The new iPad Pro 12.9 – a web designer’s dream

I know I was fixated with Apple and tried, with counselling and support, to wean myself off this expensive habit, but it sucked me back in. That pesky iOS, suitable for a 3 year old or 93 year old, in its simplicity, made me return as an Apple sheep again.

Quick recap – when the iPhone XS and XS Max were released, I scoffed at that notch and their prices – £1499 for a mobile phone – and promptly, petulantly, traded in my iPhone 8 Plus for a Samsung Note 9.

The defection then saw me sell my Apple Watch, HomePod and go all Open Source with a Google Home Max and Samsung Watch.

Increasingly though, armed with an older iPad Pro and a Mac, I missed the integration. The omission of photos on phone being airdropped to Mac or iPad or stored in iCloud began to bug me and although the Note 9 took better photos, had a superior display and was excellent, I decided to divorce it and remarry an iPhone.

Now on a XS Max, I know it’s a better fit for my life as a Norwich web design freelancer, but an inferior product.

I’ve now gone the whole hog and invested in a new HomePod as I like taking iPhone calls on it and the sound quality is impressive and invested recently in a 3rd gen iPad Pro, which is lightning fast.

I had an 11 inch iPad Pro initially and despite reassurances that size didn’t matter in counselling I knew it did.

The problem is though that having invested in an 11 and 12.9, I prefer the 11 in so many ways. It’s so much a better size for surfing online and checking emails and social. It is a perfect tablet for casual use and professional.

There’s other reasons an iPad Pro in either size is great – photo editing and that pencil. I invested in a couple of low price editing apps and last year bought a low end Canon DSLR to take high res photos locally of Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Norwich as a hobby and SEO tool. The USB C to SD card dongle makes photo transfer a doddle and editing on the iPad Pro is easier than on the iMac in Photoshop. I love it.

The pencil too is great for when I’m proofreading for clients as I can mark up documents, adverts, PDFs in Notability and send them back for changes very quickly. That app Notability has replaced my beloved Moleskine notebooks and fountain pen too (pretentious, moi?) and notes from clients, lists of things to do sync across all devices. I can add titles like Naturally Vegan Food notes and find the scribbles I made on that website design very quickly.

As for web designing on the iPad Pro, certain elements are possible like changing content, images and colours, but the precision is lacking as the iPad Pro does not support an external mouse or easy import of docs and files.

iOS 13 though is supposed to address many of these issues and though Dark Mode is its hotly anticipated feature on the Beta release, I’m hoping for improvements that will make the iPad Pro a laptop slayer.

Working on one, watching YouTube, scribbling with that pencil, is so much more satisfying than working on my MacBook Pro or iMac.

I justify spending on them as it’s my primary job – I write for businesses, design websites and manage social media.

Being locked in a comfy Apple jail makes it so much more enjoyable.

Does greed kill Norwich web design agencies?

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I don’t gloat when I see a web design agency locally or further afield go under, or cease trading. Far from it, I’ve been there myself in education – when I was metaphorically thrown under a bus – but that trauma is the past, a foreign country, it has become.

When I heard that a town I used to work in, Bolton, is so indebted as a football club, that no employees have been paid in March and April, it saddened me.

Admittedly, those footballers on high salaries shouldn’t need to panic, perhaps, but the groundsmen and women, admin staff, cleaners, cooks, physios etc, will be worried. No wonder.

I do think though that, in the context of many web design agencies, and possibly footballers, they’ve sacrificed themselves on the altar of pure avarice.

Locally to me, here in east Norfolk, I know of one web design agency who charge £199 + VAT per hour and another in Norwich who top trumps them at £400 + VAT per hour. Only this week, I pitched and won a web design contract, where the lowest quote nearest me was £3500 more.

Now don’t get me wrong.

I’ve few overheads. I work from home. I don’t pay for an office space, commuting, parking or employees. I’m a one man band. Sole trader in my own Ltd Company. Therefore, after tax, liability insurance and living expenses, much of my modest hourly rate for copywriting, management of social media marketing, web design Norwich and elsewhere, is profit.

I’m sure if I had a team of 10 developers, a large office, pensions etc to pay, £200 per hour would be logical. But it’s not for me. Nor for the target audience I’m working for.

ASOS, Amazon, eBay, Next are not going to come knocking on my front door, asking me for a new website or copy. Course they’re not. My target audience is start-ups, small and medium sized businesses who can’t afford web design agency prices but perhaps want the more customised approach of a freelance web designer and their prices.

Horses for courses.

I’m over the moon that two large companies with hundreds of employees in Great Yarmouth and Norwich have had me pitch to them for web design and each company (who I’ll showcase soon) have said Yes to my proposal.

That thrills me, no end, because it means that from scratting around a few years ago for copywriting, web copy and social media, I’m actually dead busy now.

It’s because my service is good, my prices are keen and I’m hungry to dominate the local web design market, by not growing or becoming greedy.

The Old Hall at Caister, with the lovely manager, Mike Gilbert, entrusted me with a web design and writing for him. Matthew Clarke, a mate, had his photography website done by me. Same with JS Swimming Pools. Ditto, Envision CAD and the delightful man, David Frazer, who is Gorleston-based.

