Business Book Review: The Big Leap

“I am expanding with love, abundance and success every day, and inspire those around me to do the same”.

Say hello to my new daily, no hourly, mantra.

With over 100,000 copies sold, New York Times bestselling author Gay Hendricks demonstrates how to go beyond your internal limits, release outdated fears and learn a whole new set of powerful skills and habits to liberate your authentic greatness. Fans of Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, and Gabrielle Bernstein will discover the way to break down the walls to a better life.

I’m not going to lie, the reason I picked up The Big Leap finally (after being recommended it on numerous occasions over the past couple of years) was when my accountant told me one of her clients had had an incredibly profitable year, and put it all down to reading this. I don’t read self-help books very often, if at all, but I was faced with a rainy weekend and a cheap copy from Amazon.

I’m a fast reader, what could I have to lose?!

The moment I started the introduction, I knew that I was in for a long night. Sometimes, business books take work to get into, they don’t resonate with where I’m at right now, or I feel like I need to skip ahead to the bit that is relevant.

But The Big Leap jumps straight in with the hard stuff. Immediately I began to realise that all the worries, sleepless nights and ‘problems’ I’d been experiencing recently were caused by my ‘Upper Limits’ and I was experiencing those upper limit problems as a way of ‘sabotaging’ myself.

Gay Hendricks describes a few ways of upper-limiting yourself:

  1. Worry. If it's not about something real that you can act on immediately, it's just a way to stop yourself from being happy. Drop it and look for the positive thing that's trying to come through.

  2. Criticism. Usually what you're criticizing someone about is not the real issue. If it's not "please stop standing on my foot now," it's just a way to keep from being too happy.

  3. Deflection. Even if you think you sucked, accept the compliment. Add on your "I wish I had done better ____" at the end if you must--AFTER you've let the positivity in.

  4. Arguing. Especially money arguments--almost never about the thing you're arguing about. Fights are about who's the bigger victim.

  5. Illness and injuries. Obviously, some are real, but many are produced by our own minds to punish, protect, or prevent something.

My #1 problem is worry. Worry about clients, worry about doing a good job, money, whether the dog is happy, what car I will drive in March 2019… honestly, the list is endless.

The Big Leap really helped me unpick all this worry in relation to those three aspects of abundance, success and love. Without going all therapist on you and telling you my life story, it’s clear that there were parallells I needed to work on!

So - Is The Big Leap for you?

PROS:

  • Applicable at any stage of business

  • Applicable to all areas of life

  • A relatively ‘easy read’ - its not technical or too long

  • Easily broken down to stages that you can work on one at a time.

  • I really enjoyed the anecdotal aspects that helped contextualise theories.

CONS:

  • It’s very ‘American West-coast coach’ in style. This can get a little annoying!

  • There is a section on ‘time’ towards the back which I found very interesting but also very brief and it felt rushed. This could be a whole book on its own!

  • I wish this book had more ‘activities’ or workbook style questions throughout.

Have you read it - what did you think? Did you notice any effect in your business of life afterwards?

The big Q is… what do I read next?!

How to Get the Most Out of Outsourcing

For many of our clients, we are the first member of their team. When you are running your own biz, social media, blogging and marketing are one of the first things that you run out of time for when you are busy. 
(see also, putting off that tax return)

So for lots of solo-preneurs, one (wo)man bands and small businesses, we get brought in to lighten the load, help them get clear on what's working and what's not, and take the reins. 

And it's not uncommon for these people to have never outsourced, hired or worked with a freelancer before - I mean, how many of us really know how to wear the manager, HR, director, finance, manufacturer and marketing hats all at once?! People magement and subcontractors are at the bottom of your priorities! 

Here at A&D we have worked hard to make the transition as smooth as possible, and provide a comprehensive contract and new starter pack to all clients with details on how we work and what they can do to make the most of their package. 

We love our clients and want it to stay that way. We are so invested in their projects, we tend to treat them like our own, and so a magical working relationship is where we want to be. 

But from chatting from other freelancers in my networking groups, we have some stories that will make your toes curl! From basic manners to unwritten rules, do you know how to handle your freelancers? 

From one biz owner to another, I'm about to let you in on some not-so-secrets that will make working with your team suddenly a dream. You get to look like the best client in the world, and they will love working on your projects. A happy team is an invested team. 

As they say, people don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. 

