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The Value of Personal Connections

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A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of the value of personal connections.  I love the social world, the ability to connect and build relationships online has been a powerful resource for my business.  As a writer it is so easy for me to hide away behind my pen and paper and remain in the safety and comfort of the office.  Trusting relationships can be established through many different ways, including online, but I think like many of us, I had lost sight of actually connecting in person.

When organising my trip to New York with other entrepreneurs for an event with our business mentor a small group of us decided to share an airbnb.  Honestly, my first reaction when this was suggested was to say no.  I love my privacy and personal space, but I knew if I want to get the most of this experience I needed to throw myself into it with heart and soul.  Facing my fear, I agreed to share and arrived at the Manhattan apartment to meet 5 strangers from different continents.

Facing our fears is something we have to do a lot in business, it’s what challenges us, makes us stronger and also helps us succeed.  Those 5 strangers, over our brief time together, have now become great friends and advisers.  We connected not only on a personal level but we shared a passion for business that infused our creativity for our own businesses.  Our mentor Todd Herman, likes to describe us as ‘weird’, and it’s a word we embrace. That weekend we were with like minded people who understood our workaholic nature, our desire to be challenged, and our thirst for knowledge.

But returning home it got me thinking, what if I hadn’t faced my fear?  What if I have crept into my safe bubble and got myself a hotel room on my own, would my experience have been the same?

The simple answer is no!

Meeting people in person puts a whole new dimension on a relationship, it makes it stronger and more meaningful.

Get out there

Just as I did, go and face your fear.  Get up from you comfort zone and experience something new and exciting.  You don’t have to take a trip to another country, just push yourself to do something different.  Why not have a tweet-up for your social media following and take your online relationships to the next level.

I often find doing a training programme, whether online or off-line is also a great place to build a relationship with people.  You can learn together, get frustrated together and succeed together.  Don’t fall into the trap doing the same training as your colleagues as it will be easy to just communicate with those that you know.  Remember everyone is a stranger to each other at the beginning, you may start that way, but you won’t be strangers by the time you finish.

There are thousands of networking opportunities across the globe.  I know how frightening it can be to walk into a room where you don’t know anyone.  You worry about babbling or you hide in the corner.  See every networking group as an opportunity, the people you meet may not be a direct client, but you never know who they have in the circle of connections.

Lesson Learned

I’ve learned a valuable lesson, my social connections are amazing but if I take those connections to the next level who knows where it can lead!

 

Breaking the Mould – Writing for Estate Agents

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As we rapidly head towards our second anniversary, I grabbed Andrea for a quick chat to find out more about writing for estate agents.  Where did her passion come from, how did Citrus Content start and what challenges and key trends do we face.

How did Citrus start? 

I have always had a passion for property and interiors, but writing?  My career took me down a different path until 4 years ago when I joined twitter.  Here I shared my love for property and started to attract a following, this led to my first blog post.  I was asked to write a guest post on my passion, incredibly it was for Rightmove.  Over the next couple of years I was asked to write more and more, and realised two things; firstly, I loved it and more importantly, the industry wanted more.  So two years ago, I grabbed my pen and paper and started to write as a profession.

Why?

Let’s face it, estate agents historically don’t have the best reputation and are renowned for being stuck in their traditional roots.  I admit some agents are grasping onto their past with both hands but many are embracing the future and breaking the mould to emerge as a new breed of estate agents.

What are the challenges?

Estate agents are not marketers, designers or creative professionals but the business community and our technological society is asking them to be.  They often find it hard to translate their knowledge and personality into content that emotes the reader.  But being able to be the solution to this challenge is so rewarding.

Are there any key trends?

Like similar industries, traditionally estate agency content has been cold and corporate.  This has changed, whether it’s down to social media or customer needs, the industry leaders seek warm and engaging content that speaks directly to their clients.  We work hard to establish a tone of voice for each agency to highlight their individuality.  I have created, what we fondly call, our Voice Document.  This document is the foundation of everything we write and also means we can write numerous articles on the same subject and you can clearly identify which agent it was written for.  Storytelling for estate agents is now very client centric, we focus on using words such as ‘you’ and ‘your’ rather than ‘we’ and ‘our’.

