The UK is in lockdown and has officially been so since the evening of 23 March 2020. What have you been doing this past week? Have you been spending the time reflecting on your present and future situation?
With much of the world working from home, it's important that you maintain as much 'normality' as possible and continue to schedule tasks while committing to your daily schedule. Some of the greatest businesses in the world, were borne out of the most difficult times in history by people who believed in themselves and were committed to their own success. It's time to get resourceful!
You might want to take this opportunity to maintain your efforts and stay engaged with your plans, so that you can look towards a better future. Remember:
This isn't time to spend your days sleeping in and binge-watching TV, or scrolling up and down your social media accounts. It's the time to seek out new opportunities.
Here are some suggestions that you might like to think about:
Please know that the Perfect Layout team are here to support your business and offer any assistance you might need for your website and digital marketing.
We encourage everyone to remain calm and look past the current situation, knowing that we will recover and that prosperity is on the other side.
Stay safe, stay inside, and enjoy this time of reflection that has never before been possible.
There is a lot of information going out to businesses and employees at the moment about financial support. The information isn't static and is evolving daily. Many businesses will be frustrated and concerned.
One of our clients, RBSS Consulting is available to help you find the best way to keep your business afloat during these challenging times. At the time of writing this, 23 March 2020, the operational mechanisms for delivery and implementation are still being worked on. Here is what we know so far:
Money will not come directly from Government to businesses. It's a wholesale process and it's the Government British Business Bank that will be liaising with selected banks.
It is expected that by Tuesday 24 March, it will be clearer on how to get money out to businesses suffering now.
Key highlights however are:
1. The CBILS is being disbursed through the banks and even this is evolving with time
2. The schemes are taking time to set up and they think it will start to become available from Tuesday the 24th March
3. Some of the information is still changing rapidly
4. No matter how big or small you are, the government is saying that schemes will become available ranging from Universal Credit for Self Employed to Grants and Loans for SME's
5. Look at your insurance policy under the business interruption section to ensure that this is not covered as the Government will not double fund
6. Government will pay up to 80% of salaries of staff who are kept (where it can be proved that these staff are about to be let go due to the crisis) covering wages of up to £2,500 a month. Does that mean the employer still has to pay the balance? Probably, yes
7. Please note that GRANTS only relate to business rates and you will be contacted directly by the local authority and not vice versa if you are entitled to this
8. Relief for Statutory Sick Pay available
9. Mortgage Holidays even for Buy-to-Let properties
10. IR35 tax reforms postponed for a year
Are you facing Cash Flow problems right now?
If yes, then patience and forbearance is what is requested, local authority, trade bodies, banks and brokers are all getting operational mechanisms in place. The key thing to note is Grants are all rate related and Loans will be through banks most likely through the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG)
More detailed information is available from the Government website. Here are the participating banks and partners.
TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR SUPPORT VIA CBILS, THE SMALL BUSINESS MUST:
To apply for an CBILS-backed facility, businesses may wish to consider approaching one or more participating lenders to discuss their borrowing needs.
There is a lot that is changing and information becoming obsolete in a matter of days. So please keep listening and reading, or contact RBSS Consulting directly on 0333 355 1696.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the latest leader of news, Covid-19, is having a massive impact worldwide. The World Health Organisation has declared the Coronavirus, a global pandemic. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 and existing prevention measures of the infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
Easier said than done for so many businesses where contact with people is part of the service they provide. Yesterday, I was in London and a taxi driver told me that he was going to have to talk to his Financial Advisor soon as he couldn’t afford to make the repayments on his cab. He said that business had reduced by 80%.
Many businesses are changing how they work by making remote working the default for employees. In a short space of time, presenteeism culture that was so highly regarded in many industries, has been replaced by home working, staggered hours and redundancies. The knock-on effect of this has been immense.
Airlines have been heavily affected as domestic and international flights have been grounded. Recently, the chairman of Virgin Group was said to be in the process of urging the government to provide up to £7.5bn of emergency state support to rescue the UK aviation industry. The economy is coming to a standstill.
So what can businesses do to adjust their strategy? Communicate to customers in a clear, concise and accurate way current positions, on what changes have been made and how. This can be done via a website, advertising or marketing campaign.
Advice from gov.uk is to:
1 cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough
2 put used tissues in the bin straight away
3 wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water
are not available.
4 try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
5 clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
6 do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
At Perfect Layout Digital Marketing, we are lucky enough to be able to work remotely on all our client’s projects. Whilst we love meeting up face-to-face to get to know more about the work that our client would like us to do, we have always offered (and continue to do so) the option of communicating via Skype, Zoom or regular phone calls. Email discussions are also part of our normal working pattern.
Don’t let the Coronavirus stop your online business from moving forward. We can help you!
At Perfect Layout Digital Marketing we like to talk to business owners to find out about their business. The aim is to learn and share with you the personal experiences of these business owners. What is working for them and what they have learned do differently.
We believe that sharing knowledge is a great way to help other businesses develop. We are passionate about promoting the awesome, creative and varied companies that exist not only in our area, but also beyond.
Read our interview here with Marc Denton a Wealth and Tax Planner at Wow based in Andover in Hampshire.
Tell us a bit about you?
Personally, I am married and have a baby boy which has been an amazing experience. I’m a big sports fan and regular exerciser, which I love as it is a great de-stress.
Professionally, I started my career in the fitness industry and after 10 years in the industry I was looking for a change. I ended up spending the summer at a friend’s house who was working for RBS working on property deals in London. I found it interesting and started chatting with him and then going to commercial property auctions. Meeting with investors and getting to know them enabled me to see what they were purchasing and how their finances were being structured. I then went on to become a mortgage advisor by completing the CeMAP training. This was in 2006 and then the crash came…
I love the name Wow, do you know why the company was named this?
The three founders of the company were college friends. They knew that accounting, tax and wealth management was always presented in a dull and confusing way. Most people switch off when you talk to them about these matters. They had a vision that it could be done differently and that it really was an amazing industry to be in. They started with a small office in Andover looking over a train line, presenting information to clients in a language that was easy to understand and this started gaining momentum in their business. Today it has a team of 30 staff, all with an ethics and principles that really help clients.
What else makes you stand out from other Financial Planners / Accountants?
Our passion for helping people become financially free. For me it’s about bringing money to life and creating passive income for my clients, they shouldn’t need to engage with a professional and end up having to do more work themselves. Anyone can read and recite technical details but having a grasp on what clients benefit from is a whole different ball game, and that’s what we pride ourselves on.
Across the company the level of service and the duty of care we give is above and beyond and we monitor this closely. We look at clients for the long term, it doesn’t work if you just continue to provide ad hoc work. Life and business is fluid and at a moment’s notice the landscape can change, we adapt the services and advice we offer in a timely fashion to suit the situation at hand.
