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Testimonials – Why you need them, how to get them & where to use them

Testimonials. They’re the lifeblood of small and big businesses alike. But unlike your Great Aunt Beryl’s vintage teapot collection, they don’t exist simply for the sake of admiration. They need to be put to work. Here’s why you need them, how (and when) to ask for them, and some of the most effective ways to use them.   Why they matter We all get off on a good word from a happy customer. But the beauty of a great testimonial is that it doesn’t just make you feel good, it makes your potential customers feel good too. Think about it: how many times have you sat on the fence about a particular service provider or business, only to be tipped over the line by a well-placed glowing review? More than once I’m guessing. Now I’m not saying we’re all sheep – far from it. But as much as we like to be responsible for making our own decisions, we look to other consumers and users to help us make purchasing decisions all the time. Whether we’re considering eating at a new restaurant, buying workout clothes or hiring a plumber, we look for social proof that the decision we’re contemplating is a good one. Knowing other people have made the same decision before us (and gotten great results) makes us feel safe, reassured and even excited about what we’re about to buy, hire, use or do. It also makes us feel like we’re part of a community or, better yet, a group of people in the know. Although there’s nothing attractive about a smug, self-satisfied early adopter, we do like...

6 simple tips for writing for SEO

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that SEO is all about keywords and key phrases (i.e. the words and phrases we use to find stuff on the interweb). But how do you translate them into readable, clickable SEO optimised content? Great question. Here are 6 simple steps that’ll have you writing for SEO in no time.   Approach it like a human (not a robot) At its core, SEO is designed to work as humanly as possible. That is, it picks up the everyday words and phrases we use to find things, and it delivers search results based on those words and phrases. For that reason, it’s important you approach the whole SEO shebang like a human. Whether you’re writing a blog, an article, or a page for your website, start by brainstorming all the words and phrases an everyday human would use to find what you’re writing about. Let’s say you’re writing a blog about how to get your kids to eat their veggies. Parents with salad dodging offspring might be using search terms like ‘how to get your kids to eat vegetables’, ‘how to sneak vegetables into your kids’ meals’, or ‘my child won’t eat their vegetables and I’m afraid they’ll get scurvy’. Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the point. Use the words and terms an everyday person would use to research a topic and make a list. Step one, done.   Do your research Competition for SEO space can be tough, and sometimes it seems like every other bugger in the world is trying to rank for your preferred...

The ten commandments of freelancing

Thou shalt NOT:  Compare thyself to others Most of the time you’re happy doing your own thing, your own way, right? However, it’s easy to get sucked into the idea that everyone else is doing so much more than you are. He’s got a podcast. She’s got a course. They’ve written a book. That dude just summited Mount Everest. Meanwhile, you’re just managing to get a blog out once a month, along with a regular newsletter. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re not doing enough. That you’re lazy. That you don’t measure up. But the truth is, if you’re lucky enough to have found that ‘thing’ that really floats your boat (and makes you money at the same time), you’re doing ok. More than ok in fact. So don’t worry about what anyone else is up to. Stay in your lane and keep your eye on your ball. The most interesting (and often the most successful) business owners are the ones who don’t give a stuff what anyone else is doing, because they’re too busy doing their thing, their way. You’re an original. Act accordingly.   Believe everything thou sees on the internet If everything on social media were true, we freelancers would be working for 30 minutes a day (remotely, from a suitably luxurious island location) while raking in 6 plus figures a year. It’s a nice thought, but it’s not reality. For most of us, it’s a daily struggle to keep our solo ships on course, let alone manifest a reality that makes others feel at best lazy, and at worst, completely inadequate. So don’t buy into...

Free-ranging for freelancers

There’s a lot to love about the freelance life. Deadlines and client demands aside, you can get up when you want, work when you want and wear what you want (housemates and indecency laws permitting). But beauty of all beauties, you can also work where you want. As a daydreamer from way back (and a human who hates being cooped up inside for long periods of time), I’m happiest when surrounded by fresh air, dappled sunlight and non-rowdy company. But finding spaces that meet my ‘worth leaving the house to work’ trifecta can be tricky. So far, I’ve nailed it down to three – here’s how they stack up in the great working from home vs working out of home debate. Library Seriously, what’s not to love about a library? They’re full of fellow bibliophiles, the wi-fi’s free and hello, books! Combine it with a coffee cart, a covered outside deck, comfy armchairs, working nooks and fridge like air-conditioning and you’ve hit the free-range working mother lode. On the downside, story time can be distractingly loud, winter brings the sniffers who refuse to blow their nose, and all those bright shiny books and magazines can present a massive distraction when you’d rather be reading than working. Still, I give it a solid 8 out of 10 for daydreaming, brainstorming and semi-focused work (stuff that can survive the odd distraction or two). Coffee shops It’s a freelance cliché isn’t it? Sitting in a funky little coffee shop, latte or pot of tea close to hand, laptop ready to go, appropriately hipstered staff poised to deliver baked goods at your command…...

How to deal with a cranky client

I recently had a crash course in how NOT to deal with a cranky client. Luckily, I was the client in this particular situation, and consequently learnt a lot about what not to do when you’re faced with a client who’s less than impressed with your work. Whether you’re in the right or the wrong (and it’s seldom entirely one or the other), here’s how to deal with the situation gracefully and professionally.   Step 1 – Don’t react, respond It’s never nice when someone tells you they think you’ve done a crap job. But however bruised your ego is, don’t respond right away. Take some time to consider what’s actually being said, and whether there’s any truth in it. Once the sting is gone, respond thoughtfully and proactively. What not to do Respond immediately with the first thing that pops into your head. Whether your first reaction is to fight back or prostrate yourself at their feet, hold back for a sec. If you want to a) start a war with your client or b) be bullied into doing things you don’t want or have not agreed previously to do, then by all means, say exactly what you’re thinking right away.   Step 2 – Acknowledge the situation The very first thing to do is to acknowledge how your client is feeling. Regardless of whether you think they’re right, wrong, or somewhere in between, your primary aim should be to keep the lines of communication open. It’s a horrible feeling when someone tells you they don’t like your work or that they think you haven’t delivered on your...