How I'm expanding my business
(and how moving to Substack fits in with that)
At the beginning of this month I transferred my newsletter from Flodesk to Substack. It’s a move I’m very excited about.
I’m excited about all of the things that I’m able to offer: the ability to leave comments on posts, to have conversations with other freelancers and small business owners in discussion posts, the joy of discovering all the amazing writing that is happening on Substack.
Moving to Substack is about more for me than merely changing a newsletter service (as I explained in this blogpost, Substack really isn’t a newsletter service provider like Mailchimp, Flodesk and others).
What may seem at first sight as a shift in how I market my business, is really an expansion of my business as a whole. Today I want to share with you why that expansion feels so good, and offer some strategies and questions that you might ask yourself when you’re considering new ventures.
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My core business is supporting small business owners to create a slower, gentler and more profitable business. It is to help them see that the hustle is by no means the only way to run a business. It is to give them the support and confidence to create a business that fits around their life, no matter what season it is in, and that they can have a fulfilling, profitable business on their own terms.
Up until now, I’ve offered this support through 1:1 mentoring and the two guides for business owners I created last year (on social media and boundaries). In the coming year, I’m planning a programme on slow, gentle and profitable marketing, as well as at least one online workshop.
In my mind, these offerings were clearly delineated from the marketing that supported them. Even though one of the reasons why I love writing is that it allows me to share strategies and stories around slow, gentle and profitable business, I never saw writing as part of my business. It was a marketing strategy.
Moving my newsletter to Substack changes that for me. Now, I’m making writing an inherent part of my business. Yes, as a newsletter Female Owned is also part of my marketing strategy. But primarily—especially once I’ll be launching some paid subscriber offers in early Spring—writing, offering written support and strategies to small business owners and freelancers like you, is now as much part of my business as 1:1 mentoring.
As an aside: the newsletter you are reading right now will always be free. It is very important to me to offer small business support at various levels: from free resources like this bi-monthly newsletter to paid support through 1:1 mentoring. Introducing paid subscriptions will expand on the free newsletter, and allow small business owners to get a little more support from me at less than the cost of a cup of coffee and a slice of cake a month.
Values, vision and adding new things
I tend to be very careful about adding new things to my business. I have a clear vision for my business, and one of the key parts of that is that it needs to be slow, gentle and profitable—and the opposite of cluttered, pressured and overwhelming.
Anything new that I add to my business needs to fit in with my vision for my business and my values.
Writing, and especially the kind of writing that I’ll be doing here on Substack, is evergreen. It’s not ephemeral, or time-sensitive. It doesn’t require me, or you, to be ‘on’ all the time.
It allows us to sit, to ponder, to read, to think, to connect—rather than to jump from post to post, snippet to snippet.
Another important value for me is community. Community is the reason why I offer a referral discount to clients, why I donate part of my profit to the Blurt foundation (who do amazing work around depression) and why collaborating with others has become an important part of how new people discover my work.
Anything new that I add to my business needs to fit in with my vision and values for the business, without adding clutter.
Substack allows me to go even deeper into fostering this community, without needing an online space like a Facebook group or shared Slack (which don’t appeal to me). I’m excited for you to leave comments on posts when they strike you, and later this month I’ll be posting the first dedicated discussion post where we can share ideas and inspiration.
Especially since community is so important to me, I love how Substack encourages publications to grow through its recommendation feature. In my side-project A Houseplant Journal I’ve seen firsthand what a huge difference recommendations make to subscriptions. Recommendations are a great way in which I, too, discover new authors to follow and connect with.
It all feels very organic.
In making writing a more inherent part of my business, I’m doing more of what comes easy to me. If you’ve read or heard anything about my ideas about marketing, it’s that you don’t need to do the things that feel hard, overwhelming or gross to you.
Marketing your business doesn’t have to be a whole other job. You can market your business in a way that fits in with you, with your values, strengths and life. Marketing can even (dare I say it?) feel good.
(Interested in diving deeper into my strategies around marketing? Check out these posts for lots more.)
Writing as part of my business
I love writing, and I love creating resources. I’m also good at it. 15+ years in higher education have given me a lot of skills and knowledge at presenting information. I love creating worksheets and workshops, guides and other resources.
Because writing will be a more inherent part of my business, I also want to be making money with it. This feels huge (and scary) to write. I’ve always loved writing—from the moment I filled blank notebooks with wavy lines and scribbles before I even learned to write. I vividly remember running up the stairs after school to share my excitement about learning the word ‘tree’ with my mum.
Words are my thing.
And while I believe that there is a place in my business for free resources, I want to value my own writing more by offering paid resources in the early spring. I’ll explain more about it at that time, but moving my newsletter to Substack is a way for me to take myself more seriously as an author, to offer more written support to you and other small business owners + freelancers, and to do more of what I love within the larger framework of my business.
If you’re thinking about adding something new or different to your business or freelance portfolio, these questions can help you clarify what you’d like to do and why. Take a moment this week to journal or think about them:
What is your core business/the umbrella under which all of your business happens? This can be a really large umbrella (if you’re multi-passionate) or a smaller one.
What are your strengths? What comes easy to you?
Where do you want to develop?
What are your values?
What can you add or take out of your current business? What no longer serves you, and what are you excited about trying out?
a book | I deeply loved Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet and was very excited for her novel novel The Marriage Portrait. It absolutely didn’t disappoint: it’s the kind of novel that has me in awe about what some people can do with words (affiliate link).
a workshop | I took two of Sasha’s (Frank + Feel) journalling workshops earlier in the year and loved them. My friend Kiki is hosting Sasha in the Heiter Society for another workshop on November 25th, and I can’t wait to attend (get your ticket here).
a question | lately I’ve been asking myself the question “What is important?” whenever thoughts about the things I could (should?) be doing pop into my mind. The answers are always surprisingly clear: writing, yoga, eating, connecting.
an interview | I loved reading the answers that Anna Considine gave on how she’s creating a slow, gentle and profitable business. If you’re curious how other freelancers and small business owners run a business without the hustle, I’d recommend this read.
What’s on your favourites list this week? What’s made you happy, what are you enjoying?
We can go further together. One-off focus-and-follow-through sessions for short-term commitment and accountability, or four months of mentoring to make sustainable changes in your business.
Astrid has an uncanny ability to simplify muddled messes and tease out practical solutions. (Vanessa Simpson, photographer)
I love working with clients who crave a slow, gentle and profitable business. In the past, clients have used their sessions with me to:
make a plan for the next steps in their business;
review their marketing strategy;
gain focus on the boundaries they need to set;
redefine how they run their business;
implement new structures and routines;
move their business away from social media;
build time for rest and downtime into their business days.
Focus-and-follow through sessions: £150 | €170
Four months of 1:1 mentoring support: £705 | €800 (payment plans available)
Find all the latest details on my website. I look forward to supporting you as you create a slow, gentle and profitable business.
Are you considering a change in your business or freelance portfolio? How do you decide what to add or what to take out? I’d love to know your experiences with this—leave a comment and join the conversation.