5 Easy ways to drive traffic to your website

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a bajillion times, your website will only work for you if you work for it. You can just sit back and expect the People of The Internet to find you, no siree! There are myriad websites that they could choose to visit, why would they choose yours?

It’s time to put the work in and start proactively getting people onto your site, where you can convert them to customers, make friends with them, or show them photos of your dog – whatevs. Here are my five favourite, tried and tested tips for driving traffic to your website, whether it’s a store or a blog, try these out!

1| Push them on social media to the ONE place you want them to be right that minute.

Got a new product? Written a new blog post? AH-MAZING! You go, girl!

Now’s time to pimp the SHIT out of that. Share it everywhere, twice! But don’t forget the golden rule: link directly. Don’t be sending someone to the homepage of your website to see your new creation, make it super easy by giving them the direct link. And once they’re there? Work your conversion magic!

In practical terms this might mean changing the link in your instagram bio to the URL of the product you just shared, or the blog post you just mentioned. 

And while we’re on the subject of social media, don’t forget to be interesting. No one wants to see a catalogue of your products over on instagram or facebook, they wanna see the real life behind the brand! Think of your social media as a lifestyle magazine, showcasing the 

2 | Old traffic is good traffic

Okay, so this isn’t driving new people to your website, instead we’re going to reengage the people who’ve been before and have proven interest in you and your website.

You’ve been building an email list, right? (Or, rebuilding after razing it to the ground thanks to GDPR amiright?). If you haven’t, get on that train and…

Bloody use it!

People didn’t sign up to your list to go months without hearing from you (er… sorry, everyone on the KLC email list, promise to write soon x), they actively want to hear from you, boo!

The majority of the site traffic I get for new product launches over on Finest Imaginary comes from my email list, and because I send out regular (almost weekly) emails, people are more likely to be engaged with my content and ready to click through.

3 | Make your content shareable, and share it yourself

Whether you write blog posts or sell products, making sure you’re set up for sharing on sites like Pinterest is really, really important. People are using Pinterest more than ever as a visual search engine, and having your content on there (even without a fully thought out strategy) will bring you nothing but good juju!

Make sure you’re sharing your own content on there too, create boards relating to what you do and add your products (along with loads of other interesting and useful content for your followers). As with all social media, don’t just use it as a catalogue for your own things, play nice.

Not sure if your website is set up for rich pins? Pinterest has a handy validator tool and a set of steps for you to follow!

4 | Make sure your website is mobile friendly

As of March 2017, over 50% of web users were accessing websites on a mobile device. Isn’t that INSANE? And it’s rising! The latest figures put mobile users at a little over 51%, and I think most of us would agree that evening thumb-scrolling makes for the majority of our casual internet usage.

If your website isn’t mobile friendly at this stage, you’re literally turning your back on over half the potential visitors to your site. Don’t be a dick, invest in a mobile friendly site and reap the rewards. Did you know Google actually penalises websites that aren’t mobile friendly?

“But mobile websites are haaarrrddddd!”

Yeah, no. They’re really not. Take it from me, your friendly neighbourhood web developer, mobile development is one of the easier parts of making websites. If you’re buying a theme for your Shopify store, your WordPress blog, or using SquareSpace, don’t settle for anything less than a decent experience on mobile.

5 | Collaborate and cross-pollinate 

Working with your peers isn’t just a really fucking awesome part of your job, it can be one of the best drivers of new traffic to your website!

I’ve worked on collaborations with several of my creative buddies, sharing our work on social media, in newsletters, and on our websites. With a small crossover audience, but an even larger new audience, a collaboration can bring you new social media followers, new email sign-ups and new customers.

It doesn’t just stop with blog and product peer collaborations, either. What about collaborating with larger companies? They appreciate your micro-audience just as much as you appreciate their larger one!

Your homework!

You didn’t think I was gonna leave you without something to do, did you? It’s all well and good me giving you a bunch of tips, but if you’re not going to put them into motion you’re not going to see any results. Here’s your homework:

  • Update your social media bio link with a direct link to the last product you posted or your last blog post, make this a habit starting now!
  • Send out a newsletter to your loyal subscribers, let them know what’s new in your world! Then, write a list of the next 5 newsletters you’re going to send out. 
  • Check your website is set up for rich pins, if it is then AWESOME! Start a new board and pin 3 of your products! If not, install the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin, or contact Shopify support (they should work out of the box once you’ve validated them on Shopify!).
  • Not mobile friendly? Uh-oh! Time for a website refresh! Contact your developer (or me, hiya!) and talk through your options.
  • Who do you want to collaborate with? Write down some ideas and send out an email, you’re gonna make this happen!