Importantly on the financial planning side of the business we look at how to set up and monitor passive income, I like to design wealth so that it does not involve my clients having to complete extra work, more paper work or deal with additional stress, so as to add any additional time needed to make decisions as all that dramatically reduces the chance of achieving the goals because you simply become too “busy”.
I’ve worked, studied and been mentored by a number of millionaires over the last 13 years and developed a system that is really powerful for creating financial freedom, for some people that is money in the bank, and for others it's about having more time to spend with family and not worry about money.
What type of companies do you help? Give us some examples
We look for companies and business owners that are open to engaging and working together not just on the business but on their personal situation also, receiving the advice that we offer. We typically work with businesses with up to a turnover of £5 million. Any client with more than that, we would recommend to another trusted contact.
We have a large section of digital agencies which grew organically. These businesses are creative and have a lot of energy, and over time, we gained market leading expertise that helped their particular needs.
We also complete lots of self-assessment and tax work for the company directors and some sole traders. Whilst directors are able to grasp their business financially, the challenge for them is how to grow their personal wealth at the same time.
We get a lot of referrals from estate agents, solicitors, and other accountants and we have great working relationships with these other professionals.
I also personally have a passion for helping couples who are separating. I financial mediate alongside solicitors and help them sort out their finances. The process helps them understand mortgage needs (what can they borrow individually moving forward) and cash flow forecasting for the future, along with complex pension issues. This service provides them with fantastic clarity around what their finances will look like after they split.
Why is financial planning so important?
It’s one of those things where transparency and trust is so important, being in control of your finances is a must these days more than ever. Everyone should be looking at ways of becoming financially free, this can mean different things to different people for instance some people want money in the bank, for others they are looking to spend more time with their family. Once you have a hold on your finances you can manage the rest of your life so much easier. We help our clients look ahead to the next 5, 10 and 20 years. What is their earning potential and where will they be? Our cashflow forecaster provides is an excellent tool.
Sadly, our education system doesn’t teach us how to handle money and financial decisions. It’s life circumstances that teaches you these lessons, and sometimes these can be very painful lessons.
When you hire a financial and tax planner, how does it work? Is it a one-off assessment or do you continue working with people on their journey?
It can be a combination. For some clients they will want a clear picture on their current financial situation. People see money coming in/out and think they are OK. In that instance we provide snapshots of where they are and where they are going, for some people that is all they want to start with.
For others they may engage with us to help them plan for the future, either looking at their pensions or investments, setting up strategies or problem solving, and it is these long term clients that benefit most from our advice.
You wouldn’t not check your insurances each year and look for the best deal on the market, yet people happily leave their investments untouched for years without checking on their performance. This mindset needs to change.
It is expensive to hire a Financial Advisor?
The benefits of having a good financial planner should always outweigh any costs associated with it, the client should always be in a better position or be making more from the service than the adviser, so it will never become expensive as it pays for itself.
Our work is carried in a number of ways, we can work on an hourly basis and work within the budget of the individual/company. For some people they may want some advice around tax decisions such as paying into pension vs paying a chunk off the mortgage.
If you want us to invest your money, typically the fees come from the investments themselves therefore making it performance related.
If investments are doing well everyone earns more, but if they don’t perform then we work very hard to turn things around. It is in our interest to make sure our clients’ portfolio performs. We will have a written agreement beforehand explaining our fees and the value proposition of the work that we are doing.
Since 2006, I have advised a number of people who gone on to become financially free. This has been achieved in the financial clarity that we gave them. This provided them with the space to get on with their businesses.
What advice would you give someone unsure about their finances?
To face the initial fear and book a meeting with someone. Most financial advisors will do a fact-finding meeting free of charge and offer you a detailed explanation of their services, just be really clear on how they could help you and what you need from working together.
Also, don’t feel that you need to hire the first company you meet with. Go and meet with 3-4 companies/individuals and ask to speak with some of their clients. Get a real feel about who they are and who you feel most comfortable with. This is an important decision to get right and you are going to need to really trust them with your hard-earned money.
How does Wow find new clients?
Most of our clients come organically from the accountancy side of the business. We also get referrals from law firms, estate agents, other accountancy practices and existing clients.
I have also written for investment publications such as What Investment, Financial Advisor, and City Wire magazines, and undertaken radio interviews which helps bring clients our way.
Is there anything else that Wow offers?
Yes, I also provide mental health talks for companies in the South of England. There are a lot of financial triggers that lead to doubts and stress in people’s mind. A good friend of mine has been through the mill and started speaking about his illness.
More and more his audience was asking about financials so we got together and now have both of us speak. We go into companies and present then discuss further with individuals, the highlight was a talk we presented to Microsoft UK a few weeks ago.
Every year at Wow we undertake a BenchPress Survey that goes out to all agency owners. It is the largest survey of UK agencies. Here they can compare their own business and track against what others are doing.
They can see how companies are growing; how people promote the culture in their business; how cash flow is working and what their worries are.
Off the back of this, we produce additional webinars on the findings and push this across our social media channels. Our marketing department takes care all this and our dynamic website with lots of helpful articles and videos too.
What are the ambitions for Wow in the next 5 years?
To continue to grow, it’s an ever-evolving discussion and we are engaging all employees so it’s not just a top down approach.
You mentioned to me that you have some other projects too, tell me more about them?
I have two new opportunities in the pipeline.
In 2009 I started a property fund. In the last two years, I found more people are looking for more secure returns on their investments. With the recent changes in tax legislation, mortgage interest relief being pulled and the stamp duty on buy-to-lets this option is not as attractive as it once was.
I have a fund where Ltd companies and those with over £100k can invest. It is a secured fund that produces solid returns for investors.
I am also working on Liberty Investments; this is socially responsible investment platform for conscious investors. We are working with a fund manager who is one of the leading ethical managers in the country.
The platform helps investors to avoid companies that are investing in fracking, tobacco and other industries that they may not want to be affiliated with and will be open to all investors, its designed for those already making conscious choices in their life such as reducing plastic, organic foods etc.
Who inspires you?
On a daily basis, my son. I want to build a better future for him and surroundings that he can be proud of.
Around money management - Warren Buffet and Earl Nightingale. For mindset and energy - Tony Robbins, T Harv Ecker, Zig Ziglar and Alex Mandossian to name a few that your mind have heard of.
Can you recommend any good books you have been reading?
Yes, I really enjoyed these books:
Legacy by James Kerr
Socratic Selling by Kevin Daily
Grinding it Out by Ray Kroc
Sales Mind by Helen Kensett
Thank you for a really insightful interview. It was great to get to know more about you, Wow and the projects that you are working on. Do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share?
Here is a thought I like to remind myself of daily.
I won’t get where I need to be unless I help others get where they need to be.
