It only occurred to me earlier today that in one week's time it'll be Bank Holiday Monday, marking the first of two national days off in May.
Now while most people are jumping up and down in excitement and counting down the hours till Friday when they can turn their out-of-office on and skip out of the office, the same can't be said for freelancers.
I used to be one of those people, getting excited about what I'd do with my day off - would I explore some vintage markets, enjoy a lazy lie-in, go out for brunch or see friends? But these days, it's a different story.
The overriding feeling when I found out it was bank holiday next week was 'Oh no! I'll lose money!'. One of the biggest downsides of working for yourself is not getting any holiday pay. People may be surprised at what you can earn if you could fill your entire day with work, but they don't take into account the fact that you can't - or shouldn't - work 365 days of the year. We have to account for the days off that are unpaid so we aren't left penniless every few months.
So freelancers are left with two options when it comes to bank holidays - suck it up, switch off Facebook for a day and ignore all your friends who are either catching up on their favourite boxsets or having a BBQ outside, depending on the weather, and just accept you will have to work. Or, you can take the day off like everyone else and forfeit a day's wages.
Of course, this choice is taken out of your hands somewhat when you have school-age children, because you will obviously now have them to look after. So while you might have once been able to shut yourself away and pretend it's a normal working day, this is not a possibility anymore.
You either have to take unpaid leave (crisis!), work while the chaos erupts around you and your one-year-old bangs on the keyboard while your four-year-old runs around the house naked screaming Moana songs, or you count the hours till you can tuck them in bed and work at night. No drunken afternoons sipping Pimms outside for you - you just have to get your head down and tap away at the computer furiously for a few hours while your friends and relatives are in a blissful bank holiday tipsy fog.
But it isn't all bad. Apparently, nearly five million people registered as self-employed in 2016, and freelancers and business owners account for 16 per cent of the entire UK workforce. So there must be a good reason why.
Well, I can vouch for this. I may have to work bank holidays, or sacrifice eight days (!) of pay a year for the public breaks, But I have the flexibility to work when I want, where I want. It's just I might not want to work this Monday.
Knowing lots of working mothers who really struggle to please their bosses while feeling guilty for not being there at pick-up or rushing to collect a sick child from school while their colleagues tut when they're leaping through the office doors, I know I'm lucky really. I certainly feel the stress when unforeseen circumstances arise and a deadline is looming, but then at least I have the option of working late into the night and still being there for my girls when they're poorly.
Let's face it, working when you've got children is never simple. And it might mean I miss out on family time this weekend or have to cut back on expenses this month, but I wouldn't have it any. other way.
So, everyone who is enjoying a bank holiday break this weekend, I hope you have a fab time off and the sun comes out for you. (No seriously, I do - you deserve it for the times you've been made to feel bad for leaving early or have to rush to a doctor's appointment with your boss breathing down your neck)!
And those of you who are hiding away like me, I feel your pain. But at least we can work in our PJs.
For more information on what work we can do for you this Bank Holiday, take a look at what copywriting services we provide.
Here I am on my grammar high horse again, but I think, as a professional copywriter, I am allowed to have a strong opinion about this subject.
It pains me when I see people and especially businesses use bad grammar in their written work. To me, and hopefully many others, it is poor form, looks unprofessional and even lazy.
I do appreciate not many people have studied English language to the extent I have or are writers by trade, but any company that struggles with writing, punctuation or understanding the correct use of colloquialisms (or whether they should be used at all!) would do well hiring a copywriter to be in charge of their internal and external literature (wink wink, nudge nudge).
Seriously though, if you are trying to advertise to the public, do it right, do it professionally and do it well. Otherwise, you could put off a lot of potential customers without even realising it, simply for the wrong use of an apostrophe!
Our quote this week has been inspired by World Book Day. Despite my daughter insisting on going into school wearing a Moana costume, making it look as though my kids only watch Disney movies and don't read any stories, we have read to our girls since the day they were born.
My four-year-old (the Moana fan) has hundreds of books and never goes to sleep without reading at least two. If she had it her way, she'd read all night long. And my second daughter (whom I dressed up as a star from Oliver Jeffers' How To Catch A Star, much to her humiliation) loves books too and she has only just celebrated her first birthday.
Why am I banging on about this? Because I agree that books are integral to children's education and development. Not only does reading obviously improve literacy and give them the confidence to write well (a difficult task when people so heavily rely on auto-correct these days), but it also increases their knowledge of the world, their understanding of social dynamics and, of course, their imaginations.
