Category Archives: News

Blog packages now even more flexible

We’ve just updated our blog package product to support one blog post per month, making it perfect for those with smaller budgets and those who require less frequent updates to their blog.

This means that customers can now have their blog updated each month with a quality, 400 word post plus image for just £12 + VAT.

To create a 1 post per month package, login to your Copify account and go to the following page: Blog Packages » Advanced » Custom blog package plans. Give your package a name, toggle the frequency to monthly, and add your desired word count:

Once you have done this, go to: Blog Packages » Create new package, select your plan from the first dropdown and then enter your details:

After each package has been created, you can create a dedicated WordPress plugin for it, which is simply installed on your own, or your client’s blog.

There is more information on this here: https://uk.copify.com/how-it-works/monthly-packages#docs-white-label-plugin

Startup Stories – Julian Bradley of jazzherobooks.com

The internet has opened up a world of opportunities for people to make a living by sharing their talentJulian Bradley 2 color online.

One such person is my friend and fellow Lancaster graduate Julian Bradley. In the latest of our Startup Stories, he shares some fantastic insight into his business jazzherobooks.com and his life as an LA-based jazz pianist.

Q) Tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you become a jazz pianist?

A) My name’s Julian Bradley, I’m a music education specialist, born in England, now living in Los Angeles. I studied music at undergrad and masters level, and was lucky to have several world class music teachers. After seeing a Wynton Marsalis concert aged 17, I became obsessed with jazz piano, and went on to read every book I could find on the subject.

Q) Talk us through a typical day in your life…

A) I’m very type A, and most days I work long hours. Most of my time is focussed on lesson filming, or video editing. I have a studio setup exclusively for filming jazz piano lessons – the piano, camera, microphone and lighting are always setup, so I can film anytime. The video editing I’ll do at a coffee shop. Aside from my work, health and fitness are important to me. I play sport daily, and try to travel often, since my occupation now allows me to do so. I try to leave LA every few weeks on a 3 day road trip with my wife or friends, and keep a fresh perspective on what I’m working towards.

Q) Can you tell us how the website got started, where did the idea come from?

A) My youtube channel was started as a side project. I had no intention of making income from it. My mother-in-law had lent me a book, which talked about ‘giving back’. I realized that I’d never given anything to anyone without wanting something in return, and that I should try giving something. I’d been learning a lot from youtube on various topics, and it occurred to me that the one thing I probably could explain better than most would be jazz piano, having read so many books on the subject. I spent a Sunday afternoon filming 3 lessons at the piano. I uploaded the videos on youtube, and pretty much forgot about them. A month later, I needed to login to the email I’d used to setup the account, and was surprised to see over 50 emails from youtube notifying me of new subscribers to my channel, which seemed like a strong sign of interest, especially compared to my ‘composer showreel’ I’d posted a year prior, which had only received 100 views (mostly from me).

A few months later, I emigrated to California, where my wife is from originally. I was unable to work for the first 5 months, while waiting for my green card to be processed. I had to do something productive with that time, and decided to make more jazz lessons and see where it took me. Simultaneously, I started reading about online income, and I gradually started pushing myself to get comfortable charging money for some material.

Julian-Bradley-Piano

Julian Bradley – Jazz Pianist

First I became a ‘YouTube partner’ and remember the amazing feeling of earning $3 on the first day! Then I pushed myself to add a PayPal donate button (it felt awkward because I had genuinely made my videos without any financial incentive). In the first week I received 2 donations, which made me realise that some viewers probably wanted to pay for something – I just hadn’t given them anything to buy yet. So I created a $10 ebook to test the water, and announced it at the end of one of my lessons. It sold. Then I spent a month creating a $30 bigger ebook, and announced it. It sold. Then I did the same again for a $50 ebook, and it sold. Now I’m venturing into larger products, including membership to my new ear training course which I’ll be launching next month. I’m continuing to increase my comfort zone when it comes to charging for products, valuing my skills, and raising prices. After all, it’s entirely down to me to make the video making sustainable. Only by charging for some material can I continue to make future videos. No one else is going to make it happen.

Q) Can you explain your business model?

A) I make a free video lesson for a commonly searched topic, e.g. ‘tritone substitution’. I’ll aim to make the best lesson of all time on that topic. I’ll end that video with a call to action – ‘if you enjoyed this video and want even more in-depth material, click on the link below to find out about my Jazz Theory ebook…’

Q) Do you outsource any work, if so what, how and why?

A) Currently I work with a website developer who creates my subscription websites (while I make the lesson content). But my goal is to outsource all tasks that are not within my skill set – I should only be focussed on making videos, and educational products – teaching is my strength, so I’m in the process of outsourcing all other tasks such as customer service, audio mixing, and possibly some of the video editing.

