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:
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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!
Get in touch with a member of the Perfect Layout team if you are ready to improve the online visibility of your business.
In online marketing, a conversion rate is the ratio of total visitors to visitors who perform desired actions. Different companies measure successful conversions based on the nature of their business and their goals.
For example, an online publisher might consider the submission of a form on a subscription page a successful conversion; whereas an online retailer might measure their conversion rate by the number of clicks to the "Add to Cart" button.
Higher conversion rates typically translate to a greater return on investment and that is why Internet businesses in every industry employ many methods to improve conversion rates.
Some of the strategies are:
Testimonials reduce risk and provide social proof. Having satisfied customers express their positive experience, either through videos or reviews, will increase trust in your business. Every claim you make should be supported by evidence.
One study found that using customer testimonials resulted in a 62 percent increase in revenue per customer. It’s the recommendation that helps encourage people to buy your product or invest in your service. They know from customer testimonials that other people have tried it.
Use them on homepages, product landing pages as well as on your email opt-in landing page. You can ask for testimonials, or spot them on social media and use grateful email messages that you get. It’s best practice to ask the sender if they wouldn’t mind letting you use some of those words on your website.
A call-to-action (CTA) is a button or link that you add to your website in order to guide your visitor and tell them what to do next. In inbound marketing, they usually lead to a landing page where the visitor can fill out a form and become a lead.
You want your CTA to grab the attention of your visitors and really entice them to click.
Show your visitors an offer that is visually appealing and contains persuasive content as well. In order to ensure your calls-to-action generate leads, you also need to remember the buyer’s journey.
If the call-to-action you’re adding to your site doesn’t fulfil the need of your visitor at the specific point in their journey, it’s not going to resonate with them, and as a result they’re unlikely to move forward.
Here are some tips to have in mind when creating calls-to-action that will generate leads:
1. Make them Action-Oriented
2. Use Persuasive Text
3. Include Strong Visuals
4. Create a Sense of Urgency
5. Make them Easy to Find
Call to action examples:
1. Call Now
2. Order Now
3. Buy Now
5. Free Demo
6. Click Here to Sign up
7. Free download
8. Get Your Free Quote
9. See all Products
10. Click here to submit
11. More Info Here
The contact form is typically the gateway to allow people to submit their information to a company. It is also the gateway for the consumer to initiate a conversion with your company. You need to keep your contact form simple.
Keeping it simple will allow for minimal perceived risk to the end user. If it takes a long time to fill out a form it could be a potential risk. Visitors could also be questioning whether they are going to get a phone call or email as well as when they’ll get a response. A good contact form will allow a user to feel that there is no risk in submitting their information.
Only include the ‘must have’ fields on your form. You can add a few more fields into your contact form to help quality or send certain requests to the correct person. But your contact form should never exceed the length of your browser. In other words, keep it above the fold.
Tell people when, how, what to expect once they fill out the contact form. Will they get a call, an email, a package in the mail, what? This will also reduce the risk that a user may feel if they know how they’re going to be contacted and by when.
In conclusion, when you pair a simple contact form with a great call to action that is clear and defined, you’re well on your way to having a higher converting landing page. Don’t forget to test your call to actions. Since some people react differently to certain phrases, always test to see which one works best for your users.
Another approach you can take to increase the conversion rate is to create a sense of urgency. For product-based businesses show how the number of stock items is reducing each time a purchase is made. For service-based businesses include time sensitive offers. This will motivate the visitors to grab the offer before it’s expired.
Website design should reflect the vision & purpose of the company. Everything used from colours to layout and images should represent your brand. Keep things simple and aesthetic. Avoid using complicated navigation menus and make sure your message is clearly written and has an impact in the first few seconds someone enters your online business space.
If you would like one of our team members to review the layout and structure of your website – call 01708 578 251 today.
How is it September already? Not only have the summer holidays flown by, but we are now three quarters of the way through 2019... I don't know about you, but this year is flying by faster than any other.
As the children start a new academic year this week, it is also a chance for businesses to reflect on the year so far and prepare for that final 'push' of the year.
How far are you away from reaching your goals? What things would you like to do differently? What tasks do you do that don't make the most of your time? Could you stop doing them, or delegate them to someone else. Be critical. Make changes.
After all, 'we can't expect things to change, if we continue doing the same things' - Albert Einstein
The summer holidays are in full swing. If you have not had a chance to take time off, then this August Bank Holiday is something that you would have really been looking forward to.
