10+ ways to stay social while staying safe at home

Everyone’s social life has taken a dive at the moment. Social distancing has meant an end to going out to the pub, going to the cinema and even going for a meal. Thankfully we have the technology to ensure that we can still do some of these things. Here are some ideas when you’re ready for a night out but you’ve got to stay in.

Crowd-under-red-lighting-community-written-on-top

Form a book club and meet on Zoom. Books can be borrowed online from your local library and then you can meet together and discuss them. PJs and wine optional.

Hold a party on Zoom. Following on the Zoom theme, one person I know is holding a virtual cheese and wine party on Zoom. Sounds like fun.

Go to a theatre night at the same time as a friend and message together. There are lots of theatre performances taking place on YouTube. Why not arrange to watch the same time as a friend and message together when you do.

Join a Twitter event – last Monday night, Dr Who fans watched an episode together while actors from the episode tweeted

Have a WhatsApp party – similar to FaceTime and you can have different people on video at once.

Dance in a socially isolated way. There’s a street where people come out of their houses and dance together.

Wave at goats. Love this news story about the goats coming down off the Great Orme and spending time in town. I grew up here, so it’s very familiar to me.

Watch a film together with a friend and chat over a message service. As the theatre idea but a virtual cinema instead.

Go to a virtual pub quiz. 300,000 took part in one recently!

Join a virtual choir – Gareth Malone is organising one at the moment

You can also take virtual music lessons in different instruments. It doesn’t matter where your music teacher is based.

There are also places where you can learn a new language

You can also take part in a dance class – which do you fancy? I’ve seen ballet, tap, theatre and zumba so far!

Order a takeaway and eat out while staying in. Just Eat is still taking orders from restaurants in your area

What would you like to do tonight? Let me know in the comments below!

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Online networking for stay-at-home workers

Missing the watercooler or the canteen already? It’s been over a week since workers of all kinds have been told to work from home if possible in the UK.

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One of the best things about working in an office is the people that you meet and work alongside. One of the downsides of enforced working from home is that you are unable to get out and about and meet people. We are social animals and we need contact.

Here are some tips for online networking (from home):

WhatsApp chat groups

My book group is on WhatsApp and since the lockdown, it has lit up the airwaves! We have sent quizzes, videos and all kinds of things across it. We are also planning to meet up virtually in our pjs and those who like a tipple will be able to drink and not worry about getting home! If you have WhatsApp group chats, then using them to keep in touch can be quite useful.

Facebook groups

Facebook groups can be good for keeping the larger community together. For example, the local church groups have been busy updating their feeds to keep their congregations informed on how they are going to run their services. They have created events which has enabled them to promote them to their followers. Of course there have been national events happening as well and these have also been promoted.

If you search for Facebook groups related to your line of work, you will probably find one. These are great for meeting new people and getting information and advice. You may have to be approved to join and sometimes you have to answer questions. If you belong to a group which is struggling to keep in touch, why not set a Facebook group up? You can set a group to private or public depending on their type of activity and it’s a great way to keep in touch.

Twitter hashtags

Communities often meet up on Twitter at set hours through hashtags. Try searching the website for hashtags relevant to your work and see what you can find.

If you are a writer or freelancer, there are some amazing Twitter groups who meet up using hashtags. They usually meet up at a particular time each week. Twitter is also a great place to meet authors.

Try:

#freelanceheroes

#freelancechat

#ContentClubUK

The format is usually asking questions and people tag themselves using the hashtag to answer them. It is a great way to learn more about working as a freelancer.

You could also check out:

#amwriting

#WritingCommunity

You can also keep contact through the Linked-In community, either through posting and commenting on posts or through the different groups that run on there. In a lockdown situation, this can only be helpful to your business.

How are you keeping in contact with work colleagues and friends at the moment? Please share in the comments below.

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How to start using Twitter as a Freelance Writer

One of the main things about becoming a freelance writer is the need to network and connect with other writers and clients. How successful you are in connecting with people is partly dependant on getting to grips with social media and learning to use it to your advantage. Here are some tips on getting the most out of your social interactions.

Do you use Twitter?