Estate agents are also fusing this new trend with traditional values.  They want to be seen as not just based within the community but also part of it.  There is a growing demand for editorial content which features local businesses and events.  Blog posts, newsletters, and magazines featuring a community touch are a trend that again is growing.  No matter whether we feature a local store, artisan, or product, we have to find a way of relating it to the agent or buying, selling, renting or letting a property.

We are required to be all things not just writers.  Working with estate agents is fantastically creative; we are often required to be marketers, coming up with inventive ways to promote their business.  Some clients require even more, we have written press releases, organized events and so much more.

How have things changed?

Every day I see a change in the industry and a growing acceptance that engaging content is a necessity not a luxury item.  There is still a long way to go, as this acceptance is still very much a minority.  This is not to criticize those that have not adapted the new trends, as a culture change in an industry never happens over night.

Looking to the future

There is definitely a change in customer perception, and an estate agent is no longer the most hated profession.  I often say ‘There is nothing more powerful than words.’  Words are breaking down stereotypes, strengthening the client and agent relationship, aiding an agency to financial success and most importantly, changing how the industry operates.

I’m proud to be part of this incredible change and look forward to breaking many more moulds in the future.  Writing for estate agents is anything but dull, it is often said when buying a house you think with your heart and your head.  Passion, industry knowledge, and adaptability are key to our success at Citrus Content.

My new Citrus beginnings

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Letting you in, opening up, talking to myself…all facts and fears about writing my first blog! To imagine someone who is the class clown but would never read aloud, who loves to sing but can’t find her voice is completely me.  My new found confidence has been thrust upon me by my “pushy mother” style boss lady Andrea Morgan suggesting I write a blog so here goes…

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So far 2014 has been a year for all things “new”.  New baby, new house, new job. All positives you would think but they have also come with new fears, new pressure and new worries. My aim of the year is to turn the few negatives, which will never get their air time in my blog, in to more and more positives! My beautiful new baby, a constant positive who makes me smile and be silly every day. My new house, a home for my family, transformed by my fiancé and never to be completed. My new job, an unexpected encounter with endless opportunities.

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Citrus Content so far has been refreshing, inspiring and exciting! In the space of a month I have gone from working with dreary CXO’s to the interior design and content writing industry. The splash of colour has been a huge welcome to my new life and every day I am learning and smiling; both as refreshing as Citrus Content aims to be!

Working at home and in our new office gives me a balanced work life although some of my work doesn’t feel like “work”! Each client has their own needs and my work allows me to help them in various ways of never ending content and sharing all with an aim to grow their business and ours. “Our business” Andrea has encouraged me to use “our” and “we” which has made me feel so at home in a company which was her baby. This has all added to my continued passion for the job and eagerness to grow together and with whoever else wants to join us on this ride to the top!

At Citrus work never stops, finding great websites and products, sharing our work and stories on social media and working with interesting clients! I have 3 aims for my future here:

Never stop learning. Never stop growing. Never stop smiling.

Lessons from my Double Life

Lessons from my Double Life

Twelve months ago I started Citrus Content, I had no idea about what to expect but knew I could make it successful.  At the time I was working full time and like most families in the UK we needed two incomes to pay the mortgage so I began leading a double life.  By day I would go through the motions of the employed, rush home and spend some family time, then off to my office to start work on my business.  No matter what people tell you about leading a double life, the facts are it is exhausting, exciting, stressful and yet so much fun.  As of the 1 August, I ended my double life and now focusing solely on Citrus Content, I just feel like a huge weight has been lifted.  For those of you taking the tentative steps into a double life I hope that these tips will help.

Sacrifices

Your family and friends will suffer no matter how much you try and organise your work round them.  It is impossible to dedicate 100% to your business and still give your family the amount of time they need and deserve.  I virtually became a hermit for 12 months trying to juggle everything.  Set one time in the week that you set aside for family time.  I used to set Sunday day as our family day, I would make sure we did something special on that day even if the day could only be for 3-4 hours.  I found it more difficult as we have had serious illnesses in the family which have also been emotionally stressful to add to the mix.

