• Katie Earl

Learnings from a not-so-quiet August in business

Updated: Feb 25

I started last month in a bit of a bad place.

Ok, that’s an understatement.

I started last month predicting that I wouldn’t have enough coming into my business to pay the most basic of my bills for the next 2 - 3 months.

But what a difference a few weeks can make.

This is the story of how August turned my life on its head, then turned it back the right way up again just as quickly.

The August horror story

This time last year, I’d been working as a freelancer for just under 3 months. I was feeling incredibly lucky to have won a 3-month contract with my old employer who needed reinforcements during their busy Summer period.

So even though I was running my own business, it felt a lot like I was still working my old job.

I even had my first blogging client on top of that, so technically August last year was the highest-earning month of my life. Not bad for a new freelancer!

But in the back of my mind I knew the contract would be ending very soon, and I remembered the horror stories from previous jobs of low-income Augusts.

Everyone goes on holiday, no one’s spending any money.

I knew I was lucky to have escaped that fate thus far.

The mass exodus

As August 2021 approached, small things started to give. A retainer client requested a pause from blogging for a few months, followed by another, and another.

And at the same time, I noticed fewer leads reaching out. I told myself they were drying up for good and panicked - how had I ever managed to generate leads before?!

As I looked outwards from my own business, it seemed like everyone on social media was fleeing too. Engagement, posts, everything was dwindling.

Dusting myself off and picking myself up

Since my usual routine was so disrupted, once I’d finished panicking I decided it was time to dust myself off and look for opportunities elsewhere.

As business owners, we are nothing if not resourceful.

Surely there must be organisations that needed help and were suffering with a lack of freelance (wo)manpower as a result of the August exodus?

It turned out, there was! Days after feeling like August would be a total bust, I began to see more freelance editing invitations rolling in from organisations I was familiar with.

“Please feel free to get in touch anytime, I have a lot of availability in August!” I cheerfully told the Project Manager over email, plastering on a smile for my own benefit.

My hunch had been entirely right - just as my usual clients had decided to take a break, so had their writers and editors. There were opportunities a-plenty, hurrah!

Ticking off the to-do list

Of course, when you’re running your own business, client work isn’t the only thing you need to factor in.

Moving forward, planning for the future, and setting up systems to help you achieve your goals are all part of it.

Thing is, ordinarily these hugely important but slightly less urgent tasks get pushed to the bottom of the list. Setting up automations takes time away from paying clients and will therefore always be put off.

So even while I was working hard to make up for the drop in my income, I knew it would be wise to use the downtime to catch up on my longer term goals.

To this end, I completely revamped my privacy policies, strengthened my GDPR compliance with the help of an expert, and even set up a brand new email address to keep everything looking professional within my domain. Productive or what?!

Past work pays off

Once I’d stopped seeing the negatives and tuned into the airwaves of opportunity, there was no stopping me.

Conversations from months prior came to fruition in the form of discovery calls and subsequently, bookings. Two new clients in the space of a week - in August!

I realised that the story I’d been telling myself - that no one spends money in August - had a horribly unreliable narrator.

Far from being a write-off, August could be whatever I wanted it to be. And I’d really got into the whole making-a-success-of-a-business-during-hard-times thing (setting up during a global pandemic, anyone?!).

The best monthly review I’ve ever done

And now for the thing that sparked this rather rambly blog about August: my monthly review.

I complete a review every month to assess whether I hit my goals and to reflect on everything that went well and what I learnt. It helps me to plan for the following month, building on the successes and learnings to achieve the next set of goals.

It’s become an invaluable process, and has even become a habit that I can’t do without (check out this blog of my 2020 annual review for more on this!)

For the first time ever, I had achieved all of the goals I set myself - even the one that had felt so incredibly ambitious I almost didn’t write it down: get two new clients.

Why blog about this?

I’m well aware that this topic is a little outside my usual realm of how to blog for your business.

But the thing is, blogging for your business isn’t always about giving your audience how-to guides or selling your thing.

It’s also about letting them get to know the real you, and spreading a little joy in the form of genuinely interesting and entertaining content. How else could your readers know whether they’d quite like to log onto a regular Zoom call with you for coaching or any other type of service you might offer?

So this is my way of opening a little window into my world and inviting you in for a cuppa and a chat.

It’s my way of being more open about the fact that running a business is bloody hard - you have to be resilient, ambitious, and determined to make it work by any means necessary.

You also need to be able to laugh at yourself and be willing to accept that you were wrong about stuff each time you learn something new (which is basically every day for me).

That’s the kind of business owner I am - and it’s the kind of biz owner I love to work with too.

If you like what you see and what you hear, and you’d like to find out more about me and the work I do, the first step is to join my free Facebook group Blog Magic.

Blog Magic is the space where I hang out most often. It’s a place to learn about and be inspired to write blogs that grow your audience and nurture your readers from strangers into clients. It’s also a place where you can feel supported: every Friday we share our blogs with one another to increase traffic and to give each other nice feedback.

Sounds good? Click here and join us today.

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