Survivial Skills for Freelancers

Start-up marketing support for an experienced mortgage and insurance adviser

The client: Stratus Home Finance Ltd

Gloucestershire-based mortgage and insurance adviser, Jez Wallace, has over 20 years of experience of helping his customers save money on their monthly mortgage and insurance premiums. Having worked for a local firm of mortgage advisers since 2006, he decided the time had come to start working for himself.

The need

Training in a new area – equity release – had given Jez the incentive to start his own company. As well as being highly experienced and skilled at what he does, his friendly, straightforward and affordable advice puts him in a good position to do this – but with no experience of setting up a new business, let alone how to market it, he needed help.

The solution

I was already good friends with Jez, having met him at dance classes over 10 years ago. Naturally, when he decided to start his own business he turned to me for help. We met for a chat over coffee and began by talking about the challenges he faced getting his business off the ground.

As with many start-ups, Jez didn’t have a huge budget, but I explained that investing in a great-looking, well-written website and brand identity would help him compete with established businesses from the get-go.

Lack of budget means many start-ups struggle to write or design their own website when their time would be better spent doing the thing that makes them money – which is usually the reason they went into business in the first place! What’s more, professional copywriting satisfies both potential customers and Google – helping to attract clients through clever search engine optimisation (SEO).

What’s in a name?

Jez was toying with the idea of calling his new business Wallace Mortgage Solutions. I steered him away from this obvious choice towards something with a little more gravitas that encompassed the fact that he didn’t just do mortgages, and which included the word ‘home’ because of its positive associations.

After agreeing on the name Stratus Home Finance, I came up with the idea for Jez’s new logo – a simple outline of a house forming both the H of home and an arrow (again, subtle positive associations) with a stratus cloud behind it.

I introduced Jez to one of my web design partners, Narjas Carrington at Inklings Design, and set up a meeting between them. Together, we decided on a structure for his new website – home page, about page, services overview and sub-pages, a page of testimonials, and contact page. While Narjas set to work designing Jez’s new business cards and stationery, I began writing his new website.

Throughout the process, I worked closely with Narjas to find the right images for the site, and to ensure the copy and design worked hard together to make it easy to use.

Get social

I helped Jez to set up a Facebook page for Stratus Home Finance, suggested he list the business on various local directory sites to increase his chances of getting found online, and rewrote his LinkedIn profile – giving it more personality and reflecting his new role.

Jez was delighted by his professional new website and social media profiles, and has already begun to attract new clients to his business as a result.

This project was a great example of how brand new businesses can benefit from clever start-up marketing. Taking a step-by-step approach to marketing can be a great way to raise awareness of a new venture.

In the client’s words…

“As a mortgage adviser I know very little about marketing and even less about writing a website, but having set up a new business I knew I needed one. I was anxious about the entire process but I needn’t have worried.

“Sarah knows everything there is to know about marketing and copywriting and made the process so easy from start to finish.

“She worked with my website designer to make sure the structure and appearance of my website worked and she wrote the words I needed with minimal guidance and input from me. She even gave me lots of useful business and marketing tips.

“I now have a website I’m proud of that’s helped me get Stratus Home Finance off the ground. Thanks Sarah!”

Jeremy Wallace, Owner and Director
Stratus Home Finance Ltd

Creating sizzling web copy for an oriental cookery company

The client: Pamela Chen’s Asia, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

ChenMoore Chopsticks – now rebranded Pamela Chen’s Asia – provides oriental cookery demonstrations and cultural talks at events and shows, and for audiences on board luxury yachts and cruise liners.

The need

Like many small business owners, Pamela had written her own web copy and it wasn’t performing hard enough to attract customers. The copy was too long, the navigation around the site was confusing, and the key messages were lost.

Though Pamela’s English is great, the fact that she isn’t a native English speaker came across in the copy. I wanted to communicate her wealth of experience and love of oriental food while telling her story in a compelling way.

The solution

I wrote Pamela’s web copy following a face-to-face brief, in which I made lots of notes about her approach, personality, and the way she spoke about her business. She emphasised a number of issues she wanted to avoid, and things that weren’t working for the business, and I suggested a number of improvements to the current layout, keywords for SEO, and the structure of the site.

I created an informal, friendly and welcoming tone of voice that reflects elements of Pamela’s enthusiasm and personality. I pointed out inconsistencies and opportunities to introduce calls to action throughout. The resulting site communicates clearly and persuasively, and lets Pamela’s story shine through.

In the client’s words…

“Sarah’s experience and knowledge in how texts work in this digital world has been quite an eye-opener for me. Yes, she edited and wrote the content for my entire website, but she does much more than writing the words: she thinks about the way the website will be used, taking SEO, the user journey and user experience into account.

“Having seen the difference her careful crafting has made, it has really made me realise the importance of using a good copywriter. Sarah took the time to understand my business and needs. She’s clear thinking, thorough and consistent. Above all, she’s put the sparkle in my website content! I love it.”

Pamela Chen Moore, Owner, ChenMoore Chopsticks