5 Things I’ve Learnt from Working from Home

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It’s been nearly eight months since I left the corporate world, and ventured into the much less complicated realm of ‘working from home’. I think it’s safe to say, I’ve learnt some stuff:

#1 – Talking to your dogs is not a real conversation, sadly

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to my pups but no matter how you play it, it isn’t a real conversation. They look at you with their big brown/blue eyes and – this I truly believe – understand every word you say. Sadly though, this isn’t a good enough supplement for human convo. I try and get out of the house to a client meeting, or just a coffee with a friend, at least once or twice a week just to make sure I can still speak English and am making some form of sense.

#2 – You can get your best work done in track pants

My life motto is comfort is key, but this can get taken to a whole new level when you work from home and don’t need to conform to any standards or dress codes out there. One piece of advice though, go as comfy as you want on the bottom but I always try to wear a bra, a clean shirt, and some make-up just in case a client Skype’s or FaceTime’s. You don’t want to look like a homeless Mad Scientist (which otherwise I normally would).

#3 – Fridges can talk

My fridge sounds like a mix of Gru from Despicable Me and Father Christmas, so a little ominous but kind. It reminds me of the ice-cream in its bottom drawer and the left-overs that are dying to be eaten. I try reason with it and let it know that I will visit it during appropriate mealtimes, but I won’t lie it doesn’t always work.

#4 – Its amazing what you can get done in 4 hours

Honestly, before I worked from home, I used to wonder each day how I would get all my tasks done. But now that I have yoga classes and Wine Friday meetings to get to, I am amazed at how truly efficient I can be when I have to. I now find much more reward in short, intense bursts of work then long, drawn-out, never-ending full days.

#5 – Networking is important

As a work-from-homer, the appeal might be that you literally never have to see random people on a daily basis if you don’t want to. I have learnt that by attending networking events and putting yourself out there in order to meet new peeps, you open yourself up to the possibility of meeting like-minded people (who you actually might like) and you might even get some good work out of it too.

Be careful of becoming a prisoner in your home-office, it can be a lonely place. Use the comfort and flexibility of your home to create great work, but make sure you juxtapose that with a shower, some clean clothes, and a forage out into the real world to meet, connect, and talk to those creatures we call “other people”.

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The Power of Storytelling

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We all remember the stories we’ve heard as children, right?  Hansel and Gretel or Jack and the Beanstalk perhaps.  The reason for remembering stories, so many moons after you’ve heard them, is because storytelling is powerful – stories stick with us because they make us feel something, they evoke emotion.

There are numerous TED Talks dedicated to the art and power of storytelling.  Some creative businesses these days even help corporates, organisations and individuals be more enticing to their customers and audiences by teaching them how to craft what they want to say into a story.  They actually teach ‘how to tell a story’.

Make your business unforgettable

Stories are memorable, so why not use storytelling as a tool to make your business memorable too?  Your customers and potential clients, won’t forget you if you’ve made them feel or think something.  Sales and marketing should not just be departments in your business, they are opportunities for you to craft creative stories that potential customers won’t soon forget.

Three things every good story needs:

Hook

Think of a fish being caught on a hook – the fish went in for the bait; the juicy, tantalising, exciting bait and got hooked. How are you hooking your clients and customers?  What are you saying to get them to bite the bait?

Create suspense

Think of Cinderalla losing her slipper, or Beauty leaving the Beast. There is always a worrying turn of events, or a significant obstacle to be overcome that creates suspense for the listener.  This allows the storyteller to present a solution to the listener later, but keeps them engaged for now.  How are you creating anticipation in your audience or customers?  Are you keeping them in suspense for them to, most importantly, be able to turn to you and ask how can you help me fix this?

Resolution

The end.  Whether it be good, bad, or ugly; there is always an end.  Ideally, for business, you want to try and leave your audience with as good a feeling as possible, or one that lets them know that a solution was found and that they can sleep soundly that night. How are you presenting your solutions to potential customers?

In selling or presenting, its often thought that solutions should be presented to potential customers first.  The brilliant minds at SalesGuru call it “We-ing all over the client” as in we do this, and we do that.  But have you ever thought about telling them a story first, hooking them in, and then giving them a solution?

