How to set your goals for an amazing 2020

How to set your goals for an amazing 2020

Have you made an appointment with yourself to set goals for 2020? In today’s podcast I’m going to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how I like to plan ahead, for a fun and productive year. I’ll explain the 8 questions I ask myself at the end of every year, and I’ve got worksheets and templates to help you plan your best year yet! 

I can’t believe it’s already the end of the year and we’re actually talking about 2020. There’s something about a new decade which makes me feel like I’m living in the future. Today we’re focusing on the planning process that I use at the end of every year. I want you to open up your diary, or the calendar on your phone, and make an appointment with yourself to go through all these goal setting activities for yourself and your business. It should only take you a couple of hours, so make a plan to head to your favourite coffee shop and get cosied in. Use the button below to download the worksheets to take with you, or you can listen back to the podcast as you plan!

We’re taking a couple of weeks off for Christmas and New Year, but I’ll be back on the 8th of January to let you know everything I’ve planned for my own amazing 2020.

How to plan an amazing 2020 in 8 simple steps

Make sure you download the worksheets and listen in for all the details!

  1. Review your goals and achievements from 2019
  2. Think about what’s important to you in life, as well as this year.
  3. Consider how you want to feel at the end of 2020.
  4. Brainstorm goal ideas in four specific categories
  5. Choose some specific goals that match your vision and values
  6. Create a visual timeline for each goal so you know what you can achieve
  7. Create action plans and choose metrics to measure to make sure you stay on track
  8. Put dates in your diary for when you’ll check in on your quarter goals.

Credit for the list of 100 dreams goes to Laura Vanderkam. Laura writes fantastic books about time management and co hosts an amazing podcast Best of Both Worlds.

Need accountability for your 2020 goals?

I would be genuinely THRILLED if you wanted to email me with your goals for 2020, and I will gladly chase you up once a quarter and ask how you’re getting on! I’d love to be your accountability partner.

I’d also love to feature more listener questions in the podcast. Drop me an email! And of course you can subscribe to Whin Big on Apple Podcasts, and leave us a review. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

“2020 is going to be your best year yet!”

WordPress, Pinterest and figuring it out as you go, with Dominique Lyons

WordPress, Pinterest and figuring it out as you go, with Dominique Lyons

Meet Dominique Lyons, creator of the fantastic business Kids Rule Interiors. She designs kids rooms, playrooms and nurseries, and she works with her customers to find the right concepts, producing mood boards, shopping lists and designs to suit the client.

Dominique started out as an archaeologist and part of her role was to teach children about archaeological digs.  She then moved into nursery teaching. She spotted a gap in the market and is passionate that kids do better when the rooms are designed around their needs and play. She focuses on the child and doesn’t just design a generically themed room.

“Children love to be organised, it really helps their confidence and independence when their rooms are structured around them”

Starting a business and figuring out how to find clients

Dominique started her own business because she wants to be flexible around family life, and the freedom is important to her. An average week in the life of her business involves Skyping with a client to discuss their brief, writing it up, then doing shopping online and physically to find the right items for the project. Designing mood boards and final designs. Some people like a lot of attention and to be involved at every stage, other people are a bit more hands off and happy to wait for the finished concept

She’s recently started using DesignFile it’s designed exactly to fit the needs of interior designers. You can add things from online stores to your library, use images, and create shopping lists all in one convenient place.

Facebook has been great for finding clients, Facebook groups like Edinburgh Gossip Girls (EGG) have been really good for referals. She has her own Facebook business page so potential customers can find her but is also present in a lot of design/interior design groups. She’s a member of a group called House Talk, people post before/after pictures, and ask for suggestions. Whenever there’s a kid’s room, Dominique helps out by offering advice. She recognises it’s important to be known as someone with an opinion who’s happy to help.

Her ideal clients are parents who are busy working a lot, or who are finding it hard to manage a full room update at once. They keep putting it off until they reach some kind of a problem – like the kids can’t play in their rooms or don’t fit in their beds. She believes it’s important for children to learn to tidy their own things so giving them a voice on how their room is designed and where to put things is a really great solution. 

