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Business

This week on the blog, I have decided to re-start my interview series #MumsWhoWorkIt. My idea for these blog posts is to interview local business women who have set up their own business. To find out what the inspiration was for their business and how they juggle motherhood with running a business. So, this week I welcome Tori & Carrie twin sisters who live in Ealing. They created Nailpad an ingenious way to help you paint your nails at home or on the go.

What’s your background and why did you both decided to start your own business?

Carrie: I have lived in Northfields, Ealing with my husband James since 2010 (with a 2 ½ year break living in Hong Kong). I moved back at the end of 2014, just before my little girl was born. She is now four and I have a little boy who recently turned two.

My career focus has been marketing, specifically in the fields of snowsports and travel – two of my passions. During my time in Hong Kong, I set up as a marketing consultant and continue to do so today, specialising mainly in strategy, communications and events.

The evolution of Nailpad has been in the background since living in Hong Kong. It was only at the start of this year that Tori and I could finally launch properly and bring Nailpad to life.

Tori: I live in St Margarets with my husband Joe, four-year-old son, Mikey and our black lab, Chevvy. Mikey starts school in September: I still can’t believe how quickly the time has flown!

My professional background is HR and Recruitment and, for the last 12 years, I worked as Group HR Director for a travel company. At the end of 2018, it was time to pursue a new adventure and in January 2019, we launched Nailpad.

We’ve always thought it would be amazing if we could have our own business and work together. That opportunity came with the concept of Nailpad: something we are both passionate about.

Tori & Carrie from Nailpad

What was your inspiration for Nailpad?

Tori: I have always loved painting my nails and trying out new colours. One evening I was sitting on the sofa, precariously balancing the bottle between my legs and getting some polish on yet another pair of jeans. I thought there must be a better way to do this: I sketched out the initial Nailpad concept on a piece of paper and we went from there!

Carrie: Tori and I have always loved painting our nails at home – discussing favourite colours and brands of nail polish. Like all our friends, we found holding a nail polish bottle between knees a real hassle – always worrying it would spill. Using a magazine as a surface was just not quite right either: it never felt very stable.

When I was in Hong Kong in 2013, during one of our weekly Saturday Skype calls, Tori showed me an idea she had been working on. It was the very first prototype of Nailpad, cut out in paper. Six years later, after multiple prototypes, design iterations, material testing, pot-holder and product shapes, we manufactured Nailpad. We now sell it on our Nailpad website to help others paint their nails at home or on the go and to make life easier.

Describe a typical day for you?

Carrie: I work part-time on Nailpad and look after the Heidi and Teddy two days a week. When it’s a Nailpad day, I am probably working by 8.30am and cram as much work as I can before pick up at 5pm with the occasional stop to hang up the washing. I either work from home with Tori or at her house, in local cafes and libraries. We recently discovered the British Library – such an immense resource and a fantastic place for inspiration and support for start-ups.

Tori: At the moment no day is typical as I am still getting used to my new routine and not being in an office! Mikey is in pre-school three days a week so that is when I get the majority of work done on Nailpad (either at home, at Carrie’s or a local coffee shop in St Margarets!). I set my agenda for the day and break the day up in chunks and try to stick to it. Carrie and I work together physically at least one day a week and are in constant contact discussing new ideas and what’s on the agenda.

What do you think has been the biggest challenge for you both starting your own business?

Carrie: Time is a real challenge. There are so many things with work and family life we want to do, feel like we should be doing or aspire to do. However time just isn’t on our side sometimes… I made the decision to work part-time so I could share more time with the babes before they start school and am really pleased to have done that. It just means the odd night catching up on emails or work.

Tori: There is always so much to do so having to learn how to be ruthless with priorities. Also, we realised early on that one has to tackle many different roles when starting a new business – product design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, finance etc. It’s a steep learning curve!

How do you think Motherhood has changed you?

Carrie: I think my ability to multi-task and prioritise has improved! And also realise that the most important thing in life is spending time and experiences together as a family. Work will always come after that.

