Yay! The latest interview in my Gin and Magic YouTube series championing strong creative women is here! Straight from my home to your eyes + ears, this week featuring the amazing Laura Devine of Devine Bride!
I've had the pleasure of knowing Laura for a few years now and BL (Before Lockdown) we were co-working buddies at The Wing. I know that she's really well placed to share some wisdom in these strange times all still valid, even though we filmed this a while ago!
On the show we talk about the power of visibility, especially:
Devine Bride - Pick + Mix Wedding Planning | Multi Award Winning Blog
Based in East London for over 10 years but originally from Glasgow, I offer pick + mix wedding planning helping cool couples to plan their wedding in a more flexible way.
From planning power hours to partial planning, help on the day to hire a bridesmaid, and everything in between! My speciality is difficult dry hire venues. I’ve planned and styled a goth wedding in an industrial metal works warehouse but also an ex-fashion editor’s pretty Chiswick marquee wedding too.
My vision is to make wedding planning accessible and flexible. I offer creative ‘pick + mix’ solutions to planning, budgeting, and coordinating weddings. And I’m obsessively organised so you don’t have to be. The experience has to be easy, yet unique, innovative, and personal for my clients. Above all, it should be stress free and fun. It’s a celebration after all!
I have personally planned and worked on some 170+ weddings and events to date (under Devine Bride and as a consultant at a handful of wedding venues), and I know what’s worked, what’s not, and what’s fun!
I love working in the wedding industry because I love making people happy, there’s no better feeling, but other smaller loves include Crosstown doughnuts, bad 90’s dance music, bad electro music, and Gogglebox
An alternative title for this could be - How to stop overthinking everything and be more visible or "I’m feeling overwhelmed too. Here’s what I've been doing about it and you can too"
I wrote this post because this has been my experience and, when I speak to people, this is yours too. You want to get more done but you spend so much time dwelling, overthinking or worse panicking that you just don’t get what you want to done.
Ok so let me preface sharing these tips by saying - getting more done isn’t the key to success. Getting more of what YOU want to get done IS. A happy life is a successful life, no matter how you define that happiness.
I've been holding off sharing this blog post which, would you believe it, I started writing BA (that's Before Apocalypse - humour is one of my coping mechanisms, forgive me). I realised that now is an even more important time to share my tips because whilst there’s always going to be challenges, I believe we are much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. We can use the worry + fear to stop us in our tracks or we can keep it practical, get a daily routine in place however new, and understand this one important fact:
There is no race.
Glad we got that out of the way. I’m working on a bigger thing so I can help you more with building your visibility in these challenging times but in the meantime please read on to learn my tips on what to say when you have no idea what to say.
In these dramatic times, people are spending more time online than ever and it’s up to you be involved as much as you want.
I repeat, as much as you want.
We all know by now that if we want to be found by our potential clients we need to be visible. But how? Whilst we may feel despondent, these negative thoughts and feelings can be usefully added to the list of reasons why we weren’t posting on social media or writings blogs (if at all) on our sites but this time we feel better about it because we know others feel the same.
But if you feel like this might actually be a good opportunity to get started with an actual Plan of Action (caps needed) then you’re in the right place.
If you’ve been following me for a while you know I have two keen focuses - SEO and self care. Because the way I see it, being more visible takes a lot of energy at the best of times but right now it may feel a lot so in this post I’ve got self care tips AND practical solutions for your business no matter where you're at right now.
10 Self Care Tips for Self Employed People
I'm not a professional at this. I wanted to share a few things that have been helping me cope and when I share them, others have told me they have helped them too.
Try not to allow the panic + overwhelm to halt your entire life. Do what you need to do to take each day one by one (I am fully aware I am not a parent. You lot deserve medals)
I made a list of things that I've survived + thrived both personal and business-wise. This was eye opening and reassuring. Like when 10 years ago during the recession, I lost my job on which I was way too emotionally dependent, I was up to my eyeballs in debt, I lost a family member and my flat all in the space of 3 months. It was a crazy year.
I had a good tidy up of my workspace - creating a designated workspace can apparently help tell your brain you’re in the place where you do work productively.
Creating an action list that helps keep my bigger goals in mind
Having a daily cry (I don't mind admitting this, I think it's perfectly normal in these circumstances tbh)
Creating a To Daa list (celebrating the things you’ve accomplished)
I've been reading actual books (The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge is amazing and now I'm onto Elton John's autobiography)
I’ve been meditating a lot more than ever and I'm finding this book very useful (email me if you want a PDF version, they offer an electronic version out for free)
My pal Rowan has been amazing at sharing latest advice and what we can do to help ourselves as self-employed people.