What have you been doing with these precious three days? Have you:
- stayed at home?
- gone away?
- been resting?
- partying hard?
Whatever you have been doing, enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend.
In this post we look at why it’s important to maintain consistency between all the different marketing platforms you use. Big corporates like to talk about their branding and how everything that emerges from the organisation follows the same design templates. Smaller businesses should be no different; no matter what platform you’re using, your messaging and branding should be consistent.
In many cases the first engagement a new customer has with you is through your website. It is of the utmost importance that your site looks good and reflects the professionalism you want to convey. Your site, therefore, has to be well designed and easy to navigate.
Don’t forget too, that it must tell people exactly what it is you do in easy to understand language. You’d be amazed by how many sites fail this simple task.
It is also true of your digital marketing, the fact is you’re sharing with people how you can help solve a problem, they don’t always need to know exactly how you’re going to do it. Visitors consume content on websites by scanning pages, they don’t always read your carefully crafted descriptions in full. Also, they don’t linger on pages that do not tell them what they’re looking for. Sites must therefore have a logical flow and obvious navigation markers to help visitors discover the next level of information.
Nearly all businesses, no matter their size, have a logo, colours and a particular typeface that they use in all their communication. This is part of their brand identity. Customers associate that identity with the business, so don’t be tempted to move away from the brand on your website.
That brand identity should be carried through into your digital marketing. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and your blog can all play a crucial role in attracting new business and reminding existing customers of your businesses services.
Imagine if the messages you put out on each of these platforms looked different and had a different tone of voice. Would it inspire confidence in your business? If one of those messages inspired a click through to your website which was then hard to navigate or had a completely different look, would that make you seem credible?
Luckily, it’s easy to be consistent across your website and social media platforms. With some forethought and planning, you can inspire confidence and gain credibility. It can also improve your rankings when search for online, especially true if you include links to your social media platforms on all the pages of your site.
Having a social media strategy is important for every business. It’s a method that will help engage with potential and existing customers, increase visitors to your site and keep your website refreshed as you post regular content.
Strategy, planning, branding and consistency have always been crucial to marketing campaigns, even before the digital age, but they are now more important than ever. If you’re going to compete, gain market share and grow as a business you need to be on top of these challenges.
If this all sounds too complex or time consuming to do on your own we understand how daunting it can be. Branding, web design and digital marketing strategy are our core skills, so if you need help our team of digital marketing gurus are waiting to guide you.
By offering insights into how others do things, may help you improve your business processes. Promoting other local businesses in Essex area helps spread the word and helps them thrive in the community.
Read on to find out more about how a young school student with an entrepreneurial spirit created her own personalised gifts business.
So, tell us a bit about how your entrepreneurial spirit got ignited?
It first started at school. My mum had bought me a pair of shoes, which I thought were a bit plain. I mentioned to mum that I would like a prettier pair, her response was, ‘you need to work hard to get nice things’. And that got me thinking about how I could make money. At that time, I was in secondary school and I noticed that pupils were fed up with having to walk to the corner shop to get their treats, so I decided to buy sweets at a wholesaler and sell directly to the pupils. It worked, and within a short space of time I had the money to buy the shoes that I had wanted.
My next business idea came when reusable shopping bags were coming on to the market. At that time, they were all a bit plain, so I thought about finding (and selling) a reusable shopping bag that was a bit more stylish. That’s when Tiffany’s Totes was born.
During college (in 2016), I really got into costume jewellery. The high street shops would retail many pieces around the £40 mark, but I knew that I could buy them cheaper if I researched suppliers abroad. It was then that I started following fashion bloggers and finding out what they were wearing. From there I would replicate their costume jewellery by buying the components myself and making the pieces. I would then sell them on eBay. At that time, I did dabble into fashion, but as it is such a fast paced industry, I found the trends were changing too quickly to keep up. Jewellery had longevity.
How did you decide on your product range?
I tested products by wearing them and seeing if people commented on them. Those that got attention were then purchased in bulk and sold on eBay. At this point, it was still a ‘hobby job’.
When did it become more than a hobby?
It happened when I was at university. I was beginning to have a good income (for a student) and at that time I was working at a high street shop, on a basic hourly wage. I realised that I could earn more from making my jewellery and work the hours to suit me. I resigned from that job and put my efforts into my own business. It was during this period when I noticed the seasonality of my products and the pricing trends (costume jewellery was more expensive in the spring/summer).
