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At the end of 2018 and start of 2019 I had a really slow season in my business. It was crickets, I had not had a new project enquiry in a couple of months and I had really started to panic.

I set my business up in 2016, but I did some full-time and part-time design agency work alongside it for a while. 2018 was my first solo year and I earned only half (about £12k) of what my full-time ’employed’ salary had been.

It all came to a head in January when I seriously considered getting a part-time job to supplement my income, or completely quitting altogether. I felt so lost and completely stressed out.

Thankfully, I didn’t quit. In hindsight we all go through slow seasons in business. Truth bomb – sometimes it’s our own fault. Sometimes it isn’t and it’s just the way the market goes, but sometimes it’s definitely our own fault. We can be our own worst enemies.

I realised that my own slow season had been my fault because I’d just been drifting along. I’d got too comfortable in the easy-ness of clients filtering through to my website via Pinterest and Instagram. I’d got lucky that my work had been popular on the two platforms and I kinda stopped working for it.

I hadn’t sent an email to my mailing list for months, and I had taken down my opt-in freebie – I can’t even remember why. Probably imposter syndrome about it not being good enough. January put things into perspective, and I realised that I love my work and owning my own business too much to quit and I just needed to find the magic again.

I needed to explore what I really want this business to become in the future and how I could start to be more intentional about the way I was working rather than just drifting along expecting the work to keep on coming to me.

Here are a few things that I worked on, and that you can do too to get the momentum going again if you find yourself in a slow period.

First things first – don’t panic.

Most of us are really lucky to have family and friends as a support network, so do not panic. The mindset you’re in when you’re panicking is not helpful to anyone. You’re not thinking clearly or rationally and you’re likely to start looking up jobs at the local Aldi like I did. I’m sure working at Aldi is lovely, but you’ll have much less time to do the work you love. Maybe a part time job is the answer, but it doesn’t have to be the only way.

Ask for help if you need it. Paying bills is more important than your pride.

Take some time to get your numbers in order.

Instead of panicking, sit down and work through some numbers. How much have you got in the bank, how much do you need, what bills are due soon? Facing the numbers head on is the only way to move forward. How much do you you need to earn for the year to be comfortable?

Work backwards from that and see how much that equates to each month. How many products do you need to sell to hit that, or how many projects do you need to book in?

As a small business owner you probably have some kind of accounting software (I use freeagent* – it predicts my tax bill, my bank transactions get added automatically and I can file my self assessment return directly through it 😅) or an accountant, but I find it’s good to have a separate spreadsheet somewhere on my computer where I simply track my cashflow each month – the money that is actually coming into my business bank account.

At the top I write my income goal for the year, along with a stretch income goal. I write Jan-Dec down a column on one side and add up exactly what goes into my bank account each month and write the values in the next column. I can see at a glance how far along I am to hitting my yearly goal each month.

Accounting software is fine and necessary for logging business bills and invoices and you can pull reports etc. but there’s just something different about having a super simple spreadsheet that I open often which gets me used to looking at my numbers.

Remember to work out how much tax you’ll owe on your income goal and have that value written somewhere so you can set money aside accordingly.

Because I book projects a few months in advance I ask for a deposit to book, and then ask for two payments during and at the end of the project. I have a section on my spreadsheet where I write how much each client is owing so that I can add all that up and see at a glance what is projected to come in over the next few months or for the rest of the year.

Again, all stuff my accounting software or project management software can do, but the act of typing it all in and looking at it on at least a weekly basis means I am more intimately aware of my money situation. There’s also a section with my (small) credit card debt – the act of reducing the number each time I make a payment makes me feel good.

Seeing all these various numbers together in a file I can just open quickly has majorly helped to keep me on track and stay motivated this year. If less has gone into my bank account than a previous month it’s in the forefront of my mind rather than buried somewhere in my accounting software.

