Productivity 101: How I Stay Focused

 

Working from home with the option (I say, 'option' because it isn't a reality for me!) to slob around in your PJs; what's not to love? I'll start with the main drawback to my life as a freelance copywriter: staying focused.

freelance copywriter Yorkshire

While I've never missed a deadline and I pride myself on the fact I 'under-promise and over-deliver', motivating one's self (oooh, I sounded like the Queen for a second there!) can be tough. And the reason for that is this: without the threat of a boss man (or woman!) hovering over your desk at a second's notice, copywriters like myself can notice that the urge to put fingers to keyboard can wane a little, with the lure of Facebook, Twitter, or even YouTube, poking its cheeky little head into view.

So, in the absence of a boss (oh wait, that's me!) and a lack of colleagues tapping away at their computers to spur me on, how do I get stuff done?

Nothing is as important to me as meeting my clients' deadlines and exceeding their expectations, so here's what I do:

1. I Work in Threes

Now I don't mean I work with two other people; rather my to-do list never contains more than a trio of items. Plenty of people will attest that this works. And hey, it works for me too - so it shall long remain one of my top productivity tactics - until someone introduces me to another one.

2. I Set Alarms

If I have more than one project on the go, I divide each into timeframes - and set an alarm on my phone to ensure I only work for, say, three hours at a time on one job. That way, my mind is clearer (better for ensuring the ideas keep flowing) when I revisit a piece of work - and it helps me keep better track of hours spent per project, too.

3. I Keep a Routine

So, the hardest part of a freelancer's life is sticking to a routine. While you may begin the day with good intentions (with plans to get up at 7am, and take the long (joke) work commute from bedroom to your study by 9am) it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes, you'll find yourself downing tools at 3pm, taking an extended break, and then working until 11pm. It isn't always the best way to work; keeping to 9-5 hours is the best thing you can do for your motivation as a freelancer - and your social life!

 

4. I Get Out of the House

Being stuck indoors and communicating with NO ONE (sob!) is no good for your motivation levels - or your soul. So, I make sure I take at least one trip out during the day - even if it's just a walk around the block. It gives me that little burst of energy when I've been staring at my laptop all day, and it's even how I formulate many of my ideas for clients' websites.

And when I'm really pushed for time...

5. I Get TOTALLY Serious About Things...

...and deny myself a tea and biscuit break, a slice of cake; even a trip to the toilet. I'll tell myself: 'no, Lauren. You're not putting the kettle on, or going to the loo - not until you write another paragraph.' It may seem harsh - and possibly even a notch crazy - but hey, being your own boss can be tough; you've got to find the motivation from somewhere.

How do you stay focused when freelancing? It'd be good to pick up some more tips here at Lauren Holden Freelance. Why not comment on this blog with your own freelance copywriting tips and we can all learn from each other, eh?

Until next time...

Thank You For the Music, Dad...

Since today's Father's Day and I don't often praise my Dad (it goes to his head!), I thought I'd swallow my pride and dedicate this blog post to the man who's responsible for my biggest love in life: music.

This piece first appeared in the My Passion slot amongst the business pages of the Yorkshire Post.

Copywriting is nothing if not fast-paced, so how better to tackle deadlines head-on than by firing up Spotify and hitting ‘Play’ on your favourite music?

I won’t go as far as reckoning I was singing almost as soon as I learned to talk, or tapping my toe in the womb, but what I will say is this: music and me go back a long way.

In the late 70s and early 80s my Dad was a DJ and, when I was old enough, I’d be by his side as he selected the week’s chart hits at an independent record shop called Ear ‘Ere. And in the style of John Cusack and Jack Black’s characters in High Fidelity, the blokes behind the counter could tell you the name of pretty much any song going. Sometimes, all they’d need is a poorly recollected hum of a lyric or two – and lo and behold, they’d be able to place the track and pop it in a plastic carrier bag within seconds.

music

I have my Dad’s love of music to thank for much of my career to date; without intending to, he’d influenced my tastes – and a lot of what I listen to today is his doing. From the hits of the late, great Bowie, to Cat Stevens, Stevie Wonder, Average White Band and the less mainstream Babe Ruth (check out their track ‘Elusive’!); you name it, I knew the words to them.