None of these clients, who’ve become friends, have turned round and tutted at what I’ve done. On the contrary, they’ve paid for further services.

Further down the A12, I became quite handy with flooring websites in Chelmsford and Hornchurch with Softlay, Athena Flooring Contracts, Murexin and Simply Flooring Contracts and have since done other websites in the flooring industry in Bolton and Reading.

You see, when work stacks up, I don’t sigh or shudder, I embrace it. Yes there’s an expectation that I’ll turn websites round quickly, but there are inevitable delays as I do work solo and do have other tasks to cover and prioritise.

My point is this though – I won’t become so greedy that I’ll grow to hire a team, invest in offices. No. I’m happy with no commute, few overheads working with clients who see the quality of work I do and accept that sometimes lower prices can mean better quality.

I drive a decent car, have a great lifestyle and am happy.

Next year, I can officially retire too.

Money is nice, but delivering a service that is liked and loved is more satisfying, I believe.

What more could this freelance web designer and copywriter want?

Am I on holiday in Norfolk, still?

We say it every time we travel down the Acle Straight, towards home, which was Gorleston until 3 years ago, and now Bradwell, a suburb of Great Yarmouth. Not the eponymous “Are we there yet?” but does it still feel like we’re on holiday here?

Last weekend, heading back from Norwich  the question, usually habitual, wasn’t raised. Bet you’d love to be a part of the riveting conversations the Waltons have!

Let’s rewind.

We moved here in July 2008, gifting the house away in Crowle, near Scunthorpe, for a fresh start in an area I’d cycled through once and loved in 1994, with a teaching colleague, Dave Southern from Bolton. We’d parked at Hunstanton and toured East Anglia by bike, ending up in London and then heading back to Hunstanton.

Coming from Bolton, the weather in Norfolk amazed us – warm and dry for a two week cycling tour, and I decided then, single and childless, Norfolk would be a future home.

Two teaching jobs secured locally, for myself and my wife, we upped sticks and to the anger of our then 7 year old son and 1 year old daughter, who didn’t understand events, we moved south and east.

There’s been good times and bad times here professionally, which are well documented.

But Norfolk, Great Yarmouth, after 11 years, is beginning to feel homely, even though my heart belongs in the north, I like where we live and I love the lifestyle and climate. So much so that I may be reluctant to forsake Norfolk in 6 years’ time if we do make the trek back north to County Durham, where we stayed last week at Grace’s Retreat.

I designed that website and was smitten, as usual, by the area – which I blogged about here.

But heading back from a long day in Cambridge three weeks ago and Norwich more recently, that choral conversation of “Does it still feel like we’re on holiday here” never reared its tedious head and instead other conversation flowed.

Perhaps, at long last, after living here for almost 11 years, Norfolk is home and my SEO efforts to climb page rankings as a freelance web designer Great Yarmouth and Norwich are absolutely worthwhile.

I’m getting found locally, and not just in woods  and being commissioned locally to write and design websites – my passion from my Norfolk home office.

Distance is no object though – if you’re looking for a web designer in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, or Lowestoft or you’re in Edinburgh, Manchester, London or Cardiff, I’m happy to oblige with market-leading prices with no corners cut.

Wherever you’re based, I can help your business grow.

Contact me today.

LinkedIn – the best place to promote your services

I’ll start with a fairly obvious opening gambit – if anyone on LinkedIn sends me a connection request, followed within nanoseconds by a sales pitch, I turn all Shania Twain.

If someone sends a follow up to the message Ive acknowledged with a thanks but no thanks, Shania Twain morphs into Joe Pesci and they get removed and blocked as a connection.

No one, including me, as Twain or Pesci, likes a sales message.

LinkedIn is however my best platform for sales, followed by my website, Instagram and Facebook, with Twitter, for me, pissing around in the background.

LinkedIn, done properly, delivers and we all know that old saying people do business with people they like so a copy and pasted message offering you an app, a virtual PA is not going to get me inviting you for fondues in Norfolk.

No.

You have to find a tribe, a network of like minded followers – in my case, nice people who post interesting stuff and don’t gob off about Maseratis, Rolex watches and send canned messages.

I’ve just had a month on LinkedIn Premium and will be making it permanent next week as I did feel its search tools, its InMail facility and ability to send unlimited connection requests (without that sales message) was valuable.

But if you’re not Premium, I’ll give five salient points for using LinkedIn to engage, grow business and have a laugh along the way at the smattering of pompous bellends who pop up on your feed.

