2018 so far

I’ve had this on my list to do for a long time. I wanted to write this as a 6 month update since December and it’s September… needless to say I’ve been busy. I’ve also moved to Bristol and the work hasn’t stopped – proof that life does exist outside of London. No client has cared that I’m no longer based in the capital and can only commit to remote working – times are changing.

One of the things about being freelance as no-one ever really knows what you’re up to. You’re not sat at the same desk with the same colleagues Monday to Friday. I share some stuff on social media, some stuff I keep quiet. I quite like that I can choose to promote the work I want to – it’s basically the stuff I want more of, so I curate it.

Since January things have really ramped up. Being freelance is definitely a snowball effect as the more people you work with, the web grows, and the referrals roll in. As of yet, I haven’t had to really look for work. I’ve also learnt to enjoy a quiet week – not panic – as it seems to all pile on top the week after like clockwork.

 

I travelled and worked on the road for the month of February. I went to Quebec and wrote for The Week, spent a week in Montreal where I interviewed the amazing fashion designer Ying Gao about her ‘reactive’ dresses, moved onto LA and saw some old Visit California friends, then onto Sausalito to write a guide for SUITCASE, finally spending a few days with the wonderful people behind Norn in San Francisco and wrote about it for The Spaces. I didn’t make it to Palm Springs but I did write two articles for The Spaces on Modernism Week and Modernist churches.

Working and travelling seems glamorous and it is wonderful and fills my heart with joy unlike anything else BUT it’s hard to find a balance. I had deadlines but I also wanted to explore. The time difference meant I was waking up at 5am to a crazy inbox. But it was totally worth it.

I’ve also been working on some amazing art PR clients via Tamsin Daniel, including Making Places (turning Waltham Forest into a hub of outdoor installations), Roy’s People Art Fair, Loop, Acrylicize (lamp installations in Manchester) and the crazy talented Alexander James. Supporting emerging British artists, architects and ambitious creative projects is super important to me.

In April, I was invited to Italy on a Call Me By Your Name themed press trip by my SUITCASE editor. It was my favourite film this year so obviously I replied YES YES YES and we went to Milan, Lake Garda and other beautiful small towns in Lombardy. I interviewed the ‘sleep scientist’ Matthew Walker for Amuse about how the travel industry should be helping the sleep epidemic and stayed in the lovely Eccleston Hotel to try out their £15,000 mattress.

I started working with Millennium Hotels who are launching two new rebrands: M Collection and Lengs Collection. I wrote Tone of Voice guidelines (which I LOVE doing) and website copy for each of the hotels. Working with GA Design on this is a dream.

VICE Berlin contacted me having read my stuff to ask if I would write two advertorial pieces for them in collaboration with the Hungarian Tourism Board. One was on Budapest’s high/low culture nightlife and the other on the food scene. That was fun. I also wrote some SEO copy for Expedia on Seville.

In June, I went away for the month (again). I covered We Love Green festival in Paris for Amuse, stayed in a yurt on an island in New York for STYLIST then went roadtripping around Italy and Croatia with friends. I worked the entire time (sometimes getting up at 6am before anyone else was awake), which was tough, but it was projects that I just couldn’t say no to, including a huge copywriting project for the SS Great Britain museum. Exciting to have my first Bristol client!

My work with Appear Here has been consistent. I’ve interviewed some incredible people for their blog, such as Serena Guen (founder of SUITCASE) and Poppy Jamie (founder of HappyNotPerfect app), and written about Japanese retail, fashion tech, the vegan revolution, urban farms, and more. I’ve also started writing for OnOffice magazine about workplace design (something I find weirdly fascinating… maybe because I’m no longer in an office) as well as the travel startup A Place Less Ordinary. Check them out – you’ll hear about them soon enough I’m sure.

Through referrals, I’ve also been moving into children’s tech space, having undertaken copywriting projects with Tech Will Save Us and Kano. Anyone who knows me will think this is hilarious as I am a *bit* of a luddite when it comes to tech. But I am trying. As long as it’s encouraging kids to be creative, I’m on board.

As for non-work travelling, I went to Madrid with my sister (where we haggled for a lot of market clothes and ate far too many tapas) and the Edinburgh Fringe, which was so much fun. We spent a lot of money on drag shows. Will go again.

Now I’m freelance I seem to spend a lot of my time doing life admin, which involves a lot of self-promotion (such as this blog) but I know it’s important and people see it. I have an accountant. I’ve recently added testimonials to my website (some of which made me cry… I have no shame in saying). Emma Gannon (someone who I really look up to career wise) also gave me a shout out on her new book’s Instagram page. ‘The Multi-Hyphen Method’ champions side-hustlers and freelancers and those refusing to climb one career ladder. I live and breathe this, so that was a huge highlight this year.

 

What’s next? 

In December I will be guest lecturing at Leicester University to Media & Communications graduates, which I’m so excited about. I am also hopefully organising a wellness panel event in Bristol with my wonderful friend and fellow freelancer Helen Morris. I want to do more public speaking and panels – it’s definitely a goal for 2019. I’m hopefully going to be working with a walking app and a fashion startup – both industries I’m really interested in.

At the beginning of the month I went to my friend’s very own yoga retreat in France, which was so chilled and just what I needed. Next up is hopefully Israel, Palm Springs for Modernism Week (including a top secret celeb project that I can’t divulge just yet), potentially India and the Maldives. I stayed in the UK for July and August so I think it’s time for some trips.

