How to create a social media strategy for your business

This year, it’s never been more vital to grow awareness of your business online, and having a social media presence is a great way to do that. If you provide engaging content to your customers through social media, they’ll be more likely to feel connected to your business.

If you’re stuck indoors and wondering what you can do to grow your business during a pandemic, then it’s a great time to get started on your social media strategy. For the social media newbies reading this, we know it can be daunting, so we’ve created a step-by-step guide to setting yourself up online.

1. Create a social media marketing plan 

Like most things, you need to be clear on your goals and objectives before rushing into anything with social media – this also makes it easier to measure results. Ask yourself what you want to achieve through your social media marketing so you can tailor your approach to these goals. While it can be tempting to fire off post after post with no consistency, planning ahead is much more effective for long-term goals. Here are some sample templates to help you get going.

2. Scope out the competition 

A good way to determine what works and what doesn’t is by checking out your competitors’ social media channels. By analysing the success of your competitors’ posts, you’ll get a clearer picture of what customers want to see. It also gives you an opportunity to create something entirely new, helping you to stand out from the crowd.

3. Choose the right platform for your business. 

While social media is a powerful tool to connect with your audience, it’s vital that you know who your audience is and which platform they use. Different platforms are better catered to different age groups, so it’s essential to understand the demographics of your audience to gauge the best platform to reach them on. If you’re trying to reach a younger audience, then Instagram is your best bet, whereas Facebook is popular with the over 35s.

4. Value quality over quantity 

When it comes to content, it should be quality over quantity every time. If you’re wondering what quality content is, the easiest way to measure it is how your audience engages with it, i.e. how many times it is shared and commented on. There’s no use uploading three posts a day if no one interacts with them. By creating quality content, your users are much more likely to remember your brand. The key to quality content is strong formatting – making sure text is broken up into readable chunks with images and bullet points to help readers digest it, talking about relevant topics that people care about, and using humour to engage audiences.

And there we have it, a step-by-step guide to kick-starting your social media journey! If there’s anything else we can support you with, feel free to call our friendly Customer Success team – we’re open 24/7! You can find our telephone numbers on our website, or alternatively, email team@bark.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Why SEO is important for your online success

This year, Covid-19 forced businesses big and small to close their doors, some for a few months, others for the foreseeable future. As brick and mortar stores are adapting to this strange new world of remote working, it’s never been more important to build a strong digital presence to attract new customers. 

If you’re wondering how to make your business successful online, one tactic that can’t be ignored is SEO. Let’s have a look into what SEO is, how it works, and how it can help your business. 

What does SEO stand for? 

If you’re wondering what on earth SEO is, then you’re not alone. Short for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’, it’s basically the art of increasing traffic to your website through organic search results. 

Still confused? Let’s dive into it a bit more and see what we mean by ‘traffic’ and ‘organic search’. 

Key terms: 

  • Traffic – refers to the visitors coming to your site. 
  • Organic search – refers to the search results of a search engine (like Google) that don’t appear as a result of paid advertising. They are ranked according to their relevance to a search term. So, if someone types into Google ‘what is SEO?’ The top results that will appear will be websites with information that most closely matches that search query. 

So, why is organic traffic important? 

Organic traffic is important because it is relevant. Visitors that land on your site from a search engine’s organic results are looking for specific products and services you offer. This means that they are more likely to convert. 

SEO uses a number of tactics to influence the position of your website in the search engine results pages to drive more conversions. And SEO works because lots and lots of people search for things on the internet.

How does SEO work? 

Google’s algorithm determines which websites are the most relevant and should appear at the top of search results. It looks for high-quality information that is relevant to the searcher’s query. 

Google looks at your website’s content to evaluate how useful it is in answering what the searcher is looking for. 

The simple basis is that Google provides the most relevant and useful information based on the search query. 

 

How can SEO help your business? 