Practical solutions for our businesses
Now more than ever we see how much we crave connection. Guess where we can still be connected? THAT'S RIGHT, THE INTERNET. People are spending more time online than ever, and they want something to look forward to so step into the light people, now is your time. Being a memorable brand which, let's face it, you want to be, requires the following points:
Creating a great customer experience
Are you in touch with your clients? A lot of people I know have been, and a lot of people I know are scared to be. I think the best solution is to take charge of the situation and contact them first. They'll want to hear reassurance from you to check that you have solutions in place to cover the bookings you've got together.
What questions do they have? This is where you can actually share your experience and expertise. What I always say to my clients is...you know more than the people who have hired you so share that experience, tell them your plans.
Refresh your portfolio page(s) on your website and divide it up into categories like London Wedding Cakes and Surrey Wedding Cakes, so they're more easily findable online
Update your text on your website - are you telling a story with the text on every page as well as the images?
Write those blog posts you’ve been meaning to put out for a while that you know will be useful for your audience when the time is right! Find ways to re-purpose your images and create 10 favourite X, 5 favourite X. It's a great way to then link to other content you've previously published!
Tell your stories
If you're wondering how to share about any of this and indeed whether it's flippant to continue sharing stuff that isn't pandemic related, then rest assured people WANT the escapism. They WANT something to look forward to. They WANT to feel inspired. You're sitting on the gold. Don't hide away. Publish that post. Share that content.
Speak your customer’s language
Your potential clients WANT to know the answers to question you know the answers to.
Create Instagram Stories around people's commonly asked questions
Write one blog post per question so that when people google those questions you have a better chance of coming up in the results
Re-share older blog content that was popular before so you don't have to constantly create new content (cheer people up! They want escapism!)
Create easy content
Put a call out on your Stories for requests to create a playlist related to what you do (first dance playlist, working from home playlist, etc) and create it on Spotify and then share on Stories / social media
Read my blog post about how to create your best ofand do some round up posts of your own. Doesn't have to be at the end of the year! It could be your 5 favourite first dances, 5 favourite bouquets, etc etc.
You could take this time to review your big picture. Look at your goals and remember it isn't a race. I am often met with surprise that a whole module of my Let’s Get You Found group course is dedicated to making goals. Those who have already set goals go ‘pfft I have those already’ and those who haven’t set goals go ‘yeah yeah I know I should have them but well, I don’t’. The goals I’m talking about can be either personal or business but honestly this is one of the biggest things I’ve learned in my business. People, I never set specific goals until a couple of years ago and it CHANGED MY LIFE.
Take this opportunity for a digital de-clutter like cleaning up files on your computer, sorting your photos out, deleting things you don’t need any more. It's quite satisfying and makes you feel like you're doing something useful. Which you are.
If you're worried you can't do the styled shoots as planned....get in touch with suppliers you planned the shoot with and write a guest post for one other supplier in that group
Reach out to suppliers you've been wanting to forge a connection with and offer to write guest posts for them wanting nothing in return except for a link back to your website.
So there we have it, a round up of self care tips and some simple visibility tips for you to put into action. What was your favourite tip? Come and tell me on Instagram 🙂
📸Verity Westcott Photography when I was speaking at South West Wedmeetup recently.
It may or may not surprise you to know (if you watch my Instagram Stories here) that I enjoy the occasional gin of an evening. Whilst having my gin, I have a few chats with lovely people in my DMs about personal business stories recently and this got me thinking that whilst my About page is all spruced up and sparkling and ta-dahhh, I haven’t actually shared my business story here on my blog. I do LOVE reading other people’s stories because y'know #nosey, and so I thought it might be fun to share my own almost entirely in GIFs. It's important for me to inject humour as much as possible into what I do because it's a crazy world and I think kindness and humour are key.
I have always loved weddings. When I was a little girl I had an alter ego. Her name? Mrs Wedding.
I went to a convent school which I kinda loved actually.
I grew up by the seaside in Devon....
....where I watched Splash a lot indoors on VHS....
I actually won certificates at school for smiling so much. Whilst others got them for doing well in geography or achievement in maths, I got awarded for being a happy bunny.
I learned to code in HTML in 1999 when I was 16 - my dad gave me a subdomain on his business website! The masterpiece was all about Ace Ventura.....
I went to university in Bristol and studied business, and left for London and expected this.
But it was more like this...
But as a side job, I worked in rowing PR...as you do. There were quite a few perks...