The studio that never was and a new look KLC

Well, hello!

It’s been a while, eh? I know, I know. It’s that old cobbler’s kids idiom, I’ve been so busy working on wonderful things for my lovely clients that I neglected my own shiz. BUT! I’m back, baby!

First though, a story.

A couple of years ago I started thinking that I wanted to start a brand new studio, close down KLC and start completely from scratch. I’d started to think that I needed to move away from having my name be part of the studio name, that if I ever decided to bring in permanent staff members it’d be confusing for clients to work with someone that wasn’t me. I also had itchy feet. I’ve been working under “Kim Lawler Creative” for around 7 years now, and I was pretty much ready for a big change in the way I presented the studio. There was also a niggling little thought in the back of my head that if I ever wanted to sell the studio at some point, having my name in there would make that pretty impossible – I have no idea why I was even thinking this, I’ve got 100% no plans to sell KLC.

I spent some time figuring out a new studio name, buying a domain, registering all my social media accounts, I even went so far as to commission some custom lettering for the logo! Then… I did nothing. Zilch. Nada. I tried to start designing the new site about this time last year and wasn’t into it. I sat on it for a further 12 months before finally (FINALLY) figuring out that this wasn’t what I wanted.

I didn’t want to move away from having my personality being a big part of my business, and I realised that a lot of the people I admire (who work in big teams!) still stick with their own name as their studio name. Part of the fun of running my business for me is that I can be entirely myself, I don’t have to tone down my potty mouth, or monitor what I say on social media. Starting a new studio would, if anything, force me to reign in the very thing that sets my current studio apart from others – me!

A little over a week ago, in the short time between turning the bedside lamp out and falling asleep, I decided that really all I wanted to do (needed to do) was rebrand Kim Lawler Creative, refocus a few of my offerings, update my portfolio, and just get my shit in a row. After I figured that out it took me around 3 days to completely redo my website and branding.

Whaaatttt? I know.

From 2 years to 3 days.

So! What can you expect from me now? Wellll, I’m gonna be back blogging, and I’m going to be making some videos about running a small creative business. I’d love to know what you’d like me to cover (leave a comment below!), I have some ideas already but I want to make this as relevant as possible for you guys. I’ve also rejigged my services a little, and have plans for some other à la carte style services which I’ll be adding later this year. The main thing is, I’m really excited about my business again and can’t wait to share more awesome shit with you!

Oh, and the studio that never was? RIP.

(awesome brush lettering by Letters by Julia)

Don’t build your business with someone else’s product!

Hey pals!

I wanted to talk about a pretty worrying trend that I keep seeing in various guises, from social media to online marketplaces, and it’s even in the world of web design. People are building their entire businesses on the back of someone else’s product.

I don’t mean that they’re using someone else’s product to promote, improve, or grow their businesses, I mean they’re basing their entire business model on something that someone else controls. This is really, really fucking scary. Especially when you see what can happen when that product changes, it’s life ruining!

I’m going to talk about 3 scenarios where I’ve seen this happen lately, and the fallout that can occur when each of these platforms changes.


My product based business, Finest Imaginary, happily runs on a few different online outlets. I have wholesale contracts with a few shops, and I sell at markets throughout the holiday season. Whenever I’m promoting my business online I’ll always, always direct people to my own website (which is hosted on Shopify, a tool I used to grow my business – if Shopify up and closed tomorrow, I’d be able to move my store to another ecommerce platform and still use my URL). I’ve spread my business around a bit, not too thinly, but enough so that I don’t rely fully on one marketplace more than another.

Earlier this year one of the marketplaces that I’ve sold through for quite a few years decided to make some rather drastic changes to their business model, removing many businesses from the site and shifting things around in product categories (which in turn meant that certain products were no longer getting the exposure that they once were!). There were a number of people who had built successful six-figure businesses on this platform, and they suddenly found themselves up shit creek without a marketplace! It’s sad, and frustrating, and my heart went out to those who were affected, but the business who built the platform have the right to do whatever they want with their product (whether it’s morally right or wrong is a whole other story…).

