Watch your tone!

Finding your brand voice requires more effort than you think. In my first post discussing tone of voice (TOV), I pointed out how some businesses tend to spend all their energy on perfecting their image and not spare a thought for their voice.

For those of you who missed the intro, you can catch up here 👉#TONEOFVOICE

I understand that not everyone is good with words. I see this everyday, everywhere I go. Both offline and online. That is why a TOV guideline will come in handy for your team. Different people, different manners, different ways of communicating. However, your brand must be consistent on all fronts.

The way your brand logo, colours, and fonts are of significance in recognising your name, so are the words you use and most importantly, how you use them.

Think of your voice as your personality. Your tone reflects that personality and sometimes changes depending on the context.

Source: CoSechedule

Both your tone and voice are about expression. An expression of your company’s values. Here, we’re looking at how and what you write rather than following writing rules per se. Mind you, grammar is just as important. I shudder every time I see desert on a restaurant menu.

Quick tip: revise everything before publishing a message or sending material for printing. Have someone else take a look. A fresh pair of eyes can save the day.

Here’s an example of what you might think is a simple greeting. When you’re representing your brand, which one would you go for?

Or, think about this example below:

A. “Thank you for reaching out.”

B. “Hey, thanks for reaching out 🙂”

Phrase A reads more serious than phrase B. The latter reads more easygoing and fun. Different word choice and use of emojis have set a different tone to the same phrase.

Take a look at these Brand Voice Examples:

Starbucks
Mailchimp
Old Spice

Quick tips

  1. Be straightforward and avoid jargon.
  2. Use the active voice and write positively.
  3. The tone of voice needs to reflect your business objective.
  4. If in doubt, read aloud. Is it too humorous? Too formal? Too sassy?
  5. Write all this down & create a guideline.

Why does it matter?

Your tone of voice is what sets you apart from the rest. It’s what makes you different, unique and relatable. It helps in creating an emotional connection with your customers. This familiarity you create is most likely to lead to loyalty and trust.

That’s why having a brand tone of voice matters.

Need help? Let’s talk.

Amanda x

What #resolution?

“What’s your New Year’s resolution?” – It’s one of the questions I strongly dislike being asked on New Year’s Eve. I usually and politely retort with, “Why wait for the beginning of a new year to get something done?”

I believe that if the time has come for a necessary change, there’s no need to procrastinate. Honestly, there is no better time like the present. Don’t sit and wait around for the beginning of a new year to set goals.

We’re caught up in all the hype (and pressure)  for a limited period of time to stick to our resolutions, only to forget about them the very next day. That’s why the majority of resolutions fail by the end of the month.

Goals and targets shouldn’t be set on a whim. If you do have an objective and would like to make a change in your life, start working towards that goal as from this second. 

That is how I got into entrepreneurship. And it’s been two years already since I left my salaried job. Even if the road ahead is not well-paved, it’s worth to give your dreams a try and make them happen. True, it’s not always possible to mould each dream into reality. But it’s always worth a try, no? How would you know whether it will work or not if you kill the dream from its infancy? 

Till next time,                                                                                                           

Amanda x

 

#inthespotlight @Elizabeth Cortis

#inthespotlight - amandalia

My passion for writing led me to Elizabeth earlier this year. I was writing an article for the Times of Malta last March and Elizabeth helped me shed light on being a mumpreneur.

Mumpreneur: the modern superhero

After our virtual chatting, we then had the pleasure to meet up at Nakita‘s book launch event. In case you missed her interview, click here!

Elizabeth is one of the most interesting persons I have met thus far. She is positive, driven, and extremely focused. Our conversation flowed easily over a cappuccino in a quaint coffee shop in the heart of Rabat. It was a nice way to start the day; especially on a Monday morning.

I started off with what would seem like a basic question.

What does proofreading involve?

When I proofread, I’m improving what can be improved and eliminating any errors. It’s the perfect version of your own work. I like to refer to it as the four-eye principle; having someone else look at your work with fresh eyes.