Since the below post I’ve had a lot of people contact me asking for tips on going freelance so this is also something I’m going to be writing a blog about. I’m working on it. Watch this space.

 

 

M Collection: Tone of Voice guidelines

M COLLECTION

Our hotels serve as springboards for stories across the world.

Forget hospitality industry jargon – we are welcoming in the true sense of the word. Streams of guests from all walks of life will form our footfall. We recognise and encourage this rich variety – we stand open.

Our brand induces creativity; a stay with M Collection should be considered a blank canvas to layer on thick with ideas and experience.

 

BRINGING THE BRAND TO LIFE

When we talk to our customers, we imagine enticing a friend to book onto that dream trip. The tone should inspire without an ounce of pretence, offering up secret tips so precious you’re tempted to keep them to yourself.

Sentences should be short and clear but include a flicker of personality in each nugget to keep the discerning audience engaged. Our brand personalities are the creator, the everyman and the jester – our tone should reflect their energy with enthusiasm.

We use imperatives to show we know our stuff (“Don’t miss…”) and we’re not afraid to be playful (“You’ll never believe…”). Write informally but don’t slide into sloppy – our copy is easy to digest (“We know you’re itching to…”) but don’t forget that overall it has to be helpful (“The best kept secret in Singapore…”). We want our readers to relate to the content but recognise it’s coming from a trusted source; this means balancing the friendly with the genuinely useful. Sentences should mix up fun tidbits (“Yes, Singapore gets steamy…”) with actual facts (“This rooftop pool is packed on Sundays, so get there midweek if you can…”)

 

BRAND PILLARS TRANSLATED INTO TONE OF VOICE

Our brand personalities are colourful, cheeky and warm; the same characteristics should come across in our tone of voice. When we speak to our audience we never forget who we’re catering for: creators, jesters and the everyman. Overall, M Collection copy should sound human; our hotels are places where people should feel free to be themselves, so we speak honestly and openly. Keep in mind the following three key pillars:

 

1. Enlightening & engaging 

The M Collection guest sees the world with wide eyes – they are plucky but not naive. They take joy in the anticipation and revel in the thrill of the unknown. Fuelled by an itch for adventure, they are on the hunt for a deep experience. Our brand responds with ideas; we feed and we stir.

How?

  • Use a variety of lively adjectives
  • Keep it coloquial and chatty
  • Don’t be afraid to start sentences with ‘And’ or ‘But’
  • Use the occasional exclamation point (but don’t over do it!)

 

2. Open & sincere 

Variety is the spice of life. We celebrate difference and invite diversity through our doors. The M Collection acts as platform for a tribe to flourish, united by an appetite for genuine connections. Our brand has an acute awareness of our people and our planet; we welcome and we care.

How?

  • Remember we’re speaking to a wide range of people – leave any personal judgement at the door
  • Avoid alienating certain groups through cultural references (e.g. age, gender, sexuality etc)
  • Highlight that we invite feedback – we give the power back to the customers
  • Be honest and manage expectations to gain trust (e.g. no hotel spa, pool etc)

 

3. Spirited & savvy

Guests light up our rooms and fill our hotels with energy. They research, they travel with confidence and remain flexible to avoid rigid schedules. M Collection rides the wave of evolving technologies and approaches the new with ease. Our brand is as agile as our guests’ lifestyles; we adapt and we soar.

How?

  • Use active, imperative verbs in most sentences
  • Don’t patronise – generally we’re talking to seasoned travellers
  • Insert rhetorical questions as if engaging in conversation
  • Add value and be niche – give them a valuable tip they won’t get from guide books

 

 

EXAMPLES

1. INSPIRING BUT NOT CLICHÉD 

Bad: Our beautiful hotels are for making memories – discover your dream destination.

Good: You may think you know Singapore but let us show you something…

2.  FACTUAL BUT NOT DULL   

Bad: Did you know Singapore has the biggest Yakult bottles in Southeast Asia?

Good: Forget Boat Quay – the locals would never dream of heading there. Your best bet for great food is a hawker centre…

3. CREATIVE BUT NOT OTT 

Bad: Sun-dappled skyscrapers tessellate into an awe-inspiring puzzle of shapes and colours.

Good: If you’re looking for the ultimate Instagram shot, the Band of Doodlers graffiti wall makes the perfect monochrome backdrop.

4. BOLD BUT NOT BRASH 

Bad: We guarantee the best views in the city for a breathtaking sunset you’ll never forget.

Good: You may be too busy exploring the city to spend hours at the hotel, we know, but our bar is a pretty good place to settle down with a cocktail as you plan for the next day.

 

 

DO WORDS:

Design; energy; explore; connect; creative; fresh; bright; vibrant; ideas; dream; conjure up; inspire; curious; open; chill; freedom; attitude; human; tech; personal; modern; diversity; innovation; good; cool; traveller; flexible; contemporary; appetite; community; people; variety; richness; dynamic.

DON’T WORDS:

Discover; tourist; luxury; beautiful; hidden gem; traditional; customer; heritage; budget; fashionable; fine dining; gastronomy; breathtaking; trendy; memories; paradise; client; chic; delicious; libation; visitor; quirky; off the beaten track; rest and relaxation; unique; offerings; eatery.