Do you use Twitter personally? What is your attitude to meeting people through social media. It is easy to be wary and restrict interactions with friends when it comes to our own personal accounts, but the whole reason for using social media for our business means that we need to reach out to others that we will not necessarily know. You may need to change your mindset in order to use social media effectively.

Where do your clients hang out?

I can remember attending an interview for a builders’ merchants who were looking for a social media person to build up their Twitter accounts. I didn’t get this job, but I still wonder whether builders actually have time to hang out on Twitter and pick up their offers. Most businesses these days offer email, many send out newsletters and have a website, usually developed by a third party, but Twitter and Facebook are very personal choices that not everyone wants to use. Check whether potential clients that you want to contact are choosing to use the method of social media that you are planning to use.

Where do you begin?

Choose a username that reflects your business. All the social media make it very easy to set up an account and the hardest thing can sometimes be finding the right name that has not already been taken.

Set a profile picture and a cover picture too. Most social media accounts also give you the option to reach out to people from your contacts list, so that you have a ready-made list to start connecting with. It is best to set up your profile as fully as you can.

Write your first post and publish.

Check in with your account regularly and monitor the activity. There are tools available to help schedule posts to help save time, depending on the form of social media.

What to post?

Social media is great for promoting your blog posts, website, offers and promotions, or just for sharing an article that you found useful or news. Decide how often you want to post. Posts should never just be self-serving promotions but full of useful information for others. Keep in mind the people that you want to reach and what they might be interested in reading about, or the knowledge that they might like to acquire. When you post, include a link and an image if possible.

You can also share videos, podcasts and infographics. You can curate news to post, writing the headlines in your own words and including a link. This can be a useful way of posting more often. Keep it relevant to your business and make it useful to your clients.

Social interaction

The most important part of social media is the social bit! Each form of social media has its own way of interacting. Twitter allows likes, replies and retweets. Retweeting other people’s tweets is a good way to begin your interactions. Follow people and their tweets will show on your feed. Look for people and companies that align with the people you are trying to reach. Thank people for following you and use hashtags.

Hashtags enable your posts to be found by interested parties. The most popular hashtags will appear when you start to type a word after a hashtag. Choosing one of the more popular ones will help people find you. Post regularly and follow up when people try to contact you. Some companies set up automatic replies to people who follow them, to let them know that it is appreciated. This can be a good idea, but make it a thank you and possibly a freebie that you offer rather than a hard sell.

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Helpful Blogs 3

Here are five blog posts that I have found helpful this month:

1. Ask the Expert How to Start up an Online Store

This blog post answers all the questions that you might ask when setting up an e-commerce website. This is a really useful post and Karen answers the questions very succinctly. You might want to check out her website for information on setting up a Facebook page too, because she is very good at what she does.

2. Five Ways to Avoid Being a Notworker

This is a great post on how not to network and therefore, some of the best ways to network. There is some great advice here.

3. What Budget 2011 Means for Freelancers and Small Businesses

Staying with Bitsy, here is a great post on the UK budget announcements and how they will affect small businesses. Very useful.

4. Facebook vs Twitter

A new website I have recently come across had this interesting post on Facebook vs Twitter.  The website is very useful with lots of interesting information on running a small business.

5. A Marketer’s Take on Google +1

Finally, Laura Lake at About.com talks about the latest Google feature: +1. It will be interesting to see how the search engine makes use of it in the future when evaluating search results and page rankings.

 

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Top Five Blog Posts Last Month

Writing
Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

Every so often, it’s helpful to run a ‘best of’ blog post particularly once you have picked up your blogging rate. Here are the top five blog posts on The Creative Writer in March in my humble opinion. Feel free to share any posts that have helped you this month.

OK, going to break my own rules here – this wasn’t strictly published in March but on 28th February, but Google Algorithm Change Rocks Content Websites was a blog post about a big change on Google. The effects of this change, known as Panda is still being assessed, but it affected some pretty big sites such as Suite101 and Hubpages, making those organisations take steps to improve the quality of their publishing. Some people are still concerned about the effects of this change, but I think it will all even out eventually and that great content is still king.

How to design a successful leaflet began life as a sample for a company, but turned into an interesting blog post. I have had a hand in designing leaflets, but as part of a committee and that can be a difficult thing to do, with everyone having their own opinion on how it should look. Some useful tips here.