SEO is one of the most popular digital marketing tools out there, and for good reason. Here’s how SEO can help your business succeed online: 

  • Relevant traffic – SEO puts your business in front of people who are looking for the services you provide, which means they are more likely to convert. 
  • Increases profit  – With organic search traffic driving conversions, your profit will increase and you won’t need to pay as much on paid advertising – win, win! 
  • Long-term gain Organic traffic doesn’t just come all at once and then stop – if done properly, SEO will bring you a steady stream of traffic for months (and even years!) to come.
  • Bypasses competitors – If you’ve ever searched for something on Google yourself (which you probably have), then you’ll know first-hand that most of us only click on the first search result. If there are two businesses in the same industry, selling similar products or services, then which one are you likely to go for, the first search result or the second? We know what our answer would be…
  • Brand awareness – Last but not least, increasing your search rankings is a great way to build your brand awareness amongst consumers. If your website appears at the top of Google or Bing, then customers will be more likely to trust your business – simple.

All this talk of SEO getting you in a wobble? You can hire an SEO specialist on Bark – they’ll be highly skilled in building your brand awareness and driving the quantity and quality of traffic to your site.

 

 

How much does a web designer cost in the UK? 2020

Updated: Read our latest 2021 Web Design Price Guide.

Average price of a web designer in the UK

£400 – £1,000

What can I expect to pay for a web designer?

Need your website revamped or built from scratch, but not sure of the cost? Find out how much your web design expert will charge depending on your location, website size, design complexity and more.

What is a web designer?

There’s far more to web design than meets the eye. Designing a professional website with clear, user friendly navigation is a work of art. On top of that, you need to factor in additional features like web compatibility, quality content, and search engine optimisation. If you’re trying to grow your business, getting your website off the ground is the last thing you need to worry about! 

A web designer has the expert knowledge to ensure your website is search engine friendly and customised to your needs. They’ll remove the faff from the process and even save you money, as getting the job done right the first time around means you won’t have to worry about unexpected repair costs later down the line. 

How much does a web designer cost in the UK?

It’s tricky to determine the price of web design as no two websites are the same. To make life easier, we’ve put together a rough breakdown of average web design costs based on local UK professionals: 

Average Cost (in total) £500 – £600
Minimum Cost (in total) £250
Maximum Cost (in total) £1,500 – £2,000+

However, web designers can charge anything up to £5,000 for larger and more complex projects. It’s always worth discussing your budget with your web designer up front so that you’re both on the same page. 

What changes the price of hiring a web designer?

  • Location 
  • Size
  • Design complexity

Location

Web designers set their prices to reflect the cost of living in their area. If you decide to hire a web designer in London, expect to pay more as the cost of living is higher than the rest of the UK. 

If you live in the big smoke but you’re on a budget, don’t despair! Web design is a remote service, so it’s possible to hire someone based in another part of the country, or even the world to you. This gives you more flexibility when it comes to pricing.

If you do choose someone from the other size of the world, remember that time differences could make communication tricky, and could even slow your project down. 

 

Size

When it comes to determining the cost of web design, size can’t be ignored. The larger the website, the more sophisticated capabilities it will require, increasing the time (and money!)  it takes to design, build, and launch it. 

Here’s a breakdown of average web design total costs based on website size: 

Size of website Type of website Average Cost (in total)
Small Basic £200 – £500 
Medium  Small business  £500 – £1,100
Large  Ecommerce Site  £1,000 – £2,500 

When choosing the size of your website, it really depends on what you need the website to do. If you need a simple platform for posting blog content, a smaller sized website will do the trick. However, you might need a large website if you’re launching an e-commerce store, for example.

Design complexity

The complexity of design can also impact project costs. If you want to build a website for an e-commerce store, it will require far more pages, responsiveness, and animations than a simple blogger’s website. 

The more complex the design, the more time it’ll take to complete, and time is money! 

Is hiring a web designer worth the cost?

If the thought of web design costs is getting you in a wobble, read on for our top money saving tips: 

  • Keep web pages to a minimum – The more pages you want your website to have, the more time it will take your designer to complete, which means higher costs! Keep charges to a minimum by cutting out any pages that aren’t absolutely necessary. 
  • Get creative with your own photos – When choosing images for your website, avoid using costly stock photography. Why not tap into your creative side and take your own photos? This minimises costs as well as giving your website a personal touch. 
  • Keep it simple – When it comes to website design, simple is often much more effective. Don’t go overboard with reams of content, images or videos. This will keep costs down, and users often prefer a simple interface anyway – so it’s a win win!

