An Interview with Charlotte Haye ✦ Eleven Eight

I believe everyone has a ‘North Star‘ which is a sense of purpose in our lives and also acts as an inner compass to discover our own goals and big dreams. Once we are aligned and on the path to our place of happiness and true contentment in life, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding adventure. This is why I wanted to interview as many inspiring female entrepreneurs as possible, including my good friend and client, Charlotte Haye.

Charlotte Haye is the copywriter and owner of Eleven Eight. Charlotte delivers copywriting for the bold, the daring and the different. If you’re a business owner who wants to pack a punch with your marketing, you’re gonna love reading about Charlotte and why she started her business, Eleven Eight.

Charlotte’s days are filled with crafting blog posts and web copy for businesses who want to stand out online, chatting to happy customers on behalf of her clients, and wrangling 3 cats and a very squirmy baby. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her snuggled up on the sofa with a good book and her three cats. Words really are her life, and she loves the fact that she can bring that joy to other business owners.

Please read on to discover how Charlotte turned her business, Eleven Eight into a copywriting success. 👇✨

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Hey Char! Could you tell me four fun facts about yourself?

  • I’m a classically trained singer.
  • I spent 4 years getting 2 degrees at Winchester University. Between my undergrad (English and Creative Writing) and my Masters (Writing for Children).
  • When I was 7 I wrote my first ‘book’ – it was about some kids whose friend got sick, so they shrunk themselves down to go up his nose and cure him. My dad still has that book, and produced it during his wedding speech.
  • I once got through to the third round of auditions for the Great British Bake Off!
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What made you decide to launch your business, Eleven Eight?

I come from a very entrepreneurial background. Both my Mum and my Dad run their own businesses, as does my eldest sister, so really being a business owner has always been a part of my DNA.

I did work for other businesses in my youth, but once I left uni and got an office job I realised I really didn’t want to work for someone else! I was selling IT and the company wasn’t great, and my husband (boyfriend at the time) encouraged me to think about what else I might like to do.

He had his own business as well, and after a few long talks, I decided I wanted to try going out into the world for myself. Since writing is the thing I’ve always loved, it made sense that I find a way to turn that into a business, and that’s when I realised copywriting was the perfect fit, and Eleven Eight was born.

I love the name of your business – is there a story behind why you chose it?

Both myself and my husband are musicians – it’s actually how we met when we were both at school. We were in a band together! We drifted apart as adults, but the band got back together, and as the chief songwriter he used his songs to show me that he was interested in me. So music has always been a pretty big theme for us!

We joined our businesses when we got engaged, and wanted a name that showcased the fact that we were both creatives and included music. Eleven Eight is a time signature and it’s pretty unusual, so that’s what made sense to us.

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Have you always been a copywriter? .. If not, what other jobs have you done that lead you on this path?

Pretty much! I had other jobs in the past – I worked the customer service desk at the country’s largest Tesco for 4 years, which taught me a lot about people, and gave me great customer service skills! I also worked in a pet shop, managed various videogame stores, and sold hosted IT solutions.

I would say the last one is the catalyst for me starting the business, and the rest gave me a good grounding in working with people that’s proved incredibly useful in growing the business.

Describe how your services support your ideal clients.

At Eleven Eight, my copywriting services are built around making life easier for my customers by providing quality content for their marketing. Most of my clients know the value of good content, like blogs, web copy, white papers and case studies, but they don’t have the time or the skills to put them together themselves.

I work closely with them to create content for them and advise on the best way to utilise it in their marketing. My focus is on tapping into the core of what makes you and your business unique and putting that on a page for your clients to see. It’s personality-driven copy that helps customers connect with your business and motivates them to buy.

For my clients, working with me means they have access to unique and compelling content to promote their business effectively, without having to invest the time and effort into creating it themselves.

What do you love most about what you do?

Helping businesses discover their own unique voice! Everyone thinks they have nothing interesting to say, but in reality, they’re full of interesting information and fascinating facts, they just don’t know how to get it out. I love being able to learn so much about all sorts of things, and put my clients’ knowledge onto a page for them. The happiness realising their own knowledge is an addiction for me – I just love to see it!

I love the blogs you write for me, but can you explain how important blogging is for business?