It’s easy to become complacent when your business is thriving on a marketplace, whether it’s Etsy or similar, but is it sensible to rely on someone else’s product for the main source of your income? Fuck no.

Is it sensible to rely on someone else’s product for the main source of your income? Fuck no. Click To Tweet


Here’s another one that everyone got their knickers in a twist over a few weeks ago. Instagram.

Remember over Easter when everyone was losing their shit about the algorithm changes, and posting silly images asking you to subscribe to alerts? Yeah? I’m just gonna stand here right now and call bullshit on all those antics.

I love Instagram. I’ve been focusing on it as a promotional tool for my businesses for the past few months, and have been steadily increasing my engagement and following. It’s awesome. I get a heck of a lot of referrals from it, and it’s been (probably) my most successful marketing tool to date. But here’s the thing. I don’t rely on it. I don’t put all of my energy into using Instagram as my only marketing tool, I also use Twitter, my newsletter, Pinterest, and I’ve even started experimenting with Snapchat.

When and if Instagram changes their algorithm and it starts to affect your business, then you change along with it. You evolve, you keep on your toes and you work out how to fill that gap. Don’t rely on someone else’s product for your entire business marketing, stay current and see what else is out there. Your business will have way more to worry about down the line than the changing up of a social media platform. Who knows, the next thing on the app store might be even more suited to you and your business!


I come from a background of coding sites from scratch, before I even heard the word “Wordpress” I was creating shitty table based sites on geocities. Since then I’ve focused most of my energy on WordPress (and more recently Shopify), but have dipped my toes into Squarespace, big cartel, blogger, and Magento.

There’s a new breed of web designer around who can successfully drag-and-drop your site into existence. I mean, that’s great and all (and kudos to them for making bank on a relatively simple task), but it’s not something you couldn’t do on your own (given an afternoon and a help doc or two!). The scary thing here is that these designers have built an entire business around being able to use a drag-and-drop interface (on a product that wasn’t even available a couple of years ago!). I’ve long had these same worries about the WordPress “developers” who were using a popular framework package to make all their sites. They rely so fully on this framework that when there’s something that the framework can’t do… they’re stumped!

My advice to those who work this way is to expand, learn new skills, get dirty in the code and don’t rely on that single product that someone else made for all the income in your business. It might change next month, it might become even easier for people to use it themselves (in which case your client pool would get incredibly small!), or it might disappear altogether!

So, what do you think? Looking at your business, are you relying too heavily on someone else’s product? What would happen if that product underwent a huge change? Or closed? How would you recover? I think it’s time we started taking responsibility for our own businesses rather than blaming someone else if a change in their product fucks it up.

How I Prepare my Handmade Business for Christmas

I’ve been thinking about Christmas for months, as is the life of someone who makes and sells things for a living. The Christmas sales period (mid October to Christmas Day, and then the New Year’s sales period in January) usually accounts for around 35-40% of my product based business’s annual turnover. It’s a ridiculously busy period and I start preparing for it months in advance.

I don’t do many special products for Christmas, besides some personalised Christmas tree decorations that’ll hit the shop towards the end of this month, so the majority of my preparations are to do with keeping my business running smoothly during the Christmas period.

Here’s how I prepare for Christmas…

1/ Take Stock

The most important thing to stop me burning out and going completely insane during the weeks leading up to Christmas is to make sure I have plenty of buffer stock on hand. I’ve been making lots of my most popular designs over the past few weeks, and will continue to stock-up during the coming weeks.

It can be hard to figure out how much of any one thing to make, especially if you’ve released new products or haven’t had a festive period before, so take a look at your sales over the past year and see what was selling best. If you’ve got anything that’s going to be featured in the press during the run up to Christmas, then definitely stock up big on that product!

2/ Book fairs and markets

All of the fairs and markets I’m attending over the festive season have already been booked and paid for, my accommodation and travel has already been sorted, and I’ve got a list of dates and details in my google drive. Most festive fairs start booking during September and October, so you need to think well in advance to be in with a shot of booking them.

