The end of another year approaches, and what a busy year it has been! So busy, in fact, that I’ve struggled to find time to keep the CWDmedia site updated periodically, which is of course what Google likes when it indexes your site for its search engine results.
West Bromwich-based charity The Kaleidoscope Plus Group has been promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the Midlands and further afield for over 45 years. #TeamKPG engaged CWDmedia to work on a number of projects in 2018, including key publications (corporate & ambassador brochures, annual report and more), fundraising toolkits and social media support. The latter involved me providing photography services at several fundraising events across the West Midlands. I even got involved in the fundraising myself, raising over £1,500 for the charity by shaving off my beloved beard – a feat which got special mention at #TeamKPG’s Annual Gala Ball, for which CWDmedia was a sponsor.
Double Vision Mobile Bars
Shropshire-based Double Vision Mobile Bars provides quality mobile bars, hog roasts and candy carts for all manner of functions across the county. They engaged CWDmedia to redesign its company website, the anticipated launch of which is in early 2019.
As mentioned in my previous update, Jordan Red is an exciting new band whose founding member Dan Baker is a long time client of CWDmedia. I was engaged to develop their initial logo ideas into a finished article and create their official website which launched in December 2018, with expansion phases anticipated in 2019.
Birmingham singer Rosie O’Sullivan first rose to prominence when she wowed the judges on Britain’s Got Talent with her soulful voice, prompting David Walliams to say “I just want to hear you sing all night” and Simon Cowell to comment “Absolutely bloody fantastic!” CWDmedia first worked with Rosie to design artwork for her 2017 release ‘Tempo’ and the subsequent digital single ‘Time’.
This year Rosie engaged CWDmedia to provide art direction for her new double EP ‘The Nashville Sessions’ and supporting digital single ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’, both of which were showcased during a promotional tour to Nashville itself.
The newest client to join the CWDmedia roster is Stafford-based Inar Group – an engineering and software programming business with an exciting new project set for launch in 2019. CWDmedia has been engaged to design Inar Group’s corporate website, also set for a 2019 launch.
So in summary, there’s lots going on and some exciting things planned for 2019 already. I can always do more, however – if you have a requirement for anything design-related, I can probably help. Get in touch and let’s get to work – happy New Year to you all!
I hope you’ve enjoyed a restful and fun-filled festive season. You may have noticed things look slightly different around here, and you’ve got my lovely wife (pictured above) to thank for that!
We were chatting over Christmas about how it’s been a while since I last used my camera and how I wanted to offer more freelance marketing services through CWDmedia. Keeping in mind the fact that I am just one guy and my work through CWDmedia is done alongside a full-time job (I’m the Marketing Manager for Develop Training), simply adding marketing services to the range of services available through CWDmedia didn’t seem sensible. It’s important to keep things manageable, after all!
So what I’ve done is replace Photography services with Marketing services. Now, that isn’t to say that I couldn’t assist with photography should you require it. But my focus in 2017 is to continue providing clients with high quality graphic & web design, excellent copywriting and to introduce a range of marketing options to those who want them.
These marketing services include, but are not limited to:
Marketing strategy and/or planning
Media planning & publishing
If you require any of these services, I’d be delighted to discuss these with you and devise a solution to fit your needs.
That’s it from me for now. I wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year.
I was daydreaming while eating my lunch today. It occurred to me that, traditionally, most of my commissions have been for graphic design work. Good old fashioned printed media, be it leaflets, posters, business cards, brochures or other stationery. But over the past couple of years I’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of enquiries I receive for copywriting, and an even larger increase in the number of requests for website design.
Now, while I promote both on this website, I’ve probably been too busy to update this site to truly reflect my capabilities when it comes to either – particularly website design. For instance, at the time of writing this, there is no portfolio page showcasing the sites I’ve designed. I’m definitely going to get on top of that. More and more clients are asking me to re-imagine their website or create their first one from scratch. It’s something I really enjoy, and because of my experience in marketing, I love being able to offer a consultative service to clients in these situations.
Your most important sales tool
Your website communicates to the outside world who you are, what you do and why you do it. It’s available 24/7, and many marketers consider it the single most important item in their marketing toolkit. When I build a website for a client, I spend time with them going through a needs analysis to really understand what the website needs to achieve, how it should look in terms of colour scheme and typeface, and what functionality is required.
Depending on whether you require me to write copy for the website or not, the whole process of building the site from start to finish can take just a couple of weeks. And remember, because I’m a freelancer working evenings and weekends, my overheads are low, which means so are my prices!