If you’re looking to update your blog, or take your business online, find a Web Designer on Bark.

5 tips for creating great content for your website

Every website should have high-quality content, regardless of its purpose. Whether you’re a small business owner looking to drive conversion rates, or a mummy blogger attempting to boost your online presence, strong content is key to increasing search engine rankings and driving traffic. Yes, a beautifully designed website is important, but it’s no good if the content is lacking in freshness and clarity. Even Google favours content over visuals when it comes to determining search rankings. 

We live in an age of information overload, and we’re more impatient than ever. You have about three seconds to hook visitors with your website content, so it pays to get it right. The good news is that writing quality content isn’t as difficult as it seems – here are 5 tips for getting it right. If you don’t have a way with words, you can always hire a web design expert, who can advise you on how to optimise your content for your intended audience. 

Keep it simple 

If you think the content on your website is simple, it’s probably not simple enough. Remember, your website should be designed so that users understand immediately what they are looking at and where they should click when they land on it. In other words, they shouldn’t have to think at all – it should be intuitive. Yes, the site architecture should take the reins with this, but your content has an important part to play, too.

Ensure the content is free from vague phrases which might cause confusion, and keep the message clear and simple. Another thing to remember is that you never know who may end up on your website, so it’s always best to cut out any fancy jargon and write your content in a way that is clear for everyone to understand. 

Keep it short 

This follows on from the previous point. If your content is too long and wordy, readers will simply get bored and move on. You’re not writing a novel – you’re writing for a website, in an overcrowded marketplace, where you have about three seconds to capture a user’s attention. There’s just no time for waffling.

Some websites may have sections, like blogs, where longer content is required. This isn’t damaging, as these pages are designed for people who want to obtain more detailed information, but keep in mind to make the information as digestible as possible. Make sure longer content is cut into smaller chunks, and add images to break it up. 

Give examples 

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your writing may be, telling visitors how fantastic you are just isn’t going to cut the mustard. For whatever message you are trying to communicate, make sure you back it up with measurable, real-life examples. Don’t be afraid to go into detail about how you’re better than your competitors. But remember, keep the language punchy and simple to avoid bogging users down. 

Make it scannable 

Remember the golden rule – website users scan. Websites are very much a browsing tool, and visitors may have to quickly scan several websites before they get the information they need.

The key thing to remember is to always put the most important content at the top – think of it as a word hierarchy. Break your text up into bullet points, even separating it into tables or boxes if you can. This helps the reader to easily find what they are looking for, which increases the chances of them staying on your website. 

Turn heads with your headline 

Your headline is the first thing to capture a reader’s attention, so it pays to make it catchy. If your headline is boring and bland, it’s likely no one will bother to read the content that follows it. If it’s jazzy and engaging, your reader is far more likely to be intrigued and read on.

To spark interest with your headline, the key is to use simple but powerful language. If you can, make your headline a call-to-action by using words like ‘click here’ or ‘get started’. This makes it super easy to convert visitors into buyers, as it makes it obvious which action they need to take next to access your products or services. 

To sum up 

Capturing a reader’s attention in a crowded digital space is a challenge to say the least. Creating concise, relevant, and high-quality content is absolutely essential to driving and retaining traffic on your website. If you put time, energy, and effort into writing great content, it’ll be well worth the investment. 

The biggest web design trends of 2020 

In the rapidly changing environment of 2020, it’s never been more crucial for businesses to build an online presence. But with so many brands jumping on the digital bandwagon, how can you set your website apart from the rest? Web design is a fast-moving industry and it’s not always easy to keep up with ever-changing trends. Is your website looking a little stuck in the past? Bring it back to life with this year’s hottest web design trends! Or if you need to build a website from scratch, why not hire a web design expert to bring your vision to life? 