Tori: Like all of us, Motherhood has completely changed my approach to life. With a different set of priorities, I made the decision to change my career, enabling me to live a more flexible life with the family at the heart of it.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given about Motherhood that you would like to share?

Tori: In the early days, sleep when your baby sleeps and nap when you can!

Carrie: That all young children go through different stages, some of which at the time may seem difficult but (rest assured) they will soon pass.

Where are your favourite places to go with or without kids in Ealing/West London?

Carrie: I’m a real fan of Gunnersbury Park at the moment – there is so much for children to do – from the playground, lovely café with yummy pizzas and museum, to the walks and adventure trail ending up at the insect farm. It’s always a fun few hours.

Osteria Del Portico for an Italian meal is a favourite for a low-key date night. Great food, service and atmosphere!

Tori: I love heading to Osterley Park. When Carrie and I meet up with our children we go to some of the great parks around here – Lammas, Blondin and Walpole to name a few. Also I do love a coffee at the Fields cafe!

What are your handbag essentials?

Carrie: With two little ones, my handbag is usually over spilling with cars, colouring pencils and snap cards! I do love a little hand lotion and nail file in there though to keep hands moisturised and any chipped nails sorted as soon as I can.

Tori: Lip balm, portable phone charger and a nail file! With Mikey, I always make sure I have a mini figure toy, colouring book and water.

How do you see your business developing over the next couple of years?

Tori: We hope that people will see Nailpad in the same light as we see it: as an essential manicure accessory for anyone who paints their nails at home or ‘on the go.’

Carrie: We have plans for new colours and additional product ranges. Currently we mainly sell to the UK market, and are looking to expand into new regions and to look at new distribution channels.

What advice would you give to other Mums who are considering setting up their own business?

Tori: Use resources and professional people to help you in areas you have less experience in. You don’t have to be an expert about everything.

Carrie: There is a lot of admin involved but don’t let this put you off! Finance is always an issue. In fact, one of Tori’s roles is to investigate funding opportunities.

So if you have an idea, go for it – if it’s meant to be it will happen.

What is the one thing you wish you had already known when setting up your business?

Carrie: It takes time! A lot of it!

Tori: It’s totally normal for mistakes to happen – learning from them is really important.

Where can potential customers find Nailpad?

Carrie and Tori: We sell a black and pink version of Nailpad on our Website. Why not follow us – on Instagram and Facebook page

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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Why blog and who should blog? If you have a business and you don’t regularly blog you are missing out on using a great marketing tool. Even if your business perhaps doesn’t seem the most interesting topic there are always things you can write about. Remember that you are aiming to be useful and provide information/tips/hacks therefore be of service to your reader. If you write something useful that person may come back to your website and down the road may buy your product or service, they may also share your blog post on social media or mention it to a friend! So what are you waiting for get producing great content now and then you will see that blogging really can benefit your business!

Your aim is to drive traffic to your website, where hopefully that person will look at other pages. It raises your profile/this could be you yourself or the brand you have created.  Try to post regularly, this could be once a week or even once a month. You should aim to stick to it as your audience will begin to expect your posts and may loose interest if you are erratic.

How to Blog

So how do you get started? It depends on the website you use for business. You can simply have an area called “News” or ‘Blog” built into your website where you then place the blogs, or you might want to use a blogging platform such as:

Square Space

WordPress

Blogger

I use WordPress and find it to be the most user friendly, I have learnt myself how to update my blog from the back end.

What should you write about?

Think about your industry or niche. If you were new to this area what would you want to know?

You can use google trends to search for what is popular

Look at news websites what’s in the news at the moment are there are stories you could write about?

Have a look at your competitor’s websites, what are they writing about? There is no harm putting your own spin on the topic!

