December Newsletter

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Alison Read Copywriting and digital content
Merry Christmas, dear friend!  You’ve been sent this email because you’ve opted in through my website, or because we’ve worked together over the past few months, or simply because I like you and want to wish you all the best for the coming year!

Whichever it was, there’s an option to unsubscribe at the bottom of this email, I won’t be offended if you do!

Practising what I preach

Of the many things I’ve learnt this year, one of the things of which I’m most convinced is that creating regular content will help grow your business.  It’s a way to reach out to your existing customers, to potential customers and to others who don’t yet even realise that one day they’ll be your customer, and bring them under your wing.  It’s something I encourage all my clients to do.  I wrote a blog post about it recently, to really nail down the reasons that newsletters are definitely A Good Thing.

But that’s not the only reason I wrote the post. Just between you and I, it was a statement, a personal challenge, time to put my money where my mouth is and start writing my own newsletters.  So you, my lovely friend, are a very special reader indeed, as this here is newsletter number one and it’s destined to land in your inbox!

Why have I dragged my feet on this?  Is it because I’ve been so busy with clients, running the business, getting the kids sorted, etc that I’ve simply not had time?  It’s possibly a little of each of those things, but the biggest reason (again just between us), is that I find this pretty scary!  Writing content for other people is a breeze, I’m putting on their mask, I’m anonymous, but this is me putting myself out there, and that’s very different.

Visibility is crucial for a successful business, and to do it well you need to throw authenticity into the mix too.  But for many of us, authenticity plus visibility equals vulnerability, and that’s what makes it so daunting.

Feeling the fear

When I started on this journey, earlier this year, someone suggested I read ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers. It was written nearly 30 years ago and has become a deserved classic. I can’t quote directly from it as once again I’ve lent my copy to a friend.  But the message throughout is simply that fear is natural and normal and without it we could not continue to grow.  The way to overcome fear is simply to get out there and do it, and the more you do that, the more you face that fear, the less frightening it becomes… until the next thing comes along.

But each time you face your fear, you get a little braver, and you get a little bit of a kick out of surviving it. See, that wasn’t so bad! You can handle anything, what’s the worst that could happen?

I’ve been officially running my own business for nearly six months now, and I can’t begin to count the number of times that I’ve taken a deep breath and pushed on through regardless.  I feel braver than I’ve felt in a long time.  And it feels pretty good.

Blitz those typos

It’s the season for giving, so I have a little Christmas gift for you.  Are you using Grammarly yet?  I’d heard of it, but had not really looked into it until recently.  It’s brilliant!  At it’s most basic it’s automatic proofreading, but it’s far more accurate than the spelling and grammar checkers you might have used in MS Word, for example.  The clever bit is that works in your browser and checks away pretty much everything you type online, including email, Facebook, Twitter, even MailChimp that I’m using now (but not Google Docs yet). It also has an extension that works with MS Office, there are Mac and Windows desktop versions, and failing that you can always cut and paste into the online editor, so there’s no excuse for making mistakes in your online writing.

The really clever bit (at least if you’re a bit of a data nerd, like me) is that as it makes its billions of suggestions across the interweb, it’s learning about our writing habits.  By collecting stats on common errors, and also whether we accept the suggested corrections or not, it becomes a more powerful, and relevant tool, and gains incredible insights into the development of the English language. Everyone’s a winner!

You may be wondering why I’m telling you how to get free proofreading tools if proofreading is one of the services I offer? It’s because what I actually do with pre-written content is copy-editing.  I take the time to understand your business, your voice, and your intent in a piece of content. I also check the accuracy of the piece and the consistency with other content on your site, and no machine is going to be able to add that kind of value.  To understand the difference, take a look at this blog post.

But for straightforward proofing, those of you that work on a laptop or desktop should seek it out straight away (sadly no mobile app yet, an oversight that needs addressing).  Go to www.grammarly.com

Thank you to all, and to all a good night

Enough for now, it’s Christmas and you’ll have plenty to be getting on with.  Since this is my first newsletter, however, indulge me a little longer while I quickly acknowledge a few of the people that have supported me over the past year.

Firstly, thank you to my clients for the opportunity to work with you.  May your businesses grow and prosper over the coming year, and may you request lots more assistance with content creation and marketing communication strategy!

Heartfelt, hug-filled thank yous to Michelle, Judith, Val and Sherry, for your wisdom, guidance, inspiration and belief.

And finally, at the risk of turning this into an Oscars speech, to my family, specifically my lovely Al, the kindest, most patient man on the planet, who appears completely baffled by the whole self-development/feel-the-fear thing because he simply believes unconditionally that I’m brilliant.  Strange.

Dear friends, I hope 2016 brought you all that you wished for, and that 2017 emerges bigger and shinier than you can even imagine!

May your content be merry and bright, all year round!

Warmest wishes,

Alison
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The header photo is Covesea lighthouse and Lossiemouth West Beach and was taken at noon today, one day before the shortest day of the year.  At this time of year, we get less than seven hours of daylight this far north, but the light we do get can be simply gorgeous!

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