Should I use a freelancer or a web design agency Norwich?

%name Norwich web design

There’s no easy answer to this. No binary “yes use a freelancer” or “yes use a web design agency Norwich”, assuming you’re in Norwich and would like someone local to complete a revamp or a completely new website.

A web design agency often will have more expertise and specialists within that agency – someone who can code, someone who can create content, someone who can create a marketing strategy. They probably have a graphic designer too.

Inevitably though this expertise often comes at a higher price.

A price that is not always passed to the coder, copywriter, graphic designer.

You may be quoted £120 plus VAT per hour (a fairly normal figure) but the employees are not getting that level of pay. Same in any industry. Obviously.

The barista in Costa and Starbuck’s is on a low hourly salary but the profits of those two companies are huge. That’s business.

Jeff Bezos is no different.

A freelancer often charges much less and probably won’t levy VAT because their earnings don’t exceed £80,000. They don’t have the Norwich web design agency overheads of offices and business rates and staff salaries so they are able to charge much less.

To go all coffee again, it would be like me charging £1.00 for a latte which costs me 30p to make on a Nespresso machine, leaving me a 70p profit with no expenses accrued. Starbucks have to charge more to cover premises and employ creative accountants to tax dodge.

A freelancer may not offer the level of specialism but they often know people who can help out. I’ll come clean – logo design leaves me in a state of fear, but I’ve got excellent graphic designers, fellow freelancers, to outsource them to.

Just as many reciprocate when they need accurate, optimised web content. I can write well, but design a logo badly, whereas that web design agency Norwich, Northampton, Nuneaton will probably have someone in-house.

I do think though, apart from price and specialists, freelancers are a better choice. I know I’m biased. 

But hear me out.

If your website crashes on Friday at 6.00 pm and you’ve no access to hosting support and the agency is shut, that means the Out of Office reply to an email and automated voice message telling you they reopen Monday will annoy the hell out of you.

It would me.

If this website went down for a weekend, I’d be fummin’ hun but I know it won’t.

The 100 I manage won’t either, because this freelancer has his name on those sites and wouldn’t accept shoddy service himself and certainly wouldn’t expect my clients to accept it from me, and my company.

Should I use a freelancer or a web design agency Norwich?

You decide. 

 

This web design Norwich UK company is climbing

%name web design Norwich UK

SEO.

The 2018 equivalent of a box ad in Yellow Pages and one of the most prized ambitions of companies – featuring on Google Page One for a specific search term and failing that, pole position on page 2.

Beyond page 2, it’s a lost cause we are told.

Getting on page one in private browsing mode is difficult, unless you’re incredibly niche.

You need to do your homework too before a SEO strategy is born.

Take this website: I could optimise it for WEB DESIGN GREAT YARMOUTH and quickly reach page 2 or page 1 but there’s a problem – search volumes. 

People on Google are not searching for web design Great Yarmouth – there’s under 100 searches a year and that makes all the effort a bit pointless.

So I’ve optimised for further afield:

Web design Norwich and variations on that search term.

There’s 1000 searches per month for that specific search term, but, alas, competition is high, so I’m on page 11 of Google for Web design Norwich which isn’t too shabby in 7 months given that I didn’t feature at all in May 2018, when I decided to make Get Pro Copy a web design and copywriting service, nationally, not just in Alan Partridge territory.

I’m on page 7 though for a longer tailed search locally from nowhere and that gives me hope.

Now I could succumb to PPC and pay Google to inflate me to page one but in my experience it’s a complete waste of time and money. You send a signal too to Google that you’re prepared to pay to be on page one and your organic growth (in my experience over 5 years) is that a nail is hammered in your SEO coffin.

Far better to have a strategy to get there – and there’s two ways – backlinks and blogging that are dynamite.

Quality backlinks to your website are worth their weight in gold but often difficult to attain. I’ve got 70 plus backlinks but none scream BIG LEAGUE at all.

Blogging is easier. That’s why I do it so often. And you should.

Either blog yourself or pay a SEO copywriter to do it for you.

They’ve got to do their homework of course and determine what you’re looking to be found for and find out what the competition is. I could have blithely fallen for the Copywriter Great Yarmouth and Web Designer Great Yarmouth ruse when I was naive, but any copywriter worth their salt, should be able to find out search terms, volumes, competition and craft copy that speaks to humans and Google algorithms.

You can always go down the SEO route with an audit too. I had one carried out by Danny Andrews of Sheffield who didn’t prescribe the steroids of Pay per Click but a strategy for reshaping this website and climbing Google organically.