With this mindset everyone wins. This is dispelling the old myths on Financial Advisors who may have been perceived to take people’s money and do what they want with it, whether it benefits the clients or not. Independent Financial Advisors can help run and manage your finances, whilst you get the education that you need to be confident to do it yourself.
If you would like to contact Marc about for finances and tax planning email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with Marc on LinkedIn
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!
Would you like more customers?
Yes, of course! I mean who wouldn't want more customers?
Would you like to get exclusive qualified leads specifically for your business?
Is that another yes, I hear?
Would you like someone else to do all of the hard work for you and you only pay a small fee for the leads that come your way?
Then you have come to the right place!!
We specialise in giving our clients genuine, exclusive, qualified leads specifically for their business.
How we do that is by creating a website that is bespoke to your business and adding all the digital marketing magic to the site, which ensures that it gets noticed. We are not offering a marketplace directory (like Bark) that send qualified leads to several other competitors, nor a listings directory, like Yell.com.
What we offer is 100% verified leads for people that are looking for YOUR services and YOUR products. When they contact us, we filter out pesky sales calls, and make sure that we pass details of valid leads for you to follow up and close the deal.
The set-up costs to you are a grand sum of £0. Yes, you read that correctly. The set up cost is FREE. Once we start generating leads, you will pay for the contact information of the person that we send to you. Like with all business leads, some you will win, but others will decide to hire someone else. Sadly that is out of our control.
So how much will the leads cost me?
That's the great thing about this, between us we decide what is the right price for a lead and industry to industry this will change. The factors we would look at are:
From there we find a fair price for both parties.
Do you do this for every business category?
No, we would need to decide whether your industry is the right fit for us. Give us a call on 01708 578 015 and we can quickly give you an answer. However, if your business leads are usually generated from a phone call, or a contact form on a website or directory, then you are likely to be a good fit for us.
Say YES, and let us help with the cost to your next holiday.
If you like the sound of our serivce, give us call today and we will schedule a discovery meeting. The new business that you generate from us, could pay for your next holiday...so, what are you waiting for?
Improving the online visibility of your business, is something that every serious business owner should be thinking about. The bottom line is that Increased visibility, equals to more customers visiting your business and thereby offering you more opportunities to make money.
The following details was originally written by us in 2017. The blog was called , 'Four simple ways to improve your businesses visibility'. It gives bite-sized options of what actions you can start taking today without making you feel overwhelmed. So what are you waiting for?
Whether you’re a small start-up business or an established company looking to increase your profits being visible must be one of your primary objectives if you want to achieve this goal. Spreading the word about what you do, the service you provide and the products you sell can be done in a variety of ways and advertising in print still a popular option. This can be accomplished through:
- Placing an advert in a newspaper or directories like Yellow Pages or Thomson Local
- Distributing leaflets through letterboxes
- Putting up your flyers in local supermarkets, newsagents, coffee shops and community centres
If you have a shop on your local high street, you will continually be advertising your brand with your logo above the door and your wares in the front window. But how many of us have a traditional shop front to be visible to passers-by?
The fact is, the way we shop is changing with an increasing number of high street shops going out of business every day. In 2016 there were a reported 15 shop closures a day across the UK and online shopping is one of the factors contributing to this outcome.
With the demise of the traditional physical shop and the increase in businesses going online, the way one advertises a business has transformed. Having an online website window can offer far more sophisticated ways to reach an endless, much broader, supply of customers potentially from around the world.
If directly reaching out to like-minded businesses isn’t your thing, or if talking to friends, family and strangers fills you with dread, one option (to start you off gently) is to go to a conference. They are full of people open to being spoken to, having an exchange of ideas and maybe most important of all - exchanging contact details. Who knows, you could be talking to the next Bill Gates!
The Perfect Layout team recently attended the free Mums Enterprise Roadshow event in London and we were delighted to see how many people attended. There were numerous stands offering various services and franchises and talks given by industry experts every half an hour. It provided the perfect opportunity to have a chat with other aspiring individuals who were keen to follow their passion and soak up as much information as possible. Whilst the topics were of a preliminary advisory level, looking beyond this, it was a brilliant place to do some networking and get our name known!
Online social networking involves working from social media platforms such as, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you have something interesting and unique to say about what you do, then use these methods to get your message out there.
As long as you stay within the terms and conditions of each social media platform, you will be able to attract new and repeat customers through what you say. You can also run advertising campaigns, gain followers and engage deeply with your customers and get to know them. They then ‘like’ or recommend what you’re offering, your credibility and reputation grows and so will your visibility and profits. The cost for using this method is mainly your time. You really do get out, what you put in, so make the effort (or hire someone to do it for you!) and start writing.
Also known as Pay-per-Click (PPC), it allows you to be seen above your competitors when a search is made using keywords related to your business. A big plus is that you can track the number of clicks people make on your advert, measure the cost and pay Google only made when a customer visits your website.
The cons of undertaking a Google AdWords campaign are that you need to really understand your business, your customers and, to a certain extent, how the internet works. For example, what words will people use when searching for your business? Choose those terms and then you can set your budget. If you have numerous search terms then your budget will need to be set accordingly. It may take a while to see a return on your investment (ROI), but over time, with some tweaking, this can be achieved.
They all help increase your visibility when search engines like Google and Bing, crawl the internet looking for sites that your website is linked to. If your business is cited on these directories, the search engines will see this and view you as being more trustworthy and credible than someone who isn’t listed. The result – your rankings improve.
It’s important to gauge the type of things your audience may want to hear about against your ability to provide them with interesting ways to share your expertise. So, get creative and start writing about how the life of your business can add value to the life of your customers.
So, step out of your comfort zone and try one of these techniques. If you want your business to be more visible online you must develop ways of reaching your customers. If investing in social media platforms isn’t your thing, then take the time to master something else first. You’ll probably surprise yourself with your own creativity and ability at thinking outside the box. The more confident you become, the more skills you’ll attain and the more your business will benefit.
If you'd like a chat any of these tips why not give us a call on 01708 578 015 it would be our pleasure to help you!
1. Keep it Fresh. Your website content must be fresh, trustworthy and informative. Search engines like new content so you have to keep your website regularly update. Don't create a website and just let it sit there forever.
2. Generate Organic Traffic (Part A). This is part of your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy and first you have to know and plan your keywords. Keywords are the words that people type into a search engine to find something on the internet. A keyword can consist of a single word, such as "bike" or an entire phrase, like "mountain bikes for beginners".
3. Generate Organic Traffic (Part B). Keyword placement is important. Make sure your 'title tags' (the words you see in your browser window) have your keywords in them. This is what search engines use for the title display in their search results.
4. Generate Backlinks. This where other internet sites link to your website. They are important because search engines look at the number and the level of quality of websites that connect to your website to determine how your page may rank on their listing. One of the most common ways of finding backlinks is in trading links with other websites.
