An easy guide: How to build an online presence for your small business

We are surrounded by media. From when we sit at the bus stop in the morning to when we chill out in front of the TV in the evening, we are constantly targeted by large companies and brands who are desperate to gain our attention. This has become increasingly prevalent in the age of social media, which has provided another avenue from which brands can target us, even drilling down into our demographics and interests. With that in mind, small business owners now need to make sure that they are developing an online presence, to make them stand out in industries that are already heavily saturated.

It’s common knowledge that online presence means brand awareness. Nowadays, how you present your brand online is similar to meeting a customer for the first time. Your online brand is essentially what people think of you when you are not available. Online presence is often a test of credibility for many technologically savvy consumers, who would rather connect with businesses online first before making a purchasing decision. This poses an opportunity to impress and capture the attention of potential customers. These days the first port of call when looking for information about a product or a service is to ‘Google’ it, meaning online presence is crucial if you want to make your business a successful one.

So how can you become a major player in this competitive age? Here are 5 ways to effectively maximise your online presence:


No matter how big or small your company is – branding matters. From word go a clear and consistent branding strategy should be developed, which can be pumped across all online channels to create brand recognition. According to the founder of The NY Brand Lb, Mary Van de Wiel, “without a brand you ultimately lack an identity, a presence – and a purpose.” You should think about your tone of voice and your values, as well as your visual aesthetic. Not particularly creative? Don’t know where to start? Then maybe you should find a graphic designer who can help you pinpoint what your business is about in a visually appealing way.

Communicate your brand
Shout loud about your brand

Website Design and Development 

You never know who will be knocking on your virtual door at any time of the day or night – so make sure your home on the Internet is kitted out for new visitors! Creating and more importantly maintaining a website is a useful tool for every business. Here, you can shout loud about your portfolio of work and maybe even offer your tuppence-worth via a company blog. Your website needs to be functional and user friendly, and this is where a professional with experience in website design and development may come in handy! Once you find the right web developer, start thinking about optimising your website. This will make sure that your website performs well on search engines – just like the aforementioned Google! Be front and centre of the online world, and drive traffic to your website with the help of an SEO professional.

Web Site Design
Build a user-friendly website!

Social Media

You’ve developed your brand, and mastered your website. But how can you enhance the visibility of your brand even further? The key is to make sure you are on social media – which is both effective and cost effective. Social media not only helps you to grow your customer base by reaching a wider audience, it also helps you to promote brand recognition and loyalty. Find a social media marketer who can help you maximise channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Although not the most widely used social network, G+ should also be maximised. Effective use of G+ can determine your inclusion and ranking in the carousel of businesses that appear at the top of the Google search results. As well as aiding your SEO, there are also advanced features available to businesses using G+. Check out G+ for yourself and add to your circles!

If you’re feeling particularly competitive, you might want to also get set up on new and emerging social networks like Snapchat and Periscope. The opportunities are endless!

Be active on social media
Engage with your customers via social media

Email Marketing

In this day and age, almost everyone has an online presence in some form, even if it is just an email address. Email marketing is a sure way to stay on the radar of potential customers, and it can definitely allow you to establish profitable relationships in the long term. This is to be used wisely, and should not be spam abuse. Instead your emails should offer something to the consumer – be it special offers, industry news or company updates. Feeling a little confused? Then find an email marketer to help you get the job done.

Build a customer database
Build a targeted email marketing campaign

Online Directories

Regardless of how strong your online presence is, you won’t be able to sit back, relax and let the cash flow in. You need to get ahead of your competitors, who are battling against you with extensive advertising budgets. If a customer can’t find you when they are searching for a product or a service, then you simply won’t get the business. Joining an online directory like our very own ensures that you are placed directly in front of the right people, often for a very minimal spend. No matter what service you provide, learn more about joining Bark by visiting our Pro-Centre.

Incorporating a targeted email marketing campaign with your slick new branding, user-friendly website and engaging social media strategy will set your small business on a path to success, all with the added help from an online directory like!

Do you have any other tips for small business owners? Let us know!

For more tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?


From Go Pro to going pro – how to start up as a photographer

With the recent surge in photo-sharing apps, the introduction of selfie sticks and smartphones ramping up their camera specs – look no further than the new iPhone 6S’ 12-megapixel count and 4K video recording capabilities – it’s never been easier to capture the moment and snap away.

eBay saw searches for selfie sticks rise 700% ahead of Christmas 2014
eBay saw searches for selfie sticks rise 700% ahead of Christmas 2014

But what if you want to take it up a gear? Helping you to make the move from amateur to professional, portrait photographer David Harrison offers his top tips on entering the industry.

  1. Finish what you start: Whether it’s uploading the best pic of your day to Instagram or getting a print made, it’s all too easy to snap away and never have a ‘finished ‘image. Keeping going and putting in that extra bit of effort will make it all worth it in the end when you have the perfect picture.
  2. Keep busy: Motivation is key. Never put pressure on yourself to overdo it, but do make sure you keep busy and have a range of options to work on – this will make the experience more fun! It will also give you a stack of pictures to add to your portfolio.
  3. Be passionate: Photograph what you know, what you love, what you care about and what you have access to. This will make the whole process much more enjoyable, and help you with points 1 and 2. You are unique and so is what you see, so show it!