Like many off us, Dominique uses Instagram as a way of giving a bit of a look behind the scenes, as well as showing examples of her work. She also uses Pinterest but mostly as a tool to communicate with clients about their design ideas. I think Pinterest is a great opportunity for Dominique to promote and market herself, because it’s often a first point of call for people looking to make over a room, whether by themselves or using a designer.

Brainstorming a strategy for Pinterest 

We thought it would be a great idea to brainstorm a strategy for Pinterest. I started by asking “What ideas do you have already?” which is always a good place to start! Dominique’s recent series on Lego storage is a great example of the type of content that works really well on Pinterest, for example. 

We then started brainstorming new ideas. Blog posts based on personal stories are always engaging, and then use a tool like Canva to create graphics to promote it on Pinterest. Lots of these ideas themselves could be turned into whole boards of ideas and content to draw people in and connect them to your ideas!

Building your own WordPress website

When it came to building her website Dominique confided it was hard. She started with Wix and Squarespace and also tried WordPress, to have a go and see what worked. In the end, a site was the best option, but if you’re confused, you can read up on the difference between and

Other things you might need early on: LogoJoy (rebranded to Looka) which had lots of useful sized images for different social media.

And Dominique’s advice for others attempting the same? Watch lots of WordPress tutorials and how to guides on YouTube before you get started. This will save you a lot of time. WordPress have their own channel as well as tutorials on their website, which both have lots of amazing advice.

Plans for the WordPress website and marketing

In the future Dominique wants to add more images and examples to show her process more effectively, and to demonstrate her aesthetic. She’ll continue to build up her testimonials page.  It’s already part of her end process to write a lovely thank you email which has links to Google My Business, Facebook and Houzz (directory website) so clients can leave a review.

Google My Business reviews are really important as it’s what people see when they carry out an initial Google research, or are just coming to the website to potentially book the service. It’s becoming a much more useful tool because you can add more to it. You can add lots of photos and content to your page and post about special offers or gift vouchers.

She has a small email list from an in-person fair she attended last year. She plans to send out useful information rather than just monthly blogs, more how to guides,stories and updates on what she’s been up to. If you’re interested in Dominique’s newsletter you can Subscribe on her website.

If you want more people to sign up to your newsletter, think about the type of content you’ll send people on your email list, and then create incentives which are a sparkly downloadable version of the same time of content, checklists or templates for example. Dominique has a guide about how to set up a nursery she might use, so she can create a landing page with the downloads that she already has.  I talked about how to create landing pages on episodes 10 & 12 so have a listen if you want to know more.

Goal for 2020

Dominique’s goal for 2020 is to take on 4 clients a month and do a really good job with them. She feels it’s like shooting for the sky right now – we’ll follow up next year and find out how she did!

We ended by discussing Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies*a framework all about how you respond to internal and external expectations. Dominique is an Obliger so needs accountability. For her, writing lists can be a kind of external accountability.  Learning about this is fascinating, especially what impact it could have on your business and I would love to talk about this more on some podcasts next year.

Get connected

If you would like to get in touch with Dominique so she can help you design the perfect space for your kids, you can contact her through the Kids Rule Interiors website. If you’re stuck for gift ideas she’s also now offering gift vouchers, fantastic for Christmas or any time of the year. You can also find her on Instagram and Pinterest.


* Links marked with a star are affliate links to When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!

5 Mailchimp secrets you need to try for yourself

5 Mailchimp secrets you need to try for yourself

Beyond sending out monthly email newsletters, are you really getting the most out of Mailchimp? In today’s podcast, I want to show you how powerful Mailchimp can be for connecting with your customers. 

Nearly every small business owner I’ve ever worked with has used Mailchimp. It’s been around since 2001 and over time has developed into an incredibly powerful tool. Of course, you can use it to send regular email updates to your contacts, but there’s so much more you can do using the templates, segments, audiences and other tools that are now built in.

We’re going to look at 5 cool things you probably didn’t know Mailchimp could do.