I’d love to discuss your future website design project with you. Here’s a handful of CWDmedia-designed websites to give you a flavour of what I can do:
Ok, I confess, I’m not keeping the CWDmedia site as updated as I should. Kinda embarrassing given my day job’s website is kept constantly up to date without too much trouble! Encouragingly though, the neglect of the CWDmedia site is principally down to being busy tackling a string of really cool commissions for a mix of new and existing clients.
The reason I decided to pen this blog, however, is to share a podcast I’ve been listening to a lot of recently by a chap across the pond called Russell Brunson. If you can get past the awfully cheesy but annoyingly catchy jingle, the 200+ episodes of his Marketing in your Car podcast is full of really great content that’s as applicable to business owners and entrepreneurs as it is to sales and marketing folk.
A lot of us fantasise about sticking it to the man, knocking the day job on the head and starting our own business. The idea of being your own boss is seductive and most of us will have thought about it at one time or another, indeed for some of us it’ll be something we dream about daily.
So if you’ve been dreaming about the ideals of going it alone, what do you actually need to do in order to turn it into a reality? There’s much to consider, and the decision to wave goodbye to the guaranteed monthly income of your day job is a big one. In truth, it’s something I’ve never had the bottle to do myself, although I’m lucky enough to really enjoy my day job and the work I do there complements the freelance work I do through CWDmedia.
But I got to thinking. If I was to go full-time with CWDmedia, how would I go about it? How different would it be to running the business part time like I do now? So I did some research. A lot of research, actually, and found plenty of good advice mixed in with a lot of flannel. So here’s my eight steps to starting your own business. This isn’t a bible, I’m not Richard Branson, and if you’re thinking of giving it a try then you should certainly do your own research as well, but this quick and simple guide should help you – it’s certainly helped me.
1. Get an idea (a good one)
It doesn’t have to be an original idea – I wasn’t the first graphic designer on the scene and I won’t be the last. But you should definitely come up with an idea that a) suits your skill set, b) fills a gap in the market, and perhaps most importantly c) will provide you with sufficient income that you can still pay your bills – if not immediately then within a realistic period of time.
2. Decide on a name
Not as easy as it sounds. Speaking as somebody who, along with three other musicians, couldn’t decide what to call our band for over six months, believe me when I say this isn’t always straightforward! You For a start, you want to be sure you’ll like the name in five years’ time. Make sure it isn’t too long winded unless you’re happy to abbreviate it with an acronym that rolls off the tongue – nobody wants to be constantly answering the phone saying “Good morning, British Broadcasting Corporation” when “BBC” works succinctly. Alternatively, a good rule of thumb is the fewer syllables the better.
3. Have a plan
To quote Daniel Craig in Layer Cake, “have a plan and stick to it”. It’s extremely important you spend time putting together a cohesive business plan. Not only will it serve as your route map when you put your wheels in motion, but it will be vital if you decide you need to secure funding from the bank or a private investor to help you expand further down the line.
Too many people believe that a company’s brand starts and finishes with its logo. Wrong. Getting your logo right IS massively important, but the corporate colours in your logo should be carried throughout everything else you, from your business card to your brochure, your website to your workwear. Your brand is your identity to the outside world, so make it count. Enlist the help of an able graphic designer (nudge nudge, cough cough) and have them look after everything from your signage to your letterheads. This way you guarantee consistency across everything you put in the public eye. A great example of this is the Xtreme Fitness gym in Cumbria. They came to me a few years ago, before the gym had opened, looking for logo and leaflet designs. When it came to kitting out the gym, all the equipment was branded with their logo and corporate colours so when a customer walks in they see a really strong and impressive brand. The rest is history – within 18 months Xtreme Fitness was voted the number one gym in the UK by users of GymBuzz and it continues to go from strength to strength.
>> Looking for a graphic designer, or someone to provide sound advice on building your brand? I can help –get in touch today.
Once you’ve got your brand sorted, you can start to think about how you’ll take your product or service to market. Who are you selling to? What are they looking for? What challenges are they facing in their jobs? How can you help them? Who are your competitors? What do they charge for the same products or services? How are your products or services different? Why should your customers buy from you and not your competitors? How should I promote my business and my products or services? What should my message(s) be?
These are just some of the questions you need to have answers for if you’re serious about making an impact, and they’ll require some research before you can answer them comprehensively. One things for sure though, you’ll certainly need a website. If I get a call from somebody trying to sell me something, the first thing I’ll do is check out their website. If they haven’t got one, the alarm bells start ringing!
You’ve probably heard of Sage accounting software. Well here’s a tip – check out www.quickfile.co.uk. It’s free, and really easy to use. You can send quotes, invoices, payment reminders, link it to your business bank account, and loads more besides. You can even use their smartphone app to photograph your receipts while you’re on the move to ensure your expenses get logged.
