WordCamp Edinburgh 2018

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

WordCamp Edinburgh 2018

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This weekend I attended my first WordCamp in Edinburgh! It was such a great experience, I wanted to post up a blog about it to encourage others to try it out and get along if it’s something you think you’d find interesting.

 

I recently discovered WordCamp (luckily right in time), grabbed a ticket last minute and decided to try and make it to both days of the event. To be honest, I’m pretty introverted and normally struggle to get along to social events like this by myself. It was immediately clear as soon as I arrived that I didn’t need to be nervous about anything. Anyone that’s into the WordPress community will know that it is such a welcoming, inclusive and easily accessible environment for everyone.

 

I had a really great weekend and met lots of new people, as well as meeting a few people that I’ve chatted to through some online freelancing groups. I think there can be so much negativity about social media these days, but seeing it manifest in these ways is awesome! It was so cool to meet and put a face to some of the people I see popping up in my Twitter feed and Facebook groups.

 

Talks on Day 1

 

There were two different rooms with a variety of speakers on over the weekend; a community track and a development track. I was tempted to move around but ended up spending the whole weekend in the community track, though it was really hard to choose between some of the talks.

 

Saturday morning kicked off with probably my favourite session of the whole weekend. Kenda MacDonald of Automation Ninjas gave a talk all about behavioural and buyer psychology and WordPress. Honestly, this talk blew my mind so much I’m not even sure I’ve totally digested everything she had to say yet! She spoke a lot about current trends in consumer behaviour and psychology, and how we as businesses get to a place that consumers want to be while still building on business needs. She also delved pretty deep into creating quality content to position your brand as well as how to make the most of marketing automation. There was so much to take in here, and I’m really looking forward to getting into their content to take it all in a bit more. I also had a quick chat with Kenda about how their company started and how they work, which left me feeling really inspired.

 

Next was a great talk about improving UX on WordPress sites by Neil Scott. I’m really interested in UX and have been thinking of looking into some training in this area so was looking forward to taking his talk in. Neil co-founded the monthly UX Glasgow meetups, and he gave a really great talk with tons of real world examples demonstrating general rules of good UX on WordPress sites. He was kind enough to have a quick chat with me afterwards and answered a few of my questions too. I’m definitely planning on getting along to their meetups; it looks like another great place to learn some more about UX and get advice.

 

After a quick coffee break, Claire Brotherton spoke about the user experience and accessibility of Gutenberg followed by a talk by Jeremy Davis about how to choose a plugin. Claire’s information and insight about Gutenberg was really interesting. I confess I’m late to the party here and actually haven’t looked at Gutenberg yet! It’s on my list to look at before it’s release in a coupe of weeks. The interface appears (to me) a little off-putting at first, but I imagine just as anytime a new version is released on a much loved platform, with time it will feel more normal. Jeremy’s talk was full of good, practical advice about choosing plugins too, and had lots of information about important points to keep in mind when you’re trawling through endless search results in the WordPress plugin section.

 

The last two talks of the day were by Ross Steedman and Steven Jones. Ross has worked with WordPress for years, and runs a design agency in Edinburgh. His talk was giving practical advice on WordPress after 10 years in business. It was filled with lots of great bits of advice on life and project lifecycles in an agency, and things that anyone who works in WordPress should know. Finally, Steven spoke about how to kick a WordPress project off the right way. This focused a lot on project scope as well as understanding a business’s requirements properly to be able to build them the perfect solution. His measured and exact approach definitely left me with lots of aspects to try and incorporate into my project management process and initial client work. As a freelancer, it’s also so cool and inspiring to hear from someone who’s been freelancing for so long.

 

At this point I had to skip the lightning talks at the end of the day and head home for a break before day 2!

 

Talks on Day 2

 

Day 2 kicked off a little later, and first up for the day was a practical workshop all about making a website given by Kayleigh from 34sp.com. This took us from the very beginning of how to set up basic settings, themes and plugins in WordPress. Definitely a great refresher to make sure you’re doing things right!

 

After lunch there was a panel discussion with Kenda MacDonald, Kayleigh Thorpe and Colin Gray about how to create amazing content on WordPress. I am all about the importance of quality content creation and marketing, so this was right up my alley. There was lots of great chat about how vital it is to create good, high quality long form content for your brand, as well as how popular good quality micro content is becoming. It’s so hard to keep up on something like marketing which feels like it’s changing all the time, and this panel about content covered a ton of bases and was really interesting.

 

The day finished up with an hour long Happiness Bar, where we got to discuss any problems we were having or questions we wanted to ask. I had a couple of problems on sites that I needed help with, and it was great to get someone to take a look with me. As a freelancer, it can get pretty lonely working on my own and solving all of the problems with anything on my own. Aside from that, it’s hard not having anyone to bounce any ideas off of and talk through things with! So it was really good to be able to talk to other designers and get some advice. I think heading along to monthly WordPress meetups would be great for this as well.

 

I’ll be back!

