I’m sitting at my kitchen table eating Celebrations, listening to Christmas music, and can’t quite comprehend that it’s DECEMBER already.
That means it’s the end of the first month of Annabel Fay Consulting!
It’s been an incredible month, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Here’s my reflections on the first month. In cartoon form:
Hard work pays off
In my first two weeks, I had 22 introduction meetings, sent out hundreds of cold Linkedin messages, wrote proposals, and travelled all over the place to meet people.
I didn’t make a single penny.
Not only did I not make a single penny, I was losing money in coffee and train tickets.
After a few weeks, however, a few of my tactics began to pay off. A snowball effect started. I noticed what was working, what wasn’t, and I began to make money.
I finished November hitting the revenue goal I’d set myself for January. Can’t quite believe I’m saying that. I saw an invoice get paid and suddenly thought to myself: I’ve done it, this is going to be financially viable.
Also, it would be really embarrassing if a marketer couldn’t market herself.
Hard work pays off, as does learning quickly and scrapping what isn’t working and doubling down on what is.
Don’t be too proud to laugh at yourself, we’re all learning.
Your network is everything
Almost all of my current opportunities and clients have come via word of mouth referrals.
I’ve also referred my freelancer friends when they’ve been a good fit for my clients and specialise in something I don’t (like events or PR).
I’ve deliberately built up my network, not only of people who might like to work with me one day, but of people I like, people who’s work I value, and other freelancers who’ve been able to give me advice.
And yes, people I’d like to go for a drink with. Because there’s no point working with people you don’t like, and I quite miss my colleagues.
People want to help
So many people have given me advice, support, and opportunities because they know what I’ve been up to and are being nice. I’ve had some awesome referrals simply by asking, I’ve been given free tips and tricks, and generally been really pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of kindness.
I’m finding my tribe. I go to these people for inspiration, advice, support, book recommendations, proposal reviews, and middle of the night ‘what the hell am I doing’ moments. Some of them might become clients. Some of them might not. That’s not why I have them in my life.
People need to know how to help though, as people are busy. Which brings me to….
Niche, and niche again
People need to know, in one sentence, what you do.
I do content marketing and consulting for Retail Tech companies. I write and distribute great copy that gives you leads, and if your content isn’t working, I’ll tell you why.
It means when someone rings me and says ‘Help, can you write me a piece on Headless Commerce by tomorrow’ I can, because I’ve invested years in learning my industry and technology, and I don’t have to research from scratch.
It means when someone looks at their funnel and think ‘I can’t move prospects through quick enough, who do I know who can help’, they ring me.
Think about what you do, but also think really clearly what you DON’T do, and refer on clients who aren’t a good fit. I re-read my business plan at least once a week, to keep me on track and not be swayed by ‘oh I could probably do that, I’ve done it before’. It’s hard in the early days when your cash flow is…sub-optimal, but it’s better for your brand in the long run.
This is still a work in progress for me. December I’m going to clear out my proposition and my kitchen cupboards.
When promoting yourself, FOCUS.
I’ve been really strict with myself this month.
It’s so tempting to go mad marketing myself, after all, that’s what I do.
I decided to only do two marketing tactics for the first few months- referrals, and my Tuesday blog. No ‘oh I could do a podcast’. No ‘let me go to these random meetup events’. No ‘let me promote my content 42 ways’. No getting lost in vanity metrics. Nothing else except referrals and one blog a week, which is mainly because I love writing it.
I have so many ideas and dreams for this business, ways of marketing it, future revenue streams, other services I’m thinking of offering, but I am really strict on focusing on moving the needle one day at a time.
Doesn’t mean a girl can’t dream though…and trust me, I am dreaming BIG.
You need to leave the house
The first two weeks I was never in the house. Then when the work started flowing in, I haven’t left it as much. Sometimes I’m not really sure what day it is. Don’t do that. It’s not good for you. I make sure to wake up when my husband leaves at 7.30, and start my day. I try to do time blocking, I write a to-do list every day, and when I get stir-crazy I go to coffee shops.
Maybe one day I’ll get a co-working space, but right now I instead have a rating system for all the coffee shops I’ve been to. There’s a spreadsheet. Told you I need to get out more.
There is nothing like the feeling of seeing your work published
I finished some blog pieces recently for a client. I saw them go live on their website a day or so later. There was nothing comparable to that feeling, that I’d written something tangible, the client had loved it, and now it was out there for everyone to see, building their brand and generating leads. I want that feeling every day!
I can’t wait for what the next month will bring. Lots of Christmas madness. People realising they have to run campaigns in January and going ‘argh, I need some content, like, yesterday’. Meeting more nice people. Eating and drinking a lot, and writing in between.
Honestly though, setting up this company has been the best thing, the perfect way to finish off this decade. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
If you’d like to work with me, drop me a message. If you’re thinking: ‘Annabel, can you even write without cartoons’, you can check out my portfolio over on Medium.