3/ Order packaging & other printed items

I place a big order for packaging and other printed items (return labels, business cards, promo cards) during September/October in readiness for the Christmas rush. This usually keeps me going until March or whatever, but it means I’m not having to reorder during the busy periods!

4/ Pre-buy postage

My items are sent by Royal Mail large letter rate, which means I can just fix a regular postage stamp to the majority of my parcels (except the international ones, or ones weighing over a certain amount/requiring insurance). I don’t have the volume to use a business pick-up from Royal Mail, so instead I’ve started bulk buying (by the hundreds) royal mail stamps. I can then just drop them off at the post office or pop them in a post box.

5/ Release new items well in advance

Trust me, you don’t want to do a product launch in December! You’ll be rushed off your feet with orders for your current items. I’m probably going to be launching the last of my new items towards the middle of November (due to lead times). However, do use the Christmas period to highlight your newer items to your mailing list and previous customers – they might not have seen the initial launch, but will be more receptive to gift advertising at this time of year.

6/ Get on the PR wagon

I’m currently sending out product samples and emailing back to press requests like a demon! Everyone’s compiling their Christmas gift guides RIGHT NOW so it’s time to keep an eye out. Follow your favourite bloggers on twitter, keep an eye on the #journorequests hashtag & be ready to send out hi-res images and samples.

7/ Warn Relatives

Social events are pretty much off the calendar for me during November and December. My weekends are taken up with fairs, and Adam & I usually end up marathoning Netflix while packing up orders on an evening. My friends and family are pretty used to this now!

8/ Slow up on other work

I try and restrict the number of web design projects I take on during the busier times, freeing up that bit of time gives me way more headspace! If you’re able to reshuffle your work priorities like that, then do it! If not (and I’ve been there, when I had a 9-5 too), then it might be worth booking a day off here and there throughout December so that you can get everything up to date.

9/ Clean & organise my equipment

Giving my laser cutter a good clean, making sure my pliers are all in working order, and cleaning up my workspace- all these things make sure I stay organised and (usually) don’t have any bumps in the road during my making process.

10/ Give my social media a once over

This is something I do periodically anyway, but I make sure my profile images, descriptions, URLs etc. are all up to date and working correctly. If I do have any Christmas items I want to promote then I’ll make sure I’m putting them front and centre on Facebook.

11/ Give my website a once over

Similarly I’ll make sure my website’s all in good working order, and I’ll start to make some curated gift categories to make Christmas shopping even easier for my customers.

12/ Order presents and goodies for my customers

I’ve been popping sweeties in with my orders for the past few months, so to make things a little more festive I’ve ordered hundreds of tiny candy canes! I have a few other tricks up my sleeve that I’ll be popping in with customer orders, too.

13/ Get my accounts up to date

I generally do my accounts on a monthly/bi-monthly basis (or when my accountant shouts at me!). My year-end if actually at the end of October so it’s a good chance for me to make sure everything is 100% up to date with my accounts. Over the busy festive season I try and do my accounts a little more regularly so that I’m not left with a huge number of things to input during the new year!

14/ Load up on healthy food

At this time of year, where colds are rife and work is pressing, I make sure that I’m eating properly and taking some additional supplements if I feel a bit icky. Anything to ward off a cold!

15/ Take an early season break

If you can, try and take a few days off just before everything kicks-off in ernest. I’ll be popping over to New York for a week this month to recharge my batteries and make sure I’m fully rested (yeh, right, as if I’ll be resting in NYC!) before I turn into a making machine!

16/ Connect with Stockists early

Connect with your stockists in October and ask them if they want to place their Christmas wholesale orders with you. Getting those out of the way early will free up your time for buffer stock and packaging all your customer orders. They’ll be just as busy as you at this time of year, and will appreciate the chance to cross that off their list early!

Do you have any top tips for Christmas prep? I’d love to hear them!

Are you a consumer or a creator?

Guys, I am drowning in business advice posts.


It seems like everywhere I turn there’s a “How to brand your business authentically“, “10 reasons you should be using periscope RIGHT NOW (or your business will fail – seriously)”, “I did THIS and I lost 5 clients, don’t make my mistake” clickbait style posts.