 

All in all, my first WordCamp experience was such a positive one. I learnt so much and had such a fun time geeking out about all things WordPress all weekend, I can’t wait for the next one! I’m feeling excited, inspired, and totally shattered. Worth it for a great weekend! I’ve got a ton of notes and recordings to get through now, but I think I’ll leave it until later in the week once I’ve had time to let it all sink in a bit.

 

Have you ever gone to a WordCamp or WordPress meetup? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Emilie & Arlan

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting

Modern Bodhrán

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting

7 Essentials To Discuss Before Your Website Build

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

7 Essentials To Discuss Before Your Website Build

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Getting a website built can feel a bit daunting at the beginning, especially if you don’t know much about what the process with entail. Who do you hire to build your website? How much will it cost? What will you need to provide, and will it be a lot of work for you? Having a clear expectation from the beginning about exactly what is required from both web designer and client can make or break your experience during your website build.

If clients don’t really know what to expect during a website build, it can result in a lot of stalling, builds never really getting off the ground and projects taking ages to complete. Frustrating for both client and designer, to say the least!

After all this, the client is most likely left with a website that isn’t a true representation of them or their brand, and one that won’t be very effective for them. If it is really clear from the outset what is required, you’ll enjoy the process of your website build much more, and end up with a website that is going to work for you, make a difference to your brand and help convert your users into paying customers and raving fans. 

Here are the top items you would ideally have (or at least know you’ll need to look work on) before starting your website build or redesign:

1) Website domain name

Your domain name is the URL of your website (i.e. marissawaitecreative.com). You can purchase this with companies such as 123 RegGo Daddy or Namecheap. You simply enter the domain name you’d like to buy and you can see different options of prices depending on the suffix (i.e. .com, .co.uk, .org etc). All you need to do is purchase your domain name here and keep a note of your login details with whichever company you’ve bought the domain with.

2) Website hosting

This is where your website and its content lives online. Every website needs to be hosted somewhere! There are several different types of hosting, which you can learn more about here. If you decide to try and build your own site with a sitebuilder such as Wix or Squarespace, your hosting will be included in your monthly plan with them. There are many good hosting providers I’ve used, and would be happy to recommend some for you to investigate. Many web designers also have their own hosting packages where you can also host your site.

3) Logo/branding

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll hopefully have a logo! Some businesses may be more likely not to have a logo, such as freelancers or musicians operating under their own name. However, having a good logo and branding to use no matter what industry you work in is really important; strong and consistent branding will help you stand out as well as convey familiarity and consistency to your consumers. You’ll be more recognisable and they’ll know what to expect from you. It will help you stand out! Your branding includes different aspects such as your logo, colour palette, personality, tone of voice, style and typography. When working on your branding, it’s also helpful for your website design to discuss some of your unique selling points so that you can make sure these are highlighted for your consumers. If you want to learn a bit more about branding and why it’s so important, you should check out this great article.

4) High quality images

The images you use can make or break your website. Poorly lit, blurry images taken on a mobile phone aren’t going to cut it for your website, or be anywhere near the resolution and size they need to be. Using stock photos is a good alternative, and there are plenty of different sites where you can find lots of great photos, such as Unsplash or Adobe Stock. The best thing you can do though, is to have professionally taken photos ready for your site build. Having photos taken specifically to portray your own work, product or service will make a huge difference in properly portraying your business, and this is also another strong aspect of your branding. People can usually tell if your site is built solely with stock images, or if you have your own photos that show exactly what you do.

5) Written content

Written content is a huge part of your website that will take a lot of thought and probably be the most time consuming. You can do this yourself or hire a copywriter to do it for you. There will be pros and cons to each! If you have the time and are comfortable, you are the best person for the job. No one will know your ideal consumer as well as you do, so you will know more than others exactly what to say to them and how to speak to them. When writing, it’s important to keep in mind some SEO optimisation points as well as who your ideal consumer is. This can feel like a really daunting task! A copywriter will be more of an investment, but can also be really worth it. With a copywriter, you’ll pay them a fee to take care of all of your written content for you. If you look around, you’ll be able to find someone who is well-experienced in your industry which will go a long way in making your copy perfect for your website.

6) Your goals

Knowing your goals for your website is really important. Do you want people to sign up to your mailing list? Book you to play a gig? Buy a service or product you offer? Choosing one main goal for your site is most effective, and this will help dictate what your calls to action, user experience, and website design should portray. If your email list is most important to you, you’ll want to have this on every page and also look at some different sing-up options across your site. When you know what your goals for your website are, it becomes a lot easier to create a website that will help you reach them.

7) Analytics 

There is a wide array of different analytics you can plug into the back end of your website so you can measure and track your consumers and see how effective your site is. Analytics are really important so that you can see what does and doesn’t work on your site, and use this to continuously improve your online presence. Google Analytics is usually the first tool people start with. It’s easy to set up and plug into your site, and in your dashboard you’ll be able to see tons of useful stats such as how many visitors are on your site, bounce rate, which pages are most popular, what percentage of your visitors are on mobile or desktop, etc. You can check out another great article here about some different analytical tools available that you can use for your site. 

