A few years ago when I had my children I decided that rather than go back to work in the conventional sense I would try to do something from home that I could work around my family commitments. Anyone that’s been a new mother will know that it is pretty much all consuming! For those first five years all things baby/child related is basically all you can think about! So I decided to do something related to my new passion and had a think about what was missing on the market from the perspective of a mother. After extensive research I launched my own children’s clothing company, operating solely as an online retailer.
As I basically had no start-up funds, I taught myself to build websites and did my own, but I was quite happy with it. It looked good and worked well. I also set up a Facebook business page so I could divert traffic from there to the website. I suppose I was quite naïve, but I just expected it to grow.
After a year in business I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted to be. I was managing to make a little bit of pocket money mainly through friends, family and the new network of mummy’s you inevitably meet when you become one! I’d done a few trade shows, fayres and managed to generate some external business through traditional marketing methods i.e. business cards, flyers, word of mouth. But I was very much aware that my website was not working for me the way I felt it should be.
I took to the internet, which too be honest I knew very little about, but I used that wonderful tool that’s become a household name to us all . . . Google. I punched in things like ‘children’s clothing in Hertfordshire’, or ‘children’s clothing online’ . . . . And any other term I could think of that people might search for when trying to find a business like mine. And time and time again I found that my website was nowhere to be found. I know that when I search for things on Google I don’t usually go past the first page before I find what I’m looking for, so I began to consider that the best way for me to get my website found was to be on that first page! But how would I get there?
Me being as clueless as I was I typed ‘how to get on google page 1’ into the search bar and thus I was introduced to the wonderful world of SEO! Search engine optimisation is an incredibly complex thing, but in basic terms it is the process of writing your website in a specific way in order to have it found by search engines. Google is king when it comes to SEO as they’re the largest, most widely used search engine globally. So they basically make the rules. One of the reason’s SEO is so complicated is that Google is always changing the goal posts. SEO experts know what Google looks for in order to put you at the top and then they give it to them! Trouble is, Google knows that people are becoming wise to SEO so they constantly change what it is they’re looking for!
I knew this was something I wasn’t going to be able to learn myself just from looking online so I typed in ‘SEO in Hertfordshire’ to see what help I could find. I came up with two things. To take a course in SEO myself, or to use a professional SEO agency. I couldn’t find even just a standard (introduction type) course in SEO for less than £500 just for the day! But with prices like that, it just goes to show you what a valuable skill it is to have. A professional seo company would charge me roughly the same to do an initial assessment and optimisation. As I said, the trouble with SEO is that you have to keep on top of it, because it’s always changing. So whilst you might be extremely well optimised today, in 6 month’s time things probably will have changed and you won’t hold the same position as you did initially. So when you go through a professional it’s something that you need to continue to pay for at least annually, if not monthly.
But what I decided was that after a year in business and things not going the way I wanted them to, I was ready for immediate results. I knew that even after taking a course, I probably wasn’t going to be able to produce the results that an expert could. As it was all new to me I decided it was worth paying for a professional job for a year . . . just to see if it worked! I thought that if it did work, it should generate a lot more income for me and that if the business started to do better I could then look into getting qualified myself.
As it turned out I decided not to bother! The results of my search engine optimisation were undeniable, but too be honest the whole subject gives me a headache! The business has gone from strength to strength and is now pulling in a comfortable income . . . one that means I can afford to continue to pay for professional SEO on my website. It’s so worth it in my opinion . . . what I pay out comes back to me three fold and it leaves me free to concentrate on the business itself . . . and of course, the thing that started it all . . . my children!