One of the many perks for working for Citrus Content is that we get to go to various trade shows/exhibits related to the businesses that we write for. This takes me back to May ’15, where we all attended The Business Showcase South West together. The first key note speaker to grace the Colston Hall stage was Levi Roots; musician, TV personality, and multi-millionaire businessman. A great storyteller, he described his journey from his impoverished upbringing on the harsh (but vibrant) streets of Jamaica and Brixton to his music career (befriending such musical legends as Bob Marley along the way!) and then onto his appearance on Dragons Den – where he would become world renowned a second time, all thanks to his ‘Reggae Reggae Sauce’ family recipe. What an inspirational man, and funny too!
But the message that most rang true for me was from the second key note speaker to inspire us; ‘Millionaires’ Mentor’ Bev James. She began telling us about her business journey and then went onto revealing her 5 steps for a successful personal upgrade:
1) Update your skills
2) Get ready for success
3) Trade old habits
* Eradicate negative thinking
* Value your achievements so far
* Open yourself up to your vision of success
* Live the dream in your imagination
* Vow a commitment to change
* Execute your plan – one step at a time
4) Consider Coaching
5) Imagine your podium moments
Before joining the Citrus Team I was desperately looking for a way to create an ‘upgraded version’ of myself. As Bev explained, a voice surfaces within you and says ‘Do you want to upgrade?’ So I visualised new opportunities coming my way, and then just happened to stumble upon the fated Citrus job vacancy. Once I had joined I then shrugged off old habits and negative thinking for facing my fears and positive thinking, which has now ultimately changed my whole outlook on life. But it was only after hearing Bev explain her story I then took her advice and thought about my podium moments. These are the moments you can celebrate reaching your goal, where your skills have become familiar, you’re in your stride and you feel a sense of accomplishment knowing you’ve made it. This is exactly how I feel today, working with Andrea and Vicky at Citrus Content.
At Citrus we are encouraged and pushed to face our fears and do things we wouldn’t normally do or feel comfortable doing. This opens up so many new and intriguing avenues for us all, that we’re constantly pushing our boundaries and we all benefit from this sort of environment. Every day welcomes new clients and new experiences. And on the verge of our company rebranding, it’s really exciting to imagine what the next chapter has in store for us!
Here are just a few favourite quotes that I took away from her #BSSW2015 seminar, which I think we can all use throughout our working week:
* ‘Turn ideas into action and make decisions that count.’
* ‘Do or Don’t Do – There is no try.’
* ‘Keep doing things you’re scared of.’
* ‘Turn someday into today.’
So what steps have you taken to upgrade yourself in the last few months?
A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of the value of personal connections. I love the social world, the ability to connect and build relationships online has been a powerful resource for my business. As a writer it is so easy for me to hide away behind my pen and paper and remain in the safety and comfort of the office. Trusting relationships can be established through many different ways, including online, but I think like many of us, I had lost sight of actually connecting in person.
When organising my trip to New York with other entrepreneurs for an event with our business mentor a small group of us decided to share an airbnb. Honestly, my first reaction when this was suggested was to say no. I love my privacy and personal space, but I knew if I want to get the most of this experience I needed to throw myself into it with heart and soul. Facing my fear, I agreed to share and arrived at the Manhattan apartment to meet 5 strangers from different continents.
Facing our fears is something we have to do a lot in business, it’s what challenges us, makes us stronger and also helps us succeed. Those 5 strangers, over our brief time together, have now become great friends and advisers. We connected not only on a personal level but we shared a passion for business that infused our creativity for our own businesses. Our mentor Todd Herman, likes to describe us as ‘weird’, and it’s a word we embrace. That weekend we were with like minded people who understood our workaholic nature, our desire to be challenged, and our thirst for knowledge.
But returning home it got me thinking, what if I hadn’t faced my fear? What if I have crept into my safe bubble and got myself a hotel room on my own, would my experience have been the same?
The simple answer is no!
Meeting people in person puts a whole new dimension on a relationship, it makes it stronger and more meaningful.
Get out there
Just as I did, go and face your fear. Get up from you comfort zone and experience something new and exciting. You don’t have to take a trip to another country, just push yourself to do something different. Why not have a tweet-up for your social media following and take your online relationships to the next level.
I often find doing a training programme, whether online or off-line is also a great place to build a relationship with people. You can learn together, get frustrated together and succeed together. Don’t fall into the trap doing the same training as your colleagues as it will be easy to just communicate with those that you know. Remember everyone is a stranger to each other at the beginning, you may start that way, but you won’t be strangers by the time you finish.