Which I followed.

It’s working too – check out his website and philosophy which doesn’t involve BS and empty claims.

I’ll end with a reference back to the title: this web design Norwich UK company is climbing. Okay page 7 and page 11 is not the best – but in seven months, I’ll gratefully accept those places and see what happens in the next 7 months.

If you want your website to climb rankings organically, get in touch with me, I’ll gladly introduce you to Danny and let him audit with me then filling those needs with a blogging strategy that will see your business climb too. 

 

Printed business card or a digital one with a new website?

I have business cards wedged in wallets and drawers and occasionally use them, though I do feel ordering 1000 was a tad optimistic, given that they seem to me, at least, to be somewhat archaic.

Given that we all carry smartphones in our daily lives, it’s much quicker to add someone on Slack, or What’s App, and send them your contact details rather than root through a wallet or purse to share your details.

Don’t get me wrong.

I still think if someone asks for one, you’d look a bit silly saying “Sorry, I don’t do business cards.”

Ergo, a website.

A business card with a company email address and web address looks so pro that anyone serious about business at the fag end of 2018 would be mad not to have either.

When someone connects with me on LinkedIn asking about services, like web design and copywriting, I don’t say “Er it’s in development and not ready yet.” I point them to this website and its portfolio of completed website projects. If I meet someone locally, I hand over a business card to send them digitally to the website.

In 2019, if your website is not fit for purpose (or your printed marketing materials), get in touch with me and let me make both so.

Is print as dead as that Python parrot?

%name Manchester

I don’t jaunt that often – if jaunt can be made into a verb; but when I do it inevitably involves some Alan Partridge excursions into budget hotels which are invariably paid for by companies who’ve commissioned me. 

Premier Inn, Hyde, the home of Britain’s biggest serial killer, Dr Shipman, where the residents were all drinking at 9am in the car park, all bizarrely wearing masks. 

Holiday Inn, Cambridge, which had as much culinary choice for a coeliac like me, as a Welsh fish and chip shop (Red Dwarf reference).

Once you’ve got past the excitement of boiling the mini kettle and spluttering at the taste of tea with UHT milk, logged into wifi and explored the bathroom, I often look at the tourist pap, the printed rack, of brochures welcoming you to Hyde (the magazines were in pieces when I thumbed through them) and Cambridge, more appealing than Hyde, as the land of bikes and pudding skies.

The Holiday Inn in Cambridge had an impressive text that was almost biblical in weight and girth and, after a cursory glance, I returned to it repeatedly to read the articles and adverts about Cambridge.

Now we know Yellow Pages and JR Hartley hark back to a past pre-internet and trolls, but my point is this.

Print has a permanence.

Okay you can’t measure its reach, you can’t adjust the campaign once it’s launched without new costs, but you can be sure it’s not dead, far from it.

Print clings to life like Theresa May to number 10. It has a barnacle-like quality that won’t be shaken even though we wonder whether it or she should let it go.

We’re on a new estate and the site plan and Persimmon brochure (produced before that £75 million chairman pay off) is well thumbed. 

When I buy a new car, I order a printed brochure online to be delivered, read through it and stack it away with the thirty other new car brochures I’ve wasted money on, and occasionally revisit.

Now if you’re looking for printed marketing materials, I know how to write them, but if you’re looking for brochure design, property brochure design, I know just the man: Jim Adams from Designers Up North, a southerner laying claims to be Manc by pouring gravy on his tea and having a brew 17 times a day.

Want to know more? Contact Jim or let me make the introduction – he’s bloody good at it too. 


Trust me. 

I would like more retainers after Christmas

Wouldn’t we all, you may be thinking, with my temerity of asking for more money. The thing is though that self-employment is feast or famine, boom or bust and other clichéd parallels, and you may mutter “cheeky sod” at my front.

But bear with me.

When I was in employment, I often observed of myself and others that the most energy was expended on actually avoiding work. Who wouldn’t on £8 per hour, or £25 per hour as teacher? The wages and conditions of employment, looking back, were exploitative. I worked for one company where we were even expected to contribute £1 per week to the tea and coffee fund – even though we were all on zero pay, commission only, exploited leaflet droppers and brand ambassadors. 

What an idiot I was trying my hand with that company. 

But now, I don’t do employment but I do do retainers.

I like them and companies do.

You don’t have to pay me a year’s salary for someone sitting, avoiding work, in your company. 