Oh, and I used to organise a LOT of fancy dress parties in London.
I got very, very tired and needed a break. It was the recession and I lost my job.
My partner at the time loved India and encouraged me to go...so off I went. I very much expected this....
and instead got this...
Having all that space to think about life made me realise....
After six months, I came back to England to live on a houseboat, engaged.
I read about 100+ wedding blogs regularly. I entered all the competitions. I won my wedding photographer in a competition on a blog!
I started interning for the blog, and then, dear reader, I got married.
Meanwhile, because I like to keep busy (LOLZ) I led an international media campaign in 2010-2012 to save my houseboat community from extinction (side note: they're still there)
In that time, I also qualified as an English teacher so I could work abroad. After travelling for 18 months, I was ready to come back to England
I started to network (read: fangirl the shiz out of) the wedding world. And things started to happen....
The wedding blog where I won my wedding photographer offered me a job where I wrote and shared my adventures.
I helped organise a networking event and met Nu Bride who hired me as an assistant researcher. She sent me to John Nassari’s masterclass at the Savoy later that year where I met Laura Babb (who I totally fangirled over and she forgave me) as well as Nicola at Propose PR.
That was 2014. In December that year I finished my last ever temping job and had my first logo and was officially madeleinenoblejones.com (my married name).
Having gathered a lovely group of clients (turns out nice people talk about useful people in their lives!), I went off to Goa again for a few months but this time came back single.
Pouring all my energy into the business, I started getting speaking gigs.
(this is actually how much I talk with my arms...)
I had to change my name and therefore updated my brand, fully embracing my love of pink and became Madeleinejones.co and hired two assistants - Bex & Emily, so now we were 3.
I was asked to run 1:1 SEO reviews with attendees at Snap Photography Festival which went down a treat, it was here I was crowned the Queen of SEO by the fantastic Snap community, so much so that I was asked back again for a second year in 2017. (I gush publicly fairly often about the wonder that is Laura Babb but I'm not going to stop now!)
In the winter that year I made the brave decision not to go to Goa and stayed in England.
The gamble paid off and 2017 was the biggest year yet!
I rebranded the business with the amazing talents of Becky Lord.
We completed over 70 client projects and countless internal projects! I travelled all over the country sharing more SEO goodness, Pinterest fun and drank gin with wonderful people.
In my recent challenge, I showed hundreds of people how to take stock of their current visibility and what to do about it. One of those key areas was link building, and I wanted to go over a few tips on how to get more people to link to you and your website, and what is link building?
It comes down to this simple question - do enough people know about you to book you? If you are not getting enough bookings its’ because not enough people know about you. This means you have to have a bigger reach, you have to reach more people out there who are searching for your type of business but don’t know you exist yet. Your dream clients are out there frustrated that they cannot find the right person to book or to buy from.
You may have a beautiful website, but if no one is looking at it, it’s just a beautiful thing to look at for you only. You’re leaving valuable bookings on the table if you’re just relying on word of mouth.
There are millions of ways to get more people to check out your website, and you might feel a bit lost as to where to start.
There are now over 6 billion pages on the internet, that means there are many, many ways for you to connect with your clients, which is why I believe SEO really stands for Seeking Exciting Opportunities!
The fact is the internet is a giant web, with many many ways to connect to other pages. So many people say to me ‘But how do I get found in amongst the tonnes of other people doing my job?’
What is link building?
Link building is not often talked about in the creative industries because everyone is so focused on making their website look good. And yes, it’s important for your website to look good but especially if you’re new to building links, then you’ll want to pay attention to this
If your website isn’t well known then you need to get more well known websites to point to your website. Getting links back to your site is considered a vote of confidence so your website becomes more well known.
There are a great number of factors that go into what makes a website well known or not but I’m going to keep it really simple as if you’re reading this you’re probably new.
Every time a new piece of content is published anywhere, a new link is created.
Search engines use links in two ways:
To find new web pages
To help determine how well a page should rank
What not to do
The old school way to get links was to go after links from anywhere and everywhere. Especially in the creative and wedding industries, it used to be that everyone put their buddies on a list called LINKS I LOVE and linked to their websites, and those buddies? They did the same.
Thing is, Google cottoned on to this and now wants us to deliver quality content and be Useful People.
So now? It's increasingly about the quality of the website where you want the link from and the relevance / purpose to your site.
How to build links
So here's four ways you can build links to your website and get more people and therefore Google and therefore more people (and so on, and so on) to come and check you out.
