I wanted to head to their Premiere BootCamp (at a hefty price tag) to develop my speaking skills for my workshops and presentations. So I took the plunge, booked my ticket, and organised shared accommodation in the city for an intensive 3-day workshop. It was a beautiful self-discovery experience and I loved watching everyone’s skills and confidence develop from Day 1 through to Day 3.

Personally, I thought I was great onstage…until I saw a video of me on Day 1. I was way too enthusiastic. It made me realise how isolating that could make me to others – so I worked on that and saw a massive improvement in myself by Day 3 as well. I loved the vibe of everyone in the room. So empowering and supportive. And that’s why I’ve now been to a few Speakers Tribe meetings in the city to mingle with this ‘tribe’ and booked a ticket to the Speakers Tribe Conference on the Gold Coast in March 2019.

The Speakers Tribe

Through the Speakers Tribe, I was given the opportunity to speak onstage at The Juniors in Kingsford – thanks to the organisation of David Lindsay. I actually put my hand up to do it before attending BootCamp! (I went to a couple of Speakers Tribe sessions beforehand to keep up momentum.) It was at the end of July and my BootCamp was at the beginning, so I just expanded my talk on ‘Becoming Friends with the Imposter’ for the stage. My talk went without a hitch and my parents supported me in the ‘crowd’. I say ‘crowd’ because there were only about 15 people in the audience during my talk. But it just made things less scary!

North Shore Temple Emanuel

As part of my speaking development, I put my hand up to do a sermon at North Shore Temple Emanuel in late July as well. It was part of a Speakers Inclusion Series and I spoke about ‘Jews on the Periphery’ – a topic close to my heart. I received great feedback, with a few people approaching me afterward to say I really spoke to them. After talking with a few people, I’ve decided that this is a topic I’d like to write a book about one day. Just not sure when!

Joining a copywriting community

While I had come across the name Kate Toon a few times online in my business life, 2018 was the year we became more acquainted! I met her at an HDBM event at the end of 2017 and bought her book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur’. (Which I finally got around to reading in mid-2018 – brilliant!) But that was the extent of my interactions prior to this year.

CopyCon

In early 2018, I heard about Kate’s CopyCona conference for Australian copywriters! Once again, it meant spending money – but I wasn’t going to miss this training and networking opportunity. So I bought my ticket and signed up to The Clever Copywriting Community a month before the May event. I planned to start mingling with my fellow copywriters in the Facebook group ASAP.

CopyCon itself was fantastic. Although I admit it was also overwhelming since I was going through a low-energy phase at that point. Everyone was so friendly and it made me realise that other copywriters are not my competitors – they are my support network! I wrote lots of notes and met fantastic people, including the Marketing and Communications Director from Xero – and later scored a few copywriting jobs for them! (Which I hope to do more of in 2019.)

The Clever Copywriting Community

Joining the Clever Copywriting Community has been a game-changer for me. Within the first month of joining, I was given a referral job that paid for my annual membership. The job involved brainstorming taglines for an agency, with one of them ending up on the LightRail! I’ve gotten a lot of other referral jobs via the group over the year. Some were jobs bigger than anything I’ve done before, including ongoing articles for a disability organisation and a big web copy job. I’ve learned lots about processes and charging what I’m worth as well. I look forward to CopyCon 2019 in Melbourne coming up in May – where I’ve also invested in the second-day Mastermind session.

Recipe for SEO Success e-Course

As part of the copywriting journey, I also bit the bullet and registered for the Recipe for SEO Success course run by Kate Toon in October 2018. I admit that I’m still only halfway through the learnings, but aim to be on top of it all by the end of January. I can’t wait to officially call myself an SEO copywriter and fix up my own website to get those leads coming in. I look forward to working on my website in 2019 and giving it a makeover. Watch this space!

Being consistent in the business

This year, I’ve ensured to blog semi-regularly – aiming for once a fortnight, but also being happy with once a month! I hope to improve on this in 2019 and also ensure they are all SEO friendly.

I’ve distributed monthly e-newsletters with a decent open rate and minimal unsubscribes, which I’m proud of. They weren’t flooded with content marketing information or sales pitches. I was more focused on giving business owners a boost and building my brand. It also gave me a channel to share my blogs, which also pushed me to write them!

In the social media world, I established a Facebook group to share copywriting and business tips. While I’ve gotten decent interaction at times (usually as the result of Facebook Lives), it’s been quiet at other times. I tried to build up a better online presence by hiring Deborah Ricketts from Versatile VA for a couple of months to assist with posts on both Facebook and Instagram, but it wasn’t working too well. I’ll re-assess what I want to get out of this group (and how I want it to be run) in 2019.

Finding my tribe for 2019

In the latter part of 2018, I started investigating into local networking and referral groups to help my business grow in 2019. With my youngest starting childcare, I’ll soon have 4 working days as opposed to 3, so I was eager to source a group to bring in consistent work.

My first 2 groups I trialled didn’t seem like the right fit for me (and either involved too much committment or weren’t at the right business level) – but then I came across the Sydney Hills Business Chamber. I’ve crossed paths with the Chamber in the past but never felt experienced enough, but after getting some bigger clients under my belt I felt it was the right time.

I really enjoyed my first Business After 5 event and already have 2 meetings lined up in January with potential clients. I also met with Kerrie Sheaves from Foundational Business Centre and I now have a great new venue for my 2019 blogging workshops! (More about them in a future blog) I only joined in November, so I look forward to building my brand and network in 2019 with the group.

Signing off now…

Okay, I really DID accomplish a lot in 2018…but it’s only just the beginning! Over the next few days, I’ll work on my goals and plans for the year ahead. I’m so excited to see where I am at this point next year.

I look forward to writing and connecting with you in 2019.

It’s always the ‘write’ time,

Leanne