Should you offer a subscription service?

I can’t lie – I am quite partial to a subscription service because I love anything that makes my life easier. No more panicking when I realise I’m nearly out of dog food; it lands on my doorstep every six weeks – result!

But it’s not just physical products that we get through subscription services; we now consume everything from television to eating plans… Even access to online communities is now available via subscription.

According to Zuora, the new consumer trend is leaning towards having access to something and it is a thriving and lucrative market. “There has been a substantial increase in overall number of global subscribers from just five years ago, and we expect the Subscription Economy will continue to grow,” said Tien Tzuo, CEO and Founder of Zuora.

So, is it worth you setting up a subscription service?

From a monetary point of view, the simple answer is yes! The UK spends £552m a year on subscription services. Increased 50.2 per cent year on year during April – the height of lockdown, according to Small Business UK, so there is no doubt that subscription services can be a fantastic way to earn a regular income.

A few years ago, Claire Gillies started running a subscription service as part of her business Delicious and Real, providing weekly meal plans. Claire said, ‘once the website is up and running, it is relatively easy to run; all payments are automatically dealt with and I don’t need to worry about those.  Plus, it has the ability to grow without a massive increase in workload, which is fantastic.’

The payment system is so integral to the business model it is essential to look into a programme that’s easy to implement. Websites such as Profit Well have details of different options.

But of course, it’s not all plain sailing. ‘It can feel very personal when people unsubscribe,’ Claire tells me. ‘And because my business has a relatively low price point, it makes advertising tricky as you need to spend the equivalent of a fair few subscribers.’ 

Additionally, you need to keep updating your services or products so that your subscribers continue to receive value for money.

Ultimately you need to ask yourself – is there a need that your product or service provides a solution for? Does it lend itself to a subscription model?

Claire’s best advice is, ‘think carefully about your market – do your research: what do they really want. Make sure you pick your target market wisely. Although my service works for many people, I feel my main audience are people like me (busy mums!), so I need to target my posts towards them. Research similar services and set your price appropriately.’

Like with any business venture, you need to research, see where your business idea will sit in the market and make sure you can add value regularly for your subscribers. Value can be in the form of fresh, membership specific content, resources or incentives, but if you aren’t adding new and engaging material, subscribers will go elsewhere.

‘Get social media savvy,’ Claire advises. ‘It really is your best friend! Try and vary your posts: lives, videos, reels, photos (including ones of you – people like to see the face behind the brand!) Build a community and try and get people talking.’ Claire admits that it can be ‘easier said than done,’ but as with any business type, it has become an essential and relatively inexpensive way to reach your audience.

Although adopting a subscription service can help reduce customer turnover and offer some security with regular payments, it can encourage churn if not handled well. Look after your customers and get suitable systems in place before you dive into a subscription-based business model.

Thank you Claire Gillies from Delicious & Real for giving us her thoughts on running a subscription service. Visit her website, Instagram or Facebook page to find about more about the amazing services Claire offers.

Post-Lockdown: Information you must share

With lockdown (in the UK at least) slowly lifting, now is a great time to check in with your customers, clients and audience. Even if nothing is changing to the way you operate, let them know this. With so much change happening in the world, take this opportunity to reconnect with your audience and let them know when and how you are operating.

This will vary from business to business as different industries have various dates they are allowed to open from, so be specific to your workplace and communicate as fully as possible what customers can expect when they come to your place of business.

The more information customers have, the more confident they will feel, so even if nothing is changing, let them know. Welcome them back by giving them all the information they need and reassure them (where you can) of any steps you are taking to ensure everyone’s safety.

And fingers crossed we never have another lockdown again!!!

Ideas to Reality – How to make your side hustle your main hustle!

Predominantly working with people running their own businesses, one of the first questions I ask is, what led you to start freelancing or to set up your own business? Generally, there are two answers – a life change (usually having kids) meant they had to reassess their career or it started as a side-hustle until they were ready to take the leap. Some people I work with, still haven’t given up the day job because its scary, right!

