Categories
Freelancing future of work Small business Wellness

Thoughtful exit interviews: how to offboard yourself

My summer work project ended with a bang last week. I was given a day’s notice via email and asked to quickly hand over to the new in-house copywriter. 

I get it – budgets and a new project manager, but it still took me by surprise as we were in the final stages of the work. I also felt a handover was a bit out of my scope as a freelancer – surely this was the PM’s job? So I asked my hiring manager for advice. She backed me up and said she’d speak to the PM. I told the copywriter I was happy to chat but checking the process first (also not clear if I’d be paid for this). 

I was onboarded quickly to fill a gap during the holidays and the project ended as abruptly. Here I am three months later, waiting to be paid for work that started in July. I enjoyed the work but the transactional nature of it has left me feeling frustrated and a bit fed up – where’s the humanity? All a bit soulless. Adland can be like this and it’s something I struggle with. I like to build relationships with the team and see the final end product.

It’s made me realise how important offboarding and exit interviews are with clients, so I have a process and checklist for my personal sanity and mental health…

  • Review the final project – what went well, what could have been improved?
  • Get a testimonial from the PM.
  • Say thank you to the team (people move around all the time, you never know when you’ll be working with them again). Ask to see the end product if possible – for my portfolio.
  • Send the final invoice.
  • Give feedback to HR and ask them to fill in a quick survey if they have time.
  • Leave a review on GlassDoor to help others. 

I may not get a response from the PM, but at least I’ve wrapped things up my side. 

Onboarding and offboarding is something companies need to think about more as the freelance revolution grows, and they need to manage freelancers at scale. Even better, hire a Head of Remote as my hiring manager was in a different country and not involved day-to-day.

Good communication is crucial for remote teams and having a handbook means new starters feel connected and can jump right in. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel disconnected and undervalued – which won’t foster good work. 

I’m also wondering if I need to tighten up my T&Cs and ask for a part payment upfront with overseas suppliers (I’ve been burned in the past). I’m grateful for the NUJ – if I end up chasing payment I know they have my back. Union membership is worth every penny.


Pandemic social fatigue

Is it just me, or is going out exhausting? I went out for a meal last week at a new restaurant, and we ended up sharing a table with a group of guys who’ve just moved here. Sensory overload. Too bright, too loud, too many people. I found it a bit overwhelming, so I guess I’m just out of practice.

I’m not alone – a piece by Lisa Milbrand on why socialising is more exhausting now for both introverts and extroverts and how to get your mojo back. 

Wishing you a relaxing and restful World Mental Health Day🎗 🧠

I’m not going to overload myself this quarter. I’m focusing on what I have, taking care of myself, reflection and R&D – the key to the productivity puzzle, Bojo…

Take care,

— Nicci

P.S. The most beautiful thing I’ve heard lately.


🔗🖐 5 Things 

★ Global Study on Freelancing: 75+ research partners and 1900 freelancers. It’s a big tent – 31% were over 50, and 64% were full-time freelance by choice. Most have a solid workload, but ⅓ are struggling (consider timing and context with Covid). Tech workers are the happiest. Freelancing is large and growing, but the platforms must continue to add value — great to see the expansion into coaching and education.

— Global Study on Freelancing

★ Facebook outage: offline for over six hours on Monday and on Friday. I enjoyed the break, but it highlights the issue of small businesses putting all their eggs in one basket and selling their services via social media rather than websites and customer service software. Excellent piece on how Facebook is acting like a hostile foreign power, and it’s time we treated it that way. Wow to the new cover of Time👀

— Facebookland: The Largest Autocracy on Earth.

★ The future of work should mean working less. Now we have space to reimagine how a job fits into a good life.A call for creating policies to keep work in its place: Universal Basic Income, rights to housing and healthcare, a living wage, and shorter hours at full pay. Human wellbeing is more important than productivity.

— The Future of Work Should Mean Working Less.