Learn more about how to craft your story, give Beyond Copywriting a call on 081 039 4952

How to create a website supercar for your business

Are you losing the online race to your competitors, and finding your company ranks lower than your competitors on Google? An effective SEO strategy can pimp your business’ ride.

Being relatively new to the concept of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), I decided to pick the brains of the experts at Algorithm, the SEO performance agency to help me understand how writing for SEO would help companies be seen first by prospective customers.
I am sure it’s obvious by now that every business should be visible to their customers via a website and a social media presence. However just simply having these two vehicles in place does not mean you’re going to win the race. Incorporating good SEO methods, is like pimping your ride to the max, ensuring you at least make it onto the first page and the customers consideration set.
70% of browsers on Google are more likely to trust and click on SEO/natural/organic searches than on paid adverts. That means your website should be ranking really well organically in order to be in the first few options in the search list. But what determines where and how your site ranks? Graeme Stiles of Algorithm puts it down to three simple things; visibility, relevance and importance.

Rank higher on Google in three ways

“Visibility, relevance and importance are the key ways of assessing your website to ascertain if it’s going to be ‘rank-worthy’ or not” adds Graeme.

Relevance

Relevance is content. Ask yourself is my content authoritative? Is it informative? Is it fresh? And is it written using the right pointers like heading tags?

Importance

This relates to off-site data. Do I have inbound links? What is their volume and quality like?

Visibility

Visibility pertains to onsite information. What is the site structure like? Is it mobile optimized? What is the domain quality like?

Focussing on relevant content, what do I need to do?

“There are a couple of ways in which you can really can make an impact when it comes to your content on your website, “says Stiles.

Keep the Page Title simple

The page title should clearly tell the browsers what this site is all about. It shouldn’t be longer than 50 characters and should be in the structure of Keyword 1/Keyword 2/ Brand Name. For example, Contact Beyond Copywriting/ Beyond Copywriting Contact Details/ Beyond Copywriting

How user-friendly is my URL?

Your URL should always be in lower case and separated by hyphens and not spaces. A maximum of 76 characters apply here and again keywords are important. For example, www.beyondcopywriting.co.za/services/social-media

Does my Heading look good in this?

A good heading is good thing when it comes to browsers looking for what they want. Always ensure you use Main Headings (H1), Sub-headings (H2) and section headings (H3, H4, H5) where possible in your text.

Tidy up your Shop Window

Finally, check your meta descriptions. Graeme explains that this is your shop window. “If your shop window is not enticing enough to catch my interest, why would I want to come inside?” . The meta description is your page summary when listed in the search results. It shouldn’t be longer than 130 characters and needs to explain enticingly what your website is all about.
It’s obvious that content is more than just about a few words on a page explaining what you or your company offers. Effective planning and consideration should go into it. It could mean the difference between first and fifty-first place.

A lazy public holiday favourite

crustless quiches

I have been wanting to try this recipe for yonks now, and thanks to the fact that today is a lazy public holiday and my hubby is hard at work tiling our kitchen, I thought it was a perfect excuse to try the Crustless Quiches..

The recipe was super simple and I just used as many leftovers as I could from Easter Sunday lunch.  I will say though, they did need cheddar cheese rather than the feta I used as I think it would have made them slightly creamier and less “eggy” if you know what I mean.

Ingredients:

  • 6 free range eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • whatever ingredients you desire.  I used baby tomatoes (halved) and mushrooms (sliced)
  • 120g feta cheese (crumbled).  I would rather suggest to use cheddar cheese instead
  • salt, pepper and some italian herbs too

Method:

  • Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Spray and cook a muffin tin in prep (makes 12 quiches)
  • Beat eggs and milk together with a fork
  • Add in other ingredients and mix up together
  • Add your spices
  • Cook for 20 – 25 mins or until golden brown

So simple and so delicious!  You can add anything like chives, chopped spinach, chopped bacon, you name it!

A very easy recipe for a lazy public holiday

Enjoy, IR xx

I am an Entrepreneur, um I think?

Entrepreneur

I took the plunge and decided to be an “entrepreneur”.

Initially I was quite uncomfortable with the word, because honestly what does it mean really? I chose the path of ‘technical unemployment’ because I had an overwhelming need to get back to my creative roots and start writing again.  I haven’t written properly in years, I was feeling disconnected and uninspired. I knew my soul needed to write, to create, to discuss, and I knew I needed it now.