So, this quote from Dr Seuss seemed perfect this week.
Open a new book with your kids, teach them real use of the English language, and most importantly, unleash their imaginations.
If you want content on your website but don't feel confident writing it yourself, get in touch with us today by clicking here.
Everyone always assumes that as a writer, I must be a creative person. It's what I'm always told, but I've never really thought it to be true. I can't knit, my craft skills are not great, and I'm a terrible drawer. So I never really associated creativity as one of my interests, let alone my ability.
However, it's taken me 31 years (and 356 days) to realise that I AM creative, and more importantly, I LOVE it. I frustrate my husband no end when I list my hundred things to do in utter panic, but most probably because I prioritise things like creating photobooks, baking extravagant cakes and making scrapbooks full of memories as much as I do sorting out bank accounts, phoning solicitors and doing the laundry. They are all equally important to me.
So with limited time in my life (thanks to my two bubbly kids and a freelance career), it'd make sense to cut the stuff out that isn't important to most people - like making jam, painting a 'pin the tail' picture for my daughter's birthday party and endlessly filling in baby books. But to me, they ARE important. Maybe my life wouldn't change if I didn't do these things, but I would miss out on a lot of enjoyment. As much as they appear on my 'to do lists', they are things I want to do really, much more than folding clothes and cleaning the bathroom.
So I have decided that I should prioritise being creative, even if it does mean I take on a lot more projects. It helps me feel fulfilled and productive, and it makes me proud to see the final result.
Moreover, I think it's valuable as a copywriter to be creative. I can write an engaging introduction that no-one else may have thought of; I can produce descriptions that bring an ordinary scene or product to life; I can look at a content project and see how articles, features, nibs and blogs will all fit together in a way that remains exciting to the reader.
So, in the interest of my career (of course), I will encourage this creative spark and leave the dishes for later. After all, 'the more you use, the more you have'.
If you fancy using a creative copywriter for your business or enterprise, get in touch today.
For my Quote of the Week, I thought I'd go back to a classic remark from Ernest Hemingway.
Sometimes people think they sound more expressive, intelligent or meaningful if they convolute their sentences with lots of words. However, the best way to express yourself is to write simply, so the person reading really connects with your thoughts.
This isn't easy to do - and is the biggest reason why businesses need proofreaders like me - but it is essential in the world of copywriting. If you want your customers and clients to understand what you're selling, don't confuse them with sales patter!
If you need a proofreader to simplify your content or a copywriter to concisely sum up your USP and attract more business, get in touch with me today.
Today is my eldest daughter's birthday, so I thought I'd pick a quote that has summed up many of my experiences since she was born four years ago.
Anyone who has had a baby knows they transform your life forever, but I don't think you ever realise how much your path will chop and change till you become a parent. Nothing is quite the same and your journey will never be as linear and straightforward as it was when you were child-free.
I've changed my career and my direction lots over the years, and I am now, for the second time, coming off maternity leave to venture back into the working world.
But instead of being nervous or fearful, I want to be excited and hopeful.
As Linkin Park says, 'The hardest part of ending is starting again'. Well, I've done that ... twice. So the rest should be straight forward!
If you are interested in hiring a copywriter for your business, find out what we do by clicking here.
I've chosen a profound quote this week, but after a bit of a health scare last Friday, it seems relevant at the moment. Obviously, everyone should appreciate what they have in all areas of life - their health, the people around them, their happiness, their opportunities and so on.
However, this quote is also relevant when it comes to work; you may never be satisfied with what you've achieved and brush past each accolade in a fruitless aim to always be better, or you may not realise how successful you even are.
I know I'm the biggest culprit at always wanting to improve on things, never feeling like I've done as much as I could or well enough, and continuously pushing myself to do more. But coming back to work from maternity leave has shown me how much I did before and how well I balanced the working life and being a full-time mother. It's not bloody easy, but I'd like to think my mum friends and my clients never felt I was lacking in either area - and probably didn't even know I juggled anything else at all. For that, I can finally say I'm proud of myself.
And as I try to do this again (albeit with TWO kids), I hope I can be a bit more forgiving on myself and have a better appreciation of what I'm actually achieving at the time - and not years later.
Maybe we should all give it a go?
If you would like to become one of my clients and have me jot, blog or transform your website, click here.