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Our top tips for working with freelancers / getting the most out of outsourcing 

  1. Get to know your team. Are they parents, animal lovers or planning to move house? What's going on in their world?  Taking an interest not only closes the virtual distance gap, it is much easier to have truthful conversations when thrashing out difficult details.  

  2. Respect their boundaries. I've heard stories of phone calls in the middle of the night and meetings that run WAY over the allocated time. Your team are people too, and chances are you aren't their only client. It's best to schedule two meetings, than run over. Make a schedule, stick to it, and allow them the flexibility to do their best work. 

  3. Manners. Yes you've hired someone, but unless they are on your payroll, chances are they are freelancers... which means they can turn down work or not renew a contract. Please and thank you's do wonders to getting your work booked in and even bumped to the top of the queue! 

  4. Feedback. Whether something is good or bad, make sure you say something! Regular feedback on a project will make sure you are both on track and happy with progress. Did you ever have a teacher who didn't mark your work? No I bet you didn't. Whilst your team don't want scores out of ten, where improvement is required and where they did a great job is fantastic to know! 

  5. Step back. You hired these people for a reason - to give you some time and space to do your work. Well, it's now time to let them do their best work too! Respect their expertise, allow them some free rein and get ready to get some down time back. Micro-managing stresses everyone out... so be the best boss by leading, not dictating. 

So business owners - go on and rate yourself on the above out of 5! I'd love to know what you get! 
And fellow freelancers - have we missed anything?


Are you:

  • Cutting corners on your core business - e.g. sacrificing photo editing time for mind-numbing admin or accountancy?

  • Repeatedly procrastinating, pushing the same tasks to the bottom of the pile again and again?

  • Turning down jobs you’d love to take (and could really lead somewhere) because you simply don’t have the hours in the day?

  • Or are you - and we’re going to be frank here - an overworked, stressed-out nightmare to deal with or - heaven forbid - live with?

Feel like you are spreading yourself too thin and want to chat about how the team at A&D can help you? Book a call using this link.

Laura CutressComment
5 Reasons Why Niching-Down Can Upscale Your Business
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When I first started A&D, I was a bit of jack-of-all trades. I'd design a logo, write blog posts then develop a wordpress site, with all kinds of social media inbetween. 

In an attempt to develop a reputation, gain clients and - let's face it - earn some cash, I said yes to almost every job coming my way. I was attempting to do it all, whilst being everything to everyone. 

And you know what that means? I didn't actually enjoy much of it. 

I was streched thin, my brain found it difficult to learn a million different aspects and skills, and the sleepless nights were real. 

So as you can obviously tell from the title of this post, I started niching-down. I started listening to my gut, and thinking about the tasks that fired me up and made me excited. That meant I could specialise, I could invest time and effort in becoming an expert in just a few things, and delivering projects that I was excited to work on and that I was proud to submit. 

Suddenly, we became known for creating incredible social media campaigns, coaching clients through beautiful brand development and managing exciting digital marketing strategies. And I could bolster that with the skills of the A&D crew, to provide a magnificent service that we were all proud of. 

Many positive things came out of starting to say 'No' - but here's just 5 for you to think about today. 

5 Reasons Why Niching Down Can Upscale Your Business: 

  1. You can start earning more! Becoming a specialist, investing in personal development and being seen as the expert, means you can charge more for your services - whilst knowing that you are delivering the absolute BEST. 

  2. You will LOVE your clients! Your clients will totally get you and what your business is all about. There's no ambiguity - they know exactly what they are getting and what you stand for - which means you will start to attract only your very ideal clients. 

  3. You can hire people. You will want to start surrounding yourself with talented people who can help you deliver the very best service. Whether that is allowing them to do their very best work (the bits that you don't want to do) or bringing in other specialists to elevate your products even more - the collaboration and community will start to get exciting! 

  4. The rave reviews will flood in. By doing work that you love, time and time again, you will learn and develop quickly, and start delivering excellence. And clients love excellence! 

  5. You will have more spare time. Yes, really! Because you will have amazing clients, and an incredible team, that leaves you more spare time! You won't be rushing from one app to the next, trying to remember how each one works or what your jobs are today; you can get down to what really matters. 

Laura CutressComment
Our Top Flexible Working Tools

Last week, one of my fabulous freelance members of the A&D crew emailed me, deeply apologetic that she hadn't replied to my emails on a Thursday. 

