An expanding web design portfolio – to match my waist

I went solo at the beginning of May 2018, having been a partner in a web design company for a year to see if I could continue the success single-handedly.

The jury has returned a verdict saying yes you managed it.

The web count now stands at thirty in 3 months, which is 10 per month on average, or 2.5 per week and it’s increasing daily.

Clearly clients like what I do and what I charge.

So without further ado, here’s a list of ones I’ve created that I can disclose:

  1. Moloney Developments – for a team in Manchester. Simple landing website with Home and Contact.
  2. Finding the Finance  – a simple one page website for a finance firm in Glasgow.
  3. Nest Negotiators – a new extension of an estate agency service for Nick Cheshire of Nest in Essex.
  4. Masutes –  a website for a property investment firm.
  5. Matthew Clarke Photography  – a local lad who took my headshots in the woods.
  6. M8 Financial – a finance firm in Scotland.
  7. Manchester Tattoo Trust – built for the bee tattoo charity .
  8. Vinyl Archivist – launching soon.
  9. Brabbey Flooring – for a top flooring fitting company in Bolton.
  10. Quick Flooring – launching soon and I traded the website for goats (I kid you not!)
  11. Mooredges Airguns and Country Clothing – a full ecommerce site for a company in Doncaster.
  12. Crespire Creations – an Anglo-Indian wedding and events company, based here in Gorleston, Norfolk.
  13. Eagle Eye Camera Systems – coming soon.
  14. Refresh Bathrooms – for a Wigan firm.
  15. Hunt and Oak – a clothing firm in Lowestoft, launching soon.
  16. Penny Farthing Jewellers – East Sussex, a full ecommerce site, launching soon.
  17. Event Safety Consultancy – Manchester.
  18. Cav-mate – for Matt in Kent.
  19. Total Documentation Services – launching soon, from Manchester for Neil.
  20. M8 Commercial – having a redesign and launched soon.

The other ten are under NDAs and haven’t got my name on the footer.

My point is that the step from copywriter and social media manager to web design has been a tremendous success.

You can contact any of the twenty clients above and ask them what I was like to work with – or check out my testimonials on Google, LinkedIn and Facebook if you’re a bit shy of a direct approach.

If you want a website designing at an affordable cost in a quick timeframe, give me a bell anytime or drop me an email.

I’d like to add another 10 to the above list in August and two are already under construction for an August launch.

I need just eight more to maintain this batting average! Go on, punks, make my day (or month).

Which social media channel should I use most to grow a business?

Which social media channel should I use most to grow a business? is a question I’ve never been asked but for the sake of giving this titular question some clout, I’ll pretend I get asked it daily.

4 years ago when I set out with Get Pro Copy, I’d have said unequivocally “Facebook” followed by “Twitter”.

I wouldn’t now though.

Facebook only seems to show in feeds if you pay to boost Zuckerberg’s bank balance (and forehead space); Twitter raises awareness but is only there to observe the madness of Trump et al. Instagram has grown in users and is nifty for photos, stories and going live but for me, it’s brought little financially to the table.

Brand awareness yes, improved SEO ranking possibly, but money? Not directly.

Pinterest is good for SEO but no one has ever said to me “I found you on Pinterest, now write me a blog and design me a website.”

But the one referral channel I’d endorse and recommend is LinkedIn.

Four years ago, when I first discovered the platform, it was akin to watching paint dry. It was full of shallow, vainglorious egos showing off. Don’t get me wrong – they’re still on there, but it’s populated now, it seems to me, with normal people.

There’s the deification of Branson still and the nonsense spouted by other “influencers”. It’s a nest of Tories too. The types who were in the Question Time audience in York two years ago jeering Corbyn for refusing to begin nuclear Armageddon.

But putting these factors to one side, it’s actually financially rewarding and, dare I say it, quite a laugh now.

The platform appears to have been roundly subverted by freelancers, who in previous jobs were muzzled and gagged, but have now left caged employment and are free to express opinions. I really like the new LinkedIn.

The key with any social media channel though is to participate.

Scheduling 20 tweets a day, a Facebook status daily and then ignoring any interaction is a bit self-defeating. Same with LinkedIn.

There’s bores on there who post worthy links, motivational quotes and memes but there are genuine lessons to be learned from so many great people.