I’m not saying you need to become numbers mad because there is much more to life, but do look at your numbers often. I also feel like it’s a bit of a manifestation tool, but let’s not go into detail about that in this post!

Nurture your email list

Here’s the thing. It’s a bit weird to talk about ‘owning’ people, but, you do not ‘own’ your Instagram or Facebook following. They are amazing places to build community around your brand, but if one of them goes down forever, or your account gets hacked and you lose your following, where would you be?

This is something I am still learning myself, I rely heavily on Instagram for business, but we all need to make sure we have a business and a community outside of these platforms. Your email list is important because it’s a list if people that have let you into their private inboxes.

You can export that list of emails at any time and move to a different email provider. See the difference? These people are really valuable to you, so nurture them.

During my slow season I created a new freebie download for people who signed up to my list. I made sure it was really valuable and jam packed with information and I released it to the world. I said “not today, thank you” to imposter syndrome and just did it.

I placed the ‘download my free branding guide’ button in prominent places on my website and I promoted it (and continue to promote it) on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Social media is fun and necessary, but try and use it to drive people onto your website and email list as often as you can, rather than just being happy with a growing social following.

With an increasing email list comes the need to nurture that list. Most mailing list providers will allow you to set up a sequence of emails that get sent out automatically when people sign up at any interval you choose. Set up a sequence of emails with some valuable content that goes out automatically, and then email your list at least once a month with updates and helpful things to build that sense of community with your audience directly.

Work on your client or customer experience

A sure-fire way to get people talking about your business and create a buzz around your brand is to provide a top-notch client or customer experience that wow’s people. It’s not just about delivering a great end product, it’s about each touchpoint with your business being professional, or beautiful, or personal – whatever suits your brand.

For me this meant making booking easier, especially for oversees clients where it’s not as easy to just bank transfer money, and thinking about how I could better explain the process to clients in the beginning. I set up a template web page with all the information they would need for their project once they’ve booked in.

Now I duplicate the template page, change names and timeline dates etc, and send the link off to them. They feel that they have a personalised, dedicated space where all their project info lives and I also add all the work I do to the page so that it’s always in the same place and no one has to go hunting through emails to find things.

I did some research and got my brand discovery questionnaire up to date so that I’m asking the right questions at the beginning of projects – this means I can deliver thoughtful and well considered design work that hits the mark more often than not on the first concept.

If in doubt, research, refine, and improve. None of the changes I made to my client process cost any money – just my time and effort which I had plenty of during my last slow season 😅

Get your website up to date

Got projects you’ve done but not blogged about yet? Get those case studies up on your website and promote them like crazy. Research what other people in your industry are blogging about, don’t copy, but it should at least give you some ideas of what you could blog about yourself.

New blog posts means there is new content on your website which Google likes. I am no SEO expert, but what I do know is that the Internet likes websites that are kept fresh with interesting new things to read. Don’t let your site get stagnant, even rewriting your homepage or services page is helpful.

Repurpose content you’ve sent out to your email list into blog posts. Repurpose instagram posts on the same subject into a blog post. Whatever you can do to get more content on your website, do it. Promote. That. Content.

Think about spending a little bit of money on a website audit if you need help. It doesn’t have to be expensive and sometimes you just need a helping hand. You can get pointers on what to improve with the user journey and the flow of the site. There is a lot of information out there on the Internet about SEO, do some research and try to improve things yourself, or speak to an SEO expert.


All these things that I worked on helped to build my confidence back up. I gathered momentum and soon I was receiving lovely replies to my newsletters, people were enquiring about working with me again, and I managed to book projects in for the remainder of 2019.

Remember that nothing changes if nothing changes. Do the work, try something new, and stay positive.

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This post is written by guest contributor Sophie Livingston. Sophie is a website copywriter working with freelancers and small business owners who want to attract clients they’ll love working with.

If you’re delivering a service through your business, like coaching, photography, virtual assistance or design, for example, you are a big part of what your clients are buying when they invest in that service.