I was a little confused, she has kids, I know she juggles her gorgeous small children, her life and working with A&D at times when the little ones are in nursery. So I immediately replied with a 'No problem love- I never expect you to do anything outside of your usual hours!'. 
But it made me think - clearly there's some expectations unclarified that means she feels bad. Eeeek! 

This year I have been making a HUGE effort to let go of the overwhelm and run my dream business (yet to have a bike and office like Anne Hathway in The Intern, but we're working on it). That means long lunch hours, walks in the Peak with the dog, mid-afternoon coffee catchups and the occasional hair or nail appointment at 11am. I work best at around 6.30am. So why restrict myself to the 9-5?! I left the corporate world to allow myself creative freedom, and yet my out-of-office said I'd reply Mon-Fri, 9-5. Whoops. 

So as of Monday this week, my out of office now says the following: 
Thank you for your email, I try and respond to all emails within 48 hours. Here at A&D we work dedicatedly on your projects at various hours of the day, so may occasionally email at the weekend and after hours. Please don’t feel you need to reply until you’re in work-mode yourself! 

So we're still 100% on it, but we're not going to expect replies when you need to do the school run or want a lie-in! Because life is important. We want to live it.

A&D is about freedom. It's about support, and empowerment. And we won't chain you to a desk - let's let go of the work-hours guilt and get sh*t done when we work best! 

Wanna see our top tools for flexible working?  We've been unchaining ourselves here at A&D using the following:

Trello (or Asana)

Personally I prefer Trello (its pretty!) but Asana works just as well! Free and fabulously organised, you can check to-do lists, comment and share files from PC or phone at the drop of a hat. 

Slack

We love a group Whatsapp here for quick FYIs, but in the effort to create more space for life (anyone actually hate being available 24/7 on Whatsapp?!) I'll be introducing A&D Slack soon for our team & clients. 

For more team chat options, see also: Workplace by Facebook

Zoom

Team calls are awesome. So are client ones! But driving 100 miles for an hour meeting? No ta. The greener and much more comfortable option is dialling in using our fav, Zoom

We also like: Google Hangouts and Join.me

Dropbox and Google Drive obviously rock our boat in terms of doc sharing - and at the moment whilst Dropbox is great for storage, group edits are done in Google Drive.

And finally, when we’re on a deadline or working to a specific hours allowance, we use Toggl to monitor hours and run reports about where we’ve spent our time! (Check out RescueTime to be seriously freaked out about your Facebook and Netflix hours!)

Do you use any of these? Do you have a favourite?

Laura CutressComment
How to Define Your Brand - Checklist

What does your brand say about you?

We've packed off lots of clients on their summer holidays this month, and feel very lucky to be trusted with their brands whilst they are away (and okay, a teeny bit jealous too!). We've been given launches, blog posts, social media and newsletters and just LOVE getting under the skin of what makes these businesses tick! 

When they know what they are passionate about, so do we. And that means we can shout about it on their behalf! WOOOHOOO! 

But what if you don't know? What if your brand is missing something that means your posts just aren't hitting the spot? 

Take a look at the check-list below. Are you and your team clear on these elements? 

  1. Who you are - Who are you and what can you offer?
  2. Brand Statement -What is your mission?
  3. Tagline - Summarise the above!
  4. Ideal Client - Who are they and what do they want?
  5. Logo + reverse logos - suitable for all media, your logo should be your calling card.
  6. Colour Pallette - Which colours represent you? Do they pull through to your content?
  7. Typeography - And fonts? Are they consistent?
  8. Elements & Icons - Do you have any flourishes, graphics or icons that sit alongside your logo? Do you use them to illustrate your message further?
  9. Voice, diction & tone - How do you sound? Are you joke-loving and upbeat, or more corporate and serious?
  10. Digital Media Content & Hashtags - Have you done your research?
  11. Imagery - What pictures and graphics are representative of your business? 
  12. Patterns & Textures - Backgrounds and aesthetics
  13. Props & Styling - Is there a style you'd like to adhere to?
  14. Media Templates and Layouts - Graphics for social media, website and print - are they the same across your channels?

Do you want to feel confident that your marketing is hitting your target audience, every single time?

Do you want to spend less time on social media?

Do you want to feel proud of your brand?

 

At Anchor & Dash, we excel at calming the storm and turning your specialism into a brand message to be proud of. We’ll get you in front of your ideal clients and make sure you’re communicating with them in a way that resonates.