Regular blogging can make a difference. I have noticed it on my own website: my stats are still steadily rising since I started making a commitment to blog three times a week. Try it and it could work for you.

Writing compelling copy offers an insight into the copywriter’s mind which is a dark and murky place… just kidding! Actually this suggests an idea that might help your company write copy that can help convert visitors into customers. Try it and let me know how you get on.

Form alliances with your fellow freelances is a great suggestion which can lead to more work for both of you. Find people that you can work with and get alongside them to the benefit of you both.

So these are some of my better blog posts this month that I think contained real value to the people reading them. Let me know what you think and please ask any questions that you would like to know the answer to.

 

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The Bitsy Website for Small Businesses

I have long been a fan of Enterprise Nation, the UK website devoted to helping small businesses. Recently Enterprise Nation added another website to its stable: Bitsy.

Enterprise Nation was always good for regular Twitter chat and had really helpful forums. Bitsy has take that community one step further and created a way of listing your business as well as joining a lively community and chatting about all kinds of issues whether business-related or not.

It is free to join the Bitsy community and as it is such a great resource, I highly recommend that you do so. The access to experts across the full business spectrum is amazing considering how long the website has been going. If you want to be listed as a seller, it currently costs £5 + VAT or you can choose to become a premium seller for £8 + VAT and list numerous ventures.

The website is growing all the time. It will be holding monthly web chats for members and there is Twitter chat daily on Monday to Friday. For the solo business person working from home alone, it offers a great sense of community.

If you want to link up with me through Bitsy, please feel free to do so. Let me know that you came from my website.

Sarah Charmley is a freelance copywriter and editor available for writing gigs large and small. She is listed on Bitsy, but if you want to contact her through this website, then do use the Contact Me form.

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Getting Feedback on Your Business

Photo on Flickr by Tambako the Jaguar

It can be good to talk to people about their opinions on how your business is doing. When we deal with customers, it is important to know that we are doing a good job and that our customers are happy with what they are receiving for their money. When you are first starting out, it is important to get feedback from a trusted source: someone in the same line of business, perhaps with more experience. This is valuable feedback that can help inform your business and what you decide to do.

Feedback from Peers

When we seek feedback, the response is usually thoughtful and helpful. However we can be given unsought feedback from peers and friends which seems to be more like unhelpful criticism.

Although your first response might be to get angry and be rude back, it is best to sit back and take stock of what has been said. You may need to separate the words from the manner in which they were delivered and consider them both separately. Some people do not come across well when delivering feedback. They feel awkward and struggle to find the right words to say. If this has been the case, then you know at least that the feedback has come from the heart and perhaps the words should be considered carefully. You can ask other people about the issues to try and confirm whether the first comments were correct or not.

However, occasionally you feel that the feedback can have ulterior motives: that the speaker wants to put you down for some reason. You might feel that they are jealous because you have a job that you can do from home, or your business is doing better than theirs – whatever the reason, the possibility is that the criticism stemmed from a desire to bring you down rather than build you up.

Answering Criticism

Hard as this can be to take, the correct response is to do nothing that will reveal how cross you are. You will need to calm down before responding to the criticism and then answer in a measured way. Don’t feel the need to justify yourself, but if you must answer their comments, then do it calmly and don’t let them know how much they have upset you. If possible, allow time to go by before responding. The best way to answer criticism is to allow time to prove them wrong and for you to be even more successful than you were before.

Feedback from Customers

Feedback from customers on how your company is doing is a positive thing and should be sought out wherever possible. Ask customers for references; provide feedback forms on your website and encourage them to use them. Post glowing praise on your website for other customers to see – with their permission of course!

You can use your company Facebook fan page to ask customers to give you feedback or you can pick up comments through Twitter. Some bigger companies are now monitoring Twitter chat so that they can improve bad experiences of customer service. However you do it, encourage your customers to engage with you and tell you their experiences good or bad. You need to know how your company is doing and your customers are the best-placed people to tell you.

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by Tambako the Jaguar

  • What Are You Doing To Engage Your Facebook Customers? Here Are 5 Tips You Can Do! (socialmediadudes.com)
  • Turn a Bad Customer Experience into a Good One (blogs.constantcontact.com)
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