April has been a month in which we saw numerous articles about how to work from home, and I don’t think we actually need any more. As someone who does this all the time, I probably count as an expert but I’m not going to add to the noise.
I will say this, though. The notion that we all work in pyjamas is a myth. However, in the interest of thrift and sustainability, I do wear old clothes. (After all, it has just been Fashion Revolution Week.) In my hierarchy of clothing items, my desk jeans are above my gardening jeans and below my going-to-the-local-shops jeans.
So the only tips I am going to share are these about video calls from my former colleague James Heywood:
1. Face the light 2. Look into the camera some of the time 3. Stick a post-it-note over the view of yourself.
I particularly liked number 3.
Achievements of the month
I was happy to receive a LinkedIn recommendation from a client which said: “Penny was clear, precise and extremely helpful and I would highly recommend her skills and services to any business owner wanting to improve their website, content or professional documentation.”
I wrote a LinkedIn article for Autism Awareness Week, highlighting the strengths that autistic people can bring to their work. In my case, I enjoy projects that need a methodical approach and attention to detail. In fact, I find them fun.
And yes, I think we are all spending more time than usual on LinkedIn at the moment.
Word of the month
It’s got to be “pivoting”.
While other people were talking about box sets, the freelance community was discussing how to cope in a world with less client work than usual. “Work ON the business” we are all telling each other.
Working ON your business rather than IN your business is one of those small-business mantras we are all familiar with. It’s what we always tell ourselves we should be doing, and then don’t, because the clients come first. So now is a chance to take stock of our business and work on marketing or business development. I think a lot of us are rewriting our websites.
That, I hope, is where I come in.
Working on the business is one way of managing the new situation. The other is “pivoting” – a word I’ve heard a lot. It’s about temporarily repositioning your business by identifying new services and different clients.
I’m doing it myself. Thanks to some advice from an Oxlep business adviser, I’m now focusing on website reviews for small businesses. With my experience in web publishing, I can identify issues around messaging or usability that someone who’s written their own web content won’t be aware of. As well as making life difficult for their website users (and potential clients) it often means they don’t come across as professionally as they’d like. It’s very satisfying finding quick wins that will result in big improvements.
But the most imaginative example of pivoting that I’ve seen is by photographer Mel Cunningham (who took the photo of me that’s on this website). She has reinvented herself as a “virtual image guru”. Which means helping people who prefer to stick a post-it-note over the view of themselves on Zoom calls.
In other news
Nobody was much in the mood for April Fools this year, but I did spot a few gentle jokes.
I liked this one from a member of the Self-Isolating Bird Club (set up on Facebook by Chris Packham, and a welcome antidote to the current doom and gloom). “Found this in my moth trap this morning. Any clues?” they asked.
And Oxfordshire Libraries reported that staff had recently attended a levitation workshop “which they agree has made the everyday task of shelving much simpler and safer”.
Also on 1st April, but not a joke (although it was entertaining), Berrycroft Hub in Ashbury posted a public service announcement from their resident jackdaw, Harry.
I’m glad to report, too, that Harry the jackdaw has his own Twitter account.