Dark mode

It’s safe to say there’s been a lot of buzz around dark mode. Whether it’s on your mobile, laptop, or twitter account, you’ve probably seen dark mode somewhere this year. As a concept, it couldn’t be simpler – an option that lets you change the background colour of your application to black. But don’t let its simplicity fool you – its sleek appearance and modern feel has meant that dark mode has dominated everyone’s screens this year. There’s more to it than visual appeal, too. Dark mode helps to protect your eyes from the glare of computer and telephone screens. Trendy and comfortable – we’ll take that. More web design trends 

Bold Lettering

When it comes to lettering this year, think big, bold, and beautiful. It’s a crowded online marketplace, which makes it difficult for customers to remember your website. One of the easiest ways to be memorable is by simple, oversized lettering. It helps hone in on your core message, drowning out other unnecessary clutter. And guess what – remembering your website makes customers more likely to return to it. A winner all round! If you want to take it up a notch, why not replace images with lettering? Letting the text do the talking is a compelling way to get your message across. 

Lots of whitespace

If you’re wondering what whitespace is, the clue is in the name. It’s the gap between content on a website – so anything filling the space between images, graphics and text. Whitespace might seem simple, but it’s a powerful web design tool. It creates a fresh and tidy looking interface, draws attention to call-to-actions, and highlights the key message of your website. 

Colour blocking 

Solid colour blocking is a classic style that’s made a come-back in 2020. Put simply, it uses bright, vibrant colours to separate the page of a website. So if you’ve got lots of messages you wish to convey on one screen, this is a visually appealing and simple way to display it. 

Split-screen layout

Divide and conquer – that’s the idea behind the split-screen layout. It lets your website display multiple bits of information on a single page, meaning that everything is tidied and organised in one place. The result? It’s slick, clear and simple to navigate for users. 

Minimalism

Have you noticed that tech gadgets are getting smaller? With Apple watches and the like soaring in popularity, web designs have had to change to fit the mould of these much smaller interfaces. That’s where minimalist design comes in. It reduces design elements down to the basics to accommodate tiny screens. A minimalist design will typically have very little information on display, making use of the full-width of the screen. For a striking minimalist design, opt for vibrant colours, bold typography and plenty of whitespace. 

VUI 

Voice User Interface is a handy tool that lets users interact with a website using voice commands. It’s a dream for user experience due to the simplicity of browsing that it offers website users. Think of it as an Alexa device for your website. 

Whichever web design style you choose, always make sure that it represents your brand identity and the key message you want to get across. After all, your website is one of the first things a customer reacts with, and first impressions count.

How ‘service areas’ help us find the best leads for your business

We help tens of thousands of small businesses throughout the UK find new customers every single day – from accountants in Acton, to window cleaners in Wandsworth.

But with customers coming to Bark looking for everything from personal trainers to masseurs, wedding planners and more, matching each customer with the right service providers is no small feat.

That’s where ‘service areas’ come in – and today, we’ll show you how to update your service areas to hear about the best leads for your business.

STEP 1: Let us know which services you provide

Service areas let you adjust the type and quantity of enquiries you receive from us. If you’d like to hear about more leads, you can add new services or widen the service area you cover – and vice versa.

Similarly, if your business relocates or branches out into a new type of service, you can update your service areas to reflect this so that we continue sending you enquiries you’re interested in pursuing.

The first step is to click the ‘Service Areas‘ tab in your dashboard. This will take you to your service areas page, where you’ll see a box that looks like this:

Enter your services here
Enter which services you provide into your ‘Services’ bar to get started.

Type the service your business provides into the box and click the ‘ADD SERVICE‘ button to let us know what sort of customers you’re interested in hearing about.

STEP 2: Add relevant ‘related services’

When you add a new service type to your service areas page, we’ll then suggest some related services we think your business might also provide.

For example, if you tell us you’d like to receive photography enquiries, we’ll present you with a list of related categories like this one:

Add related services
Next, add the related services you also provide.

Simply tick the check boxes next to the categories you’re interested in to add them to your services.

STEP 3: Tell us how far you’re happy to travel

At this stage, we know what you do – but before we can start sending you relevant enquiries, we also need to know where you do it.

To specify your travel preferences, type where your business is based into your Travel Preferences bar and enter how far you’ll travel from there:

Enter your travel preferences here
Specify how far you’re prepared to travel using the ‘Travel Preferences’ tool.

