Saturday, 17 August 2013

I'm moving to Squarespace

I'll be using Squarespace as of next week. I chose to move it over as I'm combining the blog with my online cv/portfolio, and Squarespace meets my needs (especially in terms of wannabe-hipster designs) more than Blogger. This blog will remain online but won't be updated, and all my new posts will be on Squarespace under the URL www.willkennard.com. It's part of my efforts to try and simplify my online stuff, and include it all in one site that I can categorise.

I hope you'll join me there.


Friday, 2 August 2013

Digital Marketing Advice for Personal Trainers

I’ve recently been approached by someone asking for help with a marketing strategy for a PT, so I thought I’d put together this short and sweet guide to get started with online tools personal trainers can use and some tips for getting the right message across.

First up; a note on consistency. Think of a good name for your ‘personal brand’ - usually your own name, but it may be more of a brand name. For instance I would probably call myself ‘Will Kennard Personal Training’, but if I was more of a specialist in strength & conditioning I would come up with a name like Strength by Will, or something less cheesy, but you get the idea. Once you have this name sorted, stick to it. Make a shortened version for your usernames on Twitter and Instagram. Keep it exactly the same on all your social media profiles to make it easy for people to find and recognise you.

Blog/Website

The first thing you should create is a website with a blog. There are 2 services I prefer: Squarespace & Wordpress, both of which offer a great and reliable service, although Squarespace tends to be a bit more 'cool' but is also more expensive. Both allow you to sign up to a service and also purchase your own domain name (personal web address) at what I consider a very affordable price. When you purchase a domain name, keep it in line with my point above on sticking to your name. Get to know the service you choose (there's hundreds of tutorials on Youtube if you get stuck) and apply a theme to the site.

The main 2 things you need to add to your site are an 'about me' section, and a blog. The about me section should be where you shout about what qualifications you have and where/who you train etc. If you have pictures of you looking awesome and ripped, or in the middle of training someone, put those on there too. You want to look great so that when a potential customer checks you out online they can see how experienced you are. There's no shame in being big headed here - it's your business after all!

The blog is a place where you can write for the benefit of others - put articles on there that you think may be of interest to people. These can range from small diet tips to massive articles on why you think a certain thing is beneficial. It really is up to you what you write about, but the most important thing is that you do just that - write. You want to be posting an article at least 1-3 times a week. This will show that you are somewhat of an expert in your field, and it will reassure customers that you know what you're talking about.

SEO for your new website

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) - to put it simply, is the process of making your site easier to find on Google. To do this you have to make the articles you write on your blog contain the correct information for Google to 'read'. There is a lot more to SEO that can't be explained here, but I'll give you an example.

Let's say, for example, you are based in Leeds. For people to find you on Google who may be interested in a personal trainer in Leeds, there must be information on your site that states you are a personal trainer in Leeds. Sounds obvious, right? So how can this be done naturally? Well, you could write an article about the best supplement stores in Leeds. This way you can mention that you are a personal trainer, and that you live in Leeds, which of course will add the words 'Personal Trainer' and 'Leeds' to your website.

Of course there's a LOT more on SEO that I can't mention, but keep posting useful articles on your blog and you'll be making it more 'readable' by Google, making it easier for people to find you online, at the same time as looking like an expert in your field. So get writing.

Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

These are the three main social networks you should use. What you want to focus on here is clients (with their permission) and their progress. If you've been training someone successfully and they've gone through a 'transformation' - then shout about it. Post before and after pictures, post their thoughts, post whatever you can to shout about the fact that you are making them fitter and you're good at it. This will encourage them to share their experiences with friends, who in turn will see how good you are, and consider using your expertise. Simple! It's an internet-driven version of word-of-mouth recommendations.

You could also post quick tips, pictures of your healthy food, pictures of you working out with a friend - again anything to shout about how good you are! 

And if you don't have anything to shout about, then maybe it's time to up your game? It could just boost your career in the right direction.

If you are a personal trainer and have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me on Twitter @willkennard

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Interview Tips for Securing a Role in Social Media

After I graduated I began searching for many inbound marketing jobs, and  secured an excellent role within a position focused heavily on social media in which I’ll be running campaigns and also managing accounts. It took me a lot of time and effort to get the role I really wanted, so I thought I’d share some tips for recent graduates on getting a job in social media marketing, as I’ve been to plenty of interviews and know the types of questions to expect.