There are thousands of networking opportunities across the globe. I know how frightening it can be to walk into a room where you don’t know anyone. You worry about babbling or you hide in the corner. See every networking group as an opportunity, the people you meet may not be a direct client, but you never know who they have in the circle of connections.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson, my social connections are amazing but if I take those connections to the next level who knows where it can lead!
As many of you may know, I have been an avid attender of Grand Designs Live, in particular the annual event in Birmingham. Check out some of my highlights in Experience your Own Grand Designs Live.
We are honoured to be able to share a fantastic ticket offer with you!
The inspiration starts here…with a visit to Grand Designs Live
NEC Birmingham 8th – 11th October
Grand Designs Live, the UKs top contemporary home show, returns to NEC Birmingham from 8th – 11th October for its 10th anniversary show. Presented by design guru Kevin McCloud, and based on the hugely popular Channel 4 series, the show offers visitors a unique opportunity to see all the latest trends for the home.
With areas dedicated to interiors, technology, kitchens, bathrooms, build and gardens, there’s something for every room in your home. And with over 500 exhibitors, you can shop from a great selection of brands with 100’s of items not available on the high street.
With all this and much more, make sure you plan a GRAND day out this October!
To celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary we have a great £10 ticket offer. Simply log on to www.granddesignslive.com, follow the link to book your tickets and enter the code CITRUS10 to claim. Or call the ticket hotline on 0844 854 1348.
*T&C’s – Transaction fee of £1.70 applies per order. Tickets must be booked in advance. Offer ends 07/10/2015. Offer valid on standard admission tickets only. Saving based on the door rate.
Did you know that @Rightmoveaddicts’ alter ego is actually Andrea Morgan who founded Citrus Content? Like most super hero’s Andrea has her day job but she isn’t a journalist for the Daily Planet or a photographer for a local newspaper Andrea founded her own company and writes content for property and interior companies all over the UK. Unlike Superman we share Andrea’s superhero talents through our work but there are still some fun facts about @RightmoveAddict.
Would you rather…
Enjoy a houseboat or speedboat? Has to be a houseboat as I suffer from motion sickness. I absolutely love water and the idea of being on any boat really appeals, but sadly my heart and my body don’t think alike.
Go to a play or musical? Now that is tricky as I used to work in theatre, but I guess I would say musical. I performed in an amateur dramatics group as a child and so grew up in musicals. In my adult life musicals played a huge part in the theatres’ I managed, especially Wicked. When I worked in London, this was the last show that I worked on and was privileged to have been there from the beginning. The opening night of this production was something the like I have never seen. Idina Menzel was playing Elphaba when Wicked opened and as she walked on stage, before she opened her mouth, there was a standing ovation for about 20 minutes.
Use Facebook or Twitter? Ummm now my whole RightmoveAddict journey started on Twitter and the platform changed my life, so I would have to say Twitter. Although recently I have been doing a lot of work in Facebook at the moment due to some very active groups I am a member of.
Go to a comedy club or dance club? Dance club I think, it would depend what type of dance club as I’m not into the whole ‘clubbing’ scene. I guess I am a geek at heart!
Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island? Patrick Dempsey, and Kevin Bacon doing the voice over, he has such a distinctive voice like Morgan Freeman. I am sure I was supposed to say some deep thinking, but if you’re stranded you want to have some fun in the sun! (Whoops, sorry hubby!)
If money was no object, what would you do all day? I would still work as I love what I do. But I would guess it would give me the freedom to also travel more, indulge in a spa day more often of course go house hunting.
Where do you most want to travel, but have never been? There are many places I would like to see, at the moment I think Australia. It is not somewhere I fancied before, but over the last couple of years I have made some great connections with people over there and I would love to meet them and also explore their contrasting landscape.
What is your favorite memory? My Sammy (my five year old son) every day we have many special moments. He is a mummy’s boy and I love the time we spend together, it’s precious, weird and very crazy.
What does your perfect day look like? In my dream world – Morning cuddles with Sammy, a few hours working on my business, being pampered at a spa, dinner with my hubby, reading Sammy a bedtime story.
If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to? I am a costume drama queen; there is nothing I like more than reading Jane Austen or watching Downtown Abbey. But I do think it would be the Regency Period, I love the poetic language, but of course I would be a woman of means.