So how do you know when it is time to make your idea a reality or your side hustle your main hustle?

In my experience, having cancer when I was 31 made me re-evaluate my life, but I appreciate that is quite an extreme starting point! Chances are, your side hustle or idea utilises an additional skillset and is passion-driven. This was the case with Catherine Jones, who owns a Hertfordshire based florist, Flowers by Catherine.

‘It was never my intention to run my own business. I’d been a PA for over 20 years.’ Catherine told me. ‘Initially, I enrolled on an online Introduction to Floristry course as a hobby. This sparked something inside me, and I wanted to pursue it further, so I enrolled in some evening courses at college while working full time. Originally, I was just doing flowers for friends, family and school fairs.’

Overtime Catherine’s balance changed, she began working part-time as a PA to focus more on her own business, until she was in a position to give up her part-time job to focus full time on Flowers By Catherine. ‘After nearly 18 months, I had reached a point where I’d decided – that was it!’

Flowers by Catherine is where my passion, motivation and determination lay, and it had to be done properly with full-time focus and investment, which eventually resulted in me opening my own florist in Wheathampstead.’

Taking time to build your business seems to be a big step that many of us want to skip (I wholeheartedly put myself in this column) but it is an obvious necessity. I often remind myself of the saying – Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

Recently, author and freelance journalist Laura Jane Williams said on her InstaStories that she now gets editors pitching articles to her, asking her to please write them. But she was quick to caveat it with the fact that it had taken four years of gruelling pitching and developing relationships with editors to reach this point in her career.

Clearly, it takes time to get yourself “out there”, and Catherine Jones agrees, ‘I think the biggest challenge with any business is building awareness and credibility and maintaining and growing that, particularly if you are the only person in that business. And remember – You don’t have to have all your s*** together from Day 1, it’s an ongoing journey.’

Like we discussed in the last Inspired & Aligned article, How to be Gentle to Yourself and Your Business, you need to set achievable, goals that allow you to build both your business and confidence until you ready to step off the metaphorical cliff.

‘I spent years as a PA being told I could do and be so much more but was always in the background supporting everyone else. I guess I finally had the confidence to step out and put my name above the door!’

Instead of seeing that early starting point as a hindrance, use it to develop, learn and grow. Tap into resources such as the governments Small Business, Enterprise & Employment webpages or the Federation of Small Businesses free Start-Up Guide and keep trying to make yourself visible, as it is often YOU customers are buying into. As Catherine Jones said…

‘In my opinion, determination, passion and adaptability are what you need to see you through. You are your business, be yourself, that is your superpower. Although it’s tough and many of us have tried to be everything to everyone – do what you enjoy and if you accept that it is perfectly fine not to be everything to everyone you will attract the customers you want.’

Many thanks to Catherine Jones from Flowers by Catherine for talking to me about her experience setting up a business. Visit Flowers by Catherine’s website or Instagram to see what she’s doing, or pop into her absolutely gorgeous shop in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire to see all her beautiful designs and carefully selected gifts and homeware sourced from local artisans – when we are allowed obviously!

Planning your 2021 Blog posts & Content

So 2020 was… hmm… which word shall we use? Let’s go with — unexpected!

But the great news is there is another year starting in just a couple of weeks, so let’s focus on that, starting with your 2021 blog posts.

Did you know, if you have a static website, after a while the Google bots assume it’s dormant and stop bringing it up in searches?

Regularly updating your website keeps it current and visible on Google — blog posts are a quick and easy way to do that, plus they can allow you to keep promoting and selling your brand at the same time.

It really is worth taking time to sit down and think about what content you are going to put out when. That way, you are never scrabbling around trying to quickly find something to post but ready to go with your blog posts for the next few months already written.

Don’t have time to sit down and write blog posts? No worries! That’s precisely what I’m here for and I have put together an Annual Blog Content Package especially for you.