Mailchimp secret 1:  Sequenced emails for onboarding new clients or introducing new audience members to your business

One of the challenges, of an email newsletter, is that everyone on your mailing list is at a slightly different stage in their relationship with you. A new subscriber might find your next email newsletter feels a bit like arriving in the middle of a conversation.  Also, people aren’t getting to see your back catalogue of newsletters. An introductory sequence for people who’ve just joined your mailing list, spread out over a week or two, gives you a chance to do things like;

  • Share your best content, like blogs or podcasts. Essentially you can give people your greatest hits!
  • Outline your services and products, so they have a good sense of what’s available to them.
  • Share testimonials and examples of your work. Send a link to case studies or the page where people leave you google reviews.  This is a great way to show people how good you are at what you do.
  • Answer FAQs and help people feel like their specific needs are acknowledged and met.

This onboarding for new mailing subscribers can be so helpful to introduce your business and tell people everything they need to know. It’s a great way to make people feel welcome and keep them engaged.

You can do the same thing when someone signs on as a client. Create an easy to follow email sequence which helps get them on board, detailing the process or service that you’re offering.

 Mailchimp secret number 2:  Follow up with people visiting your website, through adverts not emails

We’ve all had that experience where you visit a company’s website briefly, and then see ads for their services around the internet for the next 30 days. This is called a retargeting campaign, and it’s a very effective marketing strategy. Retargeted ads can also be cheaper to run than adverts to cold audiences, because people are more inclined to buy from you when they’ve heard of you.  If someone’s already visited your website independently, they are more likely to be a good prospect worth advertising to.

With a free Mailchimp account, you can set up Google display ads which retarget visitors to your website. If you also have at least 100 contacts in your list, you can create Instagram and Facebook ads to target your specific audience on social media. If you want to run retargeting ads on Facebook and Instagram, you also need to have a standard subscription to Mailchimp, which will cost you around $15 dollars a month. The benefit of running all these ads through Mailchimp rather than directly on Facebook are;

  • Mailchimp’s interface is more user friendly, if you’re apprehensive and have never run ads before you may find the Mailchimp interface is easier to pick up
  • Great integration with your existing email list

In short it’s a great place to get started with advertising tools. You don’t want to stay there forever though because your editing and analytics tools are limited compared with the full Facebook and Google interfaces.

 Mailchimp secret number 3:  Build landing pages to help you capture new subscribers

This one might not be a secret, especially if you caught our recent episodes Four things you need to know about Landing Pages and Create your first landing page in 5 easy steps. You can build landing pages and send opt-in bonuses on Mailchimp, to help grow your email list. If you’ve had a mailing list for a while, you probably have a few different ways of getting people to subscribe to it. Basic pop ups on your website, trade shows (clipboard allowing people to sign up to your mailing list) and adding existing customers on to your list. These methods are fine, but they won’t grow your list very quickly, and they limit your ability to grow your list to people who are early in the customer journey. 

Opt-in bonuses are a great way to get more people to join your list. You start by creating something, like a mini-training course, a downloadable template, a discount code or some other exclusive content. This should be something really appealing to the majority of people on your mailing list. Then in Mailchimp, you create a landing page which focuses on and promotes your opt-in bonus, for example, it lists the benefits, gives a tiny taste of it, and so on. People want the bonus, so they sign up for the mailing list, where you can continue to provide them with useful info and updates on a regular basis.

In Mailchimp you set up the landing page, and then you create an email automation which sends an email to everyone who signs up that includes the download or access link for your bonus. When you get good at this, you can have multiple landing pages for different bonuses that each target different segments of your audience, and then you can even target newsletter content to people depending on their segment! That’s all starting to get a bit sophisticated, get in touch if you have any questions – I’d love to talk more about this in future episodes.

Landing pages are great to use on your social media, and even in adverts, to get more people to join your mailing list where you can really focus on converting them into customers.

 Mailchimp secret number 4:  Use follow up emails to get reviews from your customers 

As part of their e-commerce integration Mailchimp offers lots of different custom email types, specifically for e-commerce websites.

One of the most valuable is the follow up email, which you send on to people a few days after they’ve received your product, digital download, service or whatever it is they bought on your website. Your follow up email should thank them for buying, ask for their feedback on the process, and then include a link to at least one site where they can leave a review for you – Google, Facebook, Yelp, Trip Advisor, or whatever is your preferred review platform. 