Be able to describe accounts you’ve managed

Having really clear and detailed examples of accounts or campaigns you’ve managed is very important. Most interviewers will ask you about this, and it’s particularly useful if you can describe things like:

  • Challenges you encountered whilst managing campaigns
  • How you overcame these challenges
  • What you learnt from the experiences
  • What you enjoyed the most
  • Something you changed for the better

Most of all, it is important that you describe even negative situations in a positive way, and be able to demonstrate how you can take these experiences and bring positive learning from them to the new role in a way which will benefit the organisation. I found that interviewers didn’t mind that some of the campaigns I’d dealt with weren’t huge, it was more important to focus on what I’d learnt from them, no matter the size.

Have solid examples of campaigns you admire

As well as personal examples of things that work, also think about case studies from some campaigns you admire. What were the best practices you saw from the campaigns? What can you take away from the campaigns and apply elsewhere? Why were they so successful? All these points will help in showing that you have an understanding of social media and when it is beneficial for an organisation. It may be best to use an example that isn’t related to your personal experience; for example if you worked on a B2B campaign previously, you could choose an example that was B2C, to broaden your knowledge.

Be able to describe how you use tools and analytics

Being organised and analysing the work you do on social media campaigns is a real strong point in the eyes of an employer. Data is so important as it directly relates to KPI’s (and therefore ROI) for an organisation.

I won't go into detail about social media and ROI - that’s a subject for another article, but I will say that different organisations will have different KPI’s in mind for their social efforts. Some will focus on gaining followers, some on the conversations etc; and they want to know how these measurable's have an affect on things like sales or visits to websites. This means it must be clear how you used analytics or tools in previous campaigns to measure KPI’s, and how that impacted directly on the organisation.

Even if your tools for measurement were as simple as an Excel spreadsheet - if it worked well for you and you stayed on top of your workload and produced results, then brag about it.

Have knowledge of many networks

This is such a simple point which can be overlooked easily. I found one thing that always impressed employers was my ability to describe why Google+ is so great. It is a great skill if you can look past just Facebook and Twitter and describe why other networks might be worth using and why. For example why is Pinterest so popular with e-commerce or fashion? How do Vine & Instagram provide more human ways of interacting with audiences? Showing that you can be creative with different networks is a really strong skill.

Have predictions for future trends

Employers want to see that you are interested and active in the industry you are trying to break into, and one of the easiest ways to demonstrate this is by following predictions for future trends in social media marketing. The fact that you can show the initiative to be able to follow industry trends will convince the interviewer that you can respond to change and are adaptable. Combine this point with examples of previous campaigns and show how invaluable your knowledge will be to the organisation.

I hope these points are useful, please comment if you feel I've missed anything really obvious out and I'll add it in. I'm also always willing to help out, so get in touch on Twitter @willkennard or on Google+.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

4 Months on With The Samsung Series 3 Chromebook

I’ve had my Chromebook (Samsung Series 3) for over 4 months now, so I thought I’d do a very quick review of the device now that I’ve lived with it properly. Just to make it clear, this is a review of this specific device and not Chrome OS in general, which I think is a superb operating system and way of working.

I have to say straight off that the Samsung Series 3 could not possibly replace my Macbook for work uses, so if you’re thinking of getting this as a main device, I wouldn’t recommend it. Of course I don’t expect a laptop that costs just over 200 quid to be some sort of media powerhouse, but at the same time, there’s no way you can rely on it in meetings, and you can’t install a lot of applications that the majority of workplaces use.

A few main problems I have with the device is trying to play video files (avi, mp4 etc) and Youtube clips; they just end up stuttering like crazy. Also when trying to use Google Music (a service I usually love); as soon as another tab is opened the music stutters. There are several known fixes for these problems, but I’ve tried them all and even a system reboot and still no luck. These are two things that just make the device seem slow and the operating system feel almost incomplete. Using the HDMI port is extremely temperamental too, and it seems to just decide when it wants to work properly, even when using the same TV. However, I know that Google will only improve the OS on this particular device over time, and I’ve no doubt that these problems will be sorted. Let’s hope so.

Now there are plenty of good things too. The device is super light and portable which makes it really good for just chucking in your bag and taking with you without the bulk of a normal laptop. I’d honestly say this is the best part about the device, coupled with the excellent battery life. I absolutely love the keyboard; it just feels amazing to type on. Which brings me to my next point of the device being great for writing. Google Docs and drive do naturally work wonderfully on it, so these in factor with the size and keyboard make it a good choice for writers on the move (yes Google Docs works offline fine).