  1. Make it clear what you do in your LinkedIn headline with a decent headshot (mine goes from corporate to dogging in woods as the mood captures me). My headline and location is clear: Web Designer and Copywriter. Owner of Get Pro Copy Ltd. Norwich, UK. No one likes a smart arse (apart from Mike Winnet, who is worth being on LinkedIn for, on its own – a satirical genius) who posts riddles in a headline. I design WordPress sites and I write. I could clutter it with saying GCSE English exam marker, ex teacher who had a breakdown, keen shopper, snob, Nespresso lover, driver of a BMW – but you get my point? If you’re after someone to write and design a website, let me loose.
  2. Engage in conversations and be yourself. I know this is hard if you’re toeing a company line, with a bellend of a boss, who micro-manages and monitors your every interaction. That’s not living. That’s contributing more vapid white noise on a platform that has moved away from comatose self-congratulation. Be politically correct – because it is correct, I believe – but don’t be a drone, droning on about yourself and boring everyone to tears. If you work for a twat, consider something else – you get one life, you’re not a tree, so move.
  3. Write articles sparingly. They used to get reads of 400 to 500 within a week when I posted on here but the algorithm seems to have buggered it up. 7 likes and 17 reads is now the new reach on LinkedIn, which is fairly shit. Post a snippet of an article that leads to a website and you may add the link in the comment to improve reach and trick the LinkedIn police if you can be arsed.
  4. Block people. It’s your feed. It’s your place to promote you, your brand and engage. In the schools and companies I’ve worked in I never sat with bellends over breaks and lunches to chat – so why should I on LinkedIn? It’s my staffroom, my feed and I do block people who irritate me, politically or business wise.
  5. Groups. Like articles, a waste of time. I’m a member of LinkedIn groups, but do I see the posts in there on my feed? Never. So why bother?

The last point I’d make is that it is much easier to be ballsy when you’re in sole charge. No suit will tap me on the shoulder in my office and say “Stuart, have you got a minute?” It’s one of the reasons I left employment. Being self-employed as a writer and web designer means those “difficult conversations” (apart from with the wife) never occur.

I love LinkedIn, I love self employment, I love having no bellend bosses or colleagues. I’ve thrown off the chains and shackles. It’s great. I even love Mondays.

When are you going to become your own boss and yourself on LinkedIn?

Web design courses Norwich from this ex teacher?

Should I start offering web design courses Norwich? Read on.

When I was at school, apart from English Literature, the curriculum seemed utterly pointless. The cookery teacher made Gordon Ramsay look a model of patience, maths consisted of repetitive drills, history was about roads and canals, geography was colouring in – still is apparently.

Obviously what I’d like to learn now didn’t exist – I’d love to speak French fluently but my memories of lessons back then were saying my name and age for 3 solid years, a skill I’ve never used in France ever.

Web design didn’t exist, because the nearest we got to technological ejaculation was a Casio digital watch and Pong – Google it if you’re under 40.

I’ve learned web design in the past few years in partnership and through adding content to websites directly. I’ve never ever enrolled in web design courses Norwich as to be honest I like independent learning. I do keep saying this to a point of sounding like a stuck record – web design is not particularly difficult, it’s the content that is most challenging.

Buying a domain, adding it to a hosting package, installing WordPress and adding pages is a piece of piss.

Time-consuming yes; difficult no.

Not when you’ve learned how. I did this one reasonably quickly.

I consider it a bit like me being forcibly removed from Britain for my Remainer views, stripped of my nationality and having to relocate to France, muttering “Je m’appelle Stuart; j’ai quinze ans” to the disbelief of locals.

I’d be immersed in France and mingling and would learn to speak and write it fluently within, I reckon, about a year.

I’ve been tinkering with copywriting and web design for 4 years, and I’m pretty fluent in both now, just, as I would be, if the Home Office removed my nationality and said “Off you go to Lille.”

I’d manage and become proficient quickly – just as I have with web design.

Web design courses Norwich – or Great Yarmouth – or Lowestoft – or wherever – are something I should probably consider doing, given that I enjoy an audience and love imparting information and coaching after 27 years in education.

WordPress could become my new “Of Mice and Men”.

Those PowerPoints, mouldering in forgotten folders called Poetry, could be adapted to a guide to making a website secure; compressing images for fast rendering; how to write and append a GDPR Privacy Policy in a website footer.

Okay, it’s not quite as exciting as Lennie busting Curley’s hand in Chapter 3, but, trust me, the appeal of that faded on its 20th read to classes.

What do people think?

Has this web design courses Norwich (or elsewhere) idea got legs? Would people pay to attend a workshop and come out with the basics of designing a website and become my competition?

Or should I just stick to knocking out websites for clients, undercutting web design Norwich agencies for both value and service?

I’m not sure, tbh.

Is Norwich city centre recession-proof?

Apart from Thorne, Doncaster, a place I spent 18 years in from birth to university, I’ve never remained anywhere as long as we’ve stayed in Norwich, Norfolk. I’ve had a few bad experiences here, in the recent past, in education, but even that, with hindsight, was a massive favour. I had fallen out of love with teaching and a collective kick from various people propelled me into what I now love doing: writing and web design Norwich.

We’ve been here 11 years in July, a Personal Best, and I honestly never thought our time here would be so lengthy. Dare I say it, after the experiences 5 years ago, I actually like living here, in Bradwell, a gridlocked suburb of Great Yarmouth.

Gorleston, close by, was home for 8 years, and our move to a new build 3 years ago was hardly an epic trek – with it being just 2 miles.