These reviews are crucial for getting your business noticed, and building trust amongst your potential customers, but it always feels awkward to ask for them personally. When you create an automated email to do this, you only have to feel awkward once, when you draft the email, and then you don’t have to stress about it ever again!

 Mailchimp secret number 5:  Teach free and paid for online courses entirely over email

The great thing about doing this through Mailchimp is there’s very low set up overheads. It’s easy to create a minimum viable product (MVP) before you invest in flashier materials and a hosted training course. Mailchimp also offers an automation called an education sequence. If you’re hoping to move into the online training space, this is an excellent tool to test out your material. Emails are much cheaper to create than video content, and if you have Mailchimp set up already then you’ve got everything you need to get started.

Think about how you would break up your training information into bite-sized chunks that you might email over a fixed time period. The number of emails you send will depend on your goals and the cost of the training course. If it’s a free mini training you might send five emails in a week. If it’s a paid for programme, covering something in depth, you might send two emails a week for 2 months. There’s not really any limit on how much content you can add to this, and you can even include links to video materials and downloads if you upgrade the course in future, without having to transfer everything to a different system.

If you combine this with Mailchimp’s landing pages and advertising, you can really see how powerful the platform is when you combine all the tools. You can create the product, the onboarding, the entire sales funnel and much of your marketing content all in the one platform – and a free platform to boot!

Get your Mailchimp questions answered

I’d love to feature more listener questions in the podcast. Drop me an email! I’d love to hear from you if you have any feedback. And of course you can subscribe to Whin Big on Apple Podcasts, and leave us a review.

LinkedIn, growth hacking, and pay-per-click ads, with Jen Badger and Gillian Carmichael

LinkedIn, growth hacking, and pay-per-click ads, with Jen Badger and Gillian Carmichael

Meet Jen Bedger and Gillian Carmichael, who are both in the team at Whisperclaims, a tech start-up in Edinburgh. Jen is one of the founding Directors, and Gillian has recently joined the team as marketing manager.

On the podcast today we talked about using LinkedIn and Pay Per Click (PPC) ads to build awareness of a new business. We also talked about the Growth Hacking approach to marketing and how the team used that to design their current strategy. I’m excited to share with you all the interesting things we talked about. Jen and Gillian are both happy to connect on LinkedIn, if you’d like to learn more!

The story of how Whisperclaims was founded is a great example. Jen, Richard and Mike worked together in a different company, founded by Richard, and realised there was a gap in the market. The solution lay in technology, so they set about developing software that could fill the need.

Finding the right team

In the early stages, Richard joined a Code Clan training cohort, but quickly discovered that the skills they needed were too far out of reach. So the brought on Rick Henry, who had been one of the instructors on Richard’s course. If you’re running your own business hiring people can be hard and trusting them with your idea can seem like a huge responsibility. Jen is quick to point out that Rick is so great, and there’s no way they could have developed it without him, so it didn’t feel like handing over their own stuff rather it was brining someone in that had skills they didn’t have.

They’ve since hired three new people. For Jen, hiring new people has always felt like filling skills gaps, rather than giving something away.

Experimenting with Pay Per Click (PPC)

There’s been a lot of experimenting with and focusing on digital marketing. Mike is the head of sales and marketing. When Gillian came on board her focus has been working on growing awareness and getting more leads. She started with PPC, experimenting within the first month or two and using keywords to see what gets the right customers.

Then they tried LinkedIn ads and engaging with media agencies, programmatic and retargeting. Now they’re doing some PR as well, experimenting with all kinds of things just to see what works has been key to their strategy.

It’s interesting to listen to all the different strategies they’re working with and how those fit together. It gives me hope of what I’ll be able to achieve when I have a slightly bigger team myself!

How Growth Hacking works in a tech start up

Gillian has worked in a range of different businesses, but never for a tech start up just like Whisperclaims. It’s an interesting change though – in a smaller company you’re learning as you go, have to be very agile and build in more processes, like Scrum and Trello so things run smoothly.