I follow quite a lot of people in my market, that is: people who want to serve the creative community and want you to buy their products or services. One of the most successful ways of doing that is content marketing, giving away their knowledge for free and keeping you coming back for more. I mean, that’s what I do with this blog.

But jeez, I’m seeing so much more regurgitated content on blogs and over the past few months the whole thing seems to have blown up!

The thing is, every time I see a retweeted, pinned or shared blog post, I automatically think I need to head off and read it. There’s probably some piece of information in there that’s going to change my entire business. Right?

Are you a consumer or a creator?

I’m totally at risk of being hoisted by my own petard here, I want you to read my blog posts after all, but I’m also not in the market of peddling bullshit. If you’re reading something here I want it to be actually valuable to you and your business. I don’t want to waste your time.

There’s are too many blog posts for you to read. Too many.

You and I won’t read them all, and yeah, you might learn a little something from each post, but is that tiny little snippet of brand new information worth the time you spent trawling through the post? Is there something you could’ve been doing instead of learning the top ten ways to increase your instagram following? (I dunno.. like, taking some instagram photos and connecting with people on there?)

There comes a point where you’re so busy consuming blog posts that you forget to create stuff of your own. You can get so caught up with the idea of business development through learning new information, that you don’t have the time to put that in to practice.

Quit the knee-jerk

How do we get around this addiction to consume information without losing out on actual, valuable tips and advice that could benefit our business?

Firstly, let’s set aside some time for consumption, an hour or so each week to read through a consolidated list of interesting posts that we’ve collected over the past 5 working days. I don’t know about you but Fridays in my office are generally a time for sending out invoices, tidying up my inbox, and generally just putting my business “house” in order. Setting aside an hour on a Friday morning and visiting the links I’ve saved over a coffee sounds perfect! I like to use Pocket to save links that I’d like to read later, if I see a post shared somewhere then I’ll click on it, check out the blog itself (if it’s not one I’m familiar with), read the first paragraph and decide whether to save it to pocket for later.

Secondly, take notes. Don’t just idly read blog posts, your brain is pretty much as useful of a sieve at retaining information by just reading through the 500-700 words that a blog post includes. Actually use the information that you’re learning, take notes, extend the notes into how you’re going to make this work for your business. I really love to take notes during Amy Porterfield‘s podcasts, which I can have on in the background when I’m making jewellery.

Thirdly, beware the blog-xpert. That is, the blogger that professes to have a level of expertise with what they’re talking about, but not much to back it up. I sometimes used feel a bit weird when I posted about business stuff, was it really my place to be sharing this information? I blog about small creative business, I’ve run my own “side gig” since I was 21, and I quit my day job over 4 years ago. Before then I worked for 4 years as a web developer in a studio environment. I’ve tripled my income, worked with upwards of 50 clients around the world, and I still really fucking enjoy what I do. Still, all I can offer is what’s worked for me and my business. I can offer advice on what I’d do in certain situations, and I can give strategies for social platforms that’ve been working for me. It really grinds my gears when I see people peddling advice and “you must do this” type posts when they’ve only been in the game for 6 or so months. Just because you have a business and a voice doesn’t make you a fucking expert.

Finally, remember that you will not develop your business through osmosis. Reading blog posts, books, listening to podcasts and watching Youtube videos will not magically improve your business. It is way more valuable to your business if you read ONE high quality blog post a week and put into practice the things that you’ve learned than to read 15 blog posts and do nothing. Don’t confuse consuming information as actually working on your business.

PS. I went ahead and made my own brand new personal lifestyle blog, which you can follow along with over on adventurish.com – hope to see you there!

Your About Page Sucks – Let’s Fix It!

Be honest now, how long did you spend writing the About Page for your website?

An hour? Two? Not even that?

The About page is one of the first pages a new user will visit when they get to your site. It’s where they learn who they’re listening to, find out what’s in it for them, and make their all important first impression.

You need to spend time on your About page. It’s really important.

Let’s walk through what should be on your about page.

You’re a human, not a machine!

You need to engage with your audience. They’re on your site for a reason, and generally that reason is a) what you’re talking about, or b) what you’re selling.

You are the defining factor. And the last time I checked… you’re human, not a machine. So why does your about page sound like the generic description of a kitchen appliance?

Throughout your About Page you must use your personality. Talk as though you’re talking to a friend, tell jokes, be sincere, be engaging. Talk like you’re trying to take your audience out on a second date. 

