Five things I must get round to blogging about…

I spend more time blogging for other people than I do for myself. And after I’ve turned out four or five business posts in a day I just don’t feel like writing my own. I feel like stretching out on the sofa with a gin.

But I always have a list of topics that I plan to blog about when I have the time or inclination. I carry a notebook around with me every day. In fact, I keep a separate notebook for each client as well as a personal one – hence I tend to tout a leather satchel or an unfeasibly large handbag around most of the time. You never know when you might see or hear something that would make an interesting post and, with my memory, jotting it down immediately in the appropriate notebook is essential.

My personal blog topics are not generally business focused, although I suppose some of them ought to be, given my profession. No, my posts are mostly shallow discourses on the minutiae of daily life, things that either amuse or depress me, and posts that could loosely be put in the revoltingly-named category of ‘thought pieces’.

The top five on my current list are:

  • A rant about the Rimmel mascara that promised to gradually tint my eyelashes  over time. It didn’t.
  • Procrastination and how to get over it. Ironically.
  • Query: Why doesn’t M&S provide a wider range of pant styles for their pretty matching sets? A plea.
  • Unnecessary domestic packaging.  Bedding and shirts that have a cardboard stiffener (why?), Canon Printing ink cartridges supplied in weapons-grade plastic boxes, to name just two.
  • The joy that is the Edinburgh Festival

Strangely, now I’ve named them I no longer feel the need to write the actual posts.

Except perhaps for the Edinburgh Festival, which is bound to offer some interesting experiences over the three days I’ll be there. Just the pleasure of being back in the city of Edinburgh is enough to spawn a few posts.  Don’t wait up.

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Looking for an easy way to bill clients?

My accountant recently introduced me to a better way of taking payment from my clients, whether on a retainer or for one-off work – or indeed any combination thereof. It’s an online system called GoCardless which takes very little effort to set up and puts you firmly in control of payments.

Put simply, after adding your own business and bank details, you define the content of your retainers according to the regular work you do for a client – it might be three blogs each week and a monthly feature, for example, and you add it as a plan.  You can assign this plan to as many or as few clients as necessary or set up a  tailored plan for each client if you cover a varied range of work. At this stage you also set the automatic collection date, building in around five days from notice of collection to the cash arriving into your account.

The next step is to input your client’s details. You need this to enable the system to send them an automatic request for permission to collect money via GoCardless. Once your client has accepted the request, your payments will be taken automatically on the date(s) chosen until no longer required.

One-off payments follow a similar process, except that there is no automatic request for subsequent payments. In effect, you are creating a direct debit, so you can specify how many collections should take place, at what intervals, and the end date, if appropriate. You can also create invoices as required.

All you will pay is a monthly fee of no more than £2 per payment. I highly recommend the system. It’s efficient and it saves time each month, and all the payments are recorded and stored digitally.

As someone who leaves invoicing to the last minute (just like waiting until the fuel tank is down to the vapours) is that it removes the need to spend time manually billing multiple clients each month. Result? More time for writing or marketing your business.