Keen to chat about working together this September? Book a call here. 


Laura CutressComment
What can you expect from Digital Marketing Management?

Our mission is to support. Empower. Enable. Activate. We want our clients everywhere to be buzzing about what's to come, full of ideas and excited about the next step
What will it take to ignite that thing within that gets you focussed and ready?

It's only when our clients have a spring in their step and are so excited to tell us their news, that we've done a good job. And we won't stop until we do

People don't often realise just what they will get from us. It's not just a few hours of us on Facebook every month. Oh no. It's piece of mind, a 2 hour lunch break, dinner with your children or time to go to the gym. It's no blue screen at 11.30pm at night, and it's someone there to take the stress of your hands. It's not trying to take a photo for instagram after the best light has gone, or trying to work out what to post on Facebook. 

There's just some of the things. 

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And here's what most of our clients get as standard:

DAY-TO-DAY

  • Research the social media industry
  • Load your editorial calendar
  • Create content that is on brand
  • Schedule posts for the week ahead
  • Hashtag research
  • Monitor the competition
  • Engage with brand advocates, and potential customers
  • Proof copy for blog posts or press releases

WEEKLY

  • Check in with you and your team
  • Maintain website SEO
  • Review paid advertising campaigns
  • Research new content ideas
  • Cross promote with other influencers, clients or contacts

MONTHLY

  • Audit your strategy
  • Run social media analytics
  • Attend local events or meetings
  • Collaborate with other brands or influencers

QUARTERLY

  • Gauge your capacity and requirements
  • Adjust quarterly goals
  • Review scheduling tools and processes

You can:
- Be confident your business and brand is well represented across social media and on your website

- Be focused on your work and supporting your clients

- Let go of the overwhelm and stress and make time for you
 

''Just need to say you're marvellous!! I can now get up, get on and not worry about my social media and know that beautiful, on brand images and words that sounds like me are being posted ... you are worth every penny!! Interaction has jumped so much'


Want to chat about how we can help and what you need. Jump on a call or send us a message, we can't wait to hear all about your business! 

Laura CutressComment
How To Decide What To Share Online

Question - When did you last Google yourself?

We’re not narcissistic creatures here at A&D, but we are realists. And in order to have a realistic understanding of your brand’s online presence, you need to pop your name and your business into a search engine pretty regularly. So go on, take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Fingers crossed there’s nothing that falls into that last category, but you never know - or rather, you don’t unless you Google...

Don’t forget to log out of your Google accounts and don’t look past page two (when was the last time you did that in real life?) OK, now it’s time to rationalise your findings. What have you found that’s good - and by good, we mean representative, high-quality and consistently on-brand? And what’s not so good? Remember, no news is not necessarily good news for a small biz - OK, so there might not be any dodgy photographs of you falling out of a club in Magaluf or your cringeworthy emo poetry online for all to see, but turning up no relevant search results also means that you’re invisible to your target market. Doh!

And here’s a related point - when judging what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’, you need to not only use your own internal gauge, but also the imagined yardstick of your ideal client. In other words, how does your business measure up in the eyes of the people you want to promote yourself to? Because at the end of the day, it’s their view, not yours, that really counts.

So let’s think about that client - the one you dream of, the one you see snippets of on Instagram, Twitter accounts, in the supermarket and think, ‘YOU, yes YOU, I want YOU to be the person who books my services/buys my product/looks at my website at thinks ‘Woah man, this is GOOD.’ And when I say think about, I mean really think about them. Get under their skin and inside their head. Do the mother of all mind-mapping activities and consider everything about that perfect person, from their age-range and gender to their favourite coffee shop, books and boxset of choice. It might not seem immediately important to know whether the guy you’d like to sell to prefers Game of Thrones to McMafia, but believe me, every little helps.

Now go back to what you found online with your Googling exercise with this ideal client in mind. How do you look to them? How can you adapt and refine your content - your blog, free resources, special offers and so on - to get them sitting up, paying attention and clicking links?

 
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Well, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again - the delete button is your friend. It’s not cheating, it’s curating. Think of yourself as the custodian to your own private collection of artwork. Which ones do you really want up on the gallery wall?