I love Norwich city centre too, and, as someone who likes eating out and shopping, it is a great county capital.

It seems to me too to be fairly recession-proof. The blight that is obvious in so many city centres – failed businesses, shuttered premises, empty retail units, vacant restaurants are lacking in Norwich. Admittedly we’ve seen changes to the city centre in our 11 years here, but it’s not dramatically altered and is rightly, as it calls itself, “a fine city”.

Property prices are not low there though, even though statistically, wages are below average, I read. You won’t get much change out of £200,000 in the city centre, which may strike you as cheap if you’re comparing London or expensive if you’ve got other comparables.

The cost of living is quite high too.

Eating out in Norwich is relatively expensive, I think, and the costs of goods and services (to go all old skool) is high – getting a wall built or a decent discount on a car is challenging in Norwich and Norfolk. 

But I’m trying to buck the local trend with my WordPress website offers.

I was talking with a joiner last week, who’d been looking at getting a website, with the lowest quote being £500 plus VAT for a simple brochure site. He’s now bought into my deal for £299 no VAT. Northern prices in an eastern county. The websites are not poor either and I don’t compromise on service or what’s included as you can see in the image or my prices.

Obviously, this is just one aspect of my work – if you’d like to know more, contact me today.

 

I hate meetings but love meeting in Norwich

Today, someone asked me to meet in Norwich and as I’d intended to meet someone anyway, my diary shouted “Go.” 

Normally, client meetings irritate as the time spent over coffee could be spent on actually designing, writing and marketing. I’m not anti-social but have been mightily fed up in the past when a 60 mile round trip, £5 parking bill and a lunch over 2 hours, results in nothing coming of it.

But today, I felt that because this client had seen a website launched for a local hotel for Mike Gilbert, The Old Hall Hotel  Caister, that I should make the effort.  

SEO is being aimed squarely at Norwich and Norfolk (not the hospital) and it felt churlish to decline. 

You see web design Norwich is partly what Get Pro Copy Ltd is about and yet when I look at my portfolio, just 9 have actually come from this fine city. 

Which surprises me.

If you know Norwich, it’s a splendid city, surrounded by magnificent countryside, big blue skies and a coastline that is spectacular in places. 

North Norfolk is renowned for its beaches, like at Wells and Holkham, but further south, beaches like Sea Palling, Horsey and Winterton have their own charms (and lower property prices).

Norwich has been largely unaffected by manufacturing recessions as it has little industry to speak of.

Admittedly Colman’s Mustard has gone but Aviva (or Norwich Union) lives on as does the city centre’s thriving reputation for retail and restaurants.

Even though I have perennially itchy feet, I like being associated with Norwich.

“A fine city” is not just marketing speak – it is true, trust me.

When you look more closely online at Web Design Norwich companies, there’s none, as far as I can see, that offer what I do which is design, copywriting and social media. Some agencies do – but you’ll pay a hefty wedge to them and you can get your bottom dollar, outsourcing and low pay is the norm.

Controversial I know.

This means that, though Norfolk may be slow to travel around (I think it’s the only English county without a motorway), I promise reasonably fast website design. I’m in demand because I deliver and don’t charge excessively for my services.

Built on WordPress by an expert, populated with words by an English graduate copywriter and launched on social media to get your business off to a flying start.

So if you’re based in Norfolk, or Norwich city centre or its environs, and are looking for a web design freelancer, looking to support a local company, get in touch with me – we can help you get seen online quickly and economically with a website and social media presence as alluring as Norwich itself, with no congested tailbacks of us waiting for web content from you and with a “Broad” social media launch that will make your business stand out, like Happisburgh lighthouse.

If you’re in Manchester, Bristol, London, Leeds, I can help you too.

You can trust this Norwich web design freelancer.

I’m hoping that the client I met in Marzano in the Forum trusts me too. I’ll keep you posted – assuming you’re remotely interested.

Starting a business is exciting – avoid partnerships at all costs though

Starting any business, particularly after paid employment, can be incredibly exciting and daunting, at the same time.

You’ve got the fear of leaving the known for the unknown; leaving a salary to risk all on a business idea.

We’ve been there ourselves.

It’s not an easy decision to make.

You will probably lie awake at night thinking – with anticipation and dread.

It’s human nature – but what I can say, having walked the walk, and left secure paid employment for the freelance freedom is go for it but make sure you’re prepared.

Freelance brings incredible liberty – those politics of the office watercooler, the stifling hierarchies of management can be consigned to your mental recycling bin.

You are free.

Except you’re not.

If you fail at freedom.

So I thought I’d give a handy aide-memoire, a checklist to becoming successful as, dare I mutter that dreaded word, an entrepreneur.

There.

I’ve said it.

Not too painful in this context.

So where do you start?

