Kate’s Q&A – December 2015

Today’s Q&A question comes from Ashley Hoyland of Hoyland Ink:

I watched one of your talks at Leeds Business Week (the Vodafone one) and you recommended the ‘Will It Make The Boat Go Faster’ book. I read the whole book the next day and found it so helpful! Now (like you) I ask myself ‘will it make the boat go faster’ each time I need to make a decision. I wanted to thank you for your recommendation and the boost it has given me to get my business going.

I’ve only been in business for 3 months and there have been times where I question whether I should be doing it. My family tell me to go and get a job so I can save for a house…

Luckily I love writing and I know I can do well in this area, I just need to get the word out! 

If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get your name out there/get business when you first started your company? Did it take a long time?

Thank you for inspiring me to keep going, Ashley.


Ashley firstly thank you for your email and kind words – always happy to help. Lets take the first part of your question first – the naysayers in your friends and family.  Now there are always going to be people when you are pursuing your dream that will say you will fail.  It’s a matter of being very careful about who you listen to. Because your friends and family – who may well be acting in what they think is your best interest – actually have no idea about running their own business. So it’s not that they are maliciously derogatory about your dreams – its just in their limited experience the reliability of a fixed income is SAFER.

It’s the S word – SAFETY. But to be frank in these tumultuous times I don’t think there is such a things as a safe job – we have had plenty of people come to us here at Diamond who have been made redundant two or three times in the past.

You just have to be careful who you listen to. Beware of the armchair warrior. Particularly those who have no experience in what they are advising you on.

There’s a two point checklist to make sure your dream is worthwhile – can you make money from it, and will you have an unreasonable amount of passion to pursue it? I say unreasonable amount of passion because there will be days, months and sometimes years when it’s a bit shit to be frank – and you will need to feed on your original passion to keep yourself going beyond that point when most reasonable people will quit!

A marketable product or service is very important – I mentioned on my Business Connections interview that actually making sure you have a market is key. Does anyone remember the guy on Dragons Den from years ago who created an end of cucumber cover for half used cucumbers? Now he thought that it was a particularly ace idea, but I am thinking that as well as the Dragons the rest of us thought that was pretty random to say the very least– so make sure you have a REAL market before you invest heavily in your new business. But for you Ashley a LOT of people can’t write – and I know from your work you can – so you have a great market as a copywriter and a great potential.

In your particular instance I would secure 4-5 regular SUBSCRIPTION clients who can give you regular work – a newsletter, a blog post and a website page a month for a fixed fee – say £500 – so you sure up your base line income really quickly.  Get them to sign a 12 month contract and after those first 4-5 you can then start to a) get testimonials together and b) guarantee a base line income which will keep you head above water.

After that add a premium ad hoc client or two a month (with weighted charges for urgency) and you are then really starting to build your business.

As for how to promote – well your first promotion will be this – everyone if you need a copy writer check out Ashley’s website here. Let’s give this lady a go and help her build her business.  Do a few bits for free to get a few references out there – ask for recommendations and referrals and WRITE – and get people to subscribe to your blog – because as a writer I guess you do have a blog…don’t you? Start creating a knowledge base – giving people good information about how they can write good copy and establish yourself as an expert.  Try doing a chat for local business networking groups about good copy – all of this should help promote your business.

In terms of resources I think you should read Rich Dad Poor Dad, and if you email me your address I have ordered a copy here for you – it will talk to you about focusing on assets and not liabilities – in simple terms far better to secure an income than get your house, then get a house then shore up your income – anyway a very worthy read – link here too for everyone else who hasn’t read it.

Trust that helps Ashley.  Keep on writing and I am sure you will be a success.  But make sure you get those initial 3-4 subscription clients first – then you can build your business and have the kind of life you want to.  Have a great month!