Music was such a part of my life that at 21, I convinced the then-editor of a weekly newspaper I wrote for to give me a column talking about – and reviewing – some of my favourite bands. It quickly led to a stint freelancing for NME magazine and I was lucky enough to head backstage at some of the country’s biggest festivals, interviewing the likes of Stereophonics, Bloc Party and Ocean Colour Scene.

vinyl records

Before long, I was promoting and organising gigs myself. And guess who’d DJ at those mini concerts in my small (but musically very happening) hometown of Lancaster? My Dad was the obvious choice, his record collection a real talking point amongst the twenty and thirty-something gig-goers who, like me, loved the chance to chew someone’s ear off when it came to their favourite bands.

While today I’ve turned to copywriting over music journalism, the tracks of my younger years still get me through the day. I rarely go a morning without logging onto Spotify – and while I love that it instantly connects you to the music you love via its handy ‘Radio’ function, you really can’t beat the sound – or the nostalgia – linked to vinyl records. Now, that’s definitely something to sing (or toe tap) about!

Like this post? Bookmark my blog here at Lauren Holden Freelance for more of the same.

In Case You Need Another Reason to Hire a Freelance Copywriter...

...and not just any copywriter (but meeee!), then here's the very reason you're looking for: my rates are lower than most. Lower than the national average, actually.

How do I know this? A survey from the Professional Copywriters' Network (an organisation I'm a member of) dropped into my inbox the other week and it revealed, amongst other things, that the average copywriting daily rate here in the UK is £339.

I can tell you my copywriting rate falls under that.

But that's not because I'm no good at my job and I'm therefore devaluing my services. No, no, nooo. Instead, it's because it's just as important to me to be competitively-priced as it is to offer my clients great work. After all, I live and work in Yorkshire - and I realise people like a good deal round these parts.

Here's a look at the highest copywriting daily rate out there, alongside the average. As far as freelance copywriting rates go, £339 isn't to be scoffed at. That's £339 to have someone make a start on your website, brochure, or compile a few press releases. Not bad at all, eh?

 

And while you may think that anyone can write great copy, that's really not the case. Furthermore, well-crafted copy really does lead to boosted sales. Or at the very least it'll help to cement your reputation amongst a sea of industry-wide competition. All that for less than £339 per day.

If you're looking for freelance copywriting services Leeds, you'll find there are lots to choose from. But are there lots that offer a daily rate that falls under the national average? I say: 'no, Siree'.

My rate may be more reasonable than those offered by other freelance copywriters, but I still produce the results my clients are looking for - and I'm a relatively quick worker, too. Just try me; I bet I can make a dent on the projects on your to-do list within a day or two. I've done the very same for clients including High Definition Brows, QVC and Flowers Direct, to name just a few.

Discover how reasonable my freelance copywriting daily rate is by getting in touch here.

I'm looking forward to hopefully becoming your new, reliable (and extremely reasonably priced!) go-to copywriter. Let's chat!

Until next time...

 

Huddersfield Haunts: Things to Do in't Town

It's not often I write about the town I now call home, but since Huddersfield has made me an honorary Huddersfield-ian (yep, I know that's probably not a thing!) I thought I'd give the place the shout-out or two it deserves.

I came to university here some 12 years ago now and I also decided that - because I love the place so much - that it wouldn't be a bad place to move back to and set up house in. So here I am over a decade after I first drove down the long and windy road from the motorway exit and into the town I now call my second home.

Without further ado, then, here's my top 5 haunts in and around the area, because...well...I think you'll love them too.

Castle Hill

Ah, Huddersfield's Castle Hill. I haven't actually been up there since my uni days. And I still remember the fateful night I did, when myself and a pal had a right old hoot when his old Nissan Micra struggled to clatter and bang its way up the steep incline. Them were t'days.

That said, a much newer pal (who has a much newer and more reliable car; I've nowt against Nissan Micras by the way - I used to have one) has promised to take me up there for a picnic. That said, I love spotting Castle Hill from various places around Huddersfield. I particularly enjoy the route from Huddersfield to Honley (the Fennay Bridge way), as Castle Hill can be seen in all its splendidly stratospheric glory and it warms my cockles, t does. That's nostalgia for you.

Turtle Bay

The town centre Caribbean restaurant is one of Huddersfield's most recent haunts - and it's also one of my favourite places to head for a bite to eat.