Blogs are important for businesses in a number of different ways. First off, they’re considered the most trustworthy and accurate source of information on the internet by readers. 46% of people take the information from blogs into account when making a purchasing decision, so you need to make sure you’re providing customers with the information they want through good copywriting.

They’re the perfect way to showcase your knowledge and expertise without direct selling, and cement your name in the heads of customers when they’re ready to buy. They’re also great for SEO! Google loves fresh content, so the more blogs you write, the higher your ranking on Google will be. Businesses who blog get around 67% more leads than those who don’t, and it’s partly because their website is being shown to more people on Google.

Honestly, the figures speak for themselves! If you want to create a winning marketing strategy, then blogging has to be a part of the mix.

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Do you ever get writer’s block and how do you overcome it?

Absolutely! I have moments and sometimes even days where I can sit and stare at a blank page or a title and struggle to get started. And it happens for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s a mental thing, other times it’s emotional.

If there is something big happening in my life I can struggle to focus on work without my mind wondering – I think we all can! Sometimes all I need is to talk it through with someone. I usually grab my husband and talk about what I’m supposed to be writing about, to get my mind working.

If that doesn’t work I sometimes need to walk away from that bit of content for a while. I might work on something else, or I might go for a walk, play a video game – something to take my head out of the writing space for a while and let me relax. Often just a half-hour break does wonders. Having structure and plans in place for my content helps a lot as well, so I never start with a blank page. 

I know you manage your work around Mum-life and you make it look so easy. Do you have tips for other mamma’s struggling with work/life balance?

I’m glad it looks easy! But honestly, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, especially during a pandemic. I think the best advice I can give is to break your work down into small chunks wherever you can, and grab the time when you can.

I will often do bits of work while my son is playing happily by himself, or out in the garden while we’re enjoying the sun, and when he’s napping. It’s hard, but being realistic about what you can achieve in a day helps a lot with the stress, and asking for help when you need it can be a lifesaver. But above all, give yourself some grace. Being a business owner is tough, and so is being a mum.

But you can’t be one or the other. That’s why I’ve always hated the phrase ‘work life balance’ It isn’t a balance – it’s a blend, and everyone’s blend looks different. So if you need to put the TV on for half an hour so you can work? Do it! Take care of yourself as well as your family and your business – because if you don’t prioritise yourself, sometimes you will burn out.

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What would you say to someone who is thinking about starting their own copywriting business?

Practice, practice, practice! You can do all the reading and research in the world (and you should), but the only thing that will really improve your skills as a writer is writing. The more you write, the better you get. You make mistakes, but you learn from them and improve over time. So even when you don’t have clients, spend time writing as much as you can.

The other thing I would suggest is reading. Don’t just stick to your preferred genre, try to read as much as you can of all sorts of things. Fiction, non-fiction and everything in between. Reading exposes you to different views and different writing styles, which is going to make you much more versatile as a copywriter. Read other copywriters, read business gurus, read children’s fiction and adult trash-lit. Read it all and use it to inform your craft.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in business?

Communication really does go a long way. I have always struggled with pretty extreme anxiety, so when I get behind on things or I’m struggling, my instinct was always to shut myself away and just ignore it. But in business, you just can’t do that. In my early days of business I lost some very good clients because if I was going to miss a deadline, I didn’t let them know.

I essentially ghosted them because I was ashamed and didn’t want to deal with the anxiety of facing up to what was going on. It’s taken a long time, but I realised a while ago that being upfront and communicating properly will get you a long way. So I think being honest and communicating with customers regularly was a really key lesson for me.

What do you accredit the success and growth of your business to?

I think networking has played a huge part in my success as a copywriter. I’m a people person at heart, so getting to know lots of other business owners was one of the first things I did. I met my first customer at a networking event on my first day as a copywriter, and I would say around 80% of my current customer base comes from networking in one way or another.

Investing in relationships with other business owners gives you access to their knowledge and skills, their network, and I’ve made some great friends along the way as well. I would also say that having a strong brand persona has been key in my growth, because it’s helped people remember me. I’ve always been ‘the girl with the purple hair’, and with the help of Infinity Creative, that’s become my brand. It keeps me in people’s minds even after a long time – years in some cases – which has helped keep a consistent stream of clients coming in.