What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod? I really wasn’t sure what would come up and I was surprised. Alison Krauss – Forget about it
What is one of your favorite quotes? Things happen for a reason
If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet? History fascinates me. I would love to do a ‘Who do you think you are?’ and go and meet my ancestors as far as I could go.
Have you ever had a nickname? What is it? If you ask my sister it is Half Pint.
And finally if you had a super power what would it be? Now that I’m over my fear of heights following our zip-wire off the Newport Transporter Bridge for our charity Ieuan The Lion Memorial Fund, I would like to be able to fly!
So it seems that even superheroes have a normal life too. Get to know @RightmoveAddict aka Andrea and her team at Citrus Content and let them show you their super powers.
You have a blog page on your website, but do you use it? Everyday I come across business websites whose blog page has no recent content, or the content consists of a paragraph – or even worse it is empty.
Are you damaging your brand?
No one said maintaining a blog was easy, especially when you don’t have the skills and resources. But having no blog or a poor one is damaging your brand. It’s like someone giving you a book you really want to read, but all the pages are empty. You are left confused and disappointed; not a good first impression for any business.
Why don’t you blog?
The main reasons why companies say they don’t blog:
- No time
- I’m no good at writing
- Business is boring, we have nothing to write about
- No marketing budget
Firstly, no matter what industry you are in you have a story to tell. People and businesses are fascinating, that’s why I love what I do; everyday I get to tell stories. But these stories enable my clients to build emotional connections with their customers.
Having a blog is about building trusting relationships with your readers. They want to get to know you and your business in ways a website can’t convey.
So if you can’t do it yourself, what are the options?
A guest post is when a person or a business writes content specifically for your blog. It’s a great way of ensuring you have regular content, but who should you ask? When looking for a guest blogger ideally you want:
- Someone with knowledge of your industry
- Who can provide relevant content for your clients
- They are experienced in writing guest posts, and
- They have a writing style that compliments your business
We fall into this category, in essence we write in the voice of your business. Why use a service such as ours?
- Detailed industry knowledge
- Consistent and relevant content
- Saves you time to concentrate on your business
- Experienced at turning your thoughts into words to tell your story
- Creatively able to gain the trust of your clients through emotional connections
- Provide client centric content
Not in our words
While you are continuing to think of the reasons why you should not outsource your blog, your competitors are racing ahead. Yes outsourcing is a cost, so is it worth it? I’ll let some of our clients answer that:
“Andrea of Citrus Content has been a great find and a real asset to my business. Andrea’s passion for interior design is in direct alignment with my client base, making her ideally suited to help deliver my message. I found social media marketing to be a terrifying proposition and needed considerable help and advice in order to navigate my way forward. Andrea understands the nuances of the social media landscape and has a natural ability in marketing and promotion. She has helped to raise the profile of my business and exposed my brand to a far wider audience. I’m very grateful for the work she has done for Your Space Living.”
Jo Buckerfield, Your Space Living
“Highly recommended. Andrea and her services have been the best support for my business. I have always struggled to put my thoughts into words, Andrea has been able to capture our style and tone perfectly, I no longer have to worry as I trust her to produce content relevant to my business. In addition, I have found Andrea to be extremely helpful, supportive and friendly, going out of her way to help us.”
Amalia Protheroe, Homelink Lettings
What’s holding you back?
Click here to book your strategy call and let us show you how we can add value to your business today.
So, it’s time for a new website. You’re last one is starting to creak a little in its old age and you want to have something shiny and new for your clients to enjoy. You find a developer and you say “Hey, let’s make something amazing!” Eager to oblige, your developer gets out their notepad and says “Great! What sort of thing are you looking for?” This is where you realise you don’t have a fully fleshed out idea.
Not knowing exactly what you want is fine, it’s what designers are here to help with. However, there’s a lot to consider when outside of the standard “looks nice” remit. While that’s an important factor, there’s a lot to consider before any design work begins.
What do you want the sites focus to be?
It sounds painfully obvious, but it’s pretty commonly over-looked. Let’s take an estate agent for example, there’s a lot that can be done to change the focus as soon as a visitor lands on your home page. Want more sales? Making the property search a prominent feature will make that clear. Maybe you have no problem selling but you need more stock? Making your valuations a focal point will drive more people there.
Making sure you know what you want to get from your website will help your designer achieve that for you and know exactly where to place focus. This will save you from having a fantastic website that doesn’t do the job you want it to.