5.Article Marketing. Article marketing is a technique to generate quality backlinks to your website quickly and easily. Each article will have an author's resource information box that is attached to your article submission and you can refer readers to your website.
6. Use Feeder Sites. A feeder site is a third party website that allows you to place content on its webite. Search engines like feeder websites and there are many feeder sites online that you can use to siphon traffic from the search engines to your website.
7. Video marketing. It is easy to submit a video to YouTube and some of the other video sharing websites. Add your site's URL to the video itself, and add a link to your site in the description of the video, too. This will help generate traffic, especially if you target keywords with your video titles!
8. Paid Traffic. Pay Per Click advertising is paying for your website to be at the top of search engine results when a person types in the keywords that best describe your product or service. The higher you bid, the higher your link will be displayed in the list and you only pay when a somebody clicks on your link.
9. Employ a specialist web design / search optimisation company. They can apply methods to get your website near the top of the search page. Employing a specialist to generate traffic will cost you money however their graphics, knowledge and input will be search friendly.
10. Remain Consistent. In order to maximise the performance of all of your traffic campaigns you need to stay consistent, adding fresh new content to your websites and consistently maximising exposure so you keep the momentum going.
If you would like help getting your website ranking on page one of Google, get in touch with our team on 01708 578 015.
Recently, we were approached by Squirrels Heath Junior School, Romford, Essex to give a presentation to their Year 6 children. We were happy to oblige and be the introductory element to a topic they were about to start called, ‘Tomorrow’s World’.
The children’s project will culminate in them creating their own website, so our talk was to help them understand better the role of a website designer and digital marketer. We explained the components that make up a good website. This encompassed, not only the visual aspects, but also the work that needs to be undertaken to make a website perform well in search engine results.
The children were engaged and participative and they asked great questions. We gave them some tips about what to think about when designing their sites in a few weeks’ time.
The teachers of Year 6 will create a shortlist of the best websites and we have been asked to judge the overall winner from each class. We look forward to seeing what they come up with!
If you would like us to come and give a talk to your group, school, or work place about web design and digital marketing get in touch by calling 01708 578 015 or emailing email@example.com.
Here's a sobering thought. Most blogs are created, and then abandoned. Yes, most new bloggers write just one post, and then give up. This is mostly due to the weight of their own expectations.
I've been blogging for the past decade. I have literally hundreds of blogs, and while I may occasionally get bored with a blog, I've never found it difficult to write for my blogs. Writing is both relaxing, and fun for me.
In this article I'm going to give you four easy tips which will help you to write more and write well on your blog -- and have fun while you're doing it, just as I do.
1. Imagine Your Reader - Your Reader Is a Real Person
Yes, I know that you have thousands of readers, or you hope that you will have someday.
But consider that each of those readers is one person, sitting in front of a computer screen. You need to talk to that one person, and not the crowd.
Get an image in your mind of the person you're writing the blog post for. It's easiest if you imagine one of your friends. Pretend that you're writing each blog post specifically for your friend. When your readers are real people to you, it's much easier to write for them.
2. Stop Thinking About Writing As "Writing"
"Writing" can seem intimidating. You're self-conscious. The bad news is that it takes years to lose your self-consciousness when you write, but there's good new too. The good news is that you can lose your self-consciousness today if you wish. All you have to do is stop thinking about writing as being writing.
Here's an easy trick which works for many people: write each blog post as an email message. Start with a salutation, such as "Dear Fred". Then write. When you're done, delete "Dear Fred". You've just written a blog post.
3. Create a Goal and Achieve It
Whenever I create a new blog, the first thing I do is create a goal for that particular blog. For every blog I own, I have goals. As soon as I achieve a goal, I set about creating a new one.
Your goals can be as simple or as complex as you please. For example, you might have a goal to get 50 readers by the end of this month.
Once you start thinking in terms of something that you want to achieve and you have a deadline, your mind gets to work creating plans. You'll find all sorts of ideas pop into your head for how you might achieve the goal. Write the ideas down. Turn your ideas into tasks, and enter each of those tasks into your calendar. Now all you need to do is complete your tasks each day.
4. Build an Inventory of Ideas: Brainstorm Ideas for Blog Posts
Brainstorming is fun. I like to sit down with a sheet of paper, and just think about my blog and the people I'm writing it for. Then I just start writing ideas as a simple list right down the page.
It helps me if I get away from my computer when I'm brainstorming. A change of location might work for you too. Go and sit in the garden, or go and sit in a café and brainstorm there.
Be perfectly relaxed as you brainstorm, make it fun. In fact, you can use this phrase to get started brainstorming: "Wouldn't it be fun to write about________".
Try these easy tricks. They make blog writing fun.
Every other month, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing talks to business owners to talk about their business. The aim is to learn and share with you the personal experiences of these business owners. What is working for them and what they have learned to do differently.
At Perfect Layout we believe that sharing knowledge is a great way to help other businesses develop. We are passionate about promoting the awesome, creative and varied companies that exist not only in our local area, but also beyond the Essex borders.
Read our interview with Sun Lee, a restaurant owner of Lime Orange that offers Korean food in London.
Business name – Lime Orange
Owner – Sun Lee
Location – Westminster, London
Tell us a bit about you?
Lime Orange is a family business that was started by my parents. I used to help them out in the restaurant when I was at school. At 18 years old, I had to choose whether to go into the restaurant business with them or go to university. I felt that university was a good place for those seeking a particular profession, but as I wasn’t going to be heading down that path, I decided to work with my parents instead and gain my training through on-the-job experience.
How did you come up with the name Lime Orange?
There are two reasons. At the time that my parents opened the restaurant, all the other Korean restaurants in London had Korean names. We wanted to be different. My mum had read and enjoyed the book My Lime Orange Tree, so they decided to call the restaurant Lime Orange.
Was it easy to introduce Korean food into the British market?
Yes, we were fully booked the first week our restaurant opened. Whilst there were Korean restaurants in Soho, there weren’t any around Victoria at the time. The majority of our customers are European and Chinese. We also get a lot of the pre-theatre clientele.
Do you serve traditional Korean food or is it a fusion?
We used to do Sushi and Korean, but we dropped the sushi, and decided to concentrate on our own dishes.
What is your signature dish?
Bibimbap – it translates to Mixed Rice. The dish has seven different vegetables, egg, rice, chilli paste, all individually marinated, so each dish is slightly different. There is a meat option for those who want that too.
How long have you been running Lime Orange?
I have been part-managing it since 2011 but I took over the restaurant completely in 2015. Looking back, I see that by going to work with them in the restaurant they could plan for their retirement.
How have things changed since you took over?
In the beginning I didn’t see the flaws, it was what I always knew. I was used to the working week being 6/7 days per week and up to 12 hrs per day. Eventually that got to me, so I sought ways to make a change and bring in the right staff and systems to make it run more efficiently.