Clicking ‘ADD LOCATION‘ will plot your chosen radius onto a map around your chosen city, so you can visualise where the customers we alert you to will be based.

If you offer multiple services, you can then click the ‘Show categories‘ button to specify a different radius for each of them:

Your advanced travel preferences
Click ‘Show categories’ to specify different service areas for each of the different services you provide.

This can be useful in cases where you’re prepared to travel further for certain types of high value job (e.g. loft conversion) than you are for lower value ones (e.g. bricklaying).

Finally, you can select whether you want to receive enquiries from customers who are searching nationwide using the toggle button at the bottom of the page – and after that, there’s just one thing left to do.

STEP 4: Start contacting customers!

Once your service areas are set up, you’ll automatically start receiving emails whenever a new customer requests your services. You can also find a list of everyone who’s currently searching for services you provide in the ‘Requests‘ tab of your dashboard.

When you see a job you’re interested in doing, simply click the green ‘CONTACT‘ button to send them a personalised message and estimate.

We hope you’ve found this simple walkthrough useful, and that it helps you secure even more business with our service. If you have any questions, send us an email at team@bark.com, or leave a comment in the space below!

Ask the Expert: How to get more customers and grow your business with Bark

Thousands of people throughout the UK use Bark every single day to find new customers and grow their businesses.

Some use our service here and there to fill the gaps in their diaries. Others use us to generate thousands of pounds a month, often using Bark as their sole source of qualified leads for their business.

But, in our experience, there’s one thing that all our best pros have in common, no matter how frequently they use Bark. They know how to make their businesses stand out by presenting clients with a great sales pitch.

To help you get the most out of our service, we spoke to some of our most successful professionals to discover their biggest pitching secrets.

“We’ve made some great contacts and
generated £10,000 in business”

“I made a 30x Return On Investment on my second Bark response,” says Very Clever Marketing’s Dom Murphy. “We’ve made some great contacts and several loyal customers, and generated approximately £10,000 in business.”

Dom initially joined Bark because, unlike other lead generation services, it doesn’t cost a penny to open an account – and you can hear about customers in your area completely free of charge.

Since then, he’s generated roughly £10,000 using our service, and says the key to his success is his ability to quickly form relationships with customers.

“Focus on building relationships,” he says. “Offer the customer something for free – tell them about a special offer you have on. Encourage them to call you or perhaps even call them yourself and say you’re calling in response to their Bark listing.”

“Explain to the customer that you’d like to meet with them or talk on the phone,” he adds. “This will allow you to build a relationship with them, instead of just throwing the book at them and quoting.”

“Realise that there are several others responding too. It’s not a ‘solus’ lead just for you,” he concludes. “Make yourself stand out from the get-go and avoid using terminology or jargon.”

“I recommend Bark to all my friends
with small businesses”

Having been in business for 11 years, Janet Gow has historically been wary of lead generation companies – but after a great experience with Bark, she’s now changed her tune.

“In the six months I have been listed with Bark I have already secured £7,000 worth of business,” she explains. “I now recommend Bark to all my other friends with small businesses.”

John Austen from Marvel Booths agrees Bark has the potential to help small businesses grow exponentially.

“Bark has helped us grow the photo booth side of our business exponentially,” he says. “We have already invested in a magic mirror and second photo booth, four months ahead of schedule.”

“You need to have great marketing material, and you really need to think about how you’re going to stand out from other competitors,” he adds. “You can only be the cheapest for so long.”

He says the best advice he can give to someone who’s thinking about signing up to Bark is to just give it a go – so long as you remember to treat it the same as you would any other part of your marketing strategy.

“I’d say put aside some budget and give it a go. Perhaps enough for 100-odd credits, which is around £115,” he explains. “If the client doesn’t read your response [and their phone number doesn’t work], you get a refund anyway.”

“If you get even two bookings it’s probably been worth your while,” he adds. “And you’ll get direct contact with around 20 potential clients for that fee. In theory, that’s probably better value than advertising on AdWords and Bing.”

He concludes: “Think about your USP and make sure your customer service is exceptional. Who knows where it might take you!”

