Five Reasons Why…

…I Love Living in Cardiff!

I was born and brought up in Cardiff but when I moved to Switzerland at age 18 I didn’t think I’d be moving back here for a long time, if ever. However, skip ahead eight years and here I am, happily settled in this beautiful capital city! I’m very proud of my home town so I thought I’d list a few reasons why!

  1. (This is perhaps the most important one) I own a house here! I used to live in Bath and then Bristol and both are completely wonderful cities to live in, however, if I ever wanted to actually own my own stack of bricks and mortar I knew I would some day have to move. Now I have my first lovely little house, which I’m incredibly happy in – good job really because it serves as my office too!
  2. Number one brings me rather nicely on to point two, which is that I can afford to really enjoy this city (even as a self-employed person!). When I lived in Bristol I loved the whole buzz of the city, however what with the high cost of living and all, I could seldom afford to partake in it. Cardiff has recently been listed as one of the top cities in the UK for quality of life and the ratio of salary and living costs is great here – there is also so much going on and now I can actually afford to partake in it all!
  3. Again, my previous point leads me very smoothly on to my next: this is a vibrant city with so much happening. There is never a moment when my husband and I can’t think of anything fun to do. There are seasonal festivals in the area I live, there are pop-up cinema nights here and all over the city, I find there is always something interesting going on down the bay, we are lucky enough to have some amazing cultural facilities; beautiful museums; great music venues and theatres; a wonderful national orchestra as well as the WNO and the pubs – all the PUBS!  I could go on and on and on and on…
  4. The people here are so friendly! Having lived elsewhere in the UK and Europe I can honestly say that this is the friendliest place I’ve ever resided. I get a bit shocked when I go elsewhere and find that the person I’m buying my sandwich off at lunch doesn’t return my chatty conversation. I love that I get to know a little (or in some cases a lot!) about everyone I come across throughout my day, it really makes a difference.
  5. It’s my home! Even when I lived away and thought I was going to remain on the other side of the bridge (fool), whenever I drove across it I felt this lovely sensation – a feeling of being instantly more comfortable, of being welcomed back into my homeland (I’m going to burst into song any minute now). I think it’s a feeling of true belonging. I could not be happier that I’m back here for good and that I’ve made it the base of my growing business!

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What is it that you love about South Wales?

 

Working From Home

I have always liked the idea of working from home, and the reality of it is what I hoped it would be, but like any working environment it comes with its own challenges! So I’ve come up with a few, shall we call them, codes of conduct on how I manage to overcome these challenges:

  1. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Anyone who is self-employed and whose office is in their house knows that set working hours don’t really apply any more but I’ve found that if I want the quality of my work to remain at a high level breaks are really important, so I’ve made the rule that I never take my lunch at my desk. Lunch is an opportunity to take a brain break and get some more energy for the rest of the afternoon. This rule does not count for elevensies, elevensies taste better at one’s desk as far as I’m concerned.Lunchtime in the garden
  2. A change is as good as a rest! Spending so much time as my desk can mess with my  mind a little bit, sometimes I dream about sitting at my desk, which is disconcerting. So I make the effort every now and then to go somewhere else. Sometimes that just means the dining room, sometimes it means a nearby cafe, it feels refreshing to be somewhere new and I appreciate my home office more when I get back.Self-employed, working from home
  3. Cats keep you company but also annoy the hell out of you. One change that has been a bit more challenging is being the only person in my office. There’s none of the general chitchat, occasional banter or lunchtime debates with fellow colleagues when you work from home. My remedy to this has been my cats, they are very good company, endlessly hilarious and very snuggly but trying to keep them off my keyboard or generally trying to not let them distract me can be annoying to Nth degree. It’s a double-edged sword, but a really cute and quite furry double-edged sword.

    #catcompany
    I literally took this picture while I was writing this blog.
  4. Make your work space attractive. No matter how much you love your job there will always be some days when going to work is hard, so the nicer your home office is the easier it will be to step in and get to work. Because a large part of my work requires a lot of creativity I decided to make my office a place that appeals to my creative nature, a place that inspires me and that encourages me to do my best work. This includes a sausage-dog-shaped sellotape dispenser – no apologies.Working from home, my home office
  5. Clean space, clean mind! Long gone are the times when the word “empties” represented foolish decisions made the night before, now this word just evokes images of the several tea and coffee cups and a couple of elevensies plates scattered around my desk, making lovely little islands between the sea of sheets and post-it notes. After a while I do find this tends to make for a stressful home office environment so I’m trying to keep this kind of clutter to a complete minimum. At the moment I have two empty cups on my desk – not bad…and a cat.How to work from home

So there are my codes of conduct for working from home: keep your desk clean, make it a creative place to be, don’t take lunch at your desk, move around sometimes and get a cat. Simple!

Biggest Misconception About What Social Media Means for Businesses

I wanted to do a blog post about the biggest misconception about social media for businesses that I come across as a social media marketer and how to combat it in thought and practise.

So here it is:

Twitter is for flogging your business! 

In my opinion this couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media is, as the title implies, for being social and one wouldn’t make any social connections by going up to strangers and telling them all about your work or product and how it would undoubtedly benefit them, even if you’re meeting them at networking events. I think you meet people and make acquaintances, business connections and (eventually) friends by being friendly and interesting and curious to know all about others.

For me, social media and indeed any businesses’ online presence is all to do with giving your company the palpable personality it already has by virtue of being yours (well done you!). Of course clients and customers would get to know that in time when they decide to give you their business, however, social media is a way of displaying this personality from the off and therefore probably improving not only the number of clients and customers but their quality also. If they know more about the way you work from the very beginning of the working relationship they will undoubtedly be a more loyal and longterm client of yours because it was the connections between your two business personalities that led to the fruition of the working relationship.

Of course it’s only polite to inform any prospective clients of any special offers or great business news you have going on, but to talk solely of that will if anything , ensure their disengagement from you on social media.

So my advice would be to not constantly tweet, Facebook, Pinterest, etc links to your business with information about how great it is, or what products are available, but to tweet, Facebook, etc, about things that made you giggle, or appeal to you on a personal level, or things of interest like changes in your industry. Pretend that you’re not typing but just showing a friend something you saw that amused, interested or even (when the occasion calls for it) outraged you. These posts are likely to get far more engagement and engagement by like-minded social media users more likely to turn to your business off the back of your interesting social media usage, and be more likely to be longterm customers because of the like-mindedness that bought you together.

How to be yourself on social media