They don’t just want the service you’re selling, they want the way it will make them feel. And how they feel will depend on how you’re shaping the experience you provide.

Your words can have a big impact on that experience. How you talk in and about your business influences the conversations you’re having with people. Both your words and your visuals give you an opportunity to connect.

If you let your personality shine through in your marketing, you’ll connect with the right clients who’re going to truly benefit from working with you.

And finding the right clients is a big deal, right? One of the best things about being independent is getting to choose who you work with and what you work on.

When you put in time and effort to develop a consistent and unique brand, you’ll attract the right clients and projects naturally. You’ll get enquiries from people who want to work with you above anyone else because they’ve come to know, like and trust who you are.

With that in mind, here are my top three tips on how to write with personality in your business.

How to write with personality in your business

1. Define your brand personality

The visuals we use online play a big part in how people perceive us, and it’s no different when it comes to the words we use.

In the same way that a logo can be recognisable and invoke emotion, the words you use can help you build relationships and trigger actions.

But a brand is about so much more than just a pretty logo or a strong tagline.

Your brand is made up of all the impressions your clients and contacts have of you. It’s your reputation. It’s how people would describe you when you’re not in the room.

And, as you’re building your brand, you have the opportunity to shape those impressions. With a strong sense of what you want your brand personality to be, you can develop visuals and a voice that influences the way people see you.

To define your brand personality, start by asking yourself the following questions.

Q. What feedback have you had from people you’ve worked with? Why do they enjoy working with you? What do they say about you?

Q. What do your ideal clients need you to be? If they were to describe the kind of person they’d love working with, what would they say?

Q. Think of someone in your field or community who you look up to and admire. What is it about their personality that you enjoy or can relate to?

Q. Now think of those you might consider competitors. What makes you different from them? How would you describe their personality and how is yours different?

Q. And finally, which aspects of your personality do you want to see reflected in your brand?

After you’ve answered those questions, you should have a clearer idea of what makes up your personality and which of those traits you’d like to inject into your brand.

To keep you focused, you might find it helpful to create a list of three to five words that sum up your brand personality.

Is your brand personality bold, fiery, calm, direct, charming, formal, cheerful, playful, witty, reflective, friendly, supportive, inspiring or energetic, for example?

Defining your brand personality in this way doesn’t need to be about setting parameters, but it can help you find direction and be more consistent.

Write these words down and stick them up next to your desk so you can keep them in mind when you’re writing content.

2. Write like you talk and write to one person

One of the golden rules in copywriting is to write like you talk.

And writing like you talk is the easiest way to stay consistent.

A consistent tone of voice helps build credibility and trust. It does this because it feels familiar and unique. When your tone of voice is recognisable across all the different touchpoints in your business, it creates a seamless, personal experience for everyone you’re interacting with.

There is no one way to talk about a business or to communicate with an online audience. In your business, in your brand, there is only you and the way you talk.

Imagine how you’d feel if you decided to work with someone because, online, they come across as bold, fiery and opinionated, but when you meet them in person, they’re quiet, agreeable and reserved. Or vice versa.

We’d feel cheated, wouldn’t we? Like we’d been lied to or tricked into something.

Marketing isn’t about tricking people into doing business with us. It’s about understanding people and connecting with them.

Try these tips to help you write like you talk

After you write something in or about your business, read it back to yourself out loud. Does it sound like you? Does it feel natural? Would you feel comfortable saying the same thing to someone face-to-face?

Imagining that you’re writing to (or talking to) one person is a useful trick. If you’ve developed a good idea of who your ideal client is, it can help to give them a name and write directly to them when you’re drafting content.

It might be a made-up name that suits the persona you’ve created, or it might be a real-life person from your community who embodies all the traits you hope to find in the people you’re working with.

Write “Dear [name]” at the top of your content draft and write like it’s a message or email that’s going directly to them.