    Okay, I'm ready for my close up...
    Okay, I’m ready for my close up…
  4. Network, Network, Network: Important in so many aspects of life – tell everybody what you are doing and, most important for your line of business, show them. You will be surprised how many people will have something you can help them with, and you may even learn something new. The more your work is out there, the more opportunities will come your way.
  5. Keep the day job! Good photography takes time. Nobody is a pro straight off the bat and – as always in life – there’s a lot to learn. If you’re thinking of becoming a professional photographer, start it off as a hobby, learn different skills, techniques and most of all, have fun! In this way you can enjoy your photography, while learning the right skills and making the contacts to take it to the next level.

    As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect
    As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect

Feeling inspired but not sure how to make sense of your shutter speed, aperture or ISO? Why not have a look for photography lessons near you? Or, if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and ready to use your skills commercially, customers are requesting all manner of photography services on, from event photography to wedding photography and even pet photography. Why not
register with us today?

For more tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

The Top 5 Photo Apps to Download Now!

Set the scene – It’s the 90s. You’re just back from your 2-week holiday in Spain, booked through your trusty high-street travel agent. Spain was beautiful – the sun was splitting the rocks, the food was to die for and the drinks were flowing. Thank god you bought a trusty disposable camera to capture the memories! When you arrive home you will develop your pictures, put them into an album and share them with your friends and family over a cup of tea…

A must have for a 90s Summer holiday
A must have for a 90s Summer holiday

My, how times have changed! We’re more likely to find a travel agent online, to book our trip at the click of a button. We’re also bombarded with imagery daily. People communicate by capturing immediate experiences and moments as photos and sending them directly to their network of friends all over the world, using social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Digital cameras and mobile phones with built-in cameras have been popular for a long time now. Nowadays we also have the added benefit of high spec cameras and sophisticated photography apps, which can be used while on the go. Not everyone is a skilled or talented photographer, but we can at least try to be!

With thousands of photo apps available, it can be difficult to know the best ones to use. How can you make the most our of your smartphone’s camera? What’s on trend? And more importantly – what will help you get the most likes on Facebook? Whether you’re looking to shoot, edit or share with the world, we’ve compiled a list of photography apps you need to download now!

  1. Facetune

Create a selfie Kim Kardashian would be proud of with this photo-editing app! As per the name, this app allows you to tweak photos of your face, whether you want to hide your blemishes, whiten your teeth, disguise your wrinkles or hide bags under the eyes. It’s really easy to use, and Facetune even provide more than 20 in-app tutorials to help you make the edits look natural. Don’t overdo it though! A little tune up is fine every so often, particularly after a long night on the tiles. But remember your friends have met you in person…

Facetune your blemishes!
Facetune your blemishes!
  1. Instagram

So you’ve got your outstanding #selfie… but where are you going to share it? If you haven’t already hopped on the Instagram bandwagon, you need to do so as soon as possible. Instagram is a photo and video focused social networking service, which allows you to share your life through visual content. Instagram say they “imagine a world more connected through photos”, and that’s exactly what they have achieved. In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for a staggering $1 Billion and according to recent data released by the social giant, there are now over 300 million people on Instagram each month – including all the celebs – Taylor Swift, David Beckham and Barack Obama to name but a few. There is also a hashtag functionality, which allows you to browse and follow according to your interests. What will your #PicOfTheDay be? One day you could be insta- famous – better get those modelling lessons in!

Become a filter fanatic!
Become a filter fanatic!
  1. FrameMagic

Already on Instagram but want to enhance your #InstaExperience? Then download FrameMagic. FrameMagic allows you to compile your favourite photos and videos into one single artwork; be it a photo collage, video collage or video slideshow. A picture says a thousands words, so why not try 5 pictures in one! It’s really simple to use, with a variety of layouts, colours and patterns to choose from. The creative possibilities are endless, and your piece of work can be easily shared across a variety of social networking sites. Leave the actual picture framing to the experts though. Creating for Instagram and creating for above your fireplace are too different things…

  1. Retrica

Many photo sharing apps have a filter function available, which essentially allows you to enhance colours and tones to customise the photo how you please. Filters are a big hit on Instagram, but the range of filters available is limited. If you’re a filter fanatic, then you need to download Retrica. From 70s inspired themes to a regular black and white, Retrica has got over 100 to choose from. You can even use real-time filters, where you can preview how your photo will look before you even take it. Simple!

Make your photos pop!
Make your photos pop!
  1. Snapchat

There is no app more instant that Snapchat. Users can take photos, record videos, add captions and drawings and send to a defined list of recipents, and even set a time limit for how long recipents can view the snaps! Other functions within the Snapchat app allow you to create your ‘Story’ which can be viewed by your friends for 24 hours* and also the ‘Discover’ feature; a storytelling format which allows you to explore stories from a variety of world-class leaders in media, including Sky News, Cosmopolitan and Buzzfeed. We’re tipping this one to become bigger and better as the time goes on… watch this space.

*Note: when you’ve had a few too many at a party, step away from Snapchat. You don’t want to feel like you were the hired clown entertainment the next day…

Did your favourite app make our list? Or maybe you’re feeling inspired to create your own app? Remember, “the best camera is the one you have with you”. Try out the apps we suggested and share the images with us on Twitter – we’re @barkteam. Let your creativity do the talking!

For more top tips, why not check out our other blogs?