Let me help with my lucky 7 point list:

  1. THE BIG IDEA. Success largely depends on the business idea or business ideas you have and your ability to turn the idea into profit. If your business doesn’t make a profit, it’s self-defeating. You have to have a vision of what you’re selling in terms of products and services, whether there’s demand for it, and, most importantly, you can draw a salary from it. Granted, you need to speculate to accumulate. A business needs an investment plan. An investment plan needs funds, but without the concept, the idea and the drive and acumen to promote and succeed, you may fail. Failure though can be rewarding in that lessons are learned. Don’t see failure as an end to your start-up.
  2. SOLE TRADER, LIMITED COMPANY, PARTNERSHIP. There’s pros and cons to these. What I would advise is to not enter into partnership. Worst ship ever to sail. Stay solo and sub-contract.
  3. SUPPORT. It’s easier to go into business, with reduced risks, if you have salary security from a partner in paid employment. Your friends and family can support you not only financially, but with motivation and a pair of critically objective eyes and ears. If you’re a sole trader, or even a partnership, it’s good to run strategies and ideas by others.
  4. THE WHOLE PACKAGE. If you’re serious about business success, you can’t dip your toe in the water’s edge and dive in without the full support package there – to stretch a metaphor. You need a logo designing, words writing, business cards, brochures, printed literature, a website, a marketing plan, social media marketing in place. You do this BEFORE you launch your big idea, your business, your website.
  5. WEBSITE. Any business, whether sole trader start up, or an established multi-national company, needs an online presence. It shows and tells the world who you are, what you offer and how you do this. A website needs to be adaptable, attractive and future-proof. It needs to be visible globally, 24 hours a day, without interruption. It needs to showcase what you offer in a clear and compelling way. The layout needs to be logical, images attractive, the text easy to understand, with calls to action embedded on every page. It can have two sections: Home and Contact, or 22. The website design you choose and the team you choose to create this need to be able to adapt your shop window, your website, next week, next month, next year.
  6. MARKETING. We’ve all done this. Commissioned a website. Marvelled at it. Been creative with marketing for a month and then lose interest. You may not have done, but others have. Once your website is built, the real long slog begins. Networking to spread your brand, email marketing to potential customers who’ve signed up to your website, phone calls, printed marketing and the big one, social media marketing.
  7. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING. Let’s make something clear if you’re embarking on a business venture, you may not give two hoots about social media. You don’t have a Facebook account, you never go on Instagram, Snapchat is for kids, you don’t get Twitter, you’ve forgotten your LinkedIn password and never bothered to reset it, or you just engage in one platform. You need to separate your personal social media points of views and start thinking of these as a marketing tool. You need a blended social media marketing approach – to capture the biggest audience on wherever they hang out and engage them. Not for a week, not for two months, but for the next few years. Yes it’s hard work, tweeting, posting Facebook statuses, sending Snapchats, posting on Instagram and LinkedIn successfully every day. There’s shortcuts, there’s quick wins but mainly it’s a creative slog. I personally love doing it for my own business and others. Others don’t – that’s why they pay me.

Now the point is this.

When you ask me to help your start up, you will get help.

  1. You will get a superb website designed on WordPress.
  2. You will get all the content written accurately and compellingly by me, a graduate in English.
  3. You will not be dropped when your website is live – your social media is run, with blog posts included on many packages, for a week, a month or beyond.

Contact me today – [email protected]

Why isn’t there an Escape to the City?

I used to like watching property programmes – along with the rest of the population – back in the day.

Occasionally, channel surfing, I’ll pause still on “Grand Designs”, “Homes under the Hammer” and “Escape to the Country” and watch for 10 or 15 minutes. I don’t often linger as I saw most on first airing and I already know the outcome.

“Grand Designs” always goes over budget but they get there in the end, despite McCloud’s pursed lips and sotto voce mutterings to the Channel 4 camera team.

The hammer always falls on some wreck (oddly and usually in Stoke on Trent) with the owners quickly making £20,000 in six months selling to someone on a zero hours contract.

“Escape to the Country” is an absolute waste of everyone’s time, it seems to me, as everyone wants alpacas, three acres, a Waitrose within a mile for under £200,000. The voice over at the end confirms our suspicions that this couple were doing it for 50 minutes of fame on Dave and had no intention of ever leaving suburbia (and that Waitrose nearby).

I do wonder though about an Escape to the City, as to me city life, at least in Norwich, my closest, looks appealing.

Okay. I admit Spencer and Allsop the worst negotiators (and mum) on television cover that in their tiresome routine that never makes me pause the channel surfing, but a programme dedicated to city property, to me at least, has legs.

Would love to present it too. Warts and all.

I can see myself standing on Hills Road in Cambridge, saying look at these buildings, look at the size of John Lewis, but the noise and smell is unbearable. Don’t buy near here.

Or near Great Eastern Street in London, where my sister lived, saying “yes it’s trendy, but they empty bins at 2 am and you’ll never ever sleep well.”

Maybe I won’t land that job?

Norwich though is a different kettle of poisson.

There’s two areas I’d give a wide berth to in the city centre (I’m sure you can guess) but most parts I’d gladly call home and here’s why.

Norwich is quite cosmopolitan given that it is relatively isolated. It seems to me, from the north, to be quite prosperous too, and recession proof as it was never really a manufacturing base, apart from mustard. It is quietly entrepreneurial too, with many small businesses popping up and thriving around The Lanes.