Recently, Gillian and the team have been applying a Growth Hacking approach. They start with a hypothesis about how to reach a specific goal, and run an experiment to see what has an impact. If you’re interested to learn more after listening, my favourite book is Hacking Growth* by Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis.

From Jen’s perspective, as the director, is a little different, as she’s responsible for making budget decisions. With that in mind, she needs to be very data led, and I love the way she described their flexible approach.

“OK, try it. Do whatever you think will work, and we’ll take it from there… Show me that this works, and then we’re happy to spend money on it. But let’s not spend money, and let’s not waste money, on things that we can’t show work, or we can show that don’t work.” – Jen

How to develop a growth hacking strategy for a small business

To work on their strategy, they brainstormed a list of all kinds of ideas for what they could do to boost leads. Unfortunately, time and money aren’t limitless and they couldn’t do everything, so focused on one key thing – bring more traffic to the site/raise more awareness. They decided to run this until the end November and see what happened. It’s important to have a date in the diary to review the data you gather and if you need a different approach return to the brainstorming list. That’s a growth hacking approach:

  1. List of everything you could try.
  2. Pick one thing that’s fundamental, for example, getting more data, by sending more people to the website.
  3. Review the data and then see if there’s a case for changing the website, or whatever other strategies are on the list.

LinkedIn marketing with customer personas

I met the Whisperclaims team about a year ago now, when I worked with them on a Digital Boost project through Business Gateway. The focus was on LinkedIn and more organic marketing, rather than paid options. They played about with lots of different approaches to expand their contacts in LinkedIn; sending out tailored messages to second tier contacts and inviting people to connect, comparing salesy to gentle approaches, comparing how different job titles affect people’s reactions to the invites, and so on.

Ads weren’t an option as the product was so new there was no audience or search traffic to target! So instead they had to take this very labour-intensive route. However, that meant the team were able to really hone their messaging, and target the exact customer persona they needed to reach to get the right early-adopter mindset.

As the product gets more established, the person has changed, and that’s reflected in other changes too. The onboarding gets less intensive; some people don’t even want the demo, because they’d rather play around with it themselves. The time saved on onboarding can be spend on other sales activities, but it also means that the rest of the team have been working on improving the support and help options within the platform itself – all parts of the business can be affected by a shift in the audience. 

The more up-to-date and specific those personas are, the easier it is to target outreach activities on LinkedIn, as well as in advertising. The sales information is feeding into the marketing decisions.  I can’t stress how important it is to focus directly on your ideal customer, so you don’t waste time marketing to the wrong people. If you haven’t yet created a customer persona, you can download a template below and get started right away. 

Use customer personas to keep your brand relevant

This work on personas has also led them to think more about the brand. It highlighted the characteristics of the people typically engaging with them: entrepreneurial, digitally savvy, pioneering trailblazers, who are leading the way within a sector starting to be more technologically minded. Whisperclaims are innovative and thinking outside of the box so they identify with the people reaching them. Their brand may evolve over time as the business evolves too.  At a recent trade show, several people introduced themselves in a whisper, thinking they were making a smart play on words. Not exactly the effect the team were aiming for! When they first came up with the name, it was about it being a secret back office system for accountants, so it was a quiet and discrete tool. Jen’s not sure that clients necessarily care about that now. Many people take a totally different approach, some are very open about it. So although they’re not planning to change the name any time soon, Gillian and the marketing team are thinking carefully about the messages they want to send out when they eventually rebrand and update the website.

Glossary of terms from the podcast

  1. Scrum meeting – software development structure – the way you manage teams and workflows.
  2. Trello – software, third party, which lets you do project management. It’s like sticky notes on the wall. It’s free!
  3. White label –  this means customers can have a dedicated portal with their logo, their web address, so if their clients are signing in to add information, they see their accountant’s branding front and centre. The Whisperclaims logo is much smaller and in the footer of the whitelabel version.
  4. CRM – customer relationship management – it’s a database of customer details from anyone who’s been engaging with you, kind of an upgrade from a big spreadsheet. HubSpot has a free one, which also paid elements.