Now I’m a copywriter, in the property industry primarily, who’s evolved into web design, and LinkedIn fits my needs perfectly. I can promote my services, interact with others, entertain and make money on there.

But don’t get me wrong – it takes time to do, and it’s no use expecting engagement if you don’t engage with others.

I post statuses three or four times a day, tag people and comment frequently.

It works.

Tomorrow, when I’m walking the dog, and some random person asks: “Stuart, which social media channel should I use most to grow a business?” I’ll point them to this blog, passing them a business card and try to sell them a website as I’m bagging faeces.

To be honest, it’s good practice for the BS you have to sidestep on LinkedIn.

 

Why web design shouldn’t cost the GDP of a banana republic

%name pirate

I’ve always got axes to grind, and my latest of many is the absolute racketeering that goes on in the web design industry.

And it is racketeering, trust me.

There’s skills involved yes and they take time to build yes. They can be a nightmare with glitches. Rogue plugins can mess up a site. But, having launched 27 now, in 3 months, since going solo, let me put the record straight so you’re not being charged ludicrous money for web design – and before people come at me with the price of adding value, wind your necks in – the hard work comes after the web launch, adding content, sharing it and being prolific on social media.

This is how a website is built on WordPress by the majority of web designers, including me.

Some will charge £1000 upwards to get you online, others more, little old me £250 for a responsive website.

Domain name – everywhere sells them. Buy one for a year or more and make a note of the login details, so a web designer can point nameservers at it. I can buy you one if you want me to.

Hosting – don’t bloody buy it. It costs anything from £8 a month and most web designers have reseller hosting, where they’ve paid a fair old amount for a year of unlimited hosting. Some will charge you – I don’t though for a year. Then it’s £30 in total for year 2. Don’t be conned!

Install WordPress from the hosting cpanel. This used to flummox me but now I can do it with one eye closed and a leg around my neck. It then comes up (after propagation) with that standard poxy cactus image saying My Blog.

Put it on Coming Soon. There’s free plugins for this that can display your contact details and announce the site is imminent or under maintenance – so don’t pay for this privilege! Some web designers charge for this.

Install a premium theme. There’s zillions of these and any web designer who tells you his or hers are all bespoke is being economical with the truth. I started off paying for Salient, moved to Avada, and now I am hooked on Generate Press, and GP Premium with Elementor Pro, as paid for plugins.

Create the pages – add new – publish – go to appearance – menus – add pages to menu – publish. It really is that simple.

Some web designers will charge you £200 upwards to get you to that point.

Just say no. 

Begin the design. By this I mean put in elements that you want – icon lists, flip boxes, sliders, call to action buttons, headers, footers and then the real hard part tell that Lorem Ipsum to get lost.

That’s the biggest challenge – crafting the content. The design, trust me, is much easier. I do that adding content for web designers too, cos I is a copywriter by trade.

Once the home page is done and you’ve set it as home in the Customise, you can then begin on About, Gallery, Products, Contact.

Once all the pages are built, you have to adjust font and image sizes for tablet and smartphone, back it all up and toggle maintenance mode off.

A word of warning – the above has described a brochure website. Shops with payment are a different kettle of fish and can induce trauma with their complexity. I make them –  but only at gunpoint, with my San Pellegrino held hostage.

The costs?

£250 to £300 for a 2 page website that can have 700 words of information and more. Free hosting and back ups. Me on call at any time to fix niggles.

£500 for a 6 page website with more bells and whistles. Same service levels as the £250 one.

A grand for Ecommerce – I was charging £750 but realised this was minimum wage pay for the job in hand – so I’ve increased it.

Now, I’m not trying to be controversial.

I do realise that working from home without commuting costs, staff and office overheads, means you’re only paying for my time. My hourly rate is reasonable and unlike so many web designers I don’t ride a horse and wear a mask.

Cheap does not mean nasty, cheap does not mean it won’t last. My company name goes on every website footer and I don’t want to blush at the work I’ve produced.

I’m proud of what I do.

I’m good at it too.

But I won’t rip anyone off. 

Want to know more?

Get in touch.

 

Shrek – how to structure your content like Shrek

%name Shrek

I’ve developed something of a resemblance to Shrek in recent years – the waistline has expanded big time, my grumpiness occasionally rears its head and I sometimes end up with clients who are donkeys: stubborn, answering back and reluctant to pay for work done.