★ Headlines Network: free workshops starting in November to support media workers’ mental health in partnership with Google News Initiative. Great to hear they’re working with MIND to tackle mental health stigma in the media. Free, weekly 90-minute sessions: tips and tools for wellbeing and space for a chat – looking forward to it.

— Headlines Network

★ “There is no such thing as info overload. The overload is from ‘noise,’ and your ability to segment and ignore that noise will be a crucial survival skill for the future of your career and personal sanity” – Rohit Bhargava. A deep dive into how we develop this skill from Nir Eyal’s perspective as a tech insider who wrote Hooked: how to build habit-forming products. Clever tips on how to improve your attention and limit distraction. 

— How to Survive in a World of Information Overload


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Categories
Portfolio careers productivity Small business writing

How to be a thought leader

Thought leadership is a bit of a marketing buzzword – vague and cringey, and unlike lead generation, hard to measure.

There’s no recipe for success. 

What does it mean on a day-to-day level for your business – and how do you do it well?  

The Portfolio Collective have invited me to speak at an event on ‘Raising your flag and becoming a thought leader’ and share my experiences on how I’ve done it with the future of work community and wider audience.

Thought leadership is about how people in your industry (and your customers) perceive you. 

  • James Clear (the habits guy) 
  • David Perell (the writing guy)
  • Pieter Levels (the nomad guy)
  • Amy Porterfield (the digital marketing gal)
  • Rosie Sherry (the community gal)
  • Bret Contrevis (the glute guy)
  • Ben Legg (the portfolio career guy) 

A niche focus makes you memorable.

One of my clients, a property agent, wanted to be the No #1 international agent in Berlin. So we positioned him as the ‘Berlin champion’, and put his face on the side of their black cabs so he was visible across the city. He wasn’t afraid to criticise government policy and say why it was harming the housing market so had a reputation as honest and trustworthy. Many of their leads were long-term clients.

How to be a thought leader

Think about your overall strategy and take a high-level overview before you decide on the content mix. What problem are you solving with your product/service? How are you going to get people from A to B? 

Some food for thought on the three types of thought leadership:

  1. Industry (a point of view on news, trends + the future)
  2. Organisational (company culture, talent development) 
  3. Product (how-to, best practices, strategy)

Do all three if you can, and if relevant: develop your point of view and then create content. If you’re overstretched (companies have teams working on this stuff), focus on one area and do it well. It can feel overwhelming for solopreneurs, so start small and be a thought leader for your clients and customers first, to build trust. 

Look at engagement over metrics – time on pages of your website and how many articles people read is more important than views and impressions. 

Thought leadership takes time, energy, consistency and authenticity, but it’s hugely rewarding and can transform your business. It’s not about self-promotion. As Alexandra Galviz (Authentic Alex), #LinkedInLocal co-founder, says: 

It’s not just about sharing your ideas; it’s also about inspiring others into action. 

Thought – give yourself time to think, observe, and horizon scan. Don’t fill every nook and cranny of your day. 

Leadership – have a point of view and don’t say the same as everyone else. 

I disagree with David Soloman, Goldman Sachs CEO, on remote work being an ‘aberration’, but I respect his opinion, and he’s been quoted everywhere. 

Some good advice from Tammy Ammon, Director of Thought Leadership at Acxiom, after a year on the job. 

She spent the first few weeks defining the role and mapping existing pieces of content. Content creation is a huge part of it – a passion for storytelling and strategy. Move through the organisation at all levels to have a broad view and perspective to share with your audience. 

Listen in on meetings, network on LinkedIn, and have monthly chats with your team about issues, no agenda. Manage your time – know what topics need your input and what you can delegate. You can’t do it all. 

Good books: Dorie Clark’s Entrepreneurial You – insights from building a high six-figure solo consulting business, and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: the story of success

What’s working for you? Come and share your experiences at the Fireside Chat on 12 November.

Nicci 


🖐5 things

✍️How to create a Wiki in 9 simple steps – a guide and template. Every company needs a Wiki! It helps keep communication open with remote teams. I’m building one for myself – mission, vision, values, culture, tools and processes, passwords, resources for personal development. Great for onboarding, speeds up the day-to-day and focuses your mind.