How did you start making that change?
Part of the inspiration came from the book The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber. It showed me that I was a good manager and technician, however I was working too much ‘in’ the business, rather than ‘on’ the business. I was nowhere near being a business owner but rather becoming an exhausted employee. At that time, I was set on controlling all aspects of the business, despite having numerous members of staff.
A light bulb morning was when my wife went into labour. Had I not given over control to a member of staff, I could have easily missed my baby’s birth. Despite it being hard for me at the time, I called all my staff and told them that I had to leave and that I trusted them to take care of the restaurant for the night. It was then that I realised that I wasn’t always needed at every moment of the working day.
So, I restructured the team and put the correct systems in place to support the staff. With a kitchen manager and a front of house manager I was able to let go of many of the time-consuming tasks that had to be done each day.
From there I began creating training manuals, for all new staff members. Check lists to make sure that everything was in place. Today, it is easy to know when day-to-day tasks have been completed or are outstanding.
What makes you stand out from other Korean restaurants?
Our service is something that we focus on. The others don’t tend to focus on the service. Our food is excellent. Even Koreans who come to London often say that it is better than in Korea!
We used to use only Korean chefs but found over time that many of them had their own style, which didn’t always marry with our desired outcome for the dishes. About three years into the business we decided to train non-Koreans in our style of cooking.
I see you have Certificates of Excellence from Trip Advisor from 2016-2019. Tell me how you were awarded these?
Trip Advisor rewards those businesses that have more than 80% positive reviews. We don’t focus on getting awards, we work on good customer service, excellent food and word of mouth. With those elements in place, the rest follows.
What are your digital marketing strategies for your business?
Influencer marketing and food bloggers on Instagram is what we are focussing on right now. We invite them in for a free meal in exchange for an honest review. Our Instagram following is now up to 1,000 followers and our revenue shot up since then.
What are your ambitions for the next 5 years?
My plan is to expand the business. I want to bring Korean food to Europe. My plan is to have 50 locations by the end of 2029. I want to start in London, then across the UK. Once they are established, I will set up restaurants in European cities.
What advice would you give someone wanting to open up their own restaurant?
I have three top tips.
1. Make sure you have good food. There are a lot of restaurants that don’t have great food. You could have all the other things in place, such as good customer service, décor etc, but if the food isn’t right then they won’t come back.
2. Location – this is an obvious one, but is so true. If you’re not in the right place, it could kill your business before it even gets started.
3. Marketing. People need to know you exist, especially when you are opening a restaurant. The aim is to get profitable as quickly as possible. Doing the right marketing at the beginning can make all the difference. Today we are focused on social media marketing and influencer marketing,
What or who is your inspiration?
Right now, I am following Mac Attram, Tony Robbins and other personal development coaches. Since I jumped into personal growth for myself, it’s an area in which I ultimately want to be in. I’d like to make a change to people’s lives. My calling is supporting secondary school children in years 9, 10, 11. I feel that this is a critical age for young adults. This is the time when they need a positive influence in their life and somehow, I want to be in that space to motive and inspire them.
If you would like make a reservation at Lime Orange, go to: www.limeorange.co.uk
Orders with Deliveroo
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We hope that you have been enjoying the festive season.
Here we are not only in a new year, but also a new decade. Are you thinking about this new beginning..wondering what it may bring? This is a time where people make resolutions, but by the end of the week, many will be broken. Use this new chapter as a way to make positive changes for yourself, your family and maybe your business too. What do you want to happen? What are the steps you need to take to get there?
Wishing you all the best in succeeding.
The team at Perfect Layout wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
May your day be magical in every way.
Every other month, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing meets with a business owner to discuss their business, services and products. The aim is to learn and share with you their personal experiences, what is working for them and how they have evolved into becoming the business they are today.
At Perfect Layout we believe that sharing knowledge is a great way to help other businesses develop. We are passionate about promoting the awesome, creative and varied companies that exist not only in our area, but also the rest of the UK.
Read our interview with Mark Upward, the Director of Fuzzy Brick based in Harold Wood.
Welcome Mark! It’s great to meet you again since I first encountered your business at a networking event in September. I think you offer a really unusual product and service; can you tell me a bit about what Fuzzy Brick is?
Fuzzy Brick is a mobile Virtual Reality (VR) entertainment business offering brand promotion, team building and corporate/fun events. We started off with a racing simulator that was fun and exciting and our main USP was to be mobile and compact – unlike a lot of our competitors - going to the 30th floor of a building or fitting into a businesses’ canteen is no issue for us.
Being competitively priced and dynamic in our creativity became appealing to customers. We evolved quickly and invested in more games, and used the racing as a foundation of company ethos, as we could see the scope of VR and its application.
As the tech improves, we will continue to invest in wireless VR and full motion simulation technology.
How long has Fuzzy Brick been established?
We’ve been established for about 6 months – just! It’s been a whirlwind. If we had not thought quickly on our feet to evolve and broadened out with other games, we wouldn’t be in this position that we are in now. Adapting to keep our ears open, we’ve asked questions to the right people and used social media – we have listened and quickly adapted to our clients’ needs.
We have games that test people’s business skills and bring the two sides of the office together to collaborate and have fun using the latest technology. We see businesses moving away from the more traditional methods of using paper and balls and cups for team building.
We are also currently working with a company that provides homecare services and we want to explore ways in which we can work with their clients who have dementia and who are looking for wellbeing experiences. For example, our VR equipment can be used to recreate areas that people used to visit, such as a park, or a particular street they grew up in. We really want people to go back to visual memories in a way that is now possible with the use of our VR equipment.
For schools, children will be able to learn very quickly in an immersive way. For example, experiencing different cultures around the world without even having to look at a book and text all the time or exploring the solar system using both VR and AR.
Tell me more about how your event branding works?
It’s quite simple really. We get hired by a company to advertise their business and come up with a VR based theme that ties into their company ethos or advertising campaign theme. This attracts more people to their stand, holds people at their stand for longer and when we run a competition, it brings people back to see how they fared against each other - we tend to have a prize for the winner for the day for example.
We also learn about their business and what they want to achieve from the event so we become an extension of their business rather than people that turn up and just get people to jump on VR.
When we attended IP Expo, at the Excel Centre in London in October, we were blown away by the number of compliments we received from some really large multi-million pound companies who loved all aspects of what we do, from team building to corporate training and running competitions.
We got the idea of event branding when going to some of these trade shows and seeing what was out there. We found most companies trade stands were uninspiring and lacked engagement and fun and that's where we come in to add some magic to their brand.
I love your business name. How did you come up with it?