Sleep

You think you have felt tiredness before? Think again.  Yes you sacrifice that completely, when I did get to bed around 1am, I would restlessly be thinking of all the things that needed doing and how was I going to squeeze them round everything else?  Sleep when you know you really need it.  You will get to a point when you know you need to sleep, I would sometimes have a siesta when I got home from work, just to recharge.  When you finish work, you will sleep better than you have slept in a long time trust me.

You will let people down

Unfortunately this was my biggest bug bear.  With my personal blog Trying to Balance the Madness, I had some many good intentions to showcase people and companies. I was asked to write a number of guest blogs which I wanted to do,  but if my client work took all my ‘free’ time this got pushed back.  I’m ashamed to admit that a lot of work I intended to do for other people is yet to be done.  To those people this affected I am truly sorry!  Learn to say NO! yes OK I was rubbish at this, but since leaving work I am more careful on what I accept unless I can honestly work it into my schedule, the last thing I want to do is let down a paying client.

Growth will be stunted

I am not being harsh it’s just that you will spend all your ‘free’ time working on your client work, it is hard to put in the hours required to strategically grow your business.  You also need to think about whether you can manage any growth.  I reached a point where I knew I couldn’t accept any new clients as I physically didn’t have the hours in the day to achieve anything more.  Know how much growth you can realistically manage, once you have stopped your double life, this question doesn’t go away but the way you are able to manage growth changes.

Should your clients know?

This is only a question you can answer, you know your clients.  I never promoted the fact that I was employed, but some of my clients knew my situation and some didn’t.  I didn’t want any client thinking that their work was being affected as I was working full time.  You will be surprised to know how many business owners are leading a double life – many that you don’t even expect. 

I know that the last 12 months of my double life has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but wow was it worth it.  In just 12 months I have managed to build a business I am proud of, that is successful and I can see so much in it’s future.  Thank you to all my amazing clients that have made my first year in business so pleasurable.

If you are thinking of leading a double life, remember like in most things, you only get out of it what you put into it.

 

The Post-it Wall of Fear

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Last night, as I sat at my desk looking at the wall of Post-it notes in front of me, I began to get scared.  I felt as though this black cloud was hovering over me, the weight pressing on my slumped shoulders.  I felt overwhelmed.  Each Post-it represented a piece of work I needed to do, emails to send, blog posts to write, projects to complete.  They were staring at me as if calling my name, haunting me with their presence and draining my energy.

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It’s hard to start a business, and even harder when you are still employed.  Every second is so precious as though it was a rare jewel for the taking.  I balance my life between work, family and business my supportive husband encouraging my every step.

Stepping-stones

I have so many things I want to do for my blog, my business and my writing.  I have a mystery story constantly itching to spill out on a page, ideas for my blog and vision for my business.  I will get there, I have a plan, and every day I am moving closer to this dream.

I took a deep breath.

I the looked at the wall again.  This wall didn’t represent fear, it was magical, inspirational and rewarding.  Who would have thought when I started Citrus Content I would have been contracted for such a variety of projects and with fantastic companies.

* Writing articles for print and online
* Social media campaigns
* Marketing a websites
* Writing website content

I am loving every minute of it.

This is my wall

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My wall represents by business, my future, my dream.

 

Am I a writer?

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I was reading a blog post today by Jeff Goins about following his dream and being a writer. And this part of the post got me thinking.

A few years ago, a friend asked me an important question:
“What’s your dream?”
“Don’t have one,” I said.
“Sure you do. Everyone has a dream.”
“Ah, I dunno… I’m living it, I guess.”
“Really? Hrmph.” And then a long pause — “Because, well, I would’ve thought your dream was to be a writer.”
As soon as I heard those words, something in me stirred. Something that had been there all along.
“Well, uh, yeah…” I gulped, “I guess I’d like to be a writer… some day. But that’ll never happen.”
I sounded so sure, so certain that at 28 years old, I knew where the rest of my life was headed. Shaking his head, my friend smiled.
“Jeff… You don’t have to want to be a writer…”
And then he said nine words that changed me life:
“You are a writer; you just need to write.”