Technically speaking, proofreading takes place during the final phase and involves checking the written work for typing errors, missed words, punctuation marks etc.

I find that most people confuse proofreading with copyediting. The latter involves sentence structure. Say you’re writing your dissertation and the ideas are still unclear or not flowing. Sometimes, clients mean they need both. Nowadays, proofreading is a requirement and an essential part of the academic career.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset     Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

What is unique about your business?

I set myself apart from others who work on proofreading as part-timers and have an unrelated full-time job. Don’t get me wrong, they have my respect! But, this is my passion and my focus 24/7.

I approach it as a professional. That is, I’m fully aware of the responsibilities involved. For most students, thesis-writing can be a stressful moment and I acknowledge and respect that – that is why I meet deadlines, read guidelines and work to the best of my ability.

My 11 years of experience provides me with not just knowledge but also an understanding of how things are done. For example, I know what universities expect and can see things from a much broader perspective than the client does.

 

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I have to balance my two roles; a mother and a business owner. I have two little kids who are still in their formative years and who need a lot of my time. On the other hand, I’m a business owner; not just a proofreader or book editor. So, I have to run and further develop my business as well.

Typically, I work around my kids’ schedule. I’m also lucky to have the full support of my family, especially my husband. So, if I have to put in more effort or schedule meetings, they back me up every time. I believe that the role of a mumpreneur is managing your business as well as your family without denying yourself anything. For instance, you need the time for yourself because it’s important not to experience a burnout.

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When did you decide to take the leap? Was it something you have always intended for yourself?

Running my own business has always been my dream. I’m an ambitious person and always try to think of ways to develop and grow my business further. I spent 10 years of my life teaching English; which I loved. But I wanted more. It was a huge leap. I remember my friends questioning my sanity.

Quitting a safe job was not easy but I don’t regret it because I’m doing something I’ve always wished to do. And that is, spending quality time with my children. Up until they were three years old, I still worked but less intensely because they were my sole focus. I don’t believe a mother should forget about her aspirations just because she becomes a mother. The will to work, aspire and improve are all great skills to pass on to your kids. They see you as alive, driven and passionate about your work. We have our crazy days, but we make it work.

 

What is your biggest failure? Your biggest success?

What is a failure anyway? I am a very positive person. I don’t acknowledge failures; they’re small setbacks. It’s all about how you look at it. I see it as learning something new about your skills or about your limits. You either going to give it another go and be more prepared or decide that it’s not something that you would like to pursue. Either way, you have grown. Self-growth and improvement mean everything to me.

I believe that small everyday successes are still successes. Getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that are challenging drives me onwards. Another one of my biggest successes is seeing my kids grow, and not just physically. Looking back, I feel extremely satisfied that I managed to give them my all.

 

What advice would you give female entrepreneurs?

Find time for yourself and set small goals. Don’t set big targets and overstress yourself. I try to take things one step at a time to stay motivated with short-term goals. Try creating a personal plan and keep in mind that not everything will go as planned either. Don’t close up shop just because you’re having one bad day. Be kind to yourself, be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself.

That is when I realised how important it is to be part of a support network. If you’re in need of help, don’t et your pride get in the way. Know your limitations and accept the help you’re being offered.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. You don’t have to be an expert in every area. Outsourcing can save you time because trying to do everything on your own is a struggle.

Join the Group: Malta Mumpreneurs Network

 

Three (3) tools you would recommend to anyone starting their own business?

Google Keep – for your to-do lists. Or, more likely in my case, the I WILL DO list.

Self- Motivation techniques – I believe in these techniques. E.g. when I’m tired, I try and work five minutes more; just a step further to improve self-discipline.

Take mental breaks – You need your off days. When I don’t have tight deadlines, I take pleasure in reading and listening to motivational business speakers.

Oh, and coffee! Haha!

Quick questions 🙂

Tea or coffee?

Tea to relax, Coffee to work

Books or movies?

Books

Time travel or teleportation?

