Phew. I have been glued to my desk since I returned to Edinburgh, completely overhauling the content on Untamed Writing. I’m talking 12+ hours days, every single day for almost two weeks.
I like to do this once a year – go through my entire site and make sure everything aligns with the work I want to do and the way I feel about my business and brand. I think it’s a good business practice and that everyone should do it. Well, er, everyone who runs a business with a website, anyway. Businesses evolve constantly, after all, and your website needs to reflect that.
This year, though, the changes I made are BIG. Well, they were big last year too, but in a different way. Last year, I changed the appearance of the site, and the way I blog, though the core remained essentially the same. I called it Phase 4 of Untamed Writing. So I guess that makes this Phase 5.
Here’s what’s new and what you can expect from Untamed Writing from now on:
Who the Site is For
DON’T PANIC! Untamed Writing is still a place for freelance writers and people who want to learn to get paid to write about things they’re interested in. But it’s not just for freelance writers. In fact, originally it wasn’t for freelance writers at all.
Back in 2013 I created Untamed Writing as my copywriting website – the second one I’d created since embarking on my freelance writing career. All I used it for was promoting my own writing services. Over time it evolved, as businesses are wont to do, with the creation of my first freelance writing course – which meant I started blogging about freelance writing, too.
I found this a weirdly difficult line to straddle. Am I writing for small business owners, aka potential clients? Or am I writing for freelance writers? WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? I felt like it had to be all or nothing, so I decided to shift the focus of the site almost 100% onto people who wanted to become freelance writers (since lots of wannabe freelance writers were finding my site). Yet if you look back on the earliest blog posts here (um, please don’t, actually), you’ll see that most of my blog posts were written for small businesses who might need to hire a copywriter.
So yeah, Untamed Writing has been this odd mix of site-for-writers-but-also-for-people-who-NEED-writers. Two different sets of people, with different needs – which makes it much harder to create a solid brand that attracts new customers and clients. Because, if you don’t know by now, the best way to build a brand and grow an audience is to throw your everything into a very defined niche. To become known for something specific. Tricky. Not impossible, and considerably easier with a personal brand (which means the people are here for YOU), but still tricky.
I’ve wrestled with this ever since I created my first freelance writing course. The obvious solution is simply to create a separate website, of course, but, being the fan of simplicity that I am, I really didn’t want to do that. If I could, I wanted Untamed Writing to be my only website and blog.
Since returning home from my digital nomad misadventures, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to make everything seamlessly slot together. A place for both business owners and freelance writers. What do they all have in common? What can I help them both with?
I grabbed my notebook and a pen and headed to The Marriott Hotel’s lounge (which is where I’ve been working from a lot while trying to find a place to live that isn’t my mother’s tiny spare bedroom). I started writing, brainstorming, trying to figure this shit out.
Copywriting, analogue-style. pic.twitter.com/RPk9fbNBev
— Karen Marston (@karenmarston) March 4, 2017
The next day, I got to my laptop and started writing. I still didn’t have the answer, and of course nothing I’d written by hand the day before made it onto the page, but what the hell. I’d figured out a lot, and as soon as I started writing my new About page, the answer became oh-so-obvious. Cue the two weeks straight of 12+ hour days, hunched over my laptop, rewriting the entire site.
Here’s what I figured out:
What I am good at is helping people put themselves into their businesses. It’s what I do with my copywriting services and, when I think on it, I realise it’s what I do with my freelance writing course, too. I’ve helped a lot of freelance writers shape their businesses into things that align with their personalities and their values over the past few years. I am BIG on using your personality to your advantage in your business – be who you are and the right people will find you. And, of course, I believe the key to doing this well is in the writing. Because that’s where your personality truly comes across, isn’t it? In the things you say.
And now it seems obvious: I help people build personal brands around the work they want to do – the work that makes them feel nice on the inside and still brings in money. This includes freelance writers and other types of business owners. HOW DID I NOT FIGURE THIS OUT SOONER?
Big old face-palm going on over here right now. This business stuff is difficult, guys!
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that my own Services page has been missing from the site for almost a year now. (Or perhaps more than a year. I forget.) Whoops! I didn’t mean to leave it down that long (and in fact it still was on my site, just not on the menu bar – so anyone with my business card could find it).
I took it down because I’d just started working on Start Fiction Editing, a project that spanned months (and also, if I’m honest, because it seemed a natural extension of gearing my site towards freelance writers, who obviously don’t need to hire people to write for them). In retrospect, I don’t think removing that page was my best idea ever. It confused people who wanted to hire me to write for them, and it confused people who wanted to take my freelance writing courses but couldn’t see any evidence that I was, in fact, a freelance writer myself.
Anyway, my Services page is now back! And, obviously, better than ever, because who rewrites a page only to make it worse?
Previously I only offered your regular old copywriting services. You wanted something written, I would write it for you. Now, I’ve also added copy editing and copy critiquing services, for people who have smaller budgets or just want to make their own writing better – both services that are suitable for freelance writers, as well as any other personal-branded businesses.
I’ve also added some new content strategy services. While I won’t write your blog for you (mostly because I like working on one-off projects rather than ongoing things like blogging, but also because I think an important part of personal-brand blogging is doing the writing yourself), I will help you figure out how to do it in a way that works with your brand.
Refreshed Site Content
Consolidated Freelance Writing Courses
For over a year, I’ve offered two freelance writing courses – one simply to help people start SEO article-writing businesses, and one to help people build freelance writing businesses around their specific interests, talents and personalities. In November, while I was living in Lisbon, I rebranded both courses, because I no longer wanted to teach SEO writing. It doesn’t fit with my brand or my values and I just didn’t enjoy teaching it all that much.
But after that, the courses were much too similar and people had a lot of trouble deciding between them. Probably the most frequent question I got asked was ‘which of your freelance writing courses should I take?’ So I’ve consolidated them, taking the best parts from both to create my best freelance writing course ever.
A Return to Twice-Weekly Blogging
The final thing I want to share with you guys is my plans for the blog: last year I decided to test out a ‘blogging when I felt like it’ approach. This resulted in me mostly publishing at least one post per week, and I think the posts were of a better quality than I’d been publishing previously. But something about it didn’t feel quite right.
A large part of the reason I decided to drop my publishing schedule last year was because I was burnt out on writing exclusively freelance-writing-related stuff. I’m interested in it, yes, of course – but it’s not ALL I’m interested in. I wanted to see what would happen when I focused on writing what I wanted to write, without pressure.
Turns out, I didn’t actually feel good about it. I didn’t feel bad about it, but… well, when you set a publishing schedule and stick to it, there’s a sense of achievement. I guess I didn’t feel much like I was running a business. And I like feeling like I’m running a business guys, and I particularly like feeling like I’m running it well. But my blog felt pretty directionless and sparse last year, and I think I often broke the cardinal rule of writing helpful and relevant stuff. (Oops.) I still managed the interesting and entertaining elements of good blogging but, yeah, not always the helpful bit.
So, anyway, I’ve decided to return full-force to twice-weekly blogging, which I’m pretty exited about now that I’ve settled on this new direction for Untamed Writing that actually feels right. From now on I’ll be blogging every Monday and Thursday, and I’ll be writing for people who want to build personal brands around doing work they love. (But don’t worry, I’m not going to start banging on about following your passion. And that’s a promise, my friend.)