But, back in the day, I used to show “Shrek” on DVD regularly: one, because it is a class film; two, students and I enjoyed it; three, I could relax knowing that my fetish for showing films in English engendered high GCSE grades and instilled intrinsic motivation.

Like business, innit, if you like where you work and who you work with, you produce better results. Films did that for me – and my students.

“Shrek” though, the original film, has other crucial factors too as I explained to Joshua over the phone last week, who rang me to pick my brain about writing.

I used the Shrek analogy then and make no apologies for repeating it here.

Ogres have layers, onions have layers, content has layers.

“Shrek” begins in one place (the swamp) and your blog posts should begin and end in one place: like the swamp.

Here’s why.

Your subject line or title should contain enough enticing detail to get people clicking through to read; the opening should compel your reader to continue (that opening can also become your metadescription – that snippet Google shows); the content should be informative and entertaining and take the reader on a journey (like Shrek does to rescue the Princess) and the finale should return to the start.

It’s called in media circles: Freytag’s Triangle but in copywriting it’s called structure I guess?

So there you have it: some pearls of wisdom from someone who graduated in 1986 with an English degree, taught the subject from 1987 to 2014 from ages 8 to 18 and is now sitting in his Norfolk swamp, wondering when Donkey clients will pay up and when his partner, Fiona, will knock out a fresh stovetop coffee.

 

 

Building a website in return for goats

I am a grumpy old troll, I know that. If I was represented as a character in a soap, I’d be a meld of Norris Cole and Roy Cropper, a mixture of OCD and meddling. It’s my way. I sit under bridges waiting for goats to cross and challenge them. I don’t hide behind a fake profile picture or a nom de plume like many keyboard warriors. But I do get labelled as a troll for calling out preposterous humble brags.

Being under a bridge though, waiting for the stream to re-emerge from its dryness, has its advantages. I spy goats. And I’ve realised I want them and they need something from me.

These goats trip trapping over my bridge to reach the sweet green grass of Google page one have no idea how to get there, because they don’t have skills.

I now trade my skills for goats.

How?

A goat has something that I don’t have – that delicious milk that can be made into delectable cheese – and I have abilities that will get the goat online.

Web design and writing skills.

The goat won’t pay – like some clients so what do we do?

Barter.

Yes, swaps.

That’s a phase I’ve now entered.

Trading.

If don’t like the connotations of olde England soon to return to backward Brexity Britain, let’s call it skill sharing.

You selling goat’s cheese or goat’s milk or carpets or SEO services or logos or email marketing nous? I’ll lift my fat submerged head above the bridge parapet and say “I’d like some of that – in return for blogs, web design or social media marketing.”

After all, I am in Norfolk where the wheel has recently been invented, with a vague promise of a motorway in the next 70 years.

Barter is now Norfolk’s Bitcoin and I intend to embrace it.

Would you run a car for five years without a service?

%name service your website

Would you run a car for five years without a service?

No.

And yet SMEs, big businesses and sole traders run websites without getting them updated or serviced. But you shouldn’t and here’s why.

Logging in to the WP Admin section of a website and clicking Dashboard to see 27 updates needed is like lifting a car bonnet, and seeing a whole host of issues – low coolant, minimal brake fluid, a lack of oil etc. You let a mechanic loose to service a car once a year, but businesses neglect to service their website.

Here’s what I do.

I get a WP Admin login and head to that dashboard like some Norfolk Kevin Webster (Corrie reference) to purse lips and puff cheeks to deliver that verdict – “your website is knackered mate.”

Except I don’t.

After adding a back up plugin and making a copy of the site as it stands, only then will I start updates. I do more too. I can add caching plugins to speed up your website, paid for image optimisers and look at your site speed on Pingdom (for real) and follow the report to get it running faster.

That knackered old Fiesta of a website with its 1.0 litre petrol engine will come out of the blocks roaring like an ST (car, not disease).

You only pay for my time when I service your website.

And that’s usually an hour to two hours to service your website without the car dealer prices.

I did it twice last week and one client paid £50 for the service, another £100 because they wanted a new page adding and a pop up email subscription form, as well as updates.

I’m like that mechanic, without a boiler suit, or a copy of The Sun propped on my desk.

I lift the bonnet of your website, check fluid levels and an hour later, slam it down and get it back online – for you to test drive it and say it’s faster and slicker than it was before.

You know what too?

One company I had dealings with charges £95 plus VAT per hour for that sort of work and £160 plus VAT to install SSL.