Once upon a time…

… there was a girl, fresh from university, with bright eyes and a thirst for business. For months she trawled to the ends of job applications, hoping to find her place in the dark and misty world of web design. One day, she happened upon the job of Junior Web Developer, and (armed with a Macbook Pro) began her long quest of making websites for the most courageous of people – the creative entrepreneurs. 

One of the most engaging copy writing or marketing tactics is to include stories in your copy. I really had you going with that snippet, right? You were with me, walking through Mordor-like hills and battling beastly Web 2.0 demons.

I’m not saying your stories need to be totally in the style of the Grimms, but have fun with them, eh?

Recounting stories of how you’ve worked with past clients, your experience in your profession, or your own endeavours really helps your reader connect with you. It gives them a much needed window into your world, and helps you stand out from your peers.

Who the hell are you?

At some point on your About Page you’re going to have to go into a little more detail about who you are, where you came from, and what you actually do. You can mix some of this in with the other copy, or create a separate area for that information.

Having already explained that I’m a web designer, and told my reader how I got there & what I can do for them, I tell them a few more bits about me towards the end of my about page…

I’m based in Huddersfield, UK, but don’t let that put you off – we still have the internet in Yorkshire. I live with 2 crazy cats, 1 hyper golden retriever and 1 astrophysicist. I design and make things under the name of Finest Imaginary, which I work on 50/50 with Kim Lawler Creative  (or, you know, sometimes 80/20, or 100/100 when I’m stupid).

I prefer whisky to vodka, have a serious relationship with gherkins, and leave a trail of shoes around my house.

Nothing too in depth, pretty brief, but it gives my reader a little more of a connection with me. Who doesn’t leave their shoes around the house?

Take them behind the curtain

Depending on your type of business it can be cool to show a little “behind the scenes” on your about page – photos of your studio, an idea of where you create your magic, maybe even a brief “day in the life”. Take the reader on a bit of a journey into how your business looks outside of your pristine website.

On my Finest Imaginary About Page, I often swap out photos from my making desk, showing half-finished pieces and a peek at how my jewellery comes together. These photos are often the ones that end up being used in publications (they’re pretty interesting!).

Now What?

Don’t forget your calls to action! After reading your About Page you need to direct your reader to what  you want them to do – is that visit your contact page? Your social media links? Sign up to your newsletter? Make sure you’re pointing them in the right direction!

So go, rework your stale copy, make your About Page fun to read, and connect with your audience!

If you liked this, you might be interested in a little something I’ve got up my sleeve. Make sure you’re signed up for my Newsletter to be the first to know. 

The Truth about Competition

If you’re running any kind of business chances are you have competition (unless your business is so incomparably niche that you’re totally on your own… there’re very few companies making literary inspired dog hats!).

I have “competition” in both parts of my business, from people creating awesome websites for creative entrepreneurs & small business owners, to other fantastic designers making jewellery and homewares.

Some of my “competition” achieves much greater sales and success than my business, and some is where my business was a couple of years ago. (Always someone in front, always someone behind). Most of my immediate “competition” is pretty much playing in the same league as me, though.

Competition is a made up concept to create mistrust, secrecy and dirty tactics in business.

At least that’s the way I’ve come to see it.

I don’t like the word or concept of competition. I don’t like seeing fledgling businesses thinking that “competing” with other businesses is the way to make their business stand out. And I REALLY don’t like archaic idea that your competition is your enemy.

Flashback Time

*Read this with a sepia filter*

A few years ago, when I first started doing craft markets and fairs for my jewellery, there was a bit of a culture of traditional competition rising in the ranks. People were very secretive with information, especially regarding on-the-day sales and how well they were doing. People would out and out lie to their “competition” about how well they’d done on the day. It made me uneasy. I didn’t know why back then, but I do now – it’s totally skeazy and such an old-hat way of doing business. They were trying to make other businesses, who they viewed as their competition, think the following…

“If they did so well and I didn’t, does that mean that my product isn’t as good as theirs?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have bothered coming…”

“It’s obviously not a good fit for my product…”

“I should just leave it to them”

Trying to eliminate your competition does NOT increase your chance of sales.