Q) How have you funded the business?

A) I probably went full-time with my business a bit early. There was a stressful 12 month period – I’d released my $30 ebook, and found myself having to post a new lesson every Friday just to generate enough sales over the weekend to pay bills and high living costs in LA. I was working incredibly hard, all the time, and only breaking even. And living in LA away from my family meant there was no safety net. I couldn’t even afford a flight home during that time. My friends who had regular jobs seemed to be relaxing every evening, and I turned down a lot of invites to social events during that time.

Ultimately, there came a point when several large bills were all coinciding – several thousand dollars were due for an immigration service, rent, health insurance, and some essential car repairs. I had just 2 weeks to think of a solution, and even contemplated walking people’s dogs and mowing lawns. I knew the answer lay in my youtube audience, which was putting me in contact with far more people than I could ever meet in person – 4000 daily views and 30,000 subscribers. I decided to write a complete book on jazz theory… from scratch. I completed ‘Jazz Theory Explained’ in 2 weeks – 100 pages of writing, image creation, links to relevant videos – everything. The imminent deadline really focussed me, I couldn’t be a perfectionist, and that book has turned out to be my most popular book by far. Not only did I pay off the imminent bills, I made several thousand dollars extra profit, completely unexpected. I realized that actually, my first book had been a failure in comparison. I’d been promoting something that most people weren’t interested in. Since writing ‘Jazz Theory Explained’ book, I’ve been much more relaxed financially, and now I’m able to enjoy my work and maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle.

Q) How much competition is there in your space? How do you stand out?

A) There’s certainly plenty of music tuition online. My content is far more advanced than any other I’ve seen. For a while I thought maybe I’d do better if I covered more basic subjects, for a wider audience. So I tried some beginner lessons but found that my advanced material is far more popular – which is good because that’s the stuff I’m interested in.

Wynton_Marsalis_2009_09_13

Jazz hero Wynton Marsalis

Q) What does your typical customer look like? How do you keep them engaged?

A) Most of my audience are retiring men, who have worked in a non-music career for many years. Only now are they able to explore their passion for music / jazz with the time needed. That said, I also have many younger viewers, mostly piano players and guitarists.

Q) What customer recruitment channels are you using, and which are the most effective in terms of conversion?

A) Currently, my traffic comes entirely from my ‘how to’ videos. I only make a video if it’s a searched for topic, and then I gradually ask the viewer to subscribe, watch another video, join my email list, or buy a book, and so on. I will be venturing into SEO and paid advertising with the launch of my more expensive ear training course.

Q) What have been your major hurdles when starting up, how have you overcome them?

A) The biggest mountain to climb has been creating my ear training course. What I naively thought would take me one month, has now taken 12 months to complete. I’ve learnt that any creative project I start seems to turn out to be 10 times more work than I imagine, at least. So from now on, if a project seems like a lot of work to begin with, then I don’t take it on (unless I have a team). Small projects turn out to be big projects, and big projects turn out to be absolutely huge projects… so now I stick to small projects (which are actually big projects).

Q) Who has inspired you in working for yourself/starting your business?

A) I had a good friend at university, who was very clever, but lacked discipline. I could never imagine him in a regular job – he’d just never turn up on time. I was out of touch with him after graduation, but met him 3 years later. He told me he’d partnered with a friend, and developed their own SEO software, which they used to keep their website ranking #1 on google. Their website was selling an expensive product and taking commission, and they’d been traveling the world for 12 months, returning with more money than they’d left with. His story is what planted the seed in my mind of what’s possible online, and that’s when I started researching online income streams and making a living online.

Q) What would be your advice be to anybody looking to make money from sharing their talents online?

A) Make lots of quick experiments and see what sticks. Don’t make the mistakes I made – being a perfectionist in the early stages. You never know which things are going to take off, and which will fail. The best approach is to set a short time limit on each small experiment you try (a blog post, a how to video, a podcast, etc), and then see which takes off – then follow up with more of that.

Q) What are your tips for startups who need help with getting stuff done?

A) I’m always conscious of the 80/20 principle – 80% of the results are generated from 20% of activities. I’m always doing an 80/20 analysis of my life – what are the 20% of activities which generate the most growth in my business and ultimately, income? In my case, it’s video making, and product making. I could easily get distracted with social media, playing around with WordPress, or replying to every single email, but in my case, these are not income generating activities, and I should not be spending much time doing these. The other rule I bear in mind, is that ‘work expands to fill the time available’. So I try to impose time limits on myself always – this might be going to the coffee shop to work without taking my power adapter, forcing me to finish the video editing before my battery runs out.

Q) What are your long-term plans for the business?