In 2017, the choker that the character Harley Quinn wore, from the film Suicide Squad, became the must-have piece of jewellery for Halloween. Ahead of Halloween, I sourced the best quality supplier who could provide the fastest delivery. I wanted to ensure good customer service for not only the product but for the delivery time too.
This was another pivotal moment. Once again, I was reminded of the seasonality of my products that had peaks in summer, around Halloween and before Christmas. From January until late spring, business was quiet.
That’s when I decided to launch year-round products. I decided to make personalised gifts for babies, weddings, christenings, first birthdays and family frames. These events happen throughout the year, so would provide a more stable income. The idea came in 2017, but it didn’t get to market until 2018. During 2017, I was making prototypes and testing it on the market. In 2018, I started selling these products.
Where did you sell your products?
Mainly online (eBay, Esty and Depot) as well as word-of-mouth through family and friends.
Where do you get inspiration from with your gift ideas?
I get inspiration from a variety of places. Some things I have seen elsewhere and I have put my own spin on it. For the new baby frames, I saw the clothes on the washing line on a greeting card. I researched where I could buy the wooden pegs and the mini clothes and tested a variety of samples before I decided on the final version.
What types of gifts do you enjoy making the most?
Though they are the longest to make, I love making the newborn baby box frames. It’s nice to see people’s reactions when they see them for the first time. My gifts help make memories for them too. I find this really rewarding.
Will you be expanding your product offering?
Yes, I have new ideas in the pipeline. I want to go back to bags (because of the company name Tiffany’s Totes) and I am currently researching and testing jute / hessian reusable shopping bags, which will be designed by me. These should be available in 2020.
Do you make these gifts full-time?
Currently it is a part time, but I hope that will change in the not-too-distant future.
How do you promote and sell your services and products?
I promote on both Instagram and Facebook. However, they have two completely different audiences and demographics. On Facebook, I only promote the frames. Instagram works better for the jewellery. I do paid ads occasionally, but most of my business comes via my posts and shares. I have also found doing giveaways helps boost sales and create buzz around my products.
Do you have a website?
I do now. For a long time, I was selling my items on third party platforms. But over time I had noticed how they are skewed in the customers favour, which I generally support. However, there were occasions where I had my fingers burnt by unscrupulous customers. I felt the time was right to have my own ecommerce site, where I could be in control. I am slowly phasing out my products on these platforms.
Currently, only the frames are available on the website, but the product range will expand in the future to include a jewellery and bags section. My other aim for the website is to create a customisable section. At the moment, people choose set designs and personalise only with the name of the person for whom the gift is for. In time, I’d like my customers to have more flexibility.
How else do you market your product and company?
Other than Facebook and Instagram, I also have a You tube channel. On here I promote my jewellery by talking about what I am wearing.
My offline marketing is through attending expectant parent events, such as the Mothercare one and word-of-mouth. I believe in the power of my networking, so I do a lot of giveaways, as I know it will bring returns in the future.
How’s business going since you first started out?
I can see month-on-month a sales growth. I also do a quarterly review of the business, to reflect upon what has been achieved and what can be improved. That helps me to address my processes and adjust them if necessary.
What plans do you have for the immediate future?
As previously mentioned, I want to sell only on my website. I’d like this to be a full-time business and in time I would like to hire staff.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
I’d like to have a physical store too. Other businesses do, and so why can’t mine? I still believe that people would like the chance to ‘see’ my products before they buy.
For other people out there with creative abilities and ideas who have not yet created a business, what advice would you give to get them to get started?
You have to TRY! My parents taught me to be a big dreamer. You have to have a goal. Getting there is a matter of taking the necessary steps. Some will be easier than others. But unless you try it, you will never know. I have also been surprised by consumer reactions to products. What I thought would do well, sometimes hasn’t and things that I tried, thinking they would flop, have proved to be popular. So, you should never limit your beliefs. Be open. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
I always believe it is best to do, or better to try something, than wonder if…
Who has been your inspiration?
My parents and successful YouTubers. I admire those people earning an income by doing what they love, like Amber Scholl.
I always keep to the front of my mind that all the big brands started out just like me. At one point they were all just somebody with an idea. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and work at it.
So, if you need personalised gifts that look great, look no further than Tiffany’s Totes and keep an eye out for her other product lines in the coming months. Tiffany’s creations can be found via:
Email – email@example.com
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!
Yes, its that time of year. The school summer holidays here in Havering have officially started.