Lying about how well they did on the day doesn’t stand to make them any more by way of sales, all it does is remove the discussion of “damn, if neither of us did very well, what can we do to make this better for both of us?”.

In the long run it just stands to harm what could be a thriving community of small businesses.

Luckily, I see this happen a lot less nowadays. People have started having each other’s backs again, and it’s fucking awesome.

Rearrange your view of Competition

Here’s how I like to view “competition”…

  • Competition is not the enemy, that’s number 1. Sure, they might be aiming at the same people, but there’s plenty to go around.
  • Competition increases your chance of business. Every piece of marketing they do for their business puts your industry in front of people’s eyes.
  • Competition helps you up your game. Can you imagine how complacent you’d be in your business if you didn’t have other people to look up to? It would be shit. You’d still be dragging your knuckles.
  • Competition helps you serve your audience. Your competition is you, you’d probably get on like a house on fire, what can you do together to serve your audience better?
  • Competition helps you understand your audience better. Seeing your audience interact with another business is enlightening, you can learn so much from them.
  • Wouldn’t you rather build your business based on value and awesomeness than competition? Being the best at what you do clears your field of traditional “competition” and lets you enjoy working alongside a bunch of equally successful and interesting businesses.

I’m not into woo-woo stuff, but I still believe that you’ll get so much more out of making friends rather than enemies. 


11 Ways to Skyrocket Pinterest for your Creative Business

This week I attended a talk about Pinterest in Manchester, hosted by the lovely & super knowledgable Lizzie Sibley from Pinterest UK. I’ve used Pinterest for a while, but I’ve always been a little lazy with it, only recently have I really started putting any proper effort and strategy in my pinning. I learned so much stuff I didn’t know about Pinterest, so I thought I’d share it with you!

1 | Follower count doesn’t mean as much as you think it does. The majority of traffic on Pinterest is engaged with the search function rather than what’s on their home feed. Instead of concentrating on how many followers you have, concentrate on how accessible and search-friendly your pins and boards are. Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a “visual discovery tool”.

1/3 of Millennials now use Pinterest, many using it as their primary search tool before Google! Click To Tweet

2 | Pinterest uses your board names, pin names and pin descriptions in its search. Be thorough and useful when writing your pin descriptions. Don’t be spammy with a multitude of hashtags, instead, write something meaningful and descriptive. You’re not restricted to 140 characters, so write away! Take care when writing your board descriptions, use plain English but be specific: “Casual Chic Style” would be more searchable than “Keeping it casual” and more specific than “My Style”. Always consider what people would be searching for when writing your board names.

3 | 80% of Pinterest users are using the app on their mobile or iPad, so if you’re trying to generate traffic to your website via Pinterest, then you’d better be damn sure your site’s mobile optimised (but we’ve already talked about why your website should be mobile optimised, haven’t we?).

4 | Don’t delete boards, just move them to the bottom of your profile. Some people might only follow one of your boards, so you don’t want to lose their engagement. Similarly, don’t delete pins — rearrange them, rename them, change their descriptions, and even their links.

5 | If you want to track your analytics on Pinterest (and why wouldn’t you?) then you need to register for a Business account. Don’t worry, you don’t technically need to be a business to use that service, and it’s totally free (just like Pinterest is and always will be!).

6 | Instead of just re-pinning content, be more active in pinning new things and creating new content to be shared on Pinterest. This is something I definitely need to get better at! It’s sooo easy to repin things, and even to change the description to fit with that you want to pin the image as, but it’s harder and therefore more valuable to pin brand new things.

7 | Start your “holiday boards” early — start pinning for Halloween in July and Christmas in August. Move these boards to the top of your profile during their active seasons, and to the bottom of your profile when it’s not their time to shine (remember, don’t delete them!).

8 | Make use of services such as Buffer to spread out your pins. This way you can avoid annoying your followers when you go on pinning splurges! You can also use services like this to un-annoyingly pin the same thing more than once, to different boards.

9 | Make sure that your site is Pinterest ready by using the variety of Pinterest tools available (such as the pin it button) and enabling Rich Pins on your site. If you’re using WordPress, so long as you have a decent theme and the Yoast SEO plugin installed then you should be good to go. If you’re on Shopify you’re also good to go. You simply need to follow the instructions on Pinterest to validate your site for Rich Pins.