Teleportation I’m a very realistic person – li I just leave and visit different countries/places. I love travelling.

Winter or Summer? 

Winter

Adventurous or Cautious?

Adventurous; I love doing things out of my comfort zone.

 

Go follow!

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🌐 www.proofreadingmalta.com

#inthespotlight @themamamanual

#inthespotlight - amandalia.com

There are so many talented people out there. So, this year, I figured, why not get to know some of them a little bit better?

My 2018 #inthespotlight monthly interview series will kick off with none other than  the inspiring Nakita Attard Vassallo at @themamamanual.

I’ve been following @themamamanual on Instagram for quite a while now and I have to say, I’m impressed. She even has a debut book coming out this Summer!

 Nakita, I would love to know more about @themamamanual. How did all this start?

It all started with a book! I’ve been dreaming of writing my own ever since I was a wee girl with a sizeable home library of my own.  It’s not the first time I’ve picked up a pen or a laptop and poured my heart out, but I never really put my finger on what I wanted to write.

One night two years back I could not sleep with excitement.  It had finally hit me!  My book would be about time management for busy mamas, and how to create time for the things you love, but most importantly, for yourself.

When the book’s initial draft was ready, I felt I had so much more valuable information to share, and I had to take it a step further.  I was very keen to connect with and help like-minded mamas manage their time better and prioritise self-care, and a blog would be the perfect way to do it.  The name ‘the Mama Manual’ was born after long hours brainstorming.  I wanted something catchy and original – and it felt right!

Care to tell us more about the woman behind @themamamanual?

I am a multifaceted woman 🙂  I’m a mama, wife and a homemaker around the clock.  My two adorable kids, Yanik –  12, and Nina – 3, keep me happily busy.  I’m married to the love of my life and best friend, Neil.  I’m also a working mum, and I’ve worked hard to build a career for myself.

By night, I am a writer and a blogger, and I run ‘the Mama Manual’ brand with a passion. Time management and organisation skills are my forte; I could spend hours happily decluttering and organising a space, or planning busy days to perfection! Food (not only eating it – but also cooking it!), travel, reading, and slow days at home or in beautiful surroundings with my family and friends are things I enjoy doing and make time for on a regular basis.

From where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is all around me!  I never in a million years expected such a phenomenal response from ‘the Mama Manual’ social media pages.  The amazing women I connect with everyday are my sole inspiration and basis for doing what I do.

Being both an entrepreneur and a mother doesn’t come without its challenges. How do you manage everything?

You know how they say ‘do what you love and you will never work another day in your life? That is exactly how I feel about the work I do with ‘the Mama Manual’ brand.  I literally crave working on the book, the blog, and social media every evening – so it’s easy to get started – but challenging to stop might I add!

Of course, effective time management is the secret to being able to make time for my work.  Planning, being organized and pre-empting are essential tools to have.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to having our meals all planned out for the week, as well as cooking wholesome but very quick meals so as not waste precious time.

 

themamamanual-byamandalia
I know there are many women out there who would love to take the leap. What advice would you give someone just starting out?

If you have not yet had the courage to do so, do not feel like you have to go all in or nothing.  You can very well start off slow.  If you are a working mum, keep your job and side hustle.  A mere hour a day is better than no time at all! You can always decide to dedicate more time as things pick up, or go full-time when you feel confident that what you are doing is what you want to do and is paying the bills.

Whatever you do – be patient!  It’s easy to look at successful people and think that everything ‘just happened’ for them.  Being successful takes a lot of work, dedication, time and perseverance.

Where can we get your debut book? I know I want to read it and I’m definitely not the only one.

the Mama Manual – How busy mums get organised will be available for sale on my website: 🌐  www.themamamanual.com, as of the end of the month!

Should you wish to receive an email notifying you that the book is for sale, please let me know on nakita@themamamanual.com.

Go follow!