What do you have planned? Whatever it is, enjoy this time to:
If you want to read a funny post - check out Joanne's post. It had us laughing out loud.
Email Marketing is a way to leverage the power of email. It enables you to reach customers at the same time as promoting your business. In order to run an effective email marketing campaign, you don’t need a marketing department to do things for you. Designing a professional email marketing campaign is not a complicated nor time-consuming job. It is a process that can be monitored and measured by various marketing performance metrics such as, Call To Action (CTA) s, Click through Rate, Social Profiles, and A/B testing results.
Some of the benefits of undertaking an email marketing campaign are:
Helps improve customer relationships
It is vital to have an efficient tool to communicate with your customer. Emails creates opportunities to keep people informed and engaged with your business. Sending personalised or tailored emails to your valuable customers with the latest product launch, next big event, discount vouchers or festive wishes are a few examples that any sized business can offer.
Efficient use of time and budget
Small businesses are bound by time and budget constraints. Buying an advertisement to play during a famous TV show would be nice, but it is not an option for most small business marketing budgets. Creating an email campaign, therefore, is a process that doesn’t have to cost a thing and is an efficient use of time and budget.
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. The right emails can give you the ability to build credibility with your audience by sharing helpful and informative content. The more customers can learn about (and from) your business, the more their trust will increase. A good e-mail newsletter should highlight to prospects why they should buy from your service or product.
Reach people on any device
According to Google more than 70% of people read their email on a mobile app, with most checking their email in the morning. Email marketing is one of the best tools that can be used to take advantage of the growing popularity of mobile technology.
Show your expertise
While email marketing can be about sending discounts and sale information it has another important function. Delivering unique and authoritative content, can drive traffic to your business and offer subscribers information that is both useful and enjoyable and put you in a position of local expert.
Increase website traffic without spending on Ads
Every company or e-commerce business wants to get traffic to their website. As mentioned above, email marketing campaigns can help increase traffic to your website and bring more people into your store. Sending newsletters with the latest product info or promotions can lead to higher website traffic which can ultimately lead to more sales.
General tips for your email marketing success
• Send a newsletter at least once a week
• Place at least one Call To Action button in the emails
• Personalise your emails
• Create a compelling subject line and test every subject line before delivery
• Segmenting your email list based on age, gender, demographic location, and customer
personas to send relevant emails
It’s that time of the year again when the all white kits of the tennis stars make an appearance. Whether or not you’re a tennis fan, you’ve got to admire the skill and dedication of these athletes. Their perseverance, commitment and positive mindset and belief that they will get through each round and eventually win the coveted title of Wimbledon Champion.
So where’s your mindset as you read this? Have you challenged yourself recently to achieve a difficult objective? Whatever your business model, becoming successful is not easy and takes consistency and daily hard work.
If you are currently in a position where your business growth has slowed - why not get in touch? Having an optimised website works wonders in conjunction with other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram posts.
Our Essex web designers have no borders and work with clients across the UK!
If you thought that GMB was shorthand for a trade union, think again! In the modern age it’s much more likely to be a reference to Google My Business.
You may feel that people “google” your business all the time, but do they always find you? Google’s free product Google My Business (GMB) is incredibly useful for helping people discover you and for putting your name on the first page of search results.
So, yes you do want to be on Google My Business.
How does GMB work?
You’ve probably seen hundreds of Google My Business listings without realizing it. They’re the short lists that pop up when you search for something generic like “cafes near me” or often when you search for a specific business name it’s the GMB listing that appears.
Below is an example of a “cafes near me” search. Each one of these businesses will have a GMB listing. You’ll see that a list of 3 names appears, this is what Google calls the “3 pack”
When you click on one of the named business it will take you through to their individual GMB listing, containing more information including a location map and often a photo, video, blog and lots of useful info.
This information can satisfy searchers, but most will then click through to your website using the button at the top of the listing, especially if you have lots of products and services. A café for example would likely have menu details on their site.
GMB is therefore essentially a widely used local business listings service, used by large and small companies. The great news is that every business can achieve a prominent listing if they get the basics right and deliver great value that customers appreciate.
The top 8 Reasons you need to be on GMB
1. Achieving prominence in search results
A listing can help your business to stand out in search results, and can help people to find your business, whether it’s online or offline. Your objective should be to get into the top 3 search results, which is where factors such as review scores are important.