Huddersfield has a thriving Caribbean culture (if you haven't yet seen its annual homage to the Caribbean via its colourful carnival then you must add it to your diary this summer) and it's celebrated here at Turtle Bay (and nearby Discovery Bay) each and every day. Turtle Bay's a chain but it's now just as much a part of Huddersfield as the Wetherspoons across the road from it.

I headed here recently with a friend to enjoy a three-course meal, which consisted of deliciously moreish tiger prawns, a huge goat curry with dumplings, and some rather boozy but very, very tempting rum cake. An absolute taste sensation, let me tell you. Get yourself along, if only to enjoy the restaurant's two-for-one cocktail menu. You'll love it. Your forehead the next day maybe not so much.

Huddersfield's Train Station

Okay, so this probably shouldn't fall under a 'things to do in Huddersfield' list, but it's certainly something to see nonetheless.

I love Huddersfield's train station. It's so grand in appearance it could rival any other UK destination actual town hall. And it looks just lovely at Christmas. Get a load of this...

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Neaverson's Cocktail Bar

For my pals and I, a night out isn't a night out if we don't step foot in here. Incidentally, it's near the train station too (see above) so you've no excuses if you're popping to Hudds for a drink or two. Try the palma violet cocktail. You'll definitely want another.

Vinyl Tap Record Shop

Was there ever a better name for a record shop? Nah, I don't think so. Get yourself along to this secret little Huddersfield haunt (I say secret because literally no one who was born here seems to know about it - pah!) and pick up a bargain or two. They also host live gigs.

Where's your favourite place in Huddersfield? Let me know if I should add somewhere to the list, because I could go on all day listing places in this town that I love.

Why The Internet Isn't Always That Helpful

When it comes to winning at life, the Internet has your back like a trusty pal or a well-worn but cosy cardigan.

Want directions to a much-raved-about pub? Ask Google. In a hurry and need to ring a local taxi firm? Do a quick search and voila! It even helps us freelance copywriters find those all-important facts and 'fillers' to pop into our articles and features.

When you really think about it, there isn't anything that the Internet hasn't made better. Or more convenient.

Or is there.....?

Yep. Just like that trusty old pal, the Internet may have let you (or anyone else, for that matter) down at least once. That age-old Sunday afternoon pastime - the pub quiz - is a prime example of the Internet, in all its smart Alec brilliantness, putting a dampener on things.

Okay, so the Internet doesn't make life less convenient all that often really. But in the case of the humble pub quiz, the lure of a sneaky Google search can take all the fun out of what should be a jolly good time lording it over your mates because you're more knowledgeable than they are. Chortle, chortle.

So, cue Leeds-born entrepreneur Mark Walsh (pictured far left, below) with his Google-proof interactive digital quiz platform, KwizzBit.

During a special launch night (organised by my good pal and former work colleague, Ellie of MacComms PR) Mark was able to showcase this pretty exciting new technology at Leeds' Editor's Draught pub - and what a launch night it was!

Essentially, it was about getting the word out about KwizzBit, which is a fastest-finger first quiz you play on your smart phone, but it was also a great opportunity to mingle with some pretty clever folks, too.

The fastest finger first element ensures there's no cheating, with a leader board kept (and updated!) on a central big screen in the pub. Making for an exciting quiz (you could actually see which team(s) were pipping you to the post as each answer became apparent) the technology is clearly very clever - and fool proof.

Grabbing a quick chat with Mark before the event, it was clear how passionate he was about this new venture. He's already founded a popular music-based bingo quiz, so it was pretty obvious that KwizzBit was going to be a hit (if you'll pardon the pun), too. And it was!

Kwizzbit

There was much hilarity as eager quiz players jabbed their smart phones in a bid to be the first to get the answer correct - and I'm certainly now a convert to mobiles being whipped out during socials down the pub.

Well done Mark and the MacComms team for pulling off a fantastic event. And cheers to Ellie for putting together a really gorgeous goodie bag, too. I enjoyed having a rummage through it when I got in after our quiz-based victory (we aced the music round, dontchaknow!); it features all sorts of lovely treats, including a candle from LubyLu and some delicious cold coffee from Artemis Cold Brew. Ta!