 * Links marked with a star are affliate links to When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!

Create your first landing page in 5 easy steps

Create your first landing page in 5 easy steps

How good are you at converting your social media followers into paying customers? Today I’ll be letting you in on everything you need to know to create stand-alone web pages that turn your audience into email subscribers and paying customers. We’ll cover a simple five step process you can use to build awesome landing pages that help you meet your business goals.  Don’t worry you don’t need to be a developer or desinger and you probaboy already use or pay for a tool which provides the service. I’d suggest listening to episode 10 if you want a quick overview of the basics of what a landing page is. 

Choose a goal for your landing page

Think about customer behaviours.  Will they buy immediately? Or do you need more nurturing? What can you offer to build the relationship or gauge interest? A free download is a really good idea, and you can follow it up with an email sequence that helps people get to know you better and to understand your offerings. There are other things you can offer, a free video or webinar, a discount code, a mini course, a pricelist, a secret facebook group –  whatever you think is going to work for your business at that exact point in your customer relationship.

Tools for building landing pages

This will depend on your goal, but I expect you already have at least one tool at your disposal to help you make a landing page.  If you’re confident, you can do it right on your website – especially if you have templates to work with, or a lot of experience. For most of us though, it’s can be quicker and easier to use a tool specific to our goal. So if the goal is to get someone to download a freebie that puts them on the mailing list, then your email programme’s landing page tools will be the best option. If it’s to get someone on to a free mini-course, or even a full, paid course, then your landing page could be built in your course platform, if that’s an option. Try Teachable, or Kajabi if you’re looking for a tool that does this. You can also work in other tools like Lead Pages, or Instapage, or Click funnels – these let you set up landing pages independently, although they may also overlap with your other tools.  Go for something you have already, especially if it’s built into a tool you already pay for – get that value for money!

Choosing a landing page template

Go into your landing page platform and, with your goal in mind, have a browse through the landing page templates. Different tools offer different customisation options. The layout is often fixed, but font size and colour, background images, and all the text, should be customisable on most platforms. Explore some of the different templates and their functions before choosing what you like best. If you find a really good template then you can adapt it for other landing pages in future, to give customers a consistent experience.  

Create content for your landing page

You want to make sure the landing page has on it all the information someone would need to know in order to sign up to download the freebie (or whatever else the offer is). These are the kind of questions they’ll be wanting to answer, but there may be lots of others too.
  • is it for me?
  • how does it benefit me?
  • what can I do with it?
  • how long will it take me to use this?
Balance the need for information with the need for clarity and a nice look – too much information can overwhelm and clutter the page. Include a thumbnail of the worksheet, if that helps people understand what it is, without giving the whole game away. And make sure you use similar design elements, and it matches the style of your social media content – you want it to look familiar and to speak to your brand.

Test that your landing page is really working

Now you need to make sure the landing page does the thing you need. If you’re sending out freebies, for example, you’ll need to customise the email someone receives when signing up, so that it includes the link or button to access the freebie! If there’s any other information they need right away, be sure to include that too. You should also think about what will happen next – maybe you want to create a nurture sequence, or invite the person to book a discovery call. If you have an active and effective email list already, where you send out newsletters regularly to an engaged (even if it’s small) audience, then you might not need to add anything extra, just make sure the person gets subscribed to the newsletter. You’re not done until you’ve tested your live landing page with a new email address. I use Mailinator for email address for testing, as you don’t need to register for anything! You can also create testing emails from your own Gmail account. Simply type in your email address as normal but add + and some identifying text right before the @ sign. For example Whatever you add after the + will be visible to you in Gmail so you can see which test has worked as well.   Make sure you unsubscribe any test addresses after you’re finished, so you don’t have emails sending to places where your real customers won’t see them.