2. Local search for local services
If you want to improve your chances in local search results, then a GMB listing is the key. Research shows that 46% of all searches are for local businesses while the “3 pack” format of results now appears in 93% of all local searches, so you have to be there!
3. Searching on your mobile
Most local search is now done on smart phones and GMB listings dominate mobile search results.
4. Make it easy for customers to find you
GMB listings provide a quick snapshot of your business. Maps, opening times, images and reviews all help searchers quickly decide whether they should visit you.
5. Think about your competition
If you’re annoyed that your competitors always appear in searches and you don’t, it’s because they have a GMB listing. Something as simple as that will mean they’re getting some of your business, unless you get on GMB yourself.
6. Gives you credibility
Users are accustomed to seeing these profiles, and it can lend some credibility to your business. Listings look professional and provide key information that helps people to decide whether you’re a credible business or not.
7. GMB has amazing features
Google are constantly updating their GMB features, so you can now add all kinds of fabulous elements to your listing, not just photos but videos too. Videos are a great way of educating customers and really help them make buying decisions.
As with everything on the internet it pays to keep your GMB listing fresh, so make sure to add seasonal special offers, events information, and to add regular blog posts. They all help in making you easier to find and to ensure you appear in the “3 pack”.
8. Free and Easy
Google My Business is free and easy to set up, but if you don’t have the time or feel you don’t have the skills it’s second nature to our digital whizz kids at Perfect Layout.
If you are unsure or don't have the time to set up your GMB, give us a call, we can help you get your business visible online.
This month’s regular bi-monthly blog feature sees Perfect Layout talking to an established business based in Romford. We believe that learning from others and how they run their business is the key to increasing one’s overall knowledge.
Even if the sector of the business isn’t like yours, it’s the management and processes employed by that company that can resonate and lead you to improving the systems that you have.
We are passionate about promoting the fantastic, successful growing companies that exist right here on our Essex doorstep.
Keep reading to find out more about this month's business under the spotlight - Crafty Arts.
What’s the history behind Crafty Arts?
It’s a family business, that was set up by Jays parents. Their first shop was in Ardleigh Green in 1991 and then they closed that one and progressed to having a store in Lakeside a few years later. They then opened a store in Brentwood on the High Street and another one in Bluewater Shopping Centre. At that point they were running 3 stores at the same time. Eventually, they closed the Lakeside store and had the Brentwood and Bluewater stores running alongside each other.
In 2000, Jay set up an information website and seven years later he set up an actual e-commerce website. From that, we saw potential and it was at that point that he left his website job and took the plunge to work for the business fulltime.
Following on from that we started to see a growth in the online business that was earning us more than our Brentwood shop. We then moved to North Street in Romford and rented a warehouse there. After 2yrs we had to rent the warehouse next door too. Bluewater was doing really well too. After 15 years we closed the Brentwood shop.
We moved to our current location in 2015 and we now have 15 members of staff.
What makes you stand out from other shops that supply arts and crafts?
We’ve got the personal touch. Our customer service staff are passionate about what they do and we have long serving members on the team. They are not afraid of hard work. Our manager has a background of arts and she manages our workshops.
The top tiers of the business are still family led and run, but we have two managers that we know that we can rely on. We take care of our own and we’ll step in and offer our help when required.
An element of your business involves running workshops. Tell me a little about what you offer and to whom?
We cater to everyone and run different workshops throughout the year. From beginners to professionals of all ages. The content of our workshops varies and we also provide the setting for home schooling on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Who do you provide your products to? Local or further afield? An
We sell to individual customers and predominately to the UK. 20% of our sales is to Europe.
Is your background arts and crafts based?
No. It’s more strategy and admin. Jay’s background is arty in that he can draw. He’s very creative and very analytical in mind set that’s why we work well together.
What’s your role within the business?
I am the Business Development Director. I focus on the brand and oversee the customer service team and HR. I also source new products and go to shows and test out new products which is really nice.
How is business going?
It’s going really well. This year we’ve put lots into planning and having strategies which has worked really well.
Crafty Arts celebrated 25 years of business in May 2016, with an unveiling by The Mayoress of Havering, Linda Van Den Hende
Have you been on any formal courses to learn how to run this business or have you learnt everything whilst being ‘on the job’?
Mainly on the job and through past experiences of roles. We’ve all had to kind of find our feet. Jay was a web designer but now oversees the day to day running of the business.
I see that you have a very active website for the business. How reliant is your business revenue on your website?