                                                                                                                                    

The structure of your blog

A lot of this is just simple stuff, but it really does make a difference and can be the turning point if someone actually bothers to read your blog or not. So think about the following:

The title – I will come back to this in SEO

Language and style

Grammar and spelling should be spot on. Consider using a plug in like grammerly

The quality of images should be excellent, make them Pinnable and give them a title/description so they are searchable.

Having useful clickable links to other websites

Paragraphs that aren’t too long, consider bullet points and perhaps headings (List style blog posts are very popular).

 

What if you don’t have the time to write blog posts?

You could consider paying a freelancer or agency to do it for you? I offer this service, so if you need help with writing blogs I could do this for you!

Image by Waggle Social

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is a huge topic and one where you will find many experts. There are companies who can look at your website to improve your SEO. But for the purpose of this basic article  few things apply:

Build up an achieve of material this will improve your ranking on search engines – such as Google.

Produce content consistently.

Search engines should be your number one traffic driver if your site is correctly optimised.

Think about your title, you need to be offering an answer to a problem or question that is what the search engines want.

Have a look at where you are ranking on Google at the moment? Where are your competitors if they are higher than you ask yourself why? Do some investigation around their website, what are they doing differently to you?

 

Do an audit on your own website:

Is your site free from broken links? So go onto any links and check they actually work.

Check how your site looks on a mobile device. You should be able to see your website in a mobile friendly way. Remember a lot of people will be viewing your site via their mobile.

How long does it take for your site to load? If it is taking ages, this will put people off and they just won’t bother going any further.

A low bounce rate (the percentage of visitors to a site who navigate away after viewing only one page).

Your page title should be under 60 characters, other it will be cut off in the search results.

You could go back over old posts and improve their SEO.

 

Next think about optimising for strong keywords

Perhaps use a plug in such as  Yoast ,  (there is a free version). It has a handy traffic light system to show you where you are going right or wrong. Think carefully about your first paragraph/into and how that will grab the reader’s interest into reading more.

Use a keyword tool which will then produce a selection of long-tailed keywords. Then create your blog post content with that keyword in mind. Use it in the title, subheadings and body of your text. Do it organically and don’t try to cram it in too much as that may go against you in Google. Google wants to reward and feature good helpful genuine content. Ideally 1.5% of the total word count.

Search Google Trends (trends.google.co.uk)  a good way to compare tends.

Get a free Google AdWords account, then you get access to the keyword tool.

The length of your post should be at least 600 words.

Photo by Waggle Social

 

Promoting your blog

This is a big topic and I could talk about this for hours, but essentially it is a process, rinse and repeat every time you write a new blog post. The amount of effort you put in to promoting your blog post really does make a difference. After all, if you have spent the time crafting a really amazing informative post, but then no one reads it then what’s the point!

So let’s start with social media: The main three are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Plus, you also have Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Facebook

We all know how hard it is to get your business out there on Facebook, of course Facebook wants us to pay for boosted and promoted posts, but there are other ways to get your blog post noticed.

Firstly, make sure your profile is updated.

Make sure you are actually following the right people, that maybe your target audience and competitors too. Engage with others, like and comment on posts that way you will get your name out there.

Once you have written your blog post share it on your page, pin it to the top of your page.

If appropriate share in local groups or with others.

Consider starting your own Facebook Group, that way you can create your own community and they are more likely to see your blog post.

Once a month or whenever you can, look at the engagement from your blog post on Facebook analytics, did this type of post do well?

 

Twitter

As soon as your blog post is live tweet about it. Pin it to the top of your tweets

Remember it is perfectly acceptable to tweet about your new blog post multiple times, of course use a variety of images to go with it and different text. Make sure you provide a clickable link,  you could use Bitly Links, which reduces the size of the text.

Use the right hashtags for your industry or niche, that is another way people might find you.

Join in with Twitter chats there are local ones such as: Ealing Hour or Hanwell Hour, or something more national.

Make sure you actually engage with others, that way they are more likely to re-tweet your post.

You could direct message someone if you want to get them to notice you, however not all accounts will accept direct messages.

