business tips, communications tips, content marketing, copywriting, editing, ethics, productivity, running a business, Uncategorized

Why ethics is so important to us

I was having a chat with some peers about writing recently and the topic of ethics popped up. We’d all been trained at reputable institutions and most of us had sat through at least one dedicated subject around ethics. What we learned in those classes varied enormously. Sure, we were all taught what our legal obligations were. But it was what we were taught to do with this knowledge that varied. There were recollections of teachers who actively encouraged and guided us to find the best legal route to disruption. Ethics, it seemed played no part.

As a passionate writer, I have always believed that my own personal code of ethics comes above all other obligations. I will never compromise those for a job, win or a handful of clicks, and I ensure that all of my writers are the same. There are people that win work over me because of it, and being scooped in certain circumstances is part and parcel of maintaining one’s moral compass. You know why? Sometimes cheats win – but in my book, that’s never a reason to join them.

As a business, we will never sink below our standards for a quick buck and here are five practical reasons why that’s a good thing.

We have enough grey in the world – it’s the right thing to do

With all that has been happening around the world, so many of us are searching for positivity. Whether it’s the emergence of bigots and racists, rearing their shockingly normal looking heads, or our leaders failing to make the right choices for all our citizens, there is a lot of hate and manipulation in this world. Let’s not add to it!

We are drawn to sensational things and as writers, it can be very very seductive to twist and shape our stories to highlight this. Finding the dirty sexy angle, no matter who it might hurt, or creating inaccurate content to pull in the hits, seems to be the norm for some content producers. But you know what? If you’re a great storyteller, with your audience’s best interest at heart, you can engage and entertain, and do the right thing.

You actually attract a higher quality clientele

Who wants to be in a working environment where your judgement is constantly being called into question? When you show yourself to be ethical in business, you attract like-minded people. It may seem like a stupid idea when you turn your back on a potential client, who is encouraging shady behaviour. In the long run, however, you are holding yourself and your business to a higher standard and you will find that businesses with the same values will see this and be more likely to work with you in the long run.

When it comes to writing, manipulating the truth for one quick win, only goes to show that you are willing to sacrifice your own integrity for a short term gain.

Your reputation and credibility are enhanced

There is nothing more valuable in business than your reputation and credibility. Once lost, they can be near impossible to claw back. In this digital age of social media warriors, this could not be truer. Online reviewing, social networking and online forums have suddenly given a voice to the masses. Sidestepping the trolls, who can cause unparalleled chaos in their wake, angry, disgruntled or wronged clients can easily be as damaging.

When you hold your business operations to a higher standard, all you are doing is building a positive reputation. When you create informative, authoritative, engaging and accurate content, your audience, clients and potential partners will know it.

Business and personal relationships that include trust are stronger

Customer loyalty is crucial in business. Ensuring that your clients remain your clients for as long as their needs match your service is the key to a fruitful business. The key to loyalty is building trust. You want your clientele to be able to rely on the service or quality of product you provide. When they know you’re reliable, they’re more likely to stick with you.

Practice responsible, reliable and transparent business, and your relationships will be stronger and more robust in the long term. When it comes to writing, I ensure every client or partner we work with know exactly where we stand at all times, that way they can rely on our expertise and our ethics.

My team actually appreciate it and work harder

A lovely added bonus to conducting business this way is productivity. My team is far more committed in the knowledge that we don’t cheat, lie or weasel our way through business. They know that I will always treat them fairly and with respect and as a consequence, they treat me and my business with that same level of respect. They work hard because they know I work hard. They know they can hold me to the same high standards that I hold them.

The fact is, there is always an ‘easy’ way to do things. While it may initially show you short term benefits, it’s not going to stick. At Make it Peachy, we ensure every project we take on is delivered to the best of our ability. We are honest, transparent and ethical in business and expect the same from everyone we work with.

 

copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, freelancing, invoicing, Uncategorized

Billing when freelancing – overcoming the awkwardness

The decision to become a freelance writer was one of the best I’ve made (along with agreeing to marry my husband and making my most excellent child). It’s provided me with freedom, independence, autonomy and most importantly the power to choose with whom I work. Gone are the days of fighting for recognition, negotiating workplace bullies and pandering to other people’s expectations of what a workday looks like. The added bonus? I get to hang out with my kid a couple of days a week, something I feel extraordinarily lucky to do.

For the past four years, I have been lucky (and maybe a little talented) enough to build a comfortable part time business and worked with some pretty fantastic people to boot. While my business grows, and I consider how to elevate it to the next level I have been reflecting on some of the challenges I faced. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love what I do, there have been challenges. The most salient of which continues to cast a shadow over me. A shadow I fight instincts to overcome.

What is this shadow, you ask? Getting paid. Yup! I have always found the whole process overwhelming and I wish I had someone to give me some tips.

money-in-purse-1237221

First things first – what do I charge?

As I have come to understand, there are countless reasons a contractor might amend their rate card. Whether it be industry, not-for-profit status, offering a package or even throwing in the occasional ‘mate’s rates’, the factors are plenty. As a consequence, not many contractors and freelancers will publish their rates.

As a newbie to freelancing, or even just freelancing to a particular industry, attempting to navigate your way to the perfect hourly rate can be tough. If you aim too high, you’ll get undercut. If you aim too low, people may assume you don’t have a quality product. Locating that Goldilocks rate can be a minefield.

My advice? Do your research before you start quoting. Make a few cursory calls, ask others in your industry, find out what the agents pay. Beyond everything, be confident that your product is worth it.

Stick to your guns – don’t second guess yourself

You’ve finally locked down your rate and even managed to bag a client. Congratulations! Now, stop negotiating. People will always try and get a deal, and if they think they can scrimp another dollar from you, they will. I’ve had clients come to me, halfway through a job, attempting to slide that rate just ‘ever so slightly’ lower. It’s a damn slippery slope. As much as the Pollyanna inside me wants to believe that no one would try and cheat a humble sole trading freelancer, my experience sadly tells me another story.

You are talented. You have the skills. More importantly, you’ve agreed on a rate. As hard as it is, keep that foot firmly on the ground and do not waver. Interesting side note, after I rejected the further discount, the client never brought it up again. Clients worth their weight will respect you more.

Undercharging – it doesn’t pay off the way you think

As with sticking to your rate, charging a client for the right amount of hours is also a tricky one. I always knew that overcharging was a bad move. Not only can it breed bad blood, but it’s just not the right thing to do. What I didn’t learn until I was on the job was the risk of undercharging.

You think to yourself, “Oh I’ll just absorb this cost because it’s a one off”, or “If I undercharge them, they’re more likely to give me more work”. I wish it were that simple.

You under charge, you set a very sketchy precedent. Expectations will be that you deliver at the lower rate every time. While that may make you feel good about yourself, it doesn’t really put food on the table. By all means offer discounts and packages; they can often be your bread and butter. Just don’t put yourself in a position that you can’t then bill your client what you are owed.

Invoicing and following up

Yikes! What a minefield! Asking people for money is awkward as heck.

Do you ever get that totally unjustified wave of guilt when you walk through a metal detector at the airport? I sometimes get that same weird guilt about invoicing people, especially when we’ve developed a rapport. For those who find it as awkward as I do, you’ve got to remember your service/product is valuable. You’ve earned those dollars. Your clients know it, and shock horror, expect it. Invoice and invoice regularly.

If your clients are dragging their feet on paying, remember that’s awkward for them not you. Don’t feel bad about following up.