💸Mirror.xyz – a new tool for writers working on crypto and blockchain. I’ve seen a few posts about this, but not many reviews, so I got on Reddit and Medium – good articles by Tim Denning and Casey Botticello on how it differs from traditional publishing platforms, and how you can make money on it. Exciting! I’ve been trying to sign up but having issues with the website.

💌Newsletters could be the next (and only) hope to save the media. As the journalism industry collapses, writers are turning to newsletters to make money and launch publications. Premium subs are still a tiny part of the market, and writers make money in other ways. I can’t see people paying $10/mo for several newsletters – these little things add up. I subscribe to Every – a bundle of newsletters on work and productivity – like a magazine.

✈️Africa is calling! Cabo Verde has launched a nomad visa to attract 4000 remote workers over the next three years for its DN programme. Ten sunny islands to explore – they’ve had virtually no tourism since 2020. See the best of Cabo Verde on Insta here. The national drink is Grogue, a rum at 60%, which will blow your socks off.

🎧Ways to make working remotely less lonely. It’s not talked about enough, and it’s among the biggest challenges faced by remote workers. Switching off is my biggest challenge, but this is a close second. My clients are global, so there are no team events. My networking is online so I’m going to start a local remote worker group. The team at Flexiple share some creative ways to deal with it – personally, at a company level, and in your community.


Categories
Blogging Digital marketing SEO Small business

Building Backlinks

What are they – why you need them + how they’ll help your business.

Building Backlinks to Your Site

Google has over 200 factors that determine your site ranking and number one is backlinks.

What is a backlink?

If you dabble in the world of marketing or web design, it’s a phrase you’ll hear bandied around a lot when talking about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). A backlink is a link from one website to another. Like a ‘vote’ for a page, it tells Google the content is valuable and useful. Backlinks are the basis of Google’s PageRank algorithm.

The more Backlinks you have, the higher you’ll rank on Google.

Link building is an art and science, creative and analytical. It involves detective work, psychology, tech tools, and relationship building. It’s good fun! And it helps you build relationships with other business owners, and establish yourself as a trusted expert in your niche, so that people come to you for content and quotes.

Quality over Quantity

Google considers the quality of the link to be more important than quantity. For example, Sky News linking to your site would be a higher quality link than your local free newspaper. However, algorithms also consider how relevant the links are. If your links are coming from unrelated sites or pages, they will be regarded as poor-quality links. So be strategic in your outreach and target sites in your niche.

Backlinks need to Grow Organically

This means you can’t go on a backlink mission paying people to link to your site! This goes against Google’s quality guidelines, and you could be penalised. Google likes to see the links occurring over time are relative and preferably come from trusted sites with high Domain Authority. (Domain Authority works on a scale of 0-100 with 40+ considered good, 60+ excellent.) The highest score is 100 – sites like Google, Facebook, and YouTube. The more authority a site has, the more it can pass on to your site via a backlink.

How do you check Domain Authority? Use Moz’ free Domain SEO Analysis Tool to see your DA, top pages, ranking, keywords and more. Ahrefs has a Domain Ranking score which looks at the quality of external backlinks to a site, a Website Authority Checker so you can see your backlink profile (free 7-day trial for $7 if you want to see all the backlinks).

Create a spreadsheet and get this information down!

The only way to increase your website authority is to get more high-quality links to your site. 👇

8 ways to get Backlinks in 2021

1. Roundup posts

Send an email to some thought leaders in your space. Tell them you’re writing a blog and would love to include their feedback on a specific question/issue and that you will reference them, their website, and social profiles. Once you’ve published the post, let them know and ask them to share it on their websites and social channels. This will generate more traffic for your site and increase reach, giving a higher probability that someone will link back to your siteMake sure you’re following them and interacting on social media first – so you’re not pitching cold!