A) There’s many ways I could go with what I’m doing, but mostly I let the audience drive what happens next. I survey my audience regularly (through surveymonkey.com). I’m always trying to find out what people struggle with the most (musically!), what keeps them up at night, and then to solve that pain. That’s what lead me to tackle ear training – it was the most requested topic in every survey, so I’ve created an ear training course. I’ll continue to survey my viewers, and create new content, products and services based on their feedback.

Meet Cat, our new content delivery manager

Cat Huntinton

Cat Huntington

Hey everyone! I’m Cat and I’m the latest member of the Copify team.

As a content delivery manager I will be moderating and editing content. I’ll also be helping to address client and writer enquiries.

I was born and raised in Lancaster, so I know all about the area around Copify’s office. However, I have spent the last six years away from home.

First I headed down south to study Business and Japanese at university. As part of my studies I spent one year on exchange in Tokyo, which quickly became my favourite city on earth. I loved it so much that I went back immediately after graduating to teach English.

While in Tokyo I became interested in startups and found a position as a web project manager for a Tokyo city guide website. After a couple of years in Japan, I was determined to continue my startup career, so I moved to Berlin, to do a content marketing and marketing intelligence internship for erento.com – an online rental marketplace.

Between years at university, I spent a few months in Los Angeles, doing an internship at a subtitling and dubbing company. This was where my interest in editing started. This interest grew when I worked on the Tokyo city guide website, where I was responsible for website planning and content management. The best part about it was coordinating freelancers and editing articles. I’m excited to develop these skills further at Copify and use my existing content management knowledge.

Cat has lived in Tokyo and Berlin

Cat has lived in Tokyo and Berlin

In my spare time, I’m a huge fan of electronic music, so there’s nothing I love more than seeing my favourite DJs at festivals and events. This goes well with my passion for travelling; catching a music festival is a great excuse to see a new place. If you’ve never been to a music festival abroad before, it should definitely be on your bucket list. I’m also a bit of a foodie, so I’m always looking for new and interesting restaurants and recipes.

I love writing about new places and experiences. I enjoy sharing my insights and recommendations for nightlife, food and must-see destinations.

Ask an SEO – Mark Preston on SEO for SMEs

One of the biggest barriers to SEO for small and medium sized businesses has been its unpredictable nature and the rising cost of doing the things that actually make a tangible difference to rankings.

Mark Preston of Wildshark SEO is aiming to change that, with a low monthly cost service, starting from £74pm aimed specifically at the SME market.

Mark Preston

I caught up with him to ask him about the proposition, and his tips for doing SEO on a budget.

Q) Could you start by telling us about your background, how did you get into SEO?

A) Way back when I left school I went to college full time for three years to become a qualified mechanical engineer then went back to college for another three years to become an agricultural engineer. I worked within this industry for many years until around 15 years ago when family health issues forced me to take a hard look at my career. I needed to have a job that was flexible so I could take my daughter to hospital appointments as and when required so I decided to go to night school and gain an IT qualification. I then set up my first business selling web hosting. Like any online business, I needed to drive potential buyers to my website so I started testing lots and lots of different online marketing methods. I learnt a lot during this time, including what NOT to do.

The way I saw it was – I would look at all the major competition and work out what I could do to be better than them instead of just copying what they are doing. I started setting up website after website to test different online marketing methods. This way if something did not work then it would have no impact on anyone. I ended up having about 120 websites in lots of different industries from a flatpack builder website to a music video site, most of which was ranking at the top of the search engines making me a very good monthly income in affiliate commission.

My big break came in 2007 when I confirmed a large contract worth multiple six figures per year. This allowed me to setup a digital company with qualified staff. Over the next three years, work flooded in and I had offices in both Inverness and Cheshire.

From here I went in to the white label industry, providing white label design, development and marketing services to UK digital companies until the launch of Wildshark in 2013 where I decided to concentrate on helping small business owners sort out their online presence and try and build a little trust back in to the SEO industry by telling people the truth.

Q) Tell us more about your company, Wildshark

A) Wildshark is one of the UK’s top white label SEO suppliers, providing quality SEO packages to web design and digital agencies throughout the UK at trade prices. We also offer our packages to small business owners at the same trade price our white label partners receive.

One question we get asked all the time is – “how do you manage to provide quality SEO packages whilst keeping everything in-house at such a small monthly fee?”

Most SEO agencies either outsource the work off-shore or they have large sales costs. At Wildshark we are in a unique position where we do not have any sales people working within our company so we do not have the marketing expense our fellow SEO agencies have. Our white label partners are our sales team which provides us with a constant flow of residual orders. Our own website is also ranked highly for hundreds of targeted phrases which bring in a constant flow of direct enquiries and orders.

