A year on…

Well, it’s about time I posted something on here. I haven’t added to this blog for some time because, well, I’ve been somewhat busy doing other stuff in the past year! I’ve been blogging elsewhere but not on this page.

Anyway, it’s been about 13 months since I took over the publishing of H&E naturist magazine and things are going well. It’s a lot of hard work with not much downtime, but somehow magazines still keep on being produced. It’s quite tricky doing practically everything myself and still finding time for extra-curricular fun/chilling out, but I’m managing it without going mad… just.

I also thought that, to mark the year, I’d write a few top hints and tips based on what I’ve gleaned so far.

Number one is: the customer is quite often – usually, even – WRONG. The trick is, however, to swallow your pride and not tell them this outright. Let them think they are right. Sometimes, though, in cases of extreme wrongness, I know this can be hard, but try to be diplomatic and polite. When the customer is impolite, rude or even sweary, though (which fortunately doesn’t happen often), I admit they get short shrift from me. As a company director, I can afford to respond in kind and put the phone down on them, but I wouldn’t advise this if you’re not the boss. I have often responded to rude emails by saying there is a human being on the receiving end, and a little more courtesy wouldn’t go amiss if they want help to be forthcoming. This usually shames them into apologising, or at least they go away and never bother you again.

Number two, and I can’t stress this enough: DON’T give too much away for free. Charity is one thing, but generally hawking your services around for nowt is not. You will get a reputation for offering freebies, and no-one will take your professional ambition seriously. Moreover, you are jeopardising and devaluing the work of your fellow professionals. Without pricing yourself out of the market, charge people what you are worth, and don’t be afraid to do this. Genuine customers will pay, and chancers will bugger off. Most people recognise that quality commands a price, and if you do stuff for free or for stupidly cheap rates, then your offering will be seen as cheap too. Think about this: if you saw theatre tickets being sold for a fiver, you’d automatically think “amateur production” and perhaps not bother. If the tickets were £20, this instantly suggests a higher-quality event. How you market yourself is exactly the same.

Number three: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Don’t take on too much work, as you might promise too much and leave everyone disappointed. You should know your limits.

Number four: never underestimate the power of social networking. If your business isn’t on Twitter and Facebook, then you may as well not bother. But just getting on to Twitter and Facebook isn’t enough – you need to keep things ticking over. Post most days, otherwise your followers will lose interest. It only takes a couple of seconds a day to pose a question, post a relevant link, post an offer, etc.

Number five: Try to adopt as many time-saving procedures as possible. Use technology as far as you can to make things easier for you. At the previous place I worked, the staff used to handwrite all their envelopes. I bought a Dymo label writer for about £50 and it’s worth its weight in gold. It’s so easy to use and, despite the labels being a small additional cost, it saves so, so much time (it also looks so much more professional). I use spreadsheets to store advertising/customer information (instead of, as the previous company did, handwriting it all in a ledger book). I’ve pre-printed address labels for things like Royal Mail postbag tickets so I don’t have to write them out every time. My accounting software, FreeAgent, costs £17.40 a month but again, it’s well worth it. Obviously I have to spend time inputting the correct info into it, but after that, it calculates EVERYTHING. It’s well worth spending a little if it saves you time – because time is priceless.

And finally… be organised and disciplined. My office frequently gets into a horrendous state as it’s quite small and I regularly get sent CDs, DVDs and all sorts of other stuff – but when it reaches tipping point I have a big tidy-out and start again. You can’t do your job if you’re swimming in paperwork that hasn’t been dealt with and filed away. I’m a massive fan of ‘storage solutions’ of all kinds – you need places to put things, because if you don’t you’ll come unstuck very quickly.

Until next time… whenever that may be…