I ask what you want doing in terms of writing, web design and maintenance and social media, I calculate the time needed for this per month and quote you a fixed amount ranging from £150 to £1000 depending on the jobs in hand. 

The beauty of this arrangement is that you think I’m not offering genuine value for money with what I do, or offering a good ROI, you cancel the monthly retainer. I don’t tie clients in because it works two ways – if I don’t like your way of working, your attitude, your demands on my time, I walk away and refund you if you’ve made a further payment. It’s not a free trial as such for a month because I don’t do a thing until I see the bank credit.

But if you like my modus operandi and what I’m doing for your business, we carry on. If you don’t, wave goodbye and part amicably because neither of us wants a longer term relationship based on mistrust or exploitation, do we?

So how can I help you and your business?

If any catch your eye, get in touch.

  1. Sort out your website if it needs sorting out. Make it responsive, quick to load and fit for 2019 and beyond. Maintain and host it too for a fixed sum. 
  2. Add a blog tab and actually write some content for you within that time. It will delight Google and give your social media tribes a frisson of delight when they read engaging content from a website and company that normally offers little new insights or information. Add new blog posts to an existing news page that is comatose. 
  3. Manage your LinkedIn profile and company pages, not as me, acerbic Stuart Walton but as you in your company tone of voice, mining for connections and engaging in conversations on that platform. 
  4. Add new landing pages for offers or new services.

Contact me for more information.

Planning for 2019 – always think ahead – bellends need not apply

Whilst you’re sipping your Harvey’s Bristol Cream (oh I do miss that and other alcohol!), your thoughts may turn to 2019 or they may not. I’m always planning ahead, because being freelance and self-employed means you can’t think “Sod it I’ll take January 2019 off and have a much-needed rest.”

I’ve got plans underway too – there’s websites on the horizon for various clients that will occupy that month and beyond, but I’m also tingling with anticipation at working with three new clients – all on their social media, which is great.

Without divulging too much, I’ve carried out an audit of a company who’ve contacted me and have agreed to pay me a monthly retainer for a year to write content for their email campaigns, newsletters and website and run their social media for a set amount per month. I say a year. There’s an unspoken rule that it can be terminated by me if they turn out to be bellends (technical term for bad clients).

There’s certain things I don’t like you see – mainly being owned and micro-managed.

A company last year tried to treat me like a skivvy in the company – I told them where to shove their retained contract, after a couple of months.

I have this mentality that if I pay someone to service my boiler, landscape my garden, write my will, I don’t go all nit-picking and controlling on them and accept they’re the experts.

Just as I’m half decent with marketing and writing, I kick off when a bellend client insists on owning me.

Got a great feeling about all three though as I’ve tested the water so to speak with each.

The second client is paying me to lead their personal LinkedIn company pages and profile, as well as prospecting for suitable connections. Serious stuff and quite ironic given that I blur social media boundaries on LinkedIn and post family and personal stuff to piss the LinkedIn feds off.

The third is another estate agent. I work for about ten already, so this is a busman’s holiday indeed.  Estate agents have a bad reputation and I must say it’s largely deserved.

But I’ve mined a rich seam of decent ones – like Hogan’s in Leeds and Pure North Norfolk in Fakenham, whose staff and ethos chimes with mine and never a cross word has been muttered in 2 years with each company.

There you have it.

I won’t be getting drunk this Christmas or with any others in the future as I’m an avowed teetotal whose relationship with alcohol has been terminated for good.

I wish you all a great break and if you need any work done in terms of content marketing, a new website, social media stuff, get in touch now.

I have an expensive San Pellegrino habit and I intend buying a new BMW soon so every little helps.

Social media selling – more than a modern Roy Walker catchphrase

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Facets of growing up I remember fondly are my addiction and skill at Taito Space Invaders, the Sunday ritual of watching “Bullseye” and believe it or not, the enjoyment of “Family Fortunes” and “Catchphrase” before the internet existed, as there was little to do, on a council estate near Doncaster.

Or anywhere else for that matter.

I think if “Catchphrase” was to be relaunched tomorrow, modern day words and phrases would emerge like “gammon”, an overweight Brexiteer, predominantly male, harking back to an imperial age of Enid Blyton and open racism of “Mind your Language” and “Til Death us do Part.”

The contestant could shout “Racist” and Roy’s replacement could say “It’s good, but not good enough.”

Other phrases like YOLO could make an appearance, as well as social media selling, which I admit is far-fetched, but it’s what I want to explore after this random opening.