The copy or content you write for your business doesn’t need to appeal to everyone. In fact, if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll be doing more harm than good.

It can feel scary, at first, to be so relaxed in your writing when you’ve probably been taught to always be “professional”. Being professional means delivering on what you promise. It doesn’t mean being formal or boring or writing like a robot.

Writing like you talk will help you feel so much clearer about who you are in your business and who you’re here to help. And it’ll help you attract like-minded people who want to work with you because they like who you are.

Related post: 4 steps to identify your ideal customer

3. Show up as yourself and be honest

One of the things I admire most about Meg (the brand stylist behind this blog), is how authentic she is in the content she creates and the stories she shares.

In her blog post on the importance of being visible in your business, Meg says “What I love about the internet and social media is that it allows us to be seen just as we are. Real people telling real stories. You write the script, you set the scene, you can be inspirational just by being your very own self. People buy from people, and when you are visible and you share yourself and your story, people get to know you. They root for you, they want you to succeed.”

When you think about the people you enjoy following online, I’m sure you feel a connection to them. You probably feel like you know them even though you’ve never met them in person before.

As humans who spend a lot of our time online, we’re seeking those genuine connections. We want to feel seen and understood, and when we hear from other people who are sharing openly, it helps us feel a little less alone in the world.

Being authentic doesn’t have to mean baring your soul. You can share honestly about your working life without talking about the things that feel private and sacred to you, like your health or family life, for example. Or perhaps you’re someone who feels comfortable sharing some aspects of your personal life, but you draw the line at talking about the struggles you’re facing in your business.

Whatever feels right for you, it’s important to have boundaries and keep some things back. You don’t need to tell the whole story for the online version of yourself to be authentic.

Remember that the content you’re sharing is part of the experience you’re providing to your clients or future clients. You’re not sharing because you want the whole world to know everything about you, you’re here to help a small, select group of people overcome a problem they’re facing.

To help you find the right balance, consider what your ideal clients will find helpful or relatable. That’s who you’re here for, after all, and I know you want to show up in the best way you can for those people.

Ask yourself the following questions to start writing a list of ideas that you can expand on later.

Q. What experiences have you gone through that your ideal clients might be able to relate to?

Q. What lessons have you learnt, in life or in business, that can help your audience with the challenges they’re facing?

Q. What do you wish you’d known 3, 6 or 12 months ago that could be useful for someone who’s a few steps behind you?

Q. Why have you made [X] decision? What’s guiding you? What do you believe in relation to this that’s given you the confidence to move forward?

Q. What fears have you had in the past that seem silly now? Or what’s something you’ve done recently that you wish you’d done a lot sooner?

After you’ve answered these questions, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of ideas for stories you can share with your community.

Keep a notebook close by or use an app on your phone to develop these ideas and add new thoughts as they come up.

Take inspiration from the real-life conversations you’re having with friends and clients, and remember to write these stories as if you’re talking to that one person who comes to mind when you think about who your ideal client is.

Things to remember

You are a big part of what your clients are buying when they invest in your service – let your personality shine through in your marketing and you’ll attract clients who value you.

A brand is about so much more than just a pretty logo or a strong tagline. Your brand is made up of all the impressions your clients and contacts have of you. It’s your reputation. It’s how people would describe you when you’re not in the room.

There is no one way to talk about a business or to communicate with an online audience. In your business, in your brand, there is only you and the way you talk.

People buy from people, and when you are visible and you share yourself and your story, people get to know you. They root for you, they want you to succeed.

The content you’re sharing is part of the experience you’re providing to your clients or future clients. You’re not sharing because you want the whole world to know everything about you, you’re here to help a small, select group of people overcome a problem they’re facing.

This blog post was written by Sophie Livingston. Sophie is a website copywriter working with freelancers and small business owners who are ready to start attracting their dream clients. Find out more about her website copywriting service, or join her community of determined creatives on Instagram.

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