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#meetingswithyourself

byamandalia

Every day is scheduled, planned, structured. I actually write a to do list first thing when I wake up; even before I take the first sip of tea. A daily to do list, a weekly to do list, a monthly to do list. You get the idea. My calendar is brimful of deadlines and meetings. And time seems to simply fly by. It’s Tuesday. I blink and it’s Friday again. I blink and it’s July already.

Yesterday, I decided to set a meeting with myself. It felt weird to say the least. I spend so much time with other people, that being alone in a public space felt off. At first.

But now, I am happily sipping my coconut cappuccino while doing my favourite thing – writing. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I do write. It’s very much like:

amandalia

I know for a fact that later is synonymous with never. I’ve been there a couple of times. And all the planning and scheduling go against and sometimes take over my spontaneous side. So, without giving in completely to my organised self, I decided to spend time with myself.

No matter what it is that you do in life; student, full-time employed, mumpreneur, freelancer, stay-at-home parent, you should seriously start thinking about doing this. Spending more time alone can be beneficial. It actually helps with refocusing, improving your concentration and even getting to know yourself better. So be it at home, in a cafeteria, out for a walk or at the beach, it’s good to find the time to disconnect and think.

Is this something you already do? I would love to hear your thoughts 💙

Amanda x

 

#toneofvoice #brandvoice

Delivering training sessions has been an amazing experience. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad terrified the first time round. But, it is true that when you know your subject well enough, there’s really nothing to be afraid of.

I have to say, I learned a lot from the trainees as well. It was an eye-opener. On a daily basis, I’m immersed in writing and managing social media. So most of the things, I take for granted. Like, for example, a brand having its own tone of voice.

When I first introduced the concept in most of these sessions, I saw a lot of blank faces staring back at me. What is tone of voice (TOV) and why does it matter?

toneofvoice-byamandalia

What is TOV? It’s what you say. And most importantly, how you say it. So it’s not just about the words you choose but even their order, the rhythm and pace.

It’s the character, personality and values of your brand expressed in words; both written and spoken. It’s about how your message will come across; reflecting your brand. And this is what sets you apart from everyone else.

Why does TOV matter? Mainly because it gives your brand character and identity. Having a consistent tone and voice makes your brand familiar, more trustworthy and more credible.

Here’s an example of a TOV guideline.

TOV

 

How your brand looks design-wise is important.  However, how it sounds is just as important. Plus, consistency, across all platforms, is key. It shows that your message is coming from a single source.

How to get started? I will dedicate another post on this 🙂

Amanda x

#goingfreelance #1yearlater

@byamandalia

It has been a year. The 16th of December marks the day I left my 9 to 5 job (it was more like 10am to 6pm) to start afresh. How time flies! And honestly, looking back, I wonder why I didn’t take the leap before that.

It was a year of firsts. The first time I had my own clients, the first time I gave out training sessions on digital marketing, the first time I truly challenged myself to reach new heights. Forget about the New Year‘s resolution. If you want a change in your life, do it. Don’t wait around for another year to start; that’s a waste of time. And time is something you will not get back because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

So, here’s a little insight. Working as a freelancer is not all glitter and might I add, is not for everyone. It’s not a shortcut like some people seem to think. It’s more of a long and bumpy ride. After all, you’re starting from scratch. And, on your own. The first month being the toughest because your income will suffer. But, and that is a big BUT, I have to say that if you put your mind to it, it will get better.

It’s challenging because every day is just not the same. I see this as a plus. However, some people are scared by this; about not having a Monday to Friday routine. But that’s just it. There is no Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 routine. Because this way, you can meet up for a coffee on a Monday morning after working on a Sunday afternoon.  It’s more about learning to find your pace. And, more importantly, managing your time wisely.

Until next year!

Amanda x

 

 

#mindfulness #meditation

10. Mindfulness

We are rushing through life. Rushing through lunch, rushing to get the kids to school, rushing to get to work on time, rushing to the grocery store, rushing to get dressed. Rush, rush, rush.

And we sometimes forget about how it feels to truly live and be in the moment. Being in the here and now, aware and conscious of the present, your thoughts, your feelings, the people around you.