10 | Vertical images perform much better than horizontal images, so make sure you’re creating your pinnable content with high impacting images. Using text on your images does deliver a higher pin-rate, but make sure it doesn’t look like a banner ad. List style posts & how-tos work really well when pinned on Pinterest!

Vertical images work SO MUCH better than horizontal images on Pinterest Click To Tweet

11 | Don’t just pin your own content, that’s rubbish and boring, and totally not what Pinterest is about. I kinda like the Gary Veynerchuck way of marketing on social media (jab jab jab, right hook) and I think that works really well on something like Pinterest (maybe more like 9 jabs to every hook, though!).

And to help us all even further, I’ve started a brand new Pinterest board where I’m gathering useful articles related to Pinterest use. Click here to go straight to it if you can’t see it under this post… I’ll be adding content to this board regularly, so do let me know if you have a Pinterest article you’d like me to add there!

Let me know your Pinterest links in the comments so that I can follow you!!

Should You Niche Down or Branch Out?


When I started my freelance web design business I was all about making bank.

I didn’t want to live on noodles and I had a mortgage to pay. I took on any scrappy bit of work that came my way, tried my hand at anything, and learnt a bunch of skills along the way. Over the past few years I’ve become a lot more selective with the work I take on, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try my hand at different things.

“Niching Down” is becoming a very popular career choice amongst web design freelancers. Choosing one particular route on which to focus their career (PDF/eBook design, websites for certain professions only, working with just one CMS or framework) and making it clear that they don’t do anything outside their realm.

How incredibly fucking boring.

For me, one of the most exciting things about being a freelance designer and developer is the ability to work on a variety of different projects. I get to work with interesting people in different fields, learn more about what they do, and build up my skills. I get to try out new CMSs, explore new technologies and future proof my career with a bevy of transferable skills.

Jack of all trades, master of none…

Are we really still banging on about that old adage?

Things are different now. Things are fluid. People expect you to have a variety of skills, especially as a freelancer, rather than just one core attribute.

I work with a lot of independent companies and one-person shops who want the whole shebang — branding, print design, web design and development. It makes it a whole lot easier for them to work with just me (and maybe another person) rather than having to hire 3 or 4 separate people.

Skills in the web design business are pretty transferable, we’re in a really good position to diversify and leverage what we know.

Don’t get me wrong, It’s awesome to specialise in stuff (I specialise in Web Design, WordPress development and Shopify), but don’t disregard new opportunities to learn and experiment — who knows, you might find you really do enjoy making interactive PDFs.

Along with specialising, you can cherry pick projects that appeal to you more and tailor your portfolio with the work you really enjoy.

But doesn’t niching down mean I can charge more?

Yes and no.

If you become the best PDF designer, then yeah, sure, you can charge more than the other PDF designers out there.

But here’s the thing…

A client comes to you wanting a PDF for a new service they’re offering. They want to use it as a free promotional tool to gain sign-ups. Sure, you say, and get underway with the project, finish it in no time (you’re the best, after all!), and the client is super happy.

However, you’ve just served your client what they asked for, rather than solved their problem.

Your client wanted a promotional tool for the new service they’re offering, they’re looking for a PDF because that’s what they think they need. It’s what everyone else in their field is doing, so it must be the thing they need too, right?

Your job is to figure out if it actually is what they need. Maybe they’d be better served with a small information website? Or a social media campaign? Maybe there are other things you could bolt on to what your client initially wants to more successfully solve their problem.

Having a broader knowledge of the different ways you can solve your client’s problem will serve them better, and they’ll pay even more for that.

Here’s what I think…

Niching down in such a strict sense closes a lot of doors, doors that hide some really interesting and exciting projects. When you niche down you get comfortable and complacent, which is a very dangerous place to be in a fast-moving business like web design (and other design fields, for that matter).

Having a broad skill set can really help to future proof your career, if you’ve devoted yourself to one CMS, or PDFs, or even a particular profession, what would you do if that CMS became obsolete? If a brand new universal document format took over? If the work there suddenly dried up?

If you enjoy the variety that freelance work provides (and I mean, who wouldn’t?) then why restrict yourself by niching down? I much prefer the idea of specialising, a route that leaves you & your business in a flexible and agile position.