Stay on top of your transactions and keep them logged as you go to avoid the headache of re-tracing your steps the week before the tax submission deadline!
Should you decide to hire an accountant to organise your end of year accounts, you should ensure they are qualified in ACA, ACCA or CIMA. You’ll also need to register the business with the HMRC.
7. Open a business bank account
Having a business bank account makes your accounting much simpler further down the line, saving you time and money, particularly if you elect to appoint an accountant to organise your end of year accounts for you. It also makes it easier for you to borrow money from the bank, should you need to in future.
8. Create a fanfare
How are you going to launch your business? Just because your website goes live, it doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be inundated with enquiries – generally it takes a while. But you want business straight away, right? So you need to create a pre-launch buzz. Get on social media. Engage a reputable PR company who understands your business, your market AND is well connected with key publications through which exposure of your brand can drive traffic your way. Is it worth considering an introductory offer to encourage customers to spend?
Hopefully the above points have given you some food for thought. Remember, if you need help with branding, graphic design or marketing, I can help – get in touch today!
“Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”Content Marketing Institute
New terms are thrown around in marketing circles all the time, but the one on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately is ‘content marketing’. It’s had marketers the world over in a big ol’ panic, but if you know what you’re doing, there’s really no need – the chances you’re already doing it. All content marketing is, in essence, is the process of creating valuable content for your customers.
We have mentioned before how your clients want you to connect with them. Social media strategies have become crucial, as we know, because consumers desire a more personalised service. Marketing is not so much focused around the hard sale anymore, it’s about connecting with your customers on a real and meaningful level.
“The people who successfully engage with me are the ones that understand how to influence me on a personal level. They are the people who have taken the time to really know who I am, outside of the sale or our current business deal.”
Befriend Your Audience
Instead of pitching sales to audiences and practically begging them to buy, businesses are now cultivating customer communities and ‘befriending’ their target audiences. It may seem unusual to put the client in the driving seat, but getting them to trust in our informative content means that, as a result, they begin to trust in your brand.
Your Clients Want Stories
Twitter is great for keeping things simple and linking your clients to information quickly. Blogs allow you to elaborate and tell those stories, mail shots don’t have to be spam, they can actually be regular e-mails your clients look forward to receiving.
If someone resonates with your message, they will reflect on it, share it and buy.
Prolific blogger and marketing guru Seth Godin explains: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
It may sound like jargon but inbound marketing is actually very simple. In fact, you’re participating in a bit of inbound marketing right now. You’re reading a blog post and connecting with a company in a more personable way. Maybe you didn’t realise, but that’s precisely what it is.
Inbound marketing focuses on earning customer’s attention through finding value in your online content. Working alongside traditional methods of marketing (outbound marketing) like brochures and posters, inbound marketing helps customers find you, share you to others and engage you in conversation about their needs and preferences.
Why is Connecting Online so Important
Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the rest have traditionally been – particularly by employers – seen as those silly sites that teenagers and employees waste their time on, but in reality they have also helped millions of people to connect. Not only with friends, but with businesses, charities…the works.
By creating real dialogue with your customers you show that you are a brand that cares and that’s what people really respond to. We all want to connect with other human beings in our daily lives, so by making your brand personable, customers will be more drawn to work with you.
Customers like to feel that their opinions matter, with social media they can tell you when things go wrong and you can react in real time and make an immediate amends, turning a negative into a positive. It’s the stuff that marketing dreams are made of!
Savings in Inbound Marketing
Investing in an online presence allows you to see big results but also big savings. Social media, search engine optimisation (SEO) and blogging can cost less than a lot of other strands of the marketing mix, but get you a whole lot more shares, retweets and therefore most importantly sales. The potential return on investment (ROI) is vast.
It can seem like a new fad but social media is here to stay. Think about it – Facebook alone has over 1.2 BILLION monthly active users… it isn’t going to die anytime soon – so getting on the bandwagon and getting advice for how it can work for your business is crucial. Your clients will love you for it.
As the saying goes, “New Year, New You”. Well, in addition to mentally committing to get fitter, eat cleaner and rid myself of my bad habits, I thought I’d give the CWDmedia site something of a makeover ahead of what I hope will be a busy year on the freelancing front.
Besides the facelift, you probably won’t notice an awful lot different with CWDmedia save for the introduction of a blog, in which I intend to provide straightforward and practical advice, ideas and tips on all things graphic design, photography, copywriting and marketing. There’s already a few posts – feel free to browse and, if you’ve something positive to add to any, leave a comment!