I get asked to run my eye occasionally over websites and some give me access to their WP login and I’m often unsurprised to see little has been done with SEO, sitemap submission, keywords, alt tags etc and the clients think, fix that and I’ll be quids in.

If only.

SEO does need attention yes, obviously, but, in my experience, over the past 5 years, is that investing in PPC is about as lucrative as placing a card on a board in your nearest One Stop.

More measurable, yes, more expensive, yes – as fruitful yes.

Unless you’re selling something someone is specifically searching for to buy – a particular laptop for example – you’re not going to get someone to sell their house with you based on a page one Google ad.

This is where social media or social selling comes in.

One in four of your social posts should be selling, experts say. I reckon fewer. I advertise the fact I’m a copywriter and web designer on this optimised website and its six connected and active social media channels, but I don’t overly sell my services.

Yes I’m like that kestrel hovering over a verge eyeing mice, but I don’t connect with people on LinkedIn or Twitter and launch into a canned, scripted sales pitch.

I hate cold calls, but a scripted message is worse in my opinion, because you can’t simply hang up.

I’ve no formal training in sales, but I can spot bad sales techniques a mile away and I think, given that this business pays for a lifestyle, I can’t make schoolboy errors in selling or in the quality of service I provide.

The key to social media selling, in my view, is to join in, not hover like that kestrel and drop some inane sales pitch in and fly off, but join in and contribute. You don’t have to add value or be the equivalent of beige trousers or vanilla ice cream, as many experts state, but you do have to contribute, which shows what you’re like and your commitment to communication.

I had a Homer Simpson epiphany a few months ago and shared it on social and it went sort of viral with a reach of over 100,000.

It stated something like that I realised I was good at selling, because I’d had to sell English as a teacher to tough clients – teenage pupils in challenging schools. If I could make them listen to poetry, buy into “A View from the Bridge” and “Macbeth”, surely I could convince businesses and start-ups to buy into copywriting and web design, without being one of those awful teachers who moans about respect yet treated kids badly and provided lessons that were dull.

Social selling is selling without selling.

It’s selling, if you like, by stealth.

The people I connect with may not need a website now, but they may in the future – or someone they know may.

If you’re helpful, sociable and knowledgeable, then selling socially will be easy.

Pestering, haranguing and repeatedly selling your services makes that difficult.

My business is now successful, but it’s been a long haul, a marathon; but I’ve held true to my principles when selling literature to demanding school clients and I’m not going to change that formula now.

No call to action either you see at the end – you know what to do, if you need help, I don’t need a pesky internal link.

 

 

Off to Paris at Christmas before Little Brexit Britain shuts down in March

%name Paris

I’ve never ever understood the mentality that Britain is Great.

When we hop across to France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Spain et al, I have never once thought “not as nice as Scunthorpe” or “I prefer Oldham” or “Blackpool tower has better views.”

No.

That’s why the Brexit vote bewildered me. Okay it was predicated on lies painted on buses, but surely anyone with a modicum of sense can see that continental Europe top trumps Little Britain for everything.

Like:

  • Road network
  • Food and drink
  • Culture
  • Sightseeing
  • Cost of living
  • The weather

Yet 52% voted to Leave this on the deluded belief that Britain would be better off alone.

Hence the trip to Paris at Christmas before the doomsday predictions for March 2019 see us marooned and that 26 mile channel gulf widening further.

We’ve other motives too – we last went 8 years ago in summer and our daughter has only vague recollections of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, yet oddly can recall the street hawkers selling bottled water then waterproof capes when the heavens opened.

Son James turns 18 next week, and having his mum’s flair for languages, intends to study French (and English Literature) for degree next year at the University of Warwick. It’s his birthday treat too.

I like travel. It does broaden the mind. I love city breaks, having experienced Berlin recently and Rome the year before. I’m no fan of London though, to be honest but Paris is something I’m keenly anticipating.

I wish we had the backbone of the French too – would they have let Brexit happen? Doubt it, they blockade streets over the cost of living. Would they have allowed the pernicious privatisation of schools, like we did with Multi Academy Trusts (who I don’t trust)? No.

As we cross the channel (keeping it real, driving from Great Yarmouth to Paris) and the bluebirds yammer over the white cliffs and we set off to Paris from Calais, I’ll take one backward glance and ask:

”British people, why did you believe Farage, Gove, Johnson et al? Why do you want to cut yourself off from this road trip?”

I will showcase all on Instagram if you need further convincing.

 

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