This got me thinking of my own journey and the right to use the term ‘writer’. Do you have to earn the right? Or can you just be one?

It all boils down to that feeling we all have from time to time of being a fraud. Even the most successful people have a ‘fraud’ moment from time to time. I recently read the book by Sheryl Sandburg, Lean In. She speaks openly and honestly about her ‘fraud’ experience. She then talks about whether you lean in to the moment or lean out. Reading her experience gave me confidence, why? It demonstrates that we are all human, you could be the COO of Facebook or me and still have the same emotions in similar situations.

Julian Smith in his book Flinch, states “The flinch is the moment when every doubt you’ve had comes back and hits you, hard. It’s when your whole body feels tense. It’s an instinct that tells you to run. It’s a moment of tension that happens in the body and the brain, and it stops everything cold.”

Whether you ‘Lean In’ or face the ‘Flinch’ both require you to have faith and confidence in your ability.

Writing is something I love to do, it’s so expressive, creative and true. There is something scary and liberating about putting pen to paper and sending it out into the world. Citrus Content is still in its early days but my passion for writing is growing. I am constantly armed with a notebook frightened of missing a line, a story or any kind of inspiration that magically appears in my mind.

In many ways starting Citrus Content is like unlocking a door or even flood gates. What has been held deep inside me is now racing to get out. Words are like drops of water forming together into a dramatic waterfall. I feel alive.

So instead if feeling a fraud and flinching, I am now going to embrace the four words and proudly state “I am a writer“.

Resources

Jeff Godins expert via
How I Stopped Waiting to Become a Writer, Quit My Job & Launched My Dream

Julien Smith, Flinch

Sheyl Sandberg, Lean In

The Incredible Journey – From Passion to Citrus

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“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”

Winston Churchill

 

As some of you may know I have gone through a difficult few weeks.  To tell you how I got here you have to start at the beginning.

twitter-Man-with-a-van When I joined twitter I never, ever imagined what lay ahead of me.  I started with complete naivety and skepticism of what it was.  I plodded along really not knowing what to do and then I started to find my voice for property and interiors and I never looked back.  Building my followers has been organic and underpinned with engagement.  I love hearing people’s stories sharing their successes, their interesting articles and honored they want to share them with me.

 

Just over a year ago I started Trying to Balance the Madness – my blog which I share my passion for Property, Interiors and Social Media.  This blog came from, well basically, being nagged by a certain part of my following.  Again I was a novice and really no idea what I was doing.  Again soon I found my blog voice. Trying to Balance the Madness is a huge part of me I feel it shows my journey and my story.

 

About this time last year I started to have talks with a friend about the idea of A Passion for Homes, after months of hard work we launched in February 2013.  It was an amazing day one I will never forget.  I was so proud that so many of the followers had supported me in some incredible ways with venue, photography, speaking, being part of the site.  You name it my followers were there, sharing the experience and I felt honored.

 

About a month ago I made the very, very difficult decision to walk away from A Passion for Homes.  This was not a decision I made lightly but knew it was the right decision for me.  Partnerships are difficult.  My Passion for Property and Interiors is stronger than ever and I knew I wanted my own business and I have so much to give.

 

Trying to Balance the Madness is growing and it’s fascinating seeing it develop and mold into something more exciting every day.

 

Through Trying to Balance the Madness and A Passion for Homes I realized how much I loved writing.  My parents had always said that I had a talent for it but I never really thought anything of it.  Over the last 6 months the request from people for my writing has been overwhelming and I have realized that my parents were right.

Writing-writing-27456811-1277-955  I Love to write!

 


Citrus Content
allows me to utilise my love for writing with my passion – perfect combination.

From:

  • Articles
  • Website Content
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters
  • Rightmove MicroSites
  • Social Media

Wherever content is needed – you will find Citrus.

I am honored to already be working on a couple of really exciting projects.

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As people always say, ‘When one door closes, another one opens’.

I feel as though that door was there all the time and I just hadn’t found the key.

 

Andrea x