I don’t charge those sorts of prices. Some companies wear masks and will happily rob you.

I’ll service your website for a reasonable price.

Call to action …

If your website needs a service, drop me an email and I’ll happily go in the dashboard and quote you an affordable price to improve it. Or your money back. 

 

What comes standard with websites I design?

%name Norwich web designer
  1. COPY. All copy is included in the  web design. By all means, give me ideas, but let me whip the words into shape.
  2. HOSTING on fast cloud servers. Free in Year 1, £3 per month in year 2.
  3. SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION: I can add your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest in headers, footers and calls to action.
  4. GOOGLE ANALYTICS. Set up with instructions for you on how to track web visits.
  5. FREE SSL. Not a £40 extra. Standard HTTPs with all new websites.
  6. SUBMISSION TO GOOGLE: site map, Google My Business, Apple Maps – I’ll sort them for you.
  7. UNLIMITED EMAIL ADDRESSES: info, hello, Bob, Jane – whatever you want, they’re included with instructions on how to set up on Windows, Android and iOS.
  8. RESPONSIVE. All websites render as standard on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
  9. UNLIMITED PAGE OPTIONS. You name your menu and sub tabs and I’ll create them.
  10. UPDATES and BACK UPS. All websites are backed up weekly with revisions stored. Updates of plugins and themes is manually carried out by me weekly.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

EMAIL me: info@getprocopy.com

Cheap website design for small business

Cheap website design for small business

What a dangerous, foolish title – and the temerity of me pushing the word “cheap” to the front too.

Cheap is associated with nasty, “cheap and nasty.”

The commonplace “cheap as chips”.

Or the slightly more charitable “cheap and cheerful”.

But there’s a problem with this linguistic apartheid where cheap is replaced by affordable – because does cheap have to be nasty?

Perhaps yes or perhaps not?

Cheap supermarkets

I used to crow about my Waitrose shopping habits, occasionally M and S and Sainsbury’s before heading to Asda and Tesco as spending power dwindled.

I still use all five but I’m a bit smitten by cheap supermarkets – namely Aldi and Lidl.

Each one is cheap – a typical trolley costs £60 which you know would cost £100 in any of the others and yet neither is nasty.

In fact, I quite like the experience in Lidl and Aldi.

Okay I don’t get a free Latte or a green token to drop in some charity chute, but is that coffee worth £40 and a 40 mile round trip?

Perhaps yes – I certainly used to think so.

I’m not so sure now.

Are you?

Cheap copywriters

When I first started out, I’d happily undercut others and others would undercut me too – in the so-called race to the bottom. Neither I nor the rival were cheap and nasty. We were both good, but I decided to stop that game as my skillsets with web design expanded, along with my waist.

Cheap copywriters exist and like Aldi and Lidl, they’re serving a need.

My prices aren’t Waitrose but as I’ve found out working with a new web designer, producing copy for some of his websites, he considers me cheap.

Or affordable, if you’re squirming.

I’m not really cheap – compared with my previous pay as an English teacher, my writer hourly rate is excellent, but he’s right, I’m cheaper than others.

Because I’m skilled and quick with words.

Cheap web designers

Held in the same regard as cheap copywriters, as well as cheap shops, but is there a sea change coming on?

I used to drive to Waitrose and still love a wander round John Lewis and will, when I feel an urge, spend big in there for quality of service and the experience.

Some web designers have Waitrose prices and they’re fully justifiable as they deliver excellence repeatedly.

But my point is this – if you need a website that renders on mobile, tablet and desktop, that is well designed with optimised copy, you choose who to go with and if I had millions to spend, I’d happily spend a small fortune on a top web designer.

But I haven’t; so I choose Aldi and Lidl for services, yet I drive BMWs and spend money on bulk San Pellegrino. An enigma wrapped in a puzzle, me.

Affordable websites

A website built on WordPress, hosted on fast Cloud servers, can cost as much as you want and what you perceive the value to be.

If I can build one in two days to a week, I’m happy to do that. It keeps me busy, spreads the word about Get Pro Copy (900 new visits to the website in the past 7 days) and makes small businesses, where initial capital outlay can be problematic, happy.

If you’re quoted Moët and Chandon prices, but have beer money, like me, ask me what I’d charge.

I specialise in cheap website design for small business.

All my contact details are here.