It’s not reliant on the website as the business has grown quickly and we sell on multi-channels. As well as the website, we sell on Amazon and eBay. The website is an added bonus and gives our customers confidence that we are real and that they can pop in and see us when they want to.
Do you have a marketing strategy?
Yes, we focus on the major seasons throughout the year as well as the art seasons. For example, Spring is the start of the watercolour season and you’ll find people out painting watercolours. At this time, you’ll also find students putting their portfolios together. Start of the summer holidays it’s arts and craft kits for kids and Christmas it’s board game season and gift items.
Which social media platforms are you on?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Wow you seem to be on all of them, who manages these platforms for you?
We have a Customer Service and Workshop Manager who manages it.
Which platforms would you consider as your most successful?
At present, Facebook because of the interactions.
What are your top 3 tips for business owners that are not on social media or are ready to get started?
In both instances I would recommend having a plan! Be consistent on your platforms and post often and try and build a community. We use Monday.com that helps us to plan, manage and organise our work.
I would add, that it’s really important to have your processes in place from the beginning. E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber, is a book that can help you to understand the different roles within a business. Know what the why is, of having built the business, as the answer is going to keep you moving forward. It's not easy!
I also see that you have won various business awards over the last few years. Can you describe how, having won these awards, it has impacted your business?
It’s impacted the staff by reflecting their hard work as a very well done. It helps remind us that we’re doing a good job and to keep going. It’s also great for our customers to see, especially new-comers reviewing our products for the first time – it gives us clout. We can also share the news with our suppliers, which shows that we are sourcing good products. It’s a lot of work to enter, but I think it is worth doing.
Crafty Arts - winners of the best E-Commerce business awarded by
Business Excellence, April 2019
Would you recommend entering award competitions to other businesses?
Do you think that it’s something that any type of business could benefit from?
Where do you see Crafty Arts in 5 years’ time?
I think arts and crafts will always have a space in this world. Crafts have a cycle and it’s interesting to see what the next cycle will be. Painting by numbers, knitting, scrap booking, card making have all come and gone and come around again as popular trends. We love being a hobby provider. I see us growing and expanding the workshops and having multiple ones running simultaneously.
If you would like to know more about the services and products provided by Crafty Arts, you can get in touch by contacting them via their website or via:
If you would like your business to feature in this slot, why not give us a call on 01708 578 015 today.
We'd love to hear from you!
We are asked all the time, why do I need a blog on my website? It probably ranks right next to, what is SEO? And believe it or not the two are related. In a nutshell the number one reason for having a blog on your website is that it drives search engine traffic.
How does it drive search engine traffic? Well, for one it enriches your content, but secondly and of equal importance it keeps your site updated.
If you think about the way Google and other search engines work, they constantly look for indexed pages. So every time you put up a blog it’s one more indexed page on your website, which means there is a greater opportunity for it to show up in search engines.
Blogging also shows search engines that your site is active and they should be checking back regularly for new content, even better it puts more keywords on your site, all of which help it rise up the page rankings; in the trade it’s known as organic SEO!
But it’s not all about SEO. Blogging is one of your best sales tools that can help increase leads and improve conversion rates.
While its pretty tacky to use your blog for a direct sales message, it is your big chance to really tell your organisation’s stories.
It will also show your credibility and to prove your authority in your market. In many ways blogging is your chance to show off and to really convey that you are an expert in your field.
We always get a real buzz when we read a blog that teaches us something new, written by someone passionate about their subject, it’s such a great opportunity to get inside the personality of a business.
Don’t make it too long though (around 500 words is optimum), but tell compelling stories in your voice which help customers and potential customers understand something about what you do, how you work, your industry or what you’ve learned on the way.
Your blog therefore is the enrichment you put into your site, the thing you do to change it from a showroom into a friendly business.
The big benefit of this rich content is that readers love to share new, fun and interesting material they’ve found online. Which means that not only do you have something to put up on your social media channels every time you blog, but so do your clients and potential clients.
Think about it, if a potential client has read your blog and has even linked to it on social media, how much more likely are they to buy from you than if all they’d seen were the static “services” or “about us” pages on your website?
You know we said its not all about SEO, but actually those social media links are great for creating inbound links to your website, something search engines absolutely love.
As you can see we practice what we preach, believing passionately that blogging is the most creative way for driving search engines to find you and to influence prospects to buy from you. If you need help with making this happen, why not get in touch on 01708 578 015 or take a look at our copywriting services for more information.