Our in-house team is made up of top SEO professionals who complete the analysis and technical tasks and our team of IT apprentices complete the day to day manual tasks. As we secure new orders we just take on another IT apprentice to make sure we can handle the work load. This business structure allows us to grow, provide solid customer service, keep everything in-house and ensure our package prices are kept to a minimum.

Wildshark SEO

Wildshark SEO

Q) How do you convince skeptical company owners to invest in SEO over other channels?

A) I would never recommend that any business owner invest 100% of their marketing budget in SEO only. The SEO strategy should be a part of their complete marketing strategy so when you ask me about convincing companies to invest in SEO over other channels, I would not.

As our company does not do any telesales, we do not have to convince anyone. By the time they come to our website and contact us, they already know they need SEO. All the convincing is done through the copy on our website.

Q) You offer a number of different packages, could you briefly explain the difference between them?

A) In order to provide a solid service and ensure results at affordable prices, we offer the following four packages:

On-Page SEO Package (£39 one-off) – From time to time we get approached by small business owners who wish to perform all the off-page activities themselves but just want to make sure their website is fully optimised with no on-page issues.

Local SEO Package (£74 pm) – Our local package is ideal for businesses who want to attract more custom from within their business location. The types of businesses who purchase this package are florists, bakers, pizza delivery and builders amongst others.

National SEO Package (£129 pm) – As the name states, our national package is ideal for small business owners who wish to promote their business throughout the UK or any other English speaking Country.

National Plus Package (£195 pm) – Our local and national packages are all about getting your website ranked at the top of Google for multiple targeted phrases but our National Plus package goes one step further by helping you increase your online conversion rate.

Q) The cynic in me would question how much value am I going to get for £74/Month, how do you manage to deliver value for such a small monthly fee?

A) The value is determined within the research and the results. The research completed will demonstrate that when the results are achieved then the return will be provided. Even though our packages are priced low, our white label partners are easily reselling our packages for around £500 per month building a very good residual income.

We manage to deliver exceptional value for money by having a really good business structure and making sure we never offer any bespoke services. We do not profess to be a master of everything and instead prefer to be an expert at one thing – SEO. If our clients require any services that are not contained within our packages then we try to point them in the right direction – usually, one of our own white label partners.

Q) With tactics such as article marketing and directory submissions becoming increasingly ineffective, what are the scalable and cost-effective methods of link building you carry out?

A) One word – outreach

When we secure a new client we make sure we explain to them that we need them to work with us to make sure people actually want to link to their website. We then point people who we have already established an interest in our clients industry in the direction of their website, press release, blog etc… Depending on the industry will depend on how many natural links is gained.

If a business owner is serious about their business growth then they should stop using outdated link building tactics now!

Q) How do you work with clients in terms of KPIs?

A) The honest answer is we don’t work on any key performance indicators. Wildshark offers cost effective SEO packages to small business owners who wish to get their website ranked at the top of the major search engines. If clients sign up to our National Plus package, however, we do help them to increase their online conversion rate as well.

Panda strikes again

Q) What does your typical client campaign look like in terms of activity each month?

A) As we provide set packages, we are up-front and state on our website exactly what we will do and what they receive. This way there is no confusion. We do tweak the contents of each package from time to time to make sure we are constantly providing a strategy that works very well.

When we receive a new client it is important that we first look at the history of that website and ensure the on-page is perfect then move forward with generating brand awareness and building authority on a monthly basis.

Q) Have many of your clients been impacted by Panda 4.0, if so, what actions have you undertaken to recover?

A) This depends – we do get new clients coming to us that have seen a drop in rankings around the time of the Panda 4.0 release but as we make sure we clean everything up during the first month then I can state that not one of our existing clients was negatively affected by Panda 4.0. In fact we saw an increase in rankings on many campaigns.

Q) If you could advise an SME with little time or budget on one single task they can undertake to improve SEO performance, what would it be?

A) This is a good question as there are so many things but I would have to say that it is very important that their website is free from the basic SEO mistakes (lack of meta tags etc), displays quality unique content and is fully optimised for attainable keywords.

Q) Content marketing, short-lived fad or here to stay?

A) With the increased exposure of inbound marketing, it is defiantly here to stay but people need to change the way they think about content marketing. Writing a blog post and posting it on Twitter once is not content marketing. It is time that people started writing about subjects their audience actually want to read.

Teamwork.com

Teamwork.com

Q) What are your favourite SEO/project management tools?

A) I use a selection of SEO tools which I use to complement each other. The first and one that many people ignore is Google Webmaster Tools. We still get many small business owners sign up with Wildshark who do not have webmaster tools attached to their website. It is a must and provides so much very useful information that can be used. As far as other SEO tools are concerned, I would have to say Moz beyond any other is my number one favourite for many reasons.

As far as project management tools goes, I have tried quite a few but have to say that using TeamWork to manage all our clients’ campaigns makes life so much easier.