  • How do your findings fit with your own analytics? Did you get great engagement on an Instagram post scheduled for 7am but weren’t really sure why? Um, could it be that your ideal client includes women on maternity leave who just so happen to have an early morning wakeup call every morning? Investigate connections between the stats that are available to you and the life patterns of the people you’re targeting.

  • Stick your ‘Ideal Client’ thoughts up somewhere you can see it regularly. Read and re-read it until it becomes an internal script. Everything you produce in terms of content, services, offers and social media posts should have this person at the forefront of your mind.

  • Be patient and don’t panic. Real, authentic, meaningful growth takes time, but it’s worth it. Also, don’t think that by focusing on one particular ideal client that you’re missing out on swathes of other people who might be interested in your business - you’ll continue to attract non-ideal-but-still-pretty-darn-good-clients through this marketing strategy. We promise.

And a final disclaimer: these exercises are about honing your presence, but they’re not about being disingenuous. Thinking about your ideal client is a way of working out what’s really important to you and your business - figuring out the kind of people that you enjoy working with the most and how to get - and keep them - on board with your brand. You’re placing the client at the centre, which is what all smart businesses should do, but the foundation is you - your talents, your abilities and your desire to work with like-minded folk.


WANT MORE? OUR BRAND VOYAGE SERVICE HAS JUST LAUNCHED! IT’S THE ULTIMATE PERSONALISED PEP-TALK AND KICK UP THE BUM YOU NEED TO ENGAGE WITH YOUR IDEAL CLIENT. CHECK OUT THE DEETS HERE!

Laura CutressComment
Setting Business Goals that Work (and what we're working on this year)

Back on the 31st December, I’m afraid I did a little brag on Instagram - well if you can’t take stock and celebrate success at the end of the year, when can you?

You see, 2017 was a standout year for Anchor & Dash - our annus mirabilis if you like. Our client base expanded - good news travels fast, I guess - and I decided I couldn’t go it alone any more. So I took the plunge and welcomed an assistant and a couple of utterly inspirational freelancers to the A&D team. Plus we went Ltd., I paid myself an actual salary and took another trip to my beloved Iceland. Oh, and I got engaged! All the applause and high-five emojis!

Ahem, but I digress. Back on New Year’s Eve, I declared I didn’t need any resolutions. I was super-happy with A&D’s progress over 2017, getting tonnes of great feedback from businesses we’d been working with for a while and feeling pretty ecstatic about the wonderful new clients on our books. How does the saying go - if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

But lately I’ve been thinking about goals, inspired partly by this blog post by our lovely client Rachael at Simplified Accounting. Rachael doesn’t do resolutions either, but talks some serious sense about setting SMART targets (remember that? Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely - thank you, Mr Careers Advisor!) for your business. And so I thought it was about time I laid out some of our goals for Anchor & Dash - and, by extension, our goals for your business.

Now we have the ultimate #DreamTeam in place - you can check out their faces and credentials here - we’re even better positioned to take your design and digital content dreams and turn them into reality. Not sure where to start with social media? We can help. Need a consistent, engaging online voice that targets your ideal client? That’s our speciality. Depending on the level of support you want, we can provide you with specific market research, create killer original graphics and images and produce website copy that’s totally authentic and representative of your brand.

But that’s not all. Behind the scenes, we’ve set ourselves the target of sharpening our collaboration game: we’ve said farewell to spreadsheets and hello to the infinitely more flexible Project Management app Trello. We’re determined to practise what we preach and share more positive feedback from our clients with no apologies. And so without further ado… 


Here's the Anchor & Dash Goals for 2018: 

 
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1. Nurture our existing community

You guys are awesome, you already know that. And I LOVE that you are part of our wider crew as we navigate these somewhat choppy waters of small business development (both yours, and ours). It's so amazing that we have some many connections offering support, words of advice and encouragement. So I feel that it is important to be present and engaged with our community. We are striving to share valuable content, for FREE, through the blog, newsletter and across social media, and welcome all comments and questions with open arms! We're here, will put the kettle on, and can't wait to hear your plans. 

2. Collaborate with our clients

Our systems have just had an epic overhaul which means communicating and collaborating with our clients is now super effective, easy and super-speedy. We're now using Trello for a project management system and inviting clients to collaborate with us there on their projects. We have always striven to be part of their team, not a corporate agency, and now we can chat and share ideas and content all in one spot! It's so exciting and an amazing progress point for us moving into 2018! Our current clients are loving it and so is the A&D team! 

