‘You’ll be locked away with experts with direct access to coaching advice worth thousands of dollars’

Dear Friends and New Readers,

My 2016 working year was punctuated by an event, and there was a before, during and after. Before the event, my work was tracking more slowly than it should. I could see things had to change, and I had to change.

One day in May I mentioned to the designer of my architecture writing website that I did not have enough work and yet I am an expert at my work. He sent me a single line reply, a link to an event. He followed it up with the sentence in the headline. ‘You’ll be locked away with experts with direct access to coaching advice worth thousands of dollars’ Powerful eh? It was a nudge to get out of my studio and see people. Cabin fever is hard to self-diagnose.

Sweden! That’s ridiculous!
That was my instant internal response to the idea of attending Double Your Freelancing Conference Europe.

After five minutes, the light got in. “That’s not so silly.”
My financial advisor saw it differently. “You could network closer to home?”
“Or do both,” I said.
I saw an answer in Sweden, even if I didn’t yet know the question.
But I didn’t jump immediately.
I emailed Brennan Dunn and Kai Davis to ask if the conference would be too techy and Euro-US-centric for me? Although an internationally-experienced writer with years in Europe behind me, I am based in far away Australia.
Not. At. All. “The focus will be on positioning and niching,” came the replies.
OK, that makes sense to me. Does it make sense to you? When I speak of positioning or niching to people in my life but not in my business, they often say: Have you ever thought about dropping your prices?
As if riches are found in a huge unspecified pond.

Sometimes you need to go to Sweden or someplace to find the people who get you. Even if the people who get you turn out to have acronyms for job titles and inhabit hitherto unknown to me software niches.

So, in Yasuragi, Nacka, I entered a room (well, first of all, a bar) full of creative and digital consultants all wearing yukatas. And in spite of some people wearing the same robe through to the fourth day (hello, hotel laundry) they turned out to be among the best people I’ve ever met. 

Solving expensive problems with experts, hot pools, and warm sake.

We talked about how we as consultants can help to identify and solve client’s expensive problems. In hot pools, and over eggs, fruit, sushi, and fragrantly complex sake served by Marcelo (probably the world’s best and most friendly bartender), we talked ideas and how to overcome realities.
From NickD I learned about enforcing boundaries with clients and myself. Although, if I followed NickD’s strict business hours it would mean never talking to clients in the UK.
From Kai Davis (NickD’s partner in the Make Money Online podcast), I found out my email outreach doesn’t register on any scale for persistence. Tip: Stop only when you receive a contract or NO.
From Nathan Barry and Reuven Lerner I was reminded to teach everything and always, and create. And from Mojca Mars I found out that an animal onesie is hot, oven-hot if worn on stage (so I will abandon my plans to do that!). Vitally, I learned that Facebook could be your friend if you use adverts well.

Eric White took us through consumer insights into the purchasing decisions with an elaborate reconstruction of a suitcase purchase by Gavin RickettsA week later in a London Muji store, I gazed at the elegant shiny blue case just like Gavin’s. That was until my Italian host shook his head and said, “No, no, Marian, you can’t spend that on a suitcase.” A few days later as I rushed from the Rolling Luggage store at St Pancras to catch the Eurostar train, I wondered what Eric would have made of my blue Americano Tourister, stuffed with the contents of two Longchamp bags.

There’s much more to say… For a comprehensive summary, read Blair Wadman, strategist and master trainer of Drupal. Blair is also in the mastermind (MM) group four of us formed after the event. The MM group is emerging as one of biggest benefits of all providing wisdom, empathy and support, a rock in the bustling world.

The midsummer days at the archipelago will stay with us. We will never forget where we were the morning after Brexit, a result incongruous to our unity in Europe (then and future.)
There has not been a week since June without interacting with people met at the event. I recently edited a speech by
 #dyfconfeu attendee Daniel Siegel that beautifully drew together the stalling pace of aviation innovation and the limitations of computers and devices linking a single fingertip to a small glass surface. We are far short of the forefront.
I am putting the finishing touches on the copy for a European scientific website that I worked on for Laura Yeffeth. Our working together would never have occurred without the Swedish connection.

What did I learn for myself? And what happened next?

Coming back from the highs of DYFCONFEU in Sweden, the highly useful Life Time Value Conference in Brighton, UK, and the Venice Architecture Biennale, I was bursting with ideas. But the old times were not done with me. There were an awful couple of months where I had not yet implemented the new, and the old patterns were hanging about.
I was afraid yet kept going. I repackaged my proposal service for architects and started work with some new architecture clients. That’s a niche on its own and feels better in its own compartment.

Drawing on my business journalism background, I started looking at how to help fintech companies who often let themselves down with their copy. I am still editing/redrafting novels for clients booked in this year. I am reviewing this work in 2017 as it is hard to find a viable timeline for all parties. I may do more editorial consulting than editing.
I started to help consultants who must write for business but doubt their technique and skill. The most important element is editing. The greatest challenge is in reaching people who can’t yet see how well their copy can connect clients.

In Sweden, Brennan Dunn conceived and put together an event in a complete reinforcement of its positioning and niche. The people might have come from India, Russia, Belgium, Finland, Slovenia, the UK, Italy, Germany, the US and Australia (hope I did not miss anyone?) but values, goals, and joking were as one. All we had to do was to get out of our cabins and meet.

So what are my goals for 2017? I like my recent work as a kind of ‘editor-at-large’ for a customer software group in London. I work with their content manager to improve their story gathering and quality and am pleased they are punching above their weight and outclassing bigger teams. I like the role of providing ongoing mentoring and support to help build something great.

A great archive of content is important to any service or product provider.
I will be rebuilding my content up too. I wrote daily content for newspapers but lately have spent much of my time behind the scenes helping others. I look forward to building and presenting a resource here throughout 2017. After a year focused on business reinvention, I want to build in time for memoir and creative writing. After all, fiction is where you can often find the truth.

I will be launching an app in 2017 to help web designers and developers ask for and receive great copy from their clients. It will help business people and consultants create web copy that serves their clients. Before June, I knew there were ideas I could develop to help people, and that I needed to scale up. I did not know where to start. I am fearful and excited.

It is only the beginning. Again.

Thanks for reading. All the best for a peaceful transition from 2016. See you in 2017. Get in touch to learn more about any of these items. Or sign up for my newsletter where you will be the first to hear everything!

Marian Edmunds