Mostly though, it feels safe, very safe, as safe as County Durham.

It’s not the type of city where you keep one eye ready to look over your shoulder. There’s little anti-social behaviour in the city. There’s a serious and growing population of the homeless, but never, ever, walking or driving through Norwich night or day, have I felt any sense of threat, any frisson of menace. 

I think I could live there with my city centre address propelling me further up search terms for web design Norwich and freelance web designer Norwich

There’s another reason too. 

Last night, after a fine meal at Cote Brasserie, we went to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform “Romeo and Juliet” at the Theatre Royal. The food and performance were both excellent and walking across the city at 10.30pm back to the parked car, made me think that yes I could easily live here. 

And yes, I could easily present a programme on city living. 

I’d be more Karl Pilkington than Jools or Phil Spencer, but it’s something I could see myself doing and doing well. 

“Escape to the City” episode one Norwich presented by Stuart Walton – has a certain ring to it. 

Woodland walks close to my Norfolk home

When my nose isn’t pressed firmly to the grindstone of work, which it tends to be nowadays, I often have a 60 minute to 90 minute daily sabbatical of a dog walk with the most recent addition to the family, a rescue border collie, who is delightful.

Working from home is wonderful, but when I was first anchored here, I had to force myself to go out.

Not because I’d developed some sort of Boo Radley social fear, but simply because I was totally focused on copywriting, social media management for clients (and myself) and freelance web design.

Adopting a dog in September 2018 changed all that.

I can’t stay glued to my Mac in my foxy home office when there’s a tail-wagging daily frenzy which translates into – “Put the work down and get me walked.”

Gladly too.

4 miles most days in all conditions is good for body and mind, I meet and chat with people, whereas without a dog, some Nimby would no doubt be calling the police about a tall, careworn man, who wanders woods daily.

If you know Bradwell and Gorleston, I’d recommend this walk. It’s got advantages in that it’s easily accessible by car or on foot and is impressive as the A143 and A47 (A12 as was) are not audible en route.

There’s a new road, connecting the A47 and A143, where we live on Bluebell Meadow and a 150 yard stroll takes me daily to a deserted footpath that passes just 4 houses on its 3 mile length and takes in mud, puddles and woods, which the dog, Cassie, loves, even when asked to sit in arctic conditions:

The route takes you south along the muddy bridleway, and when you pass two cottages on the left, that’s your cue to turn left for Bluebell Woods, which is decked with bluebells in April and May.

A stile crossed, with a big house to your right, you can go across the field, or turn left into the woods. I mix it every day to keep it real, generally preferring the field traverse.

In the woods, you can’t go wrong. There’s a part signed Keep Out which leads to a dead end anyway near Hobland Kennels, and you can wend round Beacon Park and actually leave the woods near the Captain Manby. 

I tend to head back to the new road, and again, it’s a walk that I enjoy most days as you witness seasonal change close at hand. 

Back on the new road, or Nurburgring, as I prefer to call it, as 30 mph seems to be flouted by every driver on there, and the few, who stick to it, are overtaken relentlessly by bellend drivers, it seems to me.

You can then cross the pruned wood to Woodfarm lane and weave back to Beccles Road via a bridlepath next to Ormiston Venture (Oriel High as was) or cross the field and footings of the next Persimmon phase.

There’s wildlife in abundance – pink-footed geese, various birds of prey, Muntjac deer and squirrels. Lots of squirrels. 

I’d recommend it and if you see me en route after reading this, say hello to me. 

I’m not a Norfolk local but I am northern and friendly. 

Are you exploiting the millions of zombies?

I am a zombie. My daughter is, my wife and son less so. We are the living dead.

Walking round with fixed stares.

Stares set on screens – living life through a lens, vicariously, whatever you want to call it.

Not alone though as most of the population seem glued to smartphones and the internet. It’s revolutionised life, changed business cultures and destroyed, perhaps, the high street as we knew it, 20, 30 years ago.

You either embrace your zombie clientele or end up as a footnote in history, like Woolworth’s, BHS, Toys R Us, the Goliaths amongst the Davids who’ve all crashed and burned in recent years.

Any business needs to be online and active on social media – whether that’s a start up or an established brand.

Look at Greggs – would their vegan sausage roll have made such an impact without that PR exercise on social media? I doubt it.

Few may go online and order a pallet of Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls, but anyone walking through an identikit town in Britain may wander in there to see what the fuss is all about.

That sausage roll campaign would have got nowhere without viral online marketing, with Piers Morgan chipping in, with the general population not knowing, perhaps, that the same PR manages him and Greggs.

They have an app too and a delivery service with active social media channels.

Life in 2019 for any business needs to be like that – social, digital and disruptive (a word I dislike).

If you’ve got the germ of an idea for a business in Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Norwich or elsewhere, sit and make a plan. Write down ideas. Develop a brand. Get found on social. Build a tribe of followers. Be likeable.

Oh and get a website from this freelance web design Norwich expert.

You can even pay online now for it, after you’ve chatted with me.

How to get found on Google in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston?

