by Neil Bremner Published 01/08/2016
In February 2014 after trading for just 13 months, I made one of the most important investments in to my portrait studio since I opened ... time! When I opened my studio I found that although I had the surface knowledge of how a portrait studio ran, I didn't actually have knowledge of how to get the business off the ground. Yes, I had a business plan and yes, I had a marketing strategy but what did that actually mean?
Well the marketing strategy was about building up brand awareness for the studio both in the local press, through local mail drops and via targeted social media which in essence all linked back to the main shop window for the studio ...the website. Within the first draft of my business plan there featured a website design budget but after a visit to the business bank manager, this was one of the first budgets to be near on eliminated. With literally zero knowledge of web design or SEO marketing, I set about creating my business's highly important shop front with the use of Moonfruit.
For those who don't know, this is a build-your-own website tool which, like so many others, gives you a little bit of room to personalise your website along with some basic SEO tools. My first website was put together within a day or two. It sort of fitted within the brand image I was looking to portray and ticked all the right website-building instructions I'd been reading about. There were clear routes to view galleries and contact instructions along with a shop to purchase experience vouchers for the studio.
I thought it was perfect.
Leap forward 13 months and time being the most important investment.
The website shop had generated £0 sales over the course of the year and although there was certainly traffic going through the website, it was all being funnelled there via social media posts and not organically via online searches. I was starting to understand more about Alt Tags and Targeted page titles and was also aware of things for which Google penalise you, things that I was also guilty of. All in all, I had come to realise that although my website looked ok, it was dramatically underperforming and something had to change. I considered that it was perhaps time to reintroduce the website design budget and call in the professionals but, for several personal reasons (such as control issues and not wanting to spend so much), I was apprehensive.
I had learnt that many web agencies were now working on Wordpress and they were creating sites for clients who then had control to update them as and when they wanted. The great thing with Wordpress was not just the vastness of structural choice available for the overall look of your site but the back-end controls available. This control was what professional agencies were working with. The only problem was I didn't know where to start and this is where this investment of time comes in.
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