Don’t forget to @ mention.

Consider overlays by using canva to point out what the blog post is about.

 

Instagram

Post about your new blog post, make sure you explain what it is about, but don’t give too much away as you want people to actually go to your website. Make sure you put a  link to your most recent blog post in your bio.

Tag people who might be interested in your post.

Use the right hashtags and that means trying to find the ones that do not have millions of users, try to use some of the more obscure ones, don’t always use the same ones, do your research.

 

Other ways

Pinterest – great for driving traffic back to your website

Linked In – publish your blog post there.

Get published on other websites like Huffington Post.

Collaborations with other bloggers/businesses which gives a backlink to your website.

Join Facebook Groups where businesses share their blogs.

Create an email list where you can send a newsletter mentioning link to your blog.

Join a linky or start your own – A linky is a post on your blog where you include code that enables other bloggers to link their own blog posts to yours. This creates a virtual party where other creatives connect usually at the same time every week.

Talk to Journalists/PR’s

Run competitions that link to your blog.

Link back to other blogs that might be of interest to your reader.

 

Evaluate

Once your blog post has been out for around 7 days go back and look at the stats, how many people have read it? Do you have any comments, overall how successful has it been? What about social media how many shares, what was the engagement like there?

This will help when writing your next post, you will get to know what is popular with your audience.

Don’t forget if you would like help with writing blogs, I offer this service for a fee. Contact me via email to find out more – hello@theealingmummy.com

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Launching my Social Media Agency – The Social Debutante

January 7, 2019
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Today has been the day I am firmly switched on and ready to go for the New Year! My Daughter has gone back to school and I have had a bit of time to think about what I achieved in 2018 with my blog and social media business, plus what my goals are for 2019? My exciting news is that I am officially launching my own Social Media Agency! I decided to name it The Social Debutante. I wanted something that was original and a play on words too. I hope you like my branding as much as I do? This lovely artwork was created by the super talented Alison Norden and as you can see it has a similar design to the branding for my blog.

The Social Debutante – Social Media Management

I completed my Social Media Management training with Digital Mums in May 2017 and since then I have worked with a variety of clients including: a children’s gym, an independent school, a children’s publication, a motivational speaker and also various clients in the retail sector too.

I am really proud to be a Digital Mums graduate and I firmly believe that training via this route has given me the confidence and expertise to manage social media platforms for clients to a high standard.

I was recently awarded the above badge and I am very proud to display it here!

“Digital Mums graduates design and deliver a live social media campaign over a six month period, gaining real-world experience and job-ready skills. To pass the course they must deliver their campaign and complete assignments to Digital Mums and industry best-practice standards.”

What I am doing to continue investing in my skills?

I have recently signed up to another course run my Digital Mums, to become a Certified Digital Mum Trainer. On this course I will be learning more about how to develop and deliver social media training to businesses directly, so that if they wish they can manage their own social media in house. This will be something I will be rolling out and able to offer to my clients in the near future.

I am also really excited to be joining The Insta Retreat run by Sara Tasker from Me & Orla. Who is the UK’s leading Instagram analyst and expert. This in-depth six week course is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, as Instagram is the social media platform that I am most passionate about! This course  will help me improve and perfect my Instagram skills, thus ensuring that I am able to provide the highest standard of management for my clients.

Photo – Courtesy of Sara Tasker

I am now in the position to take on new clients, so if you need help with the day to day running of your social media platforms be that: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn look no further! I can provide the support you need so that you can concentrate on other areas of your business. I am able to provide a strategy to move your business forward and look at getting your business more viability. I have a variety of packages that would suit different budgets.

You can contact me via email hello@thealingmummy.com or via social media if you would like to discuss how I can help you? Don’t forget to follow me on social, where I will be providing tips and information on growing your social media following and also how blogging can benefit your business. My new website will be ready soon too. Watch this space!

Click on the links below to follow me on my new social media channels for The Social Debutante.

 

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