1. Interview your buddies
Use your network - pitch to your contacts to ask to write a guest post for them, and offer to interview them on your own blog, like I did with my Gin and Magic YouTube channel - check out my interview with networking queen Hazel Parsons "How to make the most of your connections". Ask them questions you know they get asked frequently, film it or blog about it or both and when you go live with it, don't just post it once and forget about it. Continue to link to it in future content (like I just did!)
2. Write for other people (who doesn’t want free content?)
Write down 5 places where you want to be featured. What's the worst that can happen? They say no? People say no to me a lot and I don't let it stop me 😉 Worried about sharing too much of your expertise? Don't stress. Repetition is key to learning, we all know this. It actually breeds a sense of familiarity when people have heard some of your advice before. Also? You can phrase the same sort of information in different ways as this will then click with different people.
3. Collaboration pieces
This idea is something I very much encourage if you know a lot of people who do a similar job. With one of my longstanding clients Fiona Kelly, we wanted to address one of the commonly asked questions - what does a wedding planner do by inviting comments from several of her wedding planner and coordinator friends in the industry. Write down people you want to be more closely associated with in a work sense and think about what you get asked by your clients, and if they'd be interested in helping. Once it's published on social media, everyone shares the work. Of course this also works for creating styled shoots that are already so popular, but I would suggest going with these advice pieces as people then get to understand how you're an expert in your field (because you are, because no one is you, right?!)
4. Submit all your favourite work
No really, submit it, even older stuff. It's not too late! Send in your favourite work to your dream blogs and get published. If they so, try another! Yes, it's a lot of work but it is still worth it. So many people I speak to are put off submitting their work these days, but really? You're just being lazy. You may not get the drive of enquiries immediately but getting your work in front of your ideal clients more often is A Big Win. Latest research shows that your ideal clients have to see you at least 10 times before making a decision, some say even more! So go for it and submit all your favourite work to be featured. Maximise the shoutout every time you get featured - share it everywhere, multiple times! People don't remember us nearly as much as we'd like them to/are worried they will 😉
So, there you have it. What is linkbuilding, why it matters, what not to do and four ways to build links. Which tip are you going to put into action first? Come and tell me on Instagram here 🙂
Hello! So a while back I wrote this piece on how to tell Google you exist by submitting your sitemap and it was pretty popular, so I recently updated it with the latest settings (Google Search Console had updated in that time). After sharing this, I got bombarded with more questions and of course following my own advice where you need to share one question per blog post and answer it, here you go...how to connect Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Why is this useful?
In short, this is useful to do because you get access to more information that will benefit your business.
This post assumes two things that you must have in place before going any further....
I get asked this question a LOT so I thought it was high time I wrote a blog post - Does Google know I exist? In this blog post I talk about how to tell and how to change that. Just give me the download on how to do it When I work with Shine clients, I always ask, have you submitted your sitemap to Google before? The question is often met with one of these responses:
Yes, a long time ago I think it was done
Isn't that the same as Google Analytics?
What's that, then?
I then ask the same question but in another way: What shows up when you Google your own business name? Three things need to be showing up as a the very foundation of getting found online:
Your website (ideally more than one page of your website)
Your social media links
Your Google Maps/Google My Business listing
Now, if you're not showing up when you Google your business name, it's almost certainly because you haven't told Google you exist.
How do you tell Google you exist?
You need to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmasters. This includes whenever you make significant changes to your site, such as creating new pages, changing your menu, then you need to tell Google about it. Fear not, I'm here to tell you what you need to do.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free online tool provided by Google. It used to be called Webmaster Tools and can still be found at that URL.
Why is it important?
The main reason you need to know about this tool is to submit your website to be read by Google so it will send over its spiders they look at the menu, the pages and posts, and what they're looking for is if your website is useful, is it a quick website, is it all seamlessly linked together- how useful you are. And then it will know about all the pages and posts on your website. Google Search Console is needed because a) we need to tell Google we exist and b) we're human and we make mistakes. This handy free tool tells us where we've made mistakes and helps us fix them, and then helps us make sure our sites are as error-free as possible.
What is the difference between Google Search Console and Google Analytics?
Google Search Console is different from Google Analytics but the two can connect smoothly. Analytics shows you a lot more information about how people are using your site, whereas Search Console shows you what people are searching for to find your site as well as tracking how your site shows up in search engine results.
OK, what are the steps - does Google know I exist?
I'm so glad you asked. I've put together a PDF guide completely free with the step by step process on how to submit your sitemap to both Google AND Bing. Download it by clicking below!
Follow my step by step guide on how to let Google and Bing know you exist!
Download your free guide here!