Take a minute. If I say ‘Meditation’, what is the next word that comes to mind?

The first time I thought about it, I actually laughed it off and dismissed the idea altogether. But then, I read an article on Flow. Journalist Irene Ras stepped away from her busy life to go on a silent retreat. 3 days of absolute silence in a Dominican Monastery.

Imagine that. No talking, no music, no Internet connection, nothing. Just you, your thoughts, and perhaps a pen and paper to jot them down.

How would you manage 72 Hours of Silence? Would you be afraid to be alone with your thoughts?

This had me thinking. So, I looked up Meditation. As it turns out, it is quite simple and straightforward. Helpful, even. If you’re a busy body, you can still make it happen: just  5 minutes a day.

Long term Pros: Improve your mindfulness, Improve your concentration, get to know yourself better, reduce stress and anxiety and improve your sleep.

Given that I had no idea where to start or what to do, I found an app. 5 minutes of calm for 7 days.

calm

Truth be told, the first time I tried it, I ended up in a deep, deep sleep. On the second day, I was prepared to take it a little more seriously.

Ultimately, it helped me control my breathing and hold my concentration. So with practice, you will probably be better able to handle a stressful day. Or when you’re trying to focus on a particular task, you will find it easier to shut out the noise and jumbled thoughts that try to get through and concentrate on the one thing you need to focus on the most.

Find a quiet place, sit comfortably and concentrate on your breathing. Acknowledge all the distractions and thoughts, and let them go. It may sound silly but it helps boost your concentration in the long run!

Amanda x

 

#GoodLeadership

Blog #7

Last week my friend and I were running some errands for her upcoming wedding. And at some point, we found ourselves talking about leadership (totally off wedding topic, I know!)  She said something that made me wonder for days and even inspired me to write this post. We were discussing how we see ourselves (as leaders or followers), when she looked at me and said, “No, you’re definitely a leader; not a follower.”

The one thing that kept me from stopping short when she said that was the fact that we were walking in the middle of a busy street and someone would have definitely run me over.

Why was it a big deal, you might ask. Well, you see, I was not born a leader; far from it.

Back in primary school, I remember a particular year where our classroom was divided into groups and each group had what we called a prefect. I never volunteered for that. For me, it meant stepping outside of my comfort zone and taking action when all I wanted was to be treated the same as my friends; no more, no less. At that time, for me, being a follower meant being free of unnecessary responsibilities and it was easier to follow orders.

Until one day, our teacher put me in charge of the group. I was shy and I even had to make an effort to be heard because my voice was so soft. I didn’t quite understand why our teacher would handpick me at the time. I honestly felt bad about it and even objected a couple of times. But now, years later, I understand that she wanted me to go through that experience for a reason.

And I didn’t give it much thought before my friend pointed it out. It also made me wonder if there was a particular point in time where the change happened. I was so used to seeing myself as shy even during my time at University. I didn’t speak unless spoken to, I preferred sticking my nose in a book rather than start a conversation with someone I didn’t quite know and did all the backend work just so I wouldn’t talk in front of the whole class during a presentation. I was that girl.

GreatLeader

But work, colleagues, friends and life help you grow.  Now, taking the lead comes naturally. I voice my opinions, take action when the rest hesitate and am prepared to go the extra mile. Being a leader comes with great responsibilities because you have to be the one who paves the way, be resilient, set a good example, know how to listen, inspire, give credit where due, respect the team, communicate effectively and ask not order.

Despite feeling the need to lead, in some cases it has been required of me to be a follower. And being a follower is not the same thing I did when I was a child. That’s being passive. After all, we are all followers in some aspect of our lives. And that can actually help us become good leaders; by being good followers.

So it’s not just about being a leader, is it? It’s about being a good leader. Be the one who inspires others not the person who scares them off. Be transparent, truthful and set an example for the rest of the team. Be the kind of leader that you would follow.

It is true that some leaders are born. But I believe that leaders are made. Live, experience, observe and listen.

Amanda x