We realised that we couldn’t be in the market with something too formal and a name that was too structured. We wanted something fun and exciting and that had a connotation to the equipment. I came up with Fuzzy Brick as a brainstorm of names and realised we could have a bear with VR goggles on as a logo. Fuzzy was the bear, brick was the VR goggles.
What did you do before becoming a Director of Fuzzy Brick?
I was in the fashion industry as a Wholesaler for independent brands like, Gant, Lyle and Scott and Scotch and Soda. I used to look after a particular brand, travel around the country and support clients with sales by selling and swapping stock, merchandising and store training. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the role of retail and fashion has changed and is not the same place it was 15 years ago. Brand loyalty and saturation has diluted the market. With larger shops selling the same stock the smaller independents have suffered – this coupled with the domination of online retail and rise of rent and rates.
What was the appeal of going into this service area?
The appeal was about being in an industry that would provide a new challenge and something different. At university, I did a product design degree.
In my head, I wanted to position myself in the market with a technology and VR was the way forward. I thought to myself, I could be my own person, my own manager, and portray myself and my business how I wanted to. I saw VR becoming an integral part of society and the workplace.
What has been your most interesting/funny response from a client that has used your service?
To be honest, I think it is the ‘Walk the Plank’ game. On that, we have had big burly men reacting loudly. It is the most exciting and engaging that helps people challenge a fear of heights. It’s simple and one that the user has to integrate with. We incorporate a real plank to walk on and a fan so you can feel a rush of air as you reach the top floor. We really want to immerse all senses.
Since you first started in June 2019 has your business grown in the way you expected to?
Yes. As with any business for the first 3 months you wouldn’t expect to see much – even up to the first 1 year. IP Expo was our break. We had amazing responses that accelerated us. Recently, we did an event for Electrolux and a 7th birthday event for AWC Car Detailing which was phenomenal. There were 150 petrol heads there all with their own products and businesses around cars. They wouldn’t let us leave and we were there until 1am. We had amazing feedback.
With hindsight, what things would you have implemented from the get go?
I think we’d gain more understanding of how to launch a business on a social media platform. Understanding the advancement of LinkedIn and Facebook advertising and the broader gaming selection to broaden our offering from day 1. We made the decision to just focus on racing however.
How do you envisage Fuzzy Brick in the next 5 years?
I would love to think that we’ve expanded in personnel and have an integral customer base that uses us on a regular basis. That we will constantly keep customers excited with our new tech and games developments and create new concepts in how we deliver events in the workplace and at parties. Evolution is key in the VR world. I also see us using full motion simulation seats and haptic and AR technology.
I see that you are connected to Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. How do you find that these platforms are working for you?
They all seem to hit a different emotion and is a different platform for each type of business. LinkedIn, you can be very direct with managers or independents. I’ve been impressed with the response from Instagram. This helps more visually with marketers. It quickly helps us to portray visually what our company does. I’d say that Facebook is a middle ground of both.
What other digital marketing strategies does your business undertake?
We use sales navigator on LinkedIn and Bark. Having a website is a must, but for us, we’ve noticed that it acts almost like a middle man. People go to our website, but then go back to our social platforms to see more detail of what we are doing.
How do you manage running your own business with family life and getting some you time?
It’s about time management, creating structure and creating a mindset of knowing when and how to switch off. Family and friends must also have respect for what I’m doing to understand the demands on my time. Communication is key.
What inspires you?
Reading biographies and talking to people in my previous industry.
If you would like to contact Fuzzy Brick for hire of their virtual reality services and equipment you can:
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn - Mark Upward
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!
Every year the team at Perfect Layout get out of the Essex area to be inspired, take in original ideas and the latest trends and make some new connections. Watch our journey below!
Are you a business owner? Do you need a website, or are you unhappy with the one that you have?
Let us build you a new website for FREE!
Yes, that's right the actual build costs for your site will not cost you a penny. Our unmissable offer includes:
If you would like to find out more about how we will build your website for free, fill out your details below:
HURRY - OFFER ENDS 30 NOVEMBER 2019
SEO Stands for Search Engine Optimization and basically refers to the processes that are followed when it comes to optimising (getting the most out of) a website to be ranked by search engines. The most popular search engines on the internet are Google, Yahoo, Bing and Microsoft.
When a website is designed and developed, it should represent more than just a portfolio of your products and services. After all, what’s the point of having a website that looks awesome, but goes unseen by the people that would like to buy your wares? SEO is the technical part of marketing online as it helps your website get promoted to the correct location – right in front of buying customers.
There are various techniques used to get more traffic to your website from search engines, which can be broken down into two categories. Off-page SEO, is the work undertaken externally to a website and on-page SEO are the changes made on the actual website.
Why is SEO important?
Undertaking SEO is important as it can improve the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines. If you want to get more visitors to your site, then you must employ SEO. Remember, there are billions of websites on the internet and billions of people visiting those sites looking to buy or hire services or products. If you want to receive some of that revenue then add SEO to your timetable and budget.
On-page SEO, examples…
Keywords are very important for every business as they can drive targeted web traffic to your business for free. To use keywords effectively, they must form part of quality content writing.
When a visitor uses a search engine, like Google, to find what they are looking for, the content on your website comes under scrutiny. With quality content and SEO-friendly formatting, the Google algorithm, for example, will look for important words at particular places on your web page or blog post – thus enabling you to get found.
Long-tail keywords can also be used with great effect. These are keyword phrases that contain at least three words, sometimes more and can be used to target niche demographics rather than mass audiences. In other words, they're more specific and often less competitive than generic keyword terms and are very specific to whatever you are selling. An example could be 'wedding venues in Romford', this is more specific than 'wedding venues'
Some businesses choose to include keywords relevant to their business in their domain name. This strategy works as long as the name is in line with the brand identity for the website. It is also important not to limit your business by choosing a name that is applicable for your business only in the short term. Let your 5 to 10 year business plan reflect where you want to be long term.
A conversion comes in different formats. For example, it may mean that a visitor has left their details in a 'contact us' form; someone buys a product, or leaves a comment on your blog post.
So what is a landing page? A landing page, sometimes called a destination page, is the web page that visitors arrive at after they click the link on a search engine results page or social media post. A landing page can be the first page of a website that was advertised on the search engine results page, or a website page that appears most relevant to your search query. This page generally displays logical information, usually something that pertains directly to the keywords searched for, or has the keywords directly on the page.
It is very important to optimise your landing pages for two reasons. Firstly, an optimised landing page is likely to get higher rankings by the search engines. Secondly, attractive landing pages are likely to lead to conversions of your potential customers.
Off-page SEO, examples…
It is key to remember that search engines are not humans but text-driven computers. They do not care about how a website looks but more about the content within it. The main processes of search engines are crawling, indexing and retrieving information.