Join today and start hearing about potential
customers completely FREE

We hope this article has given you some fresh insights into how our most successful pros pitch for business on Bark.

Put their advice into action today and soon you too could be growing your business online with our qualified lead generation service – just like Dom, Janet and John.

If you’re new to Bark, you can start hearing about customers in your area completely free, so you can get a feel for just how easy it can be to secure new business with Bark.

Simply click the link below now and claim your free Bark account to start growing your business with Bark right away.

Click here now to start growing your business with Bark.

Why wedding photographers love Bark

The best wedding photographers are masters of networking. They know the key to success is to be constantly meeting new people who might want to do business with you.

When you get down to it, the traditional avenues photographers use to grow their business online – blogs, SEO, social media and the like – are all types of networking. But, much like networking in real life, they can be time consuming. You can introduce yourself to dozens of new people without meeting a single potential customer.

That’s what’s different about Bark – we’re a more efficient way to market your services online. By ensuring that everyone you speak to is actively looking for the services you provide, we’re helping thousands of independent British photographers grow their businesses quickly and easily online.

“Bark.com has given me the opportunity to compete with the established photographers out there,” says Bark wedding photographer, Moritz Schmittat. “A year ago, I had a different job – now I am a full-time photographer.”

Bark helps another happy couple capture their special day on film – photo by Moritz Schmittat
Bark helps another happy couple capture their special day
on film – photo by Moritz Schmittat

“Bark users can compare my quality, customer service and pricing side-by-side with industry veterans,” he adds. “This has made it possible for me to set up a sustainable photography business within weeks after joining Bark.”

We invest heavily in online advertising campaigns to find brides and wedding planners throughout the UK – something that’s simply not an option for most independent photographers. Customers looking for wedding photography visit our site and let us know what they want, and we contact quality pros in their area on their behalf.

We’ve alerted Moritz to more than 200 customers since he joined the service in early 2015 – and he’s secured 20 wedding bookings through us in the first five months of 2016 alone.

Moritz isn’t alone, either. Photographers across the country are enjoying huge success with our service – like Adam van Bunnens, who’s been alerted to over 600 potential new customers since he joined the service in September 2015.

“I love Bark, it’s sleek and professional and great [for] Google ranking,” he says. “It is what the industry has been crying out for.”

“Using Bark is a unique, refreshing way to interact with clients and give them the photographs they desire for their special day,” he adds. “The experience is very rewarding.”

Kissing the bride by moonlight – photo by Moritz Schmittat
Kissing the bride by moonlight – photo by Moritz Schmittat

“Bark has indeed helped my business a lot,” agrees Laine Apine Photography’s Kristīne Pētersone. “I have many great quality leads coming in my mailbox – unlike some other services I have used where the budgets are almost always unrealistically low and the leads are scarce.”

So that everyone can test out our service and see how well it can work for their wedding photography business, we ensure our new pros can always contact their first three clients on us. That means joining Mortiz, Adam and Kristine today couldn’t be easier:

Simply click here and open a free account right away.

Bark has grown rapidly since our founders Kai Feller and Andrew Michael started it in late 2014. Over 60,000 small businesses up and down the country are already registered with us and helping regular people find everything from window cleaners to legal representation.

“We wanted to create a resource you can use to find local professionals for absolutely anything,” Kai explains. “That’s the vision, really – helping people find wedding photographers is just one part of it.”

He continues: “As a photographer, we’ll alert you to customers we find in your local area completely free of charge. When you see someone you’d like to help, it’s then just a small one-off fee to introduce yourself to them, and everything you make is yours to keep.”

Wedding photography has proved to be one of our most popular categories, with more people turning to us every day to find the perfect pro to capture their special day.

As such, we’re always looking for new pros to keep up with this rapidly growing demand, and if you think Bark could work for your business we’d love to welcome you on board.

We’ll alert you to potential clients completely free of charge, so you can pick and choose the ones that work best for you. We don’t take any commission, and there’s no obligation to continue using our service after you’ve used your three complimentary introductions.

So there really is nothing to lose – and potentially everything to gain.

Click here to open your FREE account and start growing your business with Bark today.