Get your landing page questions answered

I’d love to feature more listener questions in the podcast. Drop me an email! I’d love to hear from you if you have any feedback. And of course you can subscribe to Whin Big on Apple Podcasts, and leave us a review.
IGTV, branding, and perseverance, with Andy Johnston

IGTV, branding, and perseverance, with Andy Johnston

Meet Andy Johnston, a graphic and brand designer with his own company, Eido Studio. In this episode of the podcast, we talked about so many things! We covered how to do branding, how to use Instagram stories, what we’re planning for IGTV, you name it! Andy’s thoughts on perseverance and the ‘get rich quick’ mentality were fascinating and I’m looking forward to sharing that with you. If you want to connect with Andy, you’ll find him @helloeido on Instagram and on LinkedIn.

Before starting his design studio, Andy went to art college and did painting but didn’t finish his course. Instead decided to go quite a different direction. After getting a degree in theology he worked for a long time in a homeless shelter, and it was a while before he realised how important creative really was for him. That realisation opened up a world of options, but in 2015, Andy was awarded some career change funding, and he decided to wing it, retraining in design, at home. The funding acted as a first client, which allowed him to start networking, build a website, and put up a portfolio.

Choosing what to outsource in your business

As many of you know, running a business requires many hats, and lots of the tasks we have to do as business owners are not our favourite. Andy found for his first few years, he felt very motivated and on top of all of that, but things change over time. Even now he still doesn’t out source too much and so there’s a lot a problem-solving and challenging tasks he needs to still do on a regular basis.

Andy’s not opposed to outsourcing however! Instead he finds it more valuable to bring people in on projects, for their creative expertise. He regularly works with a number of copywriters (I was one in the past, although it’s not my main focus any more!) He finds the input of others to be really valuable for clients, and although he is capable of doing the copywriting, and often does do it for his projects, bringing in someone who really specialises in that area frees his time and energy up for the other elements which he really enjoys.

Social media strategy for graphic designers

A lot of Andy’s marketing efforts go into network and meeting potential clients face to face. Business cards are a really important part of that process, and the way they connect back to the website is crucial for creating the right impression. Building relationships takes time, and is difficult to outsource!

Although he started off with ALL THE CHANNELS (doesn’t everyone!) Andy has narrowed down his social media more recently to focus primarily on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Because the visual layout of Andy’s feed is so important, he uses Later App as a scheduler, as it gives a preview of how a post, or set of posts, will look in the grid before you upload it. One of his main challenges is quite different to what I usually see. Andy has a lot of potential content he could share, but finds that a little overwhelming, and so struggles to get things posted very often. I can tell you from working with him that Andy’s ability to think deeply and carefully about messaging and imagery is absolutely his super power, but I can see how, when it comes to the fast-paced world of social media, this same tendency can bit a bit of a block.

To me this looks more like a mindset issue rather than one you can fix with a different system. It’s hard for me to give advice though because my own approach is so different. In general though, remember that people won’t know about all your awesome ideas or learn anything about your business if you overthink it and don’t put anything out at all. Better to have 10 posts up which all give part of the picture, rather than trying to post one thing that encapsulates every single message you want to put across.

“If you have a great insight, and you DON’T share it, then you do everyone a disservice by keeping it to yourself.”

Andy’s approach to LinkedIn is a little different to how he shares on Instagram. The best kind of posts that he’s used so far include content about his branding work. Videos have worked well, which he made in Adobe Photoshop! Other options iMovie, and Adobe Premier Pro, and Adobe After Effects. Adobe Illustrator is Andy’s go-to for design work, so it makes sense that other Adobe products would work best for him. If you’re new to creating video then it’s always a good idea to start with some free options and work up to more costly tools when you have the specific need for them.

How to create your first brand

When you begin to work on the branding for your business, it’s crucial that you understand WHAT you’re doing in your business, and WHY you’re doing it. Make that as simple, and well defined as possible. Bad branding happens when the message is mixed or unclear. It’s not always easy to define at the outset, so make sure to stay aware of it as you do business, so you can spot of it’s changing over time.

Andy’s part of the branding process can be quite minimal. He shared the example of a restaurant he’s working with at the moment. The most important thing for their branding is making the restaurant a nice space that people want to come into. Getting the interior right is almost MORE important than the logo and the branding, so in this case, a light touch on the graphic design part will be perfect, as long as the restaurant itself is ‘on brand. There’s way more to it than the logo you stamp on it at the end.