Search engines review not only the content within a website but also the information that describes the pages. On a website, meta tags should be applied to the title and description of each page. Search engines use the meta data to better understand what your page or post is all about. When a search engine creates your listing, the meta data is used for the title and description showing up for your page or post. As a result, with the right title and description, you improve your SEO positioning.
Linking to other websites is another vital part of the SEO process. When a website is newly created it can take some time to be indexed in the search engines. Having links to and from other websites makes this process much faster but should be undertaken with moderation. Creating too many links, too quickly can lead to problems and potentially being penalised by the search engines.
Obtaining quality backlinks is imperative, as it can improve the importance of your website. There are 3 types of links:
Inbound links - when an external website links to your page
Outbound links - when you link your website to an external web page
Internal links -when you link a page to another page that is within your website
This blog doesn’t cover the full list of SEO techniques out there, but is a start to getting your head around what you need to do. Give us a call on 01708 578 015 if you would like to discuss how we can improve your website and get you ahead of your competition.
Today the Perfect Layout team, had a great time experiencing something new. We participated in another excellent course run by Building Legacies, called ‘Live video streaming – getting camera confident’. Delivered by VeenaV, it was a lively, practical course that packed in information about the how's and why's of the process.
On many social media platforms, the use of videos is nothing new. You see them all the time and can range from animals doing the funniest things, to people on the other side of the world showing you how to catch a fish in a coconut (random – but so interesting!).
The Perfect Layout team - posing for the camera with Veena V and Simon Lewin, Building Legacies
For social and business interactions, the effectiveness of video is continuing to grow and if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth much more. Our video blog, outlines the variety of different ways that video can be created. Just a few of the advantages of implementing this are: expanding your audience, getting your brand seen by more people, increasing the number of users to your website and gaining customer loyalty.
Streaming your video to a live audience may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but with some planning and creative thought, it could be the winning ingredient to improving your online presence.
So did we learn anything today? Absolutely! Whilst being in front of the camera isn’t ‘my thing’, the bottom line is that your marketing strategy should involve the use of video (in some shape or form) particularly if you want to reach out to a different audience.
With research, practice, planning and some creative thought – you can get your first live video posted in minutes. If we can do it – so can you!
Check out our first Facebook live stream today.
Remember, remember the 5th of November - Happy Guy Fawkes Night!
Stay safe at firework displays.
Yesterday, I attended a social media course run by Building Legacies. Renee Wallen was the trainer and she covered various topics that included content marketing, SEO, and social media platforms; LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
I must be honest and admit that engaging on social media platforms isn’t my first passion. Our Perfect Layout team consists of an excellent social media duo which means that I can spend more time doing what I love, which is creating wonderful websites!
However, just because this task doesn’t make me leap out of bed in the morning, doesn’t mean I can’t see the amazing value and positive impact it can have on a business. In the blink of an eye, it can spread your news to a vast, wide reaching audience and open up the door to clients you might never meet face to face.
There’s no getting away from the fact that building a business from scratch will bring forth certain challenges. Coming out of your comfort zone may make you start sweating and feeling nervous, but is a must if you want to grow your business and your self-confidence.
Just a few advantages of being on social media are:
- You get to learn new things
- You can engage and build relationships with customers
- You can share your knowledge and opinion
- You can get seen by a wide, varied audience
- It’s a flexible process that you can connect with at any time, in a variety of ways,
from your mobile phone
- You can increase the business coming to your virtual shop window
So what have you got to lose? Investment is key!
Whatever you're doing this Halloween, why not take the time to reflect on how your website is functioning? We understand that it can be a daunting, frightening process, but having a list of things to review might make things easier.
To get started, consider review and implementation of the following:
Content is king - does your content have a clear strong message?
Navigation - how easy is it for someone to get around your website?
Social media - how strong is your online visibility on other platforms?
Online citations - get your website linked to directories to show that you are a serious business...
…need help with any of that? We offer affordable websites and services.
Call us today on 01708 578 015, we'd love to help.
Last night Christine and I attended the HCCI networking event at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch. We chatted with old aquantancies and had the pleasure of meeting new ones. The foyer was full of stands advertising their products and services and the Mayor of Havering, Michael Deon Burton, was in attendance, mingling with guests.
Numbers seemed to be lower than last year, but it didn’t stop the chatter of attendees who were treated to free drink and a good selection of nibbles and desserts.
I had a little dabble myself and was blown away with the feeling of flying, falling and crashing into cars that weren’t really there. It was a lot fun and I can see why they are a popular party hire.
I hope to be doing an interview with them in the near future, so watch this space to learn more about this exciting new company.
Consider joining the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it’s a friendly group that has regular monthly breakfast meetings with more daytime and evening events to be scheduled in the near future. It’s a great way to meet local business leaders and putting yourselves on their radar.
Since establishing the Perfect Layout business, the importance of networking is something that we regularly promote. We have no doubt that there is true value in this activity and by putting the effort in you will eventually get something back, i.e. – more business.
On Monday 28 October, The Havering Chambers of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) is running a free networking event at the Queens Theatre, Billet Lane, Essex. It runs from 6pm to 9pm and includes:
The HCCI works in partnership with the London Borough of Havering and was formed over 20 years ago. It represents more than 200 different businesses that together employ over 2,750 staff. Its members are provided with networking opportunities to meet new customers, suppliers and business partners.
If you are keen to expand your business and engage with likeminded entrepreneurs in Havering, why not pop along to this event to give it the once over? We’ll be there!
Register for your free ticket https://haveringshowcase2019.eventbrite.co.uk
When I watch the summer come to an end, there’s always a sad sigh in my heart knowing that there’ll be a reduction in seeing the sun, the bright blue sky, and wearing open toed shoes....
But seeing Autumn wake up and spread her beautiful colours and warmth of a different kind, to me spells new opportunity. A new season and a fresh start. It’s natures way of egging us on to face new challenges and open new doors.
Even the smallest of steps towards your goals is a good thing.
The seasons are changing – are you?
If your business doesn’t have a dedicated marketing person making sure you’re getting maximum effectiveness from your website, it’s time to get one or get clued up on how to do it yourself.
Google Analytics can deliver important insights about the performance of your website and will allow you to make refinements to your site and ultimately get more visitors and customers flowing your way.
The word analytics may sound a bit daunting and technical, but the good news is that Google have made it easy to connect and set-up. However, many small and medium sized businesses don’t take this simple step towards understanding the figures generated by their site. It’s a process that can be undertaken by anyone, but if you feel its beyond your capabilities there are plenty of people, like us, who can help you.
A bonus of tool is that it’s totally free to use. It’s often the case that free software comes with a price tag somewhere down the line, but on this rare occasion Google Analytics doesn’t. This powerful tool will enable you to learn all kinds of fascinating insights, for absolutely nothing.