 

In conclusion

Sometimes people don’t realise that even if you hire a web designer/developer to build your site for you, the best sites will be made when you take the time and effort to be involved in (and enjoy!) the whole process. Knowing ahead of time what you’ll need to have ready for your build will help give you a head start on the process and set you up for a more enjoyable experience.

 

Get in touch with me if you’d like to talk about working on your website together!

More to explore

Emilie & Arlan

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting

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Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting

5 Reasons A Professional Website Is Important For Musicians

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

5 Reasons A Professional Website Is Important For Musicians

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Being a self-employed musician means you can have so many plates in the air at any given moment. You need to be amazing at your craft and continue to grow and practice (which takes tons of hours, if not years!), be able to market yourself properly to get more work, be active on social media, be out networking and making new connections, book and organise gigs and teaching, keep track of your accounting…the list is endless. You get what I mean though, and I think this line of work is often much more difficult than musicians get credit for.

In recent years, having a notable online presence and being active on social media have become increasingly necessary for booking gigs, wether at festivals and venues or with your ideal clients for their wedding. Bands who don’t have a website and social media channels (or badly built ones) are simply harder to sell. If you’re not online in a big way, you’re missing out on a huge part of your potential audience; you’re missing out on being front of mind with both people who would be paying to come and see your gigs as well as the people who are going to be booking you for those gigs.

Having a social media presence is equally as important (and I’ll get to that in a different post!), but to reach your audience and market yourself properly, you need to have a well built website.  A one-page site with a list of (hopefully not outdated) gig dates, a couple of nice pictures, and a link to bandcamp doesn’t really cut it anymore if you want to command attention, show people who you really are and what your music is all about.

Any easy website builder (the likes of Wix or Squarespace) will absolutely do in the first instance if you need somewhere to start and can’t afford to spend any money on your website. But for a small investment in yourself and your brand, there are many reasons why a professionally built website can be infinitely better. Here’s my top reasons why you should make the jump and invest in yourself:

 

1. You won’t have as many technical glitches.

With this I don’t mean only having techy issues while building your site, but free website builders can come with an array of technical issues such as being extremely slow (they are often all hosted on the same servers), having unprofessional domain addresses (and then asking you to pay a more premium price for a different domain name), and irrelevant adverts popping up across your site. All of these can affect how professional your site looks, how well it works for you, and other factors like your SEO rankings.

 

2. Your websites will rank higher for SEO.

SEO is essentially how Google and other search engines rank you in their search results. SEO is a huge field in its own right, but there are a several reasons using website builders can be bad for your site’s SEO. Speed is a huge factor; having a slow website is largely penalised by Google (and also makes people a lot less likely to stay on your site). Having a good website structure is also essential for good SEO rankings, and lots of website builders create one-page scrolling sites. Search engines love when your website is well organised with good data and site hierarchy! Depending on your web designer, you should also get some good initial SEO optimisation with your website build that you wouldn’t get otherwise should you try to use a free website builder.

 

3. It will be easier for your brand to stand out.

If you’re a musician, you’d better believe your brand is important! When you hire a professional web designer, they should discuss your brand with you before they build your site. This includes important aspects such as your tone of voice, photos, and colour palette. Your website should be your online home where you’re able to get these important aspects of your brand across to potential agents and your audience. You want people to visit it and feel like they know you! Using a template on a website builder that everyone else is using won’t be as effective a way to get this across.

 

4. You’ll be able to have all the extras and extensions that you could really use to your advantage on your site.

Ideally you’d have social channel integrations, mailing list signups, social sharing and a shop on your site. Many musicians these days use Bandcamp, which is an easy way to set up and sell your products online. However, Bandcamp charge 15% for digital sales and 10% for merch. As someone who is self-employed, wouldn’t you rather avoid that if you could? If you use a web designer who can build you an e-commerce shop, you’ll be able to manage your whole shop directly in your website’s CMS and the only percentage you’ll pay is a small amount to a company such as Stripe, which allows you to take payments online.

 

5. You won’t need to spend your time figuring out how to build a website.

These days it’s possible for almost anyone to spend a few days or weeks learning how to put up a quick one-page site to get their info out there and have something to link to from social media. When you’re self-employed, you most likely always have a huge to-do list. Why not let someone qualified take care of your site building for you? As the saying goes, time is money, and you should be spending your time practicing, planning the logistics of getting to gigs, and working on new music rather than sitting at your computer for hours on end trying to piece together a passable website.

 

To sum it all up…

I understand that even at a low price, paying for a website can seem a bit much for a one man band. There are certainly reasons why piecing together a quick site is appealing, and there will be pros to doing that as well. However, if you want to be taken seriously by others you shouldn’t worry about taking yourself seriously, and making a small investment in yourself and your work. If you want to get ahead of the game and have a notable online presence, a well designed website will help you standout both to agents and audiences alike.

Get in touch with me here to have a no-obligation chat or get a free quote for your site. I’d love to hear from you!

More to explore

Emilie & Arlan

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting

Modern Bodhrán

Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting

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