After an initial zoom call discussing your specific business needs, goals and objectives (plus the year ahead), I will put together a blog content plan for you.

Once agreed, I will thoroughly research, develop and write two blog posts a month, so you are never short of content or unsure of what to write — for the whole of 2021!

If you are interested in this package, drop me an email and we can discuss how I can help.

Merry Christmas and a Happy (healthy) 2021!

How to find your company’s voice

When writing for your business, firstly you should think about your brand’s voice, but what does that mean?

What is a brand voice?

When thinking about your brand’s voice, you are really thinking about the ‘personality’ of your brand and how that is expressed through the written word. The tone of voice governs what you say in writing, and how you say it.

As with all areas of your business, having a ‘voice’ will give your brand consistency, will also allow your audience to instantly gauge what your business is about and give your brand an identity.  There are so many routes that audiences can reach your business now. You want your communications to be in harmony and voice is the perfect way to do that.

But how do you find your voice?

Photo by Lina Kivaka on

The first thing you think about is your brand and its values.  Your brand personality and values go hand in hand with your brand voice.  So consider,

  • What’s important to your brand?
  • What does your brand inspire to be?
  • What websites and blogs do your brand read and why?

Once you understand your brand’s personality and values, you can think about how they translate into the kind of language it will use. 

Ask yourself – if your business was a person, how would they sound? 

Who are you ‘talking’ to?  Are you approaching other businesses?  Parents?  Buyers?  Creatives?  Scientists? Who you are speaking too could affect how your business ‘speaks.’

Defining the register of your writing is often a case of choosing a point on a continuum. For example, you might need to decide where your tone of voice sits between these extremes:

Laid backLively

For example, I knew I wanted Nicola Bourne Copywriting to sound informed, as I am usually approaching other businesses, but also to sound fun and personable, like me!  I want it to seem like we are having a chat and passing on knowledge.  I want to put the companies and people I work with at ease.

Brand V’s Company

So far, I’ve predominantly talked about brand voice, which is slightly different from your company’s voice.  A company can have several brands, each with its own tone of voice.  The audiences for the brand or corporate content might be utterly different, with no overlap whatsoever – or they might be aimed at the same audience at different times, or in different situations.

You can examine each brand within your company individually and apply the above questions or, look for the middle ground and there the brands overlap and find common language.  Obviously, this will vary slightly depending on where the overlaps occur and how extreme they are.

Photo by Plush Design Studio on

Keep it simple!

Although you want to find your voice and keep it consistent, don’t let it create you stress.  As with speaking, your written tone of voice will naturally change in different situations.  Your aim is to express yourself effectively and in a way that feels natural to you.

Let me help

If you would like to discuss this further and see how I can help you develop and write in your brand’s voice, feel free to drop me a line at

What is Copywriting?

Copy is basically just a business term for ‘words that sell stuff.’

Copy is writing that is inviting the reader to ‘do’ something, like; subscribe, follow, like, buy! Copy can help someone to decide if they like your brand and want to engage.

So anywhere you are writing and posting about, or related to, your business – be it on your website, brouchers, newsletters, email funnels, social media and so on – that’s copy!

Good copywriting is vital because it is how people communicate with you and your brand. It makes sure that you say what you want to say, in the most concise and effective way.

The most common problem I find, is that people are often so passionate about their business, they can talk and talk about it for hours, but trying to put it into specific, consistent and engaging content.

This is where a copywriter can come in.

With a firm understanding of SEO, using stories to sell and effectively structuring words, I can take all of the many words you say and turn them into the perfect copy for your brand.

5 Things About Me!

I am a total geek when it comes to words and linguistic choices.

I have a First class honours degree in Writing & English Literature from the University of Hertfordshire and a Masters in Writing from the University of Cambridge.

My favourite day involves a long walk, a fire and a good book.

I was born and raised in London but moved a little further out when my children were born.

I can’t eat spicy food but I will love you forever if you bring me sweets.


You can make anything by writing — C. S. Lewis