Once you’ve installed it, it will allow you to see a detailed analysis of the visitors to your website and where they come from. It will also reveal what they look at, how long they stay, your most popular content, what sort of device they’re using, even age, gender and their likes & dislikes. Importantly too it will show you the “bounce rate”, which is the number of people who navigate away from your site after viewing only one page.
For owners of small and medium sized businesses this is super exciting business information which, in a nutshell, tells you if your website is working for you or not.
Other great insights include the ability to track the effectiveness of targeted social media campaigns. It will allow you to see which links have been clicked on to reach your site. You can even see which “keywords” are working for you and those that are not. Again, this is vital information that will help you to improve the use of “keywords” on the site.
Google Analytics data is seen in an easy to read dashboard, which you then drill down into to get more detailed information. One of the few disadvantages is that there is so much potential information to see, it can become very time consuming. As a result, it’s worthwhile setting up Custom Reports and specific site Goals right at the start, so you go straight to the information that you’ll need.
This blog only mentions a few of the brilliant business insights it can deliver. Why not give it a go and come back to let us know how you got on.
At Perfect Layout, we encourage the sharing of knowledge and experiences to help local businesses develop themselves.
Every other month we get together with a local company and chat to them about how their business is doing and how they got to where they currently are.
By reading about them, may help you improve your own business processes. We wholeheartedly advocate promoting local businesses in Essex, to help raise awareness about them.
Read on how a passion from childhood turned into a business that would fit around family life.
So, tell us a bit about you and how you got into photography?
Photography was always there. I started when I was really young. I remember being at school and taking photos with a compact camera, which I would then get developed. However, I really got into photography in 2004 when I got my first digital camera. Having limitless opportunities to take photos, really got me into it. Having a digital camera made it easier to practice and delete.
I started my own photo blog, where I used to post my photos. Then, I took photos of family and friends.
After my son was born, I was debating whether to go back to my previous job but realised I could start up my own photography agency and balance work and family life more flexibly. In 2016 Alina Clark Photography was born.
What were you doing previously?
I studied Journalism and did my Masters in Media and Communications. My thesis was about how photography impacts how you vote. So, you can see that photography is a theme that has been running throughout my life one way or another.
I worked for a media agency up until I went on maternity leave. Prior to this, I worked at an advertising agency and my role was in accounts management.
What were your initial aspirations for Alina Clark Photography?
At the very beginning, I thought I would do business photography. Creating photos for company websites, such as physical products or plates of food for restaurants. That never really came to fruition. Instead, at that time, I was taking lots of photos of my son and realised that these photos were evoking good responses. So, I realised that there was a market for taking photos of people rather than products.
Tell me more about the style of photography that you do?
I was always drawn towards the fly-on-the-wall style photography, witnessing events in their pure form. I explored this documentary genre for family photography. I now take photos of families in their own environment, doing everyday activities. This style of photography stands me apart from the posed family photo shoots. My genre of photography sits between the lifestyle and documentary style photos.
Describe a typical commission.
Before any photo session, I would ask my clients what they would like to remember at this stage of their family life. For example, are there any special games, or toys that they like to play or activities that they like to do This way, I know beforehand what the children like and get to know them quickly.
I give minimal direction on how to pose, instead I follow the family and I take photos of parents interacting and playing with their children. My job is to orchestrate real life moments and to steer them into playing out everyday life situations that can be captured on camera.
For the newborn photo sessions, it’s about capturing the new family as they are in that moment in time. Capturing the family home and what it looks like - showing the emotion and reality of having a newborn baby at home. I try to capture the rawness of their new life as a family.
How long does a photo shoot last?
Up to two hours. With the newborn shoots, the time frame allows for feeding/changing the babies. A baby can also be asleep and awake during that period too.
For the family shoots, it gives them enough time to do a variety of activities and capture them naturally.
How many photos do you take?
I probably take around 1,000 photos in a session. I am always shooting because you never know when something may happen and how and when that beautiful photos will emerge. Those in between moments, when you don’t expect something to happen, is when the magic occurs.
How many photos do you deliver back to the client?
I usually show the client 40 images from the shoot. Within the 1,000 images there will be a lot of similar photos, and ones that don’t make the final cut.
How long does the editing take?
As you would imagine, I must look at every individual photo. The culling from 1,000 to 50-60 takes around 1.5 hours. Then the editing of those photos can take another 2 hours. It may sound like a long time, but this is because I hand edit every image to ensure that they of the highest quality and are beautifully enhanced.
How does your pricing work?
As of July 2019, I offer an all-inclusive investment of £295. This includes the consultation, photo shoot, image-editing and access to the final photos in a gallery on a secure webpage. There are no hidden costs.
An additional paid-for feature that my website offers is an online print shop. If clients want to have physical prints, there is a facility to order what they want and get it delivered straight to them.
I bet people often ask, ‘why would I want a photographer when I have a smart phone?’ What is your response to that?
The skill doesn’t lie in the camera, but in the eye of the photographer. It’s the composition, the lighting and the framing of the photo that makes a good photo.
When you hire a photographer, you don’t only pay for them - you pay for images that last a lifetime. Professional photographs should be timeless. They will be technically correct. They will evoke emotion. Not everyone has that skill with a camera.
How do you promote your photography services?
Word of mouth is a big part of my expanding client base. I am on Facebook and Instagram, where I post regularly. I put leaflets around in the local community.
I also get involved with the local community. For example, I have done photo shoots for a local primary school, when a circus came to visit. I also did a shoot for the Reception Assembly.
I want to do more collaborations with local businesses, where we can do some cross promotion. That will be my focus for the coming months. Also, anyone running family or children-based businesses, there is an opportunity for cross promotion. I can take naturally candid photos in exchange for them promoting me.
Do you have a website?
Of course, my website is a not only a business card, but it’s the shopfront to my business. I need to have an online presence so that people can see and like the work that I do, in order to book my services. I always try to make the homepage images provoke emotions.
On my website I have a portfolio of projects that I have worked on and I have my blog that regularly has fresh content. I couldn’t have my business without all these features on my website.
Tell me about the Project 365?
This is a personal project that I am currently working on, whereby every single day in 2019 I am taking a new photo and posting it to the website – hence Project 365. These photos on my site allow people to get to know me and get a sense of the photos that I take.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
My love is still around families, maternity and newborn and the events around family life, such as christenings, birthday parties, baby showers, holy communions with a documentary style edge to them.
I would also like to do more personal projects and shoot more creatively. For example, self-portrait projects, documentary projects and colour orientated projects.
Where do you seek inspiration?
I look at other photographer’s work, but I find there’s a fine line between inspiration and then trying to compare my work to theirs. I do look at other photographers who shoot in a different way to me, as I am curious to see how they shoot and their editing styles. These are photographers that I like that spring to mind, who I follow on Instagram:
So, if you’re looking for a magnificent documentary photographer, Alina can be found via:
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!