3. Provide a service that is top notch

Our services cover everything digital marketing. Social media strategy and management - tick. Blog copywriting - yep! Photography and content creations - hell yes! We can even give you a brand new logo and killer website design. And can one person do all of those things to the best standard possible and turn it around super-slick? No they cannot. Which is where our #dreamteam come in! With Laura heading the squad (that's me), our team of specialists are here to make your ideas sing and your pages pop. They really are the best and our services are now SO on point, you won't know what's hit you. In 2018 we will continue to give the best to our clients, and that means making sure the talent is available for them 100%! 

4. Create a springboard for other inspiring freelancers and small businesses. 

2018 is our year for giving back. That means paying freelancers properly, refusing to book for 'exposure' and empowering other small businesses to charge their worth. It means giving a meaningful platform to MORE small businesses who are making an impact in this world and allowing their voice to be heard. It means giving back to charities and people in need in our area (both locally, and industry) and we have a list of worth causes right in front of us every single day. We'll be donating time and money back to the start gates, because that opportunity doesn't come around often and we feel that everyone should have the best chance possible. 


I know - don’t we just work with the BEST people?

Another target is to keep reiterating our mission statement: the aspect of Anchor & Dash we think sets us apart from everyone else. You see, here at A&D we’re all about remaining true to our core values - no shortcuts, no quick-fixes, no botched jobs or bots but 100% focus on meaningful, authentic growth for your business. Real, purposeful growth; the kind that equals clients rather than lurkers and is measurable in terms of sales rather than meaningless stats. That takes thorough research, personalised attention and thoughtful collaboration - all services which we pride ourselves on providing.

And so finally that brings me to the last of our key goals for 2018: to introduce a tailormade Unlimited package for clients who want a completely individualised service. And it’s there - check it out on our Packages tab. It’s beautiful, brand new and shiny  - and ideal for the business that wants to call all of the shots when it comes to their online presence. Interested? We’re taking bookings now by application only. This package is for the businesses who are really ready to launch. Those of you who know exactly what you want, who don’t want a cookie cutter package and are ready to walk to the beat of their own drum. Your business is flexible, fluid and about to take off. You need a team ready to jump right in and run with it!

So that’s us for 2018 - no resolutions, but plenty of goal-setting for Anchor & Dash and, more importantly, for you and your business. Want to take 2018 to the next level? Schedule a call and see what we can do for you.

Laura CutressComment
Our Top Tips for Letting Go of Social Media Overwhelm

When I joined Instagram way back in Ye Olde Dark Ages (ahem, 2012), the now-infamous photo-sharing social media platform was barely two years old. All around me, people were posting blurry photos of cats followed by a funny SMS screen grab followed by a sunset. No one ‘curated’. No one thought about their ‘aesthetic cohesion’. We were all too busy doing whatever we were doing in 2012...err, watching the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the telly? Sigh. It was a simpler time...

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Nowadays, you just need to open your social media platform of choice - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, whatever - to see that the whole operation has become a bit more - well, slick. Individuals have been rebranded as influencers, shaping trends and commanding huge sponsorship fees. Businesses aren’t just there to inform clients about a product or service; they’re promoting an outlook, a way of life, a holistic vision of an aspirational existence. Photographs that don’t fit with the message or the colour-palette are mercilessly culled, or they simply don’t make it onto those hallowed squares in the first place. Everyone looks so much more together than they did five or six years ago.

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They want fresh, inspirational, consistent content that fits with their sense of identity. They scoff cynically at #instacliches and shady advertising; at those who post too often or too little or who use the ‘wrong’ hashtags. It’s not that they’re being deliberately callous - it’s more that the bar has been raised. 500 million Instagram users are active on the platform every day (check out more stats here if you’re interested in who those 500 million are) and, frankly, there are so many of us competing for attention that promotion has become an carefully-scripted artform.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Trust me, you’re not alone. Thankfully, here at Anchor & Dash we’ve come up with some helpful tips to overhaul your thinking - we’re nice like that. Try these for size…

  1. First off, have a plan. You wouldn’t go into a client meeting or a session with your accountant without planning, would you? Social media is one of the most powerful promotional tools you have at your fingertips - don’t leave it to chance. Hone key messages, visionboard your brand and research the platforms and strategies that will work best for you.

  2. Use a scheduling tool and batch schedule. Don’t let the distractions of real life derail your online presence - take photos and prepare streams of tweets in bulk and in advance and let a clever scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite do the posting for you.