2. Link roundups

A link roundup is a daily, weekly, or monthly blog post that curates and links to great content online. Go to Google and type in “[Your keyword]” + “roundup” and see what results come up. Once you’ve found a roundup that seems like a good fit for your brand/content, send them an email. Here’s an example of what to say:

Hi [Site owner name]

I just came across your [Roundup name] today. Great stuff. 

I’m reaching out because I recently published a [Content description] that might be a good fit for the site [Your URL or blog post link here]. 

Either way, thanks for your time, and it would be great if you’d consider me for future roundups!

Thank you 😊

[Your first name]

[Pro email signature that links to all your profiles] so they know it’s not spam.

Remember, you are writing to a human. Personalise every email you send and gently suggest they include your linkable asset in the roundup, and if it’s a good fit, they may also share it on social.

3. Broken link building

This is a good strategy as you’re adding value to someone’s site by correcting a broken link and offering a resource. Focus on resource pages in your niche and try and find some with recent 404 errors. So, if you work in the fitness industry, Google “Fitness” + “Resource page”, “Fitness” + “Resources” or “Fitness” + “links” and see what comes up.

Add the check my links Google Chrome extension to find broken links. Then contact the site owner and let them about the broken link and that you’ve written a post on this content – feel free to use it on your resource page.

4. Loot your competitors’ backlinks

Use Moz Pro or Ahrefs Site Explorer (free trial) to research your competitors and monitor your niche. Find out where their links are coming from and start pitching to the same outlets. (FYI, podcasts are a brilliant source of quality backlinks and free therapy). Also, look for sites that list your competitors but not you and ask them nicely for a link – send them a useful resource.

5. Write testimonials for products/services you use

This can help you to earn a link from an authoritative website. If you’re using a product or service you love, send them a testimonial. They may add a link to your website without you asking.

6. Link reclamation

Try Ahrefs Content Explorer tool, Buzzsumo, SEMrush or Mention.com (all offer free trials). Google Alerts or Advanced Search is free (search using “[Your keyword]” and other nifty search strings, but it will take longer, and it’s hard to export data.

You can do the same with unlinked images, e.g. infographics or products. Use Google’s reverse image search and upload an image you think may be used online. Contact the site owner and ask them to credit you and link back.

Get into the habit of doing this quarterly – it’s good to monitor online conversations about your company. No doubt you’ll find loads of results, so prioritise the most authoritative sites.

7. Create linkable assets

Content is king! The best way to create organic backlinks is to create great content people want to link to consistently. So, blogs, videos, whitepapers, infographics, how-to guides, software, quizzes, and surveys. To help generate ideas, check out sites like Answer the Public and Google’s ‘People also ask’ to find what people are searching for information on. Then create quality content that solves their problem.

You can also pitch guest posts to blogs in your niche. Search “[Keyword]” + “guest post” or “[Keyword]” + “Write for us”, and you will find a list of sites with opportunities to pitch.

You can also promote your infographics online by submitting them to sites to help you get more backlinks.

8. Become a trusted source for journalists, bloggers, and influencers

Sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out) – a site that connects journalists seeking expertise for their content with sources with that expertise. Sign up as a source and look out for requests alerts for your industry. Pitch helpful information and your credentials, and hopefully, they will use you again. HARO a US site but now has UK categories. Also, check out #JournoRequest on Twitter and ResponseSource for UK focused markets.

Business is about human connection. Develop authentic relationships with people in your industry and become a trusted go-to source of information and you will organically get more backlinks. It’s great to have a support network to bounce ideas around, help each other out, and collaborate on projects and campaigns.

Happy link building!

To recap, link building is the most crucial part of your marketing/SEO. Use these strategies to help you find link opportunities, grow your authority, and you will see a steady improvement in your Google PageRank over time.

Remember to keep notes to track your progress. 🤗

Which link building strategy will you try first? Please post a comment and let us know what’s working for you. No time for backlinks? Give us a call, and let’s chat! 

First published on Perspective Marketing & Design – more about our services here.