There’s riches in niches, clearly, and I’ll grab a knife, carve that humble pie and eat a slice now, because, I admit to being wrong. There. Said it. A native of Yorkshire admitting fallibility is unheard of. But I’m wrong.

You see, in my aim for SEO dominance with this venture, I went for low competition and medium to high search volumes and ignored the low search volumes. 

Confused?

Let me in explain in simpler terms.

1,000 people per month search for web design Norwich and I wanted a piece of this. 100 people per month search for freelance web designer Norwich so I targetted this search phrase too.

You might want to be found for dog groomer Gorleston, childminder Bradwell, window cleaner Great Yarmouth, removal firm Norwich – you get the idea.

So what happened when I narrowed my scope down, so to speak.

The tactics worked and this freelance web design and copywriting company is now appearing on Google for those – admittedly you’d get repetitive strain injury clicking “Next Page” or “More Results” to find me for web design Norwich, but I’m on there after a concerted content and social campaign in just 8 months.

This is where I went wrong though as in the past three weeks, I’ve had four firm enquiries about freelance web design from people who’d searched web design Great Yarmouth. Google told me there were only 10 searches a month for that term so I ignored it.

Not any more though.

What I’ve learned whilst eating that pie is that:

  • Search volumes is not the Holy Grail of optimising your content. Competition is. The number of firms competing in Norwich, my nearest city, is much higher than here in Yarmouth, Gorleston, Bradwell and yet I’ve taken on new clients who found me online locally.
  • Social media matters just as much. I promoted a post locally on Facebook and Instagram for a modest tenner about where I live, Great Yarmouth. It was, I hope informative and engaging, and not sales oriented and again two messages have resulted from that £10 promotion. One asking about writing, another about web design.
  • A website audit (which I offer free) will tell you about SEO and SMO (Social Media Optimisation – if there is such an acronym) and I’ve learned that a business ignores social at its peril. Your client base, your readers are scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn and that subliminal, guerrilla, stealth marketing takes place there. You engage them on the apps, by offering something of worth, and then, when they make a decision to buy, they choose you, as web designer, estate agent, undertaker or whatever.

So I was wrong this week. Now I’m going for niches and all out on social media to keep me in the lifestyle I’m accustomed to: a BMW that does 26 miles to the gallon, San Pellegrino on tap, and gluten free humble pie. 

If you’re not appearing on searches and have no idea where to start, get in touch with me. I can get you found online for car hire Great Yarmouth, removal firm Lowestoft, tattoo artist Gorleston or indeed in any other field of work in any other part of the country.

I may have been wrong this week, but most of the time I know what I’m doing and I do it well. 

Put me to the test when you’re ready. 

Are you actively pursuing 5 star Google reviews?

I’m of an age when I remember the thud of Yellow Pages and the BT phonebook landing though letterboxes, the free newspaper (which I carry now from the welcome mat to recycling as it lands) and the days of buying newspapers, which seems so arcane, that I actually pinch and zoom when I stumble upon one.

Long opening sentence aside – my point is this.

Marketing has changed with the internet and won’t ever be the same. If your business is stuck in the 70s to 90s, it will slowly die. Marketing is on social and search engines, predominantly.

This brings me neatly to Google reviews. Did you know that having a business verified on Google Maps and Google My Business is a ranking factor, along with your presence on social media. Did you know that a Google review positively affects rankings, particularly on maps?

I’m 8 months old as a freelance web designer Norwich next week.

Don’t see me as a foetus though, as this 8 month old business has previous as a solo copywriter and in 12 months in a web design partnership.

I know too that the best review strategy is still P2P, people to people, word of mouth, but a close second is social and search.

Your business needs to be registered on Google, through sitemap submission and signing up to Google My Business, who then send a postcard (how 1975) with a code to verify. It stops people setting up businesses on maps at fake addresses for SEO, obviously. Your website needs to be fast to load and responsive too.

When you’re signed up for Google (Analytics, Bing, Apple Maps, Yelp, Yell, Thomson Local, local business directories), you then can focus on getting 5 star reviews.

My advice is clear.

If you don’t politely direct clients to write a 5 star review, they won’t usually do it. You have to tell them with screenshots and instructions how to do it. I do this regularly and only one client so far has refused – yet without irony, asked me to do some website changes to the next day. Which I did.

They are vital because the number of reviews appears on Google Maps – I’ve 23 of them.

People like to check out reviews before a purchase, I’ve been looking at Bose Quiet Comfort 35 ii headphones (praying my wife doesn’t read this!) and like any inquisitive human, have read reviews of them on John Lewis, Amazon and review sites. I’ve not bought any. Yet. The reviews though assure me it would be a good decision.

Whatever products or services you are selling, you need to build trust with a Google review policy. Contact me if you need more advice.

What does responsive website design mean?

Responsive website design is probably a term you’ve heard of and even perhaps know what it means.

I won’t keep you hanging – responsive means it fits to screen on mobile, desktop and tablet.

I used to naively think that a web designer created a website and hey presto it rendered correctly on all devices. If only. I, in common with other Norwich web design companies, build a website on a desktop machine, then have to work through how it appears on a smartphone, laptop and tablet.