  3. Own your brand. A wise Teddy Roosevelt once said ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and by jove, he was right. Yes, those photographs of sun-soaked Miami complete with lithe, tanned models in colour-pop bikinis really are something, but if you’re an alternative family portrait photographer based in rainy Cumbria you need to accept - no, celebrate - that your brand is different - no better, no worse, just different - and equally glorious.    

  4. Only post if you have something valuable to say. If it feels contrived or false or posting-for-posting’s-sake, don’t - wait until it flows. If you follow our advice above and stick with your key messages and own that brand, you’ll be brimming with ideas for blog posts, tweets and captions anyway.

  5. And finally, don’t forget - it’s a social NETWORK. This shouldn’t be the digital equivalent of you standing on a plinth shouting into the void with a megaphone - you’re here to engage with people. Ask a question, offer a freebie and applaud good work where you see it; you’ll soon turn a passive audience into an active community.  

 

Ready to let go of the stress and worry?

 We’ll be taking enquiries from businesses wanting some social media sanity in their lives from 2nd March, so book a call and let's chat. 

Laura CutressComment
How To Know When To Grow Your Team

Readers, I have a confession to make.

Behind that ultra-minimalist cool, calm and collected Instagram grid, things have been a little - shall we say hectic? - recently here at Anchor and Dash. Perhaps you noticed the endless cups of coffee sneaking into the social media posts over Autumn. Well, I can tell you I wasn’t doing it for the aesthetic appeal of a pretty latte - at least, not completely. This girl needed caffeine.

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I really can’t complain. I mean, what can I say? ‘I’m overrun with fabulous clients!’ How terrible for you. ‘I have strategy solutions coming out of my ears!’ Oh my, sounds unbearable. ‘I’m brimming with ideas for their marketing journey!’ Woe is you, Laura. NOW STOP BEING SO ANNOYING.

But allow me to be serious for a moment. Doing it all can sometimes feel like the easiest - and most cost-effective - solution. After all, you’re a small business owner. Like us, you’ve probably built your empire from the ground up and poured in some blood, sweat and black mascara tears for good measure. Nobody knows your operation like you do. So what’s your answer? It might feel like the only option is to work, work, work. More hours, more stress and less time for pesky distractions - you know, like sleeping and eating and, err, I’m pretty sure I could cut down on the breathing if I tried...

Hang on. Suddenly this slavery-and-sacrifice strategy doesn’t seem like such a great way forward. And this is where it can sometimes go a bit Pete Tong for the small-to-medium-sized brand builder. Sound familiar? Well, this is exactly where I found myself in December. And if any of the following apply to you, let me tell you something: it’s time to grow your team.

Are you:

  • Cutting corners on your core business - e.g. sacrificing photo editing time for mind-numbing admin or accountancy?

  • Repeatedly procrastinating, pushing the same tasks to the bottom of the pile again and again?

  • Turning down jobs you’d love to take (and could really lead somewhere) because you simply don’t have the hours in the day?

  • Or are you - and we’re going to be frank here - an overworked, stressed-out nightmare to deal with or - heaven forbid - live with?

I’ve taken my own advice. In recent months, Anchor & Dash have taken on a white-hot Virtual Assistant, a copywriter extraordinaire and a design and branding guru to add to our team of kick-ass creatives who can really make our clients’ ambitions fly! We've got the dream team lined up, and ready to go, and I'm so excited about what this now means for both our clients and the status of my grey hairs!   

You save me 6 hours a week by managing my accounts and digital marketing!

That’s over £1500 a month of billable time I get back... an amazing return on investment!

And so I’m pleading with you: invest in yourself and your business. At the risk of sounding like a shampoo advert, you’re worth it. It might just save your sanity and, given time, it will pay dividends in terms of targeted client reach, meaningful audience engagement, increased online profile and business growth. Most importantly, you’ll have time to focus on what got you started in the first place...

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But don’t just take my word for it. Our wonderful client Rachael from Simplified Accounting has written a blog post about this very topic and - get this - she also advocates taking the ‘Grow Your Team’ mantra into the domestic realm and getting yourself a cleaner. Consider yourself enabled, folks...

 

Want us in your gang? We're taking call bookings from 1st March if you want this shiny new dream team on your side. 

Laura Cutress Comments