Copywriting, freelance life

Getting Digital Ready for 2019

Laptop on Table captioned 'Getting Digital Ready for 2019 Ruth Dawkins'

It has been a busy November and December here. I know that in the northern hemisphere, a lot of writers find this a quiet time. From Thanksgiving onwards, a lot of organisations and publications slow down for the holiday season. Then, come January, it’s back to business as usual.

Here in the south, it’s almost the opposite. January is when everything shuts down for the summer so there’s a mad rush to get things tied up before then. The Tasmanian school holidays start in less than a fortnight, so I’m desperately trying to get my desk cleared (and invoices submitted!) in that time.

I’ve just finished a really interesting piece of work for a tourism organisation: ten short pieces of writing focusing on different activities around the state. It made me realise that even after five years here we have barely scratched the surface. It also made me slightly embarrassed to realise that when we have travelled around Tasmania, most of our focus has been on beaches, wineries and short walks, rather than anything more adventurous. Perhaps 2019 will be the year when I finally go canyoning at Cradle Mountain, or mountain biking at Maydena. Or perhaps not…

In all seriousness, if you can carve out some time this is a great point in the year to step back and really consider your aims and ambitions for the next twelve months. If you’re a small business owner, are things heading in the right direction? If you’re a full-time employee, what are your professional development goals? If you’re just setting out as a freelancer, what is your plan of action?

Everyone has their own tricks and tools for that kind of exercise. My go-to for a long time has been Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year workbook, which is always a really useful prompt to think about what has worked for me over the previous year, and what I want to achieve over the next year. I’ve found it even more useful since Susannah started to included space for ongoing monthly reflections, so I’m looking forward to sitting down with that – hopefully in the next week or two – and clarifying some of my thoughts.

A couple of other things I’ve done recently, which I’ve also found to be a real help, were organised through Tasmania’s excellent Digital Ready program. Through Digital Ready, every small business in the state is able to book a 2-hour free session with an expert in digital marketing. There are also regular workshops covering different aspects of digital marketing.

I felt extremely lucky to secure a session a few weeks ago with Jen Murnaghan from Digital Dandy. Jen is an absolutely lovely person, and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of digital marketing. I found over the course of our two hours that she really listened to me, understood what I’m trying to do as a freelance writer, and offered tailored, actionable advice that aligned well with my values. We covered everything from how to make the most of my social media channels, to personalising pitches to new clients, to getting over the ickyness of self-promotion.

If you’re a small business owner in Tasmania, I can highly recommend checking out the wealth of information available on the Digital Ready website, and booking in for a session with Jen or one of the other coaches.

I followed up my solo session with a free digital marketing workshop run by Claire and Sarah from Kingthing Marketing. This was another informative event and was well attended, although it was clear there was a very broad spectrum of experience and ability among the attendees, which I imagine made it quite a difficult session for the presenters to pitch appropriately. Some audience members had quite detailed questions about understanding Google analytics and improving their SEO, while others didn’t yet know how to share a post from Instagram to Facebook – that probably gives a good indication of where Tasmanian small businesses are at with regards to digital marketing. It’s certainly an area of huge potential growth.

Again, I came away with a long list of specific actions to work through that will hopefully improve my online presence and help me connect with people who are looking for an experienced copywriter. I have to confess though, one of my highlights of the session was the chance to catch up with my friend and fellow writer Danielle Ross Walls, who is now working for Wildcare Tasmania. I should have known it would be impossible to go to an event in Hobart without bumping into someone I knew!

With a lot of things still to be ticked off on my to-do list, I’m not sure if I’ll have the opportunity to blog again before the end of the year (I know, I know… if I had a content calendar there wouldn’t be that uncertainty! That’s another thing for next year!).

If I don’t, I wish you all the very best for the festive season, and I hope you start 2019 feeling refreshed and relaxed. I’ll be cutting down on my hours significantly over the school holidays, but will still have some capacity for taking on small projects, so please feel free to get in touch if you’re looking for a copywriter who is around in January.

Thanks as ever for all your support.

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