The definition of an entrepreneur according to Google, is a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. Doesn’t sound all that exciting does it?  My intention wasn’t firstly to raise profit, but rather to do something I love each day and use my best skills in the process.  Sure, profit is definitely on the cards, but happiness really was number one.  I came across a fabulous article by Ben Botes, COO of Caban Capital PLS (whom the picture credit goes to as well) about why it’s cool all of a sudden to be an entrepreneur.  It dawned on me that many peoples reaction to me telling them about my new venture was in fact, “Wow that’s so cool!”.

In reading Ben’s article and pondering upon this “coolness”, I had to analyse what was cool about starting my own business.  As Ben mentions, the ‘pursuing of my passion’ and the ‘being in charge of my own destiny’ has literally made me smile from ear to ear daily – coolness for sure.  Waking up with my own purpose, my own agenda, my own set of deliverables, and being the master of my own time, has been quite magical and incredibly freeing – again, quite cool I guess.

Yet the parts he mentions such as ‘changing the world’ and ‘helping the economy’ are areas that I haven’t been able to even grasp yet but, one day I hope Beyond Copywriting, certainly will.  I have worked previously in the industry of Skills Development and I know the B-BEE Codes and the DTI itself are in favour of entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses.  Perhaps I finally understand why. Sure, yes it’s an economic and development thing, but I also believe it’s deeper than that.  It’s encouraging us, the working generation, and those to come after us, to be innovative and motivated.  To use our abilities to action, own, collaborate and create. Without even knowing it perhaps they are trying to encourage us to be happier?

Of course going “on your own” comes at great risk, the risk of financial pressure or even worse, failure.   And of course working for yourself is absolutely not for everyone – lack of financial security, dependence on the niche social/economic climate, isolation from peers or team work – these can all be huge deal breakers for some people.

For me though, these have been small sacrifices I have been willing to take on the chin for the reward of less stress and more happiness. So, I think I am ok with the title of Entrepreneur.  In fact, I am cool with it

Hey Pesto…

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When I discovered Basil Pesto many moons ago, it literally changed my life.  How can something that generally looks slightly questionable be so absolutely delicious?

I started my veggie garden last winter, and a few months ago I planted some veggies and herbs in prep for the summer.  Thanks to the loads of rain we have been having in the Highveld and the fact that my veggie patch is in full sun all day, my basil plants have grown wild!  I picked two bags full of basil on the weekend and decided to get making my old favourite of Basil Pesto.

The recipe I follow is:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2cup – 1 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nutes
  • 2 gloves of garlic – crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste

You throw that all into your blender and voila – there you have it!

We had it on some pasta last night, but it is a great dish for snacks with parma ham and cheeses, or even great on chicken schnitzels or beef steaks!

Happy eating

IR

A fab morning out for your pups

 

My hubby doesn’t read magazines much, but somehow when he does he finds absolute gems for us to either make, or try, or go to,  or use and more.  Paging through a trail running mag recently, he found one such gem, with the words “off leash trails for runners and their dogs” immediately grabbing his attention.

Hedianga Farm is based in Pretoria East, just a few kms outside Garsfontein.  It’s very unassuming when you arrive and honestly, didn’t look like much from the car park. But once we’d got ourselves onto the path, it was utterly lovely.  Trail Runners or walkers have the option of a 5km, 10km or 15km trail to choose from.  The paths were excellently marked and the scenery and views were really pretty.  There are intersections where the paths meet the mountain bike paths, so caution must be kept.  They also ask you to abide by the “on leash” and “off leash” times with the on leash times being mainly during busy hours.  We arrived before 7am, so it was quiet and super pleasent without any users at all.  By the time we had finished at 830am-ish, there were a good handful of cars in the parking lot and users on the trails.

Our pups loved the experience of being off leash and hiking gently at our sides, in parts running up hills and down valleys with my Hubby..  Juno, our golden, most especially enjoyed the doggie pool at the end, which I think was actually meant as a water bowl  but she took it as her own personal paddle pool!

Overall a fab experience and a must do for dog lovers and owners with socialised and well-behaved pups.  Was a divine morning out, and didn’t feel like you were only minutes away from the big city.