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  • Writer's pictureLucy Jackman

Four years in business - flirting with failure and finding my niche

Every mistake or bad choice in life is like a brick you can use to build a better future for yourself.

On this day in 2016, I remember sitting at my desk wondering where all my friends had gone and worrying about where my next pay check would come from. Now four years have passed at the speed of light and I’m pleased to report Comma Sense continues to grow along with the list of exciting and challenging copywriting projects I work on. And I have a growing bank of testimonials from happy clients to back this up!

It’s become a bit of a tradition at this time of year to reflect on the highs and the lows of the last 12 months. One aspect of my life that I needn’t have worried about is finding new friendships…

Freelance Friends

2019 began with the inaugural night out of Freelance Friends. A small group of us who all work alone decided to organise our own post-Christmas party. Everyone loved the idea and new networks and friendships quickly began to form. It’s brilliant to share stories, and, of course that juicy gossip you don’t get when you work on your own!

As small business owners we all experience the same highs and lows. We find ways we can support each other and several of us have worked together or referred work onwards since we got together. A midsummer meet up quickly followed. As per the British summer, we had coffee and cake in the rain.

Biggest mistake: Putting all my eggs in one basket

I had high expectations for a three-month innovation course I started in February. I went into it full of ideas to grow my business through developing an online learning platform and came out the other end feeling mildly disappointed. The path I was encouraged to explore just didn’t feel right. Every avenue I explored came to a dead end. I had no motivation to continue pursuing my cause.

Although I feel like I failed on the course (or the course failed me), I’ll never regret signing up – some fantastic friendships and referrals came out of it. It also gave me clarity and spurred me on to launch my Business Blogging Masterclass and I’m thankful for that.

Running workshops is hard but the rewards make it worthwhile

Realising that online learning wasn’t for me, I pushed on to develop the face-to-face training I’d always dreamed of pursuing. In June, I launched my first Business Blogging Masterclass aimed at small business owners who want to learn the building blocks of blogging and become more confident writing posts for their business. I found my niche.

The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to change your mind. Do what feels right – for you and for your business. Be brave and say NO, even if someone's pushing you in another direction.

Giving people a leg up

On of my favourite tasks is writing CVs and LinkedIn profiles. It’s really hard to write this kind of self-promotional content yourself – and I just love getting to know people and taking a walk around in their shoes. It’s always uplifting when someone wins business or gets a new job, especially when you’ve played a small part in their success.

My toughest gig

A Professor from the University of Chester invited me to speak to Digital Marketing students about copywriting as a career. They were a tough audience to crack. I’m pretty sure most of them had got out of bed ten minutes before the lecture. In true Lucy style, I persevered and by the end of the session the wall of silence turned into a barrage of questions. One student even declared they were considering becoming a copywriter as a result – well that’s a win for me!

Favourite project

This one is easy. Writing brand new website content for The Pro Landscapers combined my love of gardening with my talent for web copywriting. The briefing took place in a garden courtyard in full July sun – pretty pleasant! Armed with a stack of gardening magazines, I took myself out into the sunshine of my own garden sanctuary to research and write the website. The client gave me a glowing testimonial and said they couldn’t have done it without me.

Voluntary work

It’s a pleasure to continue my work on the 2020 networking committee, supporting local charity The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust (CAFT). I thoroughly enjoyed my day of present wrapping in early December. It was a joy to see the delight on the children’s faces as the Christmas characters entertained them whilst being showered in snow!

Through Cheshire Connect I also supported Thelwall Parish Hall in developing a community consultation exercise and communications plan. Always feels good to be able to give something back.

With the lovely Ally Phillips of Pink Spaghetti at TNE2019

Most nostalgic experience

Going back to my event management roots managing a two-day conference for a client in Manchester was a real blast from the past. My marketing and comms career began as a Marketing Executive. We’re going back over 15 years here! It was a lot of fun but boy was it tiring and my feet were killing me by the end of the second day.

Most interesting project

Writing a set of school prospectus for faith schools was so interesting. I did a lot of my own research to fully understand the religious values, principles and ethos of the schools. A really refreshing project to be involved in.

Favourite speaking engagement

I was lucky to be asked to speak a few events last year (and would love to do more the same in 2020). Speaking about storytelling at Colony Women was a brilliant experience made even more memorable by the positive audience feedback.

Best event attended

TedX Northwich – Heather Baker’s story about singing in the car will forever make me smile.

Most important lesson of 2019

Never let anyone put you in a box. I will always run a mile from anyone who says ‘Do it this way because it works for everyone else’. It might work for some people but I always prefer to figure things out for myself - even if it means failing sometimes.

I will never be satisfied with blending into the crowd. I’ll create my own story thanks.

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