What does having a beautiful and aligned brand mean to you and your business?

It gives me the confidence to go out into events and hand out business cards and direct people to my website. In the past, I was reluctant to send people to my website. It was OK, but It was a bit basic and didn’t really reflect me and what I could deliver for my clients.

Working with you (Gemma) has helped me identify exactly what I am and what I offer, and now I’m proud and excited to share my marketing materials and send people to my website. And I know that anything I put out into the world is going to be consistent and look stunning. Plus, my clients absolutely love it!

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What benefits have you seen since having your branding and website re-done?

I think it’s been two-fold. I’ve had much more confidence in my brand and my marketing materials, which means I’m sharing them more and directing people to my website more often. I still get a happy, fluttery feeling when I go to my own website, and my email signature makes me smile every time I see it.

I love my brand again, and that’s priceless. I also have a catalogue of branded marketing materials at my fingertips – from social media posts to presentations, an amazing brochure and even branded contracts. So every single touchpoint with my customers is now branded and consistent.

But there’s been a big uptick in customers too, and almost all of them comment on the website. They mention how amazing it looks, how relatable it sounds and how much the website resonated with them. It’s actively won me business, which is incredible!

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What would you say to someone in business who might be considering rebranding, but isn’t sure?

Do it!

Even if you like the bones of your brand, having it refreshed is never a bad thing. New branding can give you a lot of confidence, and make sure you’re still eye-catching to your modern customers. It’s also a great way to update yourself.

Businesses evolve over time, and so your current branding might not exactly match what your business is now. A rebrand makes you take a step back and really think about your business, what you stand for, and how you want to present yourself to the world. You’d be amazed at the results!

What is your ‘North Star’ mission in life? (The ultimate goal you wish to achieve)

Completely unrelated to copywriting, to be honest!

I’m a massive animal lover, and my ultimate goal in life is to be able to set up an exotic animal sanctuary. A charity that takes in the more exotic pets that have been abandoned or need to be surrendered, rehabilitate them and give them the best lives possible. Alongside that, a centre to educate people about these animals, allow them to interact and understand exotic pets a bit better. 

What is your favourite business tool and why?

My Pomodoro Timer. The Pomodoro technique has helped me focus on my work during the day, and gives me a great structure to work with. It’s dead easy – you work on one thing, without distractions, for 25 minutes, take a break for 5, and then work again for 25 minutes. After 4 rounds of this you have a longer break, and then you start the cycle again. This approach has helped me avoid getting burnt out during the day and keeps me on task. I get so much more done when I use this tool! I have a Pomodoro app on my phone, but you can get them for the desktop or just use your phone timer! 

✦ Try the Pomodoro timer for yourself – just click here!

What is your favourite inspirational quote/life mantra?

‘You can’t hang around waiting for somebody else to pull your strings. Destiny’s what you make of it.’ – Darren Shan

Have you read an amazing business book or podcast that you can recommend?

My favourite at the moment is the Hot Copy podcast. It’s by two Australian copywriters who are just hilariously funny, very successful and full of amazing advice. I always feel like I’m listening to old friends chatting, and I get some amazing advice and tips that I can use in my work too.

Who do you admire in business? This can be a celebrity or a person you know.

I’ve always admired Karren Brady. I saw her talk at a local convention last year, and she was so down to earth and incredibly inspiring. She’s made some difficult decisions and risen through the ranks of businesses while being a mother, and treads that line of being a ball-busting businesswoman and being sensitive and empathetic just perfectly.

Being a writer, if you could meet any fictional character who would it be and why?

Dervish Grady from the Demonata series. He’s a mage, an amazing uncle to the main character, a punk rocker and a general all-around fun good human.  

What advice would you give someone who is looking to turn their idea into a successful business?

Be yourself! People buy people, not businesses. So many business owners get hung up on making themselves sound ‘professional’ in their marketing, and they end up sounding like a faceless corporate entity with no personality.

No one is particularly interested in that kind of thing, and it won’t win you any friends with your clients. So channel your inner personality and let it shine through in everything you do! Not only will you be happier, but you’ll attract the kind of clients you want.

Where can my audience find you?

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram, but the best way to get hold of me is to drop me an email!

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