The first Quote of the Week of the year, and my first since checking out on maternity leave last January, so today's mantra has to be profound.
I hope this is the right quote to do that.
For me, the quote has a lot of significance - returning to work is always a terrifying prospect for someone who has been out of the working world for several months, but perhaps scarier still when you are returning as a person who has changed in the absence.
I am now a mother of two; a professional juggler of duties, tasks and emotions; and a spring that is continually stretched. But I return to work with better organisational skills, a greater perspective, bigger priorities, and a stronger need to do well and make my girls proud.
In many ways, the jobs haven't changed at all and diving back into writing should - and will - come easily to me, having done it for so long. But I hope my daunting return teaches me how much I have changed over the last year, and I hope the 'new me' is not just accepted by past and future clients, but celebrated for the improved skills, efficiency and outlook I have as a working mother.
To find out more about the copywriting services I provide, click here.
Think soggy muslins plastered to your shoulder covered in sick and snot, monochrome-coloured hair from all that dry shampoo, and running after a crying child who is unhappy you won’t let them crawl off in the playground while they put slugs in their mouth.
The maternity leave fantasy exists even less when you have two or more children because there is no coffee shop with furry friends, or organic lunches out or endless strolls through National Trust parks. It’s just days filled with breathlessly chasing scooters whizzing down hills while you push your massive pram, cleaning up wee / juice / leaf sludge as you try to barrier off your baby who is intent on crawling through it, and filtering out one screaming voice while trying to communicate with another through gritted teeth. Maternity leave with multiple children feels endless, trying, tiring and monotonous.
So it is no wonder some women long to go back to work where they can have a hot drink (!), slip off to the toilet without someone climbing on them or demanding you get the milk out of the fridge while you’re mid-flow, and come home to a house that doesn’t look like it’s been hit by a cyclone during the day. Peace and quiet, the occasional chit chat (not about poo) and a lunchtime break feel like dreams sometimes!
For me, it’s quite different. Being self-employed I have the best of both worlds (hurrah!). This means I get to have fun with the kids, pick my eldest up from nursery school, bake with them in the afternoon and kiss their sweet cheeks good night while still exercising my mind and earning cash. Score.
But the reality looks somewhat different – in actual fact, I spend my life doing a crazy juggling act between trying to be a stay-at-home mum, homemaker, cleaner and cook, as well as a professional who can meet her clients’ demands without fail. It really means I try to wear every hat and hope that I can master them all.
So when I think about my maternity leave ending, I do fill with dread sometimes. Not about going back to work – I’m itching to start tapping away at the keyboard, think of great content marketing solutions to people’s businesses and sit peacefully at my computer again. But I’m terrified of having to spin all my plates in the air without letting any of them fall.
I still don’t really have a solution. I managed it remarkably well with one child, but two seems like a game changer. Instead of popping out one extra human being, we seem to have multiplied our jobs as parents by a thousand just by adding a baby into the mix. All I know is that the time is coming for me to return to work. My bank balance has dropped (is non-existent), Christmas is around the corner, and I have THREE birthdays (out of a family of four) within the first five weeks of the new year (not great family planning, it has to be said!).
And not just that, I’m ready for it. I want to earn money, use my brain and build up my client base once more, meet deadlines and feel proud that I've done a good job. So as I prepare to get back in the saddle and kiss goodbye to maternity leave over the next few weeks, I feel excited and nostalgic in equal measure. There have been some super tough times over the last 12 months (labour was no picnic!), but I have made some beautiful memories as well.
I know once I start back at work I’ll miss having the freedom to do whatever I liked with my girls, but I also know that I’ll never be too far away from a snotty muslin or a child crying every time I try to creep out of the room like a ninja to do something totally self-centred like make dinner.
So maybe when you’re a part-time worker and a full-time mum, maternity leave never really ends at all.
If you liked this post and would enjoy funny, interesting blogs on your website, get in touch with Natasha Al-Atassi Copywriting Services today by clicking here.
Another great quote from Steve Jobs, this helps me stay focused when working. The fab thing about freelancing is being able to choose projects that really inspire or interest me, which is how I've found myself specialising in content about travel, food, parenthood, property, health, fashion and fitness over the years.
Writing about topics I love really makes the job easier and the words, somehow, just seem to flow!
If you'd be interested in having me writing on one of the above topics for your business, take a look at my copywriting services here.
Read my thoughts and ideas on the latest search engine updates and copywriting trends that could improve your business marketing plans.