If you’re considering applying for funding or spending your own money on branding and design, you need to be really clear on your brand story and so on before you speak to your designer. One way to figure out your brand story is to run your business for a while with “temporary” branding, which is how I did it. I freelanced under my own name before setting up The Whin, which happened when I knew what direction I wanted to take it in. If you aren’t able to do it that way, Andy recommends giving yourself time and space. Long afternoons spent in cafes thinking about how to tell your brand story is a legitimate way to spend some of your working hours. Try out different words and approaches.

For tools to help you frame that thinking, try Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why*, or his TED talk. Sinek’s approach works well if you’re combining your business with your life purpose. The Business Gateway have some useful brand guides, so try those out as well, if you are in the early stages and not yet ready to work with a designer.

What’s most important, Instagram Feed, Stories, or IGTV?

Trends in social media are often a cause for concern among people who use it for business – how do you know when things are changing, how can you keep on top of it? This was Andy’s question. I find that if you use a social media platform as a consumer, you’ll find it much easier to keep on top of trends and changes, than if you’re looking at it from the ‘outside’. I learn about how other people use Instagram by watching them do it. And I spend a lot of time doing that because I really enjoy using Instagram! But the flip side is that I see less of what people are doing on Facebook and LinkedIn, because I don’t use them so consistently. And I know even less about Twitter and Pinterest because again, I’m not using them all the time. But that’s ok! And that’s why I’ve chosen to focus my marketing efforts on Instagram, because that’s where I know I can be most effective.

Within Instagram itself, I use Stories and Feed posts very frequently. My approach is that stories are for getting to know people, a bit more personable, and less filtered. Feed is for ‘showing off’, so everything on there is on brand, and professional, and it’s all planned and considered in advance. Stories are more about having a bit of a chat, based on what I’ve been thinking about in my work life. This is what works with my audience, and it fits with what I’ve seen a lot of other people doing, but it’s not the only way of doing things, and I do see a lot of people doing it differently, so experiment to find what works for you.

IGTV is on my list of New Things for next year – I haven’t done any yet! Because I spent so much of 2019 working on the All-in-Whin Marketing Method training course, I’ve kind of drained my bucket on planned out video content. Stories are very spontaneous, and that works well, but IGTV needs to be better organised, edited and planned, because the videos are longer. Next year I’m planning on using it to teach people things, and to give them a taster of what I can offer in terms of in-person events, training, online programmes, and working together on projects. Some of them will be a similar style of content to the podcast, although in much shorter episodes, so if you’re enjoying Whin Big, then do check out @thewhinco on Instagram. Andy and I both agree Mike McGrail is doing a great job of video content on Instagram (which you’d expect given that makes videos for a living!) so look up @getgostudio to see what he’s up to as well.

How to survive starting a business

Andy’s advice to new business owners is just to persevere. You might be surprised by the obstacles and hurdles, even at the point of success. From his own experience, he’s found that challenges can come even when things seem from the outside like they’re going great.

“Don’t focus on motivation, it’s fleeting. Don’t focus on discipline, which can always fail. But get your environment right.”

Having found the above advice while researching motivation, Andy spend some time cleaning up his environment, and found it really helpful for his productivity. I would absolutely agree. When Andy and I recorded today’s episode back in September I was very excited to take on a similar project myself – and you can see the results in my Instagram post from yesterday!

Andy’s second tip is to beware of the get rich quick mentality. One of the joys of running a business is the freedom to create as much value as you can. But that can lead us to over-expect, financially, in certain situations. In fact, it’s more important to think about the overall value that you can give and get in the relationship with a client, not just about the price of the work. There’s always a balance – you do need to get paid. You need to be paid to get the freedom to create that value! But sometimes there are projects that are worth making the exception for, where the relationship is really valuable.

Get connected

If you would like to get in touch with Andy to have him work on your branding and design, you can contact him through the Eido Studio website. He’s brilliant – I would highly recommend Andy’s services if you’re looking for someone who will be thoughtful and precise. You can also connect with him @helloeido on Instagram and on LinkedIn.

* Links marked with a star are affliate links to When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!