I’m quite methodical in making them all render well.

A website is toggled off coming soon and I view it on my Note 9, Dell laptop, and iPad Pro and adjust images, text sizes, icons and menus accordingly.

Effectively, a page, like the Home page is designed and checked three or four times and every page undergoes the same process.

So many websites are still unresponsive – meaning on your iPhone or Samsung or Pixel you have to pinch and zoom and resize when a responsive website design, done right, does all that for you as a matter of course. Does yours?

This responsive website design Norwich freelancer can sort it.

It’s vital obviously because if 83% of internet activity – whether you’re on the apps of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or asking Siri, Google Assistant or surfing on Chrome or Safari, your website not only needs to feature on social and search but also appear right on mobiles and tablets.

I am also offering now a fully comprehensive free audit of your website. This evaluates your page speed, page size (should be under 5MB), your social media optimisation (mine gets a cross for low activity on YouTube, which I’m addressing) and a bulleted list of priorities. Which you can tackle.

This comes with no strings attached – all I need is your email address and domain name to check and you’ll get a free PDF audit in no time. Contact me now – [email protected]

2019 begins as 2018 ended – excellently.

Christmas this year was a bit of a damp squib as 12 year old daughter, Ruby, was forced to admit that she knew Santa was fictitious and she knew last year too. I became suspicious when I saw the letter to Santa had been replaced by a full Amazon basket, which irked as I’m weaning myself off exploitative companies.

New Year was similarly lacklustre – they both lose some appeal when you accept that drinking is no longer the main agenda item for 2 weeks.

2019 though has begun as 2018 ended – brilliantly.

This web design Norwich freelancer continues to accrue website deals on what seems like a daily basis. Bragging yes but truthful? Yes.

The only fly in the ointment so far has been deceit from an estate agent I write for (or used to write for) and still owes me money with the usual dog ate my homework excuses.

This irritates me, as I did the 750 word piece at the start of December, yet am still awaiting payment. Ordinarily I’d be accepting of this, but given that this estate agent near Derby, expects 24 hour turnaround, it’s a bit rich to take 31 days and counting to stump up.

Most clients though are great. I’ve met five in 4 years who I would not work with again – 3 of this group are estate agents, unsurprisingly perhaps. But, some of my best clients like Nick, Chris, Stephen and Julia – are all estate agents and great ones to work with.

I have high hopes for the rest of this year too, as my radar for spotting bellend clients is now finely tuned. They probably say the same about me, I know.

I’ve not written any resolutions – as I’ve been resolute in 2018 personally and professionally.

The success of 2018, with 100 website designs, is a target for this year.

6 days in, I have 5 new website projects on the go, with quite a few others bubbling under.

That makes up, in part, for quite an ordinary festive period. 

I’m looking forward to next Christmas too, as we will be spending it on a walking holiday in some remote hilly corner of Britain.

Have a great 2019.

The literary heritage of Norwich and Norfolk

I don’t claim to be a native of Norfolk at all. We moved here for careers in teaching and a coastal lifestyle 11 years ago and it’s a good place to bring up children and live.

The roads are antiquated and that warmth you get from conversations in the north is conspicuous by its absence, but it’s home, more so to our two children than us and I can see its attractions as a place of literary pilgrimage for quite a few well known authors.

Let’s start with Charles Dickens – ok he lived in Kent, but he did live in Blundeston, Suffolk for a while and having read Claire Tomalin’s biography I marvelled at his walks into Norwich from there – a good 20 miles each way. He also set “David Copperfield” partly here and captures the accent and dialect of Great Yarmouth remarkably well, though I’ve yet to finish reading this voluminous novel.

More recently, Ian McEwan studied creative writing at the UEA and his work resonates as he was for a few years my favourite novelist. In fact, when we got married in 1999, the wedding cake depicted three books: Enduring Love, The Child in Time and Amsterdam.

All three are tragic yet they represented facets of our early relationship.

John Boyne, author of “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, was another student at UEA and his holocaust novel was inspired by the fences he saw when looking from his windows in his accommodation in the Golden Triangle of Norwich.

Lastly, though I’ve not researched this properly, is Kazuo Ishiguro, also at the University of East Anglia, and his time here marked in at least one novel: “Never Let Me Go” with North Norfolk, the rich honeypot of east Anglia featuring prominently.

Norwich bills itself as a “fine city” and the UNESCO City of Literature and it is a fine place, not just in terms of climate, but also in its vibe. It does have an underbelly though with the highest percentage of homeless people of any town per head of population and Riverside Road is apparently edgy at weekends, but in visiting Norwich regularly most weeks, I’ve yet to see anything that alarms me, apart from the onerous car parking charges.

It’s why when I dream about moving up north to County Durham or Northumberland or the northern Pennines, I sometimes stop and think. Norwich is a great city to live near and have a web design company based here, and do I really want to sacrifice this weather, this coastline, the lack of casual conversation for hills and longer chats on daily walks with my border collie? The jury is out.

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. 

 

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