It’s important to know exactly what pages you want to go into your website. Do you want a page dedicated to the business and how things began? Do you want something a little more personal like a “meet the team” page? Putting pen to paper and making a full list of every page you want to be included is important. It’ll help you in knowing exactly what content needs to be provided and will make it easier to cut anything unnecessary.
It’s important that every page on your website has a function, whether that be a blog that provides engaging content and helps SEO or a testimonial page that shows new clients how well you perform. You’ve got the perfect site map, not when there’s nothing left to add but when there’s nothing you can take away.
As well as the website being easy to navigate, the text on it should be too. Patience is something that we don’t have a lot of in this day and age. We want everything now and that extends to information about your company. It’s important that no matter how much content you have, it’s easily digestible. This can be achieved in many different ways:
- Sub headings breaking up large blocks of text (like this article)
- Bullet point lists (such as these)
- Cutting out any unnecessary information (like the points in the brackets above)
There’s a lot more to it than these simple points, but they’ll get you on the right track to writing content that people actually want to read.
Provide your brand guidelines
It’s all well and good asking a developer to design you a website, but without predefined brand guidelines it can be hard to get the tone right. While any developer worth their salt will talk over the design with you before-hand, brand guidelines will ensure that your website enforces the same brand ideology as the rest of your business.
It’s important that your brand look its best, so in addition to your guidelines make sure you have high-res versions of your logo and any other brand images ready to go. If you don’t have the high-res version a quick chat with your designer should sort that out.
Have great imagery
A picture says a thousand words. The average adult in England reads at a rate of about 300 words per minute, which means it’ll take 3 minutes and 20 seconds to read a thousand words. When a user lands on a web page they normally make their mind up on if their hanging around in 8 seconds! That’s enough time to read 40 words. If you can’t get imagery for every page make a real effort for the home page, it’s the page the page that needs to grab a user’s attention so make it count!
Moving imagery is even better so don’t be afraid to get fancy and put some video in there!
To make sure your website is always up-to-date you’ll need your property management software. There’s loads to chose from out there but chances are you already have one set up. All you’ll need to do is provide access to your developers and they’ll get everything running automatically, no painstakingly uploading properties over and over.
The way we consume media has changed. Current statistics show that just over 80% of us have smart phones in our pockets and that we use them as our primary means of browsing the web. That means that if your website isn’t compatible you’re missing out on a HUGE chunk of the market.
With the surface of responsive technology making your services available to users on the move is easier than ever. However, one of the things you need to be aware of is whether or not your designer will include responsive design as standard. Many designers will charge you extra for this so it’s important to be aware of exactly what you are getting and that you’ll be ready for any platform.
It’s always good to go into any new project with an idea of how much you’d like to spend and what you can realistically achieve for the price. The more complicated you want your website to be, the more it will cost. Be sure to talk to your developer about your budget and they’ll always be happy to tell you what they can and cannot build for your requirements.
Getting a new website takes a lot more thought than waking up and just deciding you want one. Sure, you could do that, there’s hundreds of template services out there and some of them are even free! As with anything though, you get what you pay for. If you want to strongly represent your brand in a world that’s becoming more and more digital, there’s a lot to think about!
Has this article left you feeling stuck? Or maybe just unsure about what you should take into consideration? Chat to us at Estate Apps and we’ll do what we can to get you heading in the right direction.
This week I returned back to work from my holiday in Kos and was preparing myself for those well-known holiday blues to set in on Sunday evening but something amazing happened, this time they didn’t appear!
This got me thinking, where were they? In my previous jobs (and pre-baby) I used to go on holiday two to three times a year and without fail I would suffer from quite severe holiday blues on my return but not this time, why? And the simple answer is that I have job satisfaction now, do you? A while ago I sat down with my Grandad who we call Grumpy George, he asked his usual questions of how am I and how is work and my usual response was, “It’s fine, who really actually enjoys their job anyway?” His reply always puzzled me until now.
Grumpy George – “I loved my job, I always hated the weekends and couldn’t wait to go back in on a Monday”
I never understood how he could feel like this about working, don’t get me wrong I still enjoy my weekends but I’m starting to see what he meant. Now when I visit and he asks about work I actually bore him with details and stories about my week and I have to say it gives me a nice feeling to be proud and happy to talk about work.
When you look at the facts it’s actually quite scary, some of you will spend more time in work than you do at home, which means you also spend more time with your colleagues than you do with your family and friends. So why don’t you make it essential that you enjoy your time at work?
