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The Power of the Testimonial

wheat field

As I’ve embarked on content writing for my website it has struck me that the one section I struggled with the most was the testimonial.  This isn’t because I didn’t have people to ask, I certainly did (as you can see).

However it seems quintessentially British to be a bit shy about asking for a recommendation; even when you know you have done a good job and/or had a good relationship.

We humans tend to be terrible at giving self praise but very happy to do it for others, which is utterly lovely yet a bit of self love and recognition can go a long way.

Reviews and wheat fields

My parents are absolute sticklers for using sites like Tripadvisor to help them gauge whether to grace a restaurant or visit a landmark and plough through the testimonials like Theresa May running through a wheat field #naughty.

If I suggest a new eating place I absolutely know they’ll have done their homework on it, planned their food and won’t let Glenda’s* 2011 bad review go unread… because she didn’t get sweetcorn in the side salad and that’s a cardinal sin.

I tend to use review sites for car garages and Airbnb, because honestly, no one wants to go on holiday where the place you stay ends up being a reinactment of Hostel or a replica of Mordor.

Be nice and be organised

What I’m trying to say that is wherever you go and whoever you meet, you leave an imprint and people will form opinions of you. I feel it’s so important that you treat people how you want to be treated, you never know when you’ll see them again or in my case, ask for a testimonial.

I’ve been bowled over by the words people have used in their testimonials for me and feel a sense of achievement and pride in myself and my work. It’s like a lovely cwtch when the hard work you’ve done is recognised and rewarded.

I think we should all tell each other more when we’re pleased with one another- not just when we’re self promoting.

If I had a magic wand, a la Harry Potter, I would’ve asked former colleagues at the time to do a testimonial and gathered evidence that way, alas, I didn’t. If I have one piece of advice, it’s do that, be organised with yourself as well as your work, it’s just as important.

*Glenda isn’t real, sorry, I like the name.

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Face your fear, and do it anyway

April 24th 2017 will be a date I will refer to for the rest of my life no doubt. Did I get married? Have a baby? Win the lottery? Nope, I started my first day as a freelancer.

I can’t stress upon you enough how much of a big deal this is for me, I have wanted to do this for quite some time and it’s finally more of the right moment than any other moment so far.

What stopped me before was fear, an all encompassing emotion and it had a choke hold on me, I was petrified. The time I first seriously thought about it I had undergone major life changes, a seven year relationship gone, a move from Cardiff back to Neath and my confidence had disappeared.

I considered changing careers entirely and grabbed brochures for University courses with gusto, convinced I needed a radical change. Considering the huge changes I had already undergone, I was glad I didn’t plunge in to something I would regret… go me!

Somewhere in me was this desire to work for myself, explore all options and give myself a chance to use my skills and experience differently. I started writing content for a website and then a job popped up, too good to not apply for, also a convenient ‘get out’ clause for my fear. I went for it and got it. Case closed.

I say case closed but this desire in my gut didn’t go anywhere, it flickered and sparked. Around me I had friends who were freelance and saw their struggles but also their happiness and freedom to explore new projects, relationships and use their time as they wanted to. I was very jealous but pesky fear stopped me.

A really good friend bought me a book ‘Face your fear, and do it anyway’ and I haven’t opened it, I’m sorry Nia, but I was paralysed by fear and thought freelancing was beyond me. She has remained one of my biggest supporters and inspirations, diolch cariad.

The last few years this desire has become stronger and when I took on a maternity cover contract for a job that I knew would elevate my skills and experience, I already had one eye on becoming a freelancer. So I worked really hard, pushed myself and I’m so proud of what I achieved. The finality of the contract was the catalyst I needed to do this.

Some of my closest friends have started their own creative co-working space called ‘The Sustainable Studio’ and I have been on their journey with them so far, but never had the chance to properly work with them and now I do, a couple days of week and I’m ecstatic. Thank you Julia and Sarah, you’re amazing.

So here I am, finalising content for my website with George the cat leaning on me, in a house that I share with a man who is the best person I have ever met. He loves me just as I am, encourages and supports me and I couldn’t be happier, still fearful but with the passion and determination to succeed.