With my 18 month old son in nursery 5 days a week I did have some feelings of guilt that his nursery teachers were seeing him as much as me and I’m sure some of you may have felt the same. Obviously we tell ourselves that nursery is good for them to learn, play and grow without us and although I believe this to be true it also helps that I am enjoying myself at work when he is enjoying his time too. Evenings and weekends are precious but I am finding myself feeling happier throughout the day which then continues when I get home and any Sunday Sadness has been erased.
Here are some ways that Citrus helps our team to enjoy our work.
- Monday Morning Meeting - Every week we have a conference call where as a team we discuss our weekend and our week ahead. I personally find this friendly, supportive and inspiring. As each meeting closes I find myself excited to get started.
- Freedom – With options of flexible working hours and working from home each team member benefits from this in their own way.
- Incentives – Citrus has joined Perkbox, an employee perks scheme for small businesses that gives us offers and discounts on anything from cinema tickets to holidays.
- Birthday Bonus – We all have an extra holiday each year for our Birthday, a nice touch that we all appreciate.
- Personal Development – We are all encouraged to partake in courses/training that will help our current and future roles within Citrus. Suggestions are welcomed and we’re even looking into a course in the US for next year!
- Relaxed Atmosphere – Together, with the support from Andrea, we have created a casual relaxed atmosphere in our office. No topic is out of bounds as we literally talk about everything, being open and honest has allowed us to have a great working relationship.
Whether you are an employee or employer you can gain job satisfaction and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Remember, you spend too much time working to not enjoy it!
As we rapidly head towards our second anniversary, I grabbed Andrea for a quick chat to find out more about writing for estate agents. Where did her passion come from, how did Citrus Content start and what challenges and key trends do we face.
How did Citrus start?
I have always had a passion for property and interiors, but writing? My career took me down a different path until 4 years ago when I joined twitter. Here I shared my love for property and started to attract a following, this led to my first blog post. I was asked to write a guest post on my passion, incredibly it was for Rightmove. Over the next couple of years I was asked to write more and more, and realised two things; firstly, I loved it and more importantly, the industry wanted more. So two years ago, I grabbed my pen and paper and started to write as a profession.
Let’s face it, estate agents historically don’t have the best reputation and are renowned for being stuck in their traditional roots. I admit some agents are grasping onto their past with both hands but many are embracing the future and breaking the mould to emerge as a new breed of estate agents.
What are the challenges?
Estate agents are not marketers, designers or creative professionals but the business community and our technological society is asking them to be. They often find it hard to translate their knowledge and personality into content that emotes the reader. But being able to be the solution to this challenge is so rewarding.
Are there any key trends?
Like similar industries, traditionally estate agency content has been cold and corporate. This has changed, whether it’s down to social media or customer needs, the industry leaders seek warm and engaging content that speaks directly to their clients. We work hard to establish a tone of voice for each agency to highlight their individuality. I have created, what we fondly call, our Voice Document. This document is the foundation of everything we write and also means we can write numerous articles on the same subject and you can clearly identify which agent it was written for. Storytelling for estate agents is now very client centric, we focus on using words such as ‘you’ and ‘your’ rather than ‘we’ and ‘our’.
Estate agents are also fusing this new trend with traditional values. They want to be seen as not just based within the community but also part of it. There is a growing demand for editorial content which features local businesses and events. Blog posts, newsletters, and magazines featuring a community touch are a trend that again is growing. No matter whether we feature a local store, artisan, or product, we have to find a way of relating it to the agent or buying, selling, renting or letting a property.
We are required to be all things not just writers. Working with estate agents is fantastically creative; we are often required to be marketers, coming up with inventive ways to promote their business. Some clients require even more, we have written press releases, organized events and so much more.
How have things changed?
Every day I see a change in the industry and a growing acceptance that engaging content is a necessity not a luxury item. There is still a long way to go, as this acceptance is still very much a minority. This is not to criticize those that have not adapted the new trends, as a culture change in an industry never happens over night.
Looking to the future
There is definitely a change in customer perception, and an estate agent is no longer the most hated profession. I often say ‘There is nothing more powerful than words.’ Words are breaking down stereotypes, strengthening the client and agent relationship, aiding an agency to financial success and most importantly, changing how the industry operates.
I’m proud to be part of this incredible change and look forward to breaking many more moulds in the future. Writing for estate agents is anything but dull, it is often said when buying a house you think with your heart and your head. Passion, industry knowledge, and adaptability are key to our success at Citrus Content.