Overall I’d recommend the Series 3 Chromebook for people looking for a content creation device to complement a home PC. It’s good for a days use on one charge, and very portable, but it doesn’t have the media power of slightly more expensive Windows devices.

Another note: get a case for it! It scratches really easily. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lessons Learnt from Developing an Online Learning System


For the past few months of my life I’ve been working as a Web Editor for an online learning system. The job role was quite specific, but I became involved with a lot more of the project than I originally thought I would do, so I thought I’d document some of the issues we encountered in the hope that others can learn from them. Here are the main points I learnt from the project:


Build From the User Backwards
Upon joining the project it quickly became apparent that the entire project and its many separate areas were all being worked on at the same time, by separate teams, without much direct consideration of the end goal. Some projects may be able to run like this, but for an online learning system the approach should be more structured and really focus on the actual end goal: to teach people a subject using a website. It is essential to any new online project to work from the end user backwards. I can’t think of a situation whereby this wouldn’t be appropriate. Keep usability in mind at all times.

Write Content that makes sense for the web
During this project I was pretty much the last person to see and review learning content, and the only person to enter it into the learning site. Essentially I was one of the last people in the ‘chain of command’ to receive content, yet one of the only people who actually knew how the CMS worked and what could be entered properly. You see what I’m getting at here. What should have happened is that rather than have content passed down to me, I should have worked directly with the learning module developers before they even started writing, to create something that was formatted and written directly with the end user in mind. And this isn’t just to big up content editors! It just makes sense.

It’s an online system. Think of the best ways in which learning works online
Seems obvious. The content that was developed for our system was written by academics, and it was clear that there was no real technical considerations from them. Which is fair enough, how could they be expected to know what to consider when they hadn’t been told? It is important that the people who are writing the learning content understand the basics of the technology being used, so that they are aware of what can be made more interactive and how this impacts on the learner. Informing authors of really simple things such as why YouTube videos may not remain reliable permanently and problems with using copyrighted images will save a lot of hassle in the future.

Make it accessible
Accessibility shouldn’t just be something that the Web Editors and developers are doing. Everyone who develops learning content should be taught at least the basics of accessibility. For instance something so simple as teaching the importance of image descriptions could make a massive difference to overall accessibility, whilst removing extra work for content editors.

Use online collaboration tools.
I honestly don’t know how we got on without using these. I suppose the problem we had was the team were used to using the usual suspects (Outlook, Excel, physical notebooks etc) and to change people to using online collaborative tools would have only been successful if implemented from the very start. With a project going through continual change, something to monitor changes and todos would have made a massive difference and speeded up the planning side of things, as well as providing a solid reporting system. With everyone using old school organisation, it almost felt like we were working against each other.

Develop a clear style guide
This is really important and links in with the point about writing content for the web. Consistency is key here; the style guide should have clear guidelines for authors and web editors so that every page follows a strict style. Fonts should be the same, picture sizes if possible, and placement of interactive elements should be the same, to maintain easy navigation for users.

I could have gone into a lot more detail, but I think the obvious lessons learned here are often the ones that get overlooked. If you’re starting out a new online learning project, get in touch and I’d be happy to go into more detail.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Sightseers & The Future of my Blog

From now on I'm going to be posting less and less about film and other subjects, and more and more about digital marketing & technology. This isn't because my interests in other subjects is dwindling, it's just because I get a lot more views on the posts about tech and marketing than I do on anything else. And a blog with more of a niche will always serve a more clear purpose, whilst also allowing me to focus on just those subjects and learn more.

Before I do this I just wanted to recommend that you watch 'Sightseers'. I haven't seen a more entertaining and downright odd film in quite some time. The main characters are absolutely wonderful, and it's British dark humour at its best.

Sightseers review Will Kennard

Thursday, 4 April 2013

SEO Job Hunting Advice - Learn from my Experience


I've recently been looking at moving further into Search Engine Optimisation as a career choice. I have digital marketing experience and am currently a web editor, but I'd like to really get into SEO and become more of an expert in the area to really focus my career on one subject. And it’s the sort of thing I’ll get obsessed with, which is good (I think!) Only problem is I don’t have any experience. Which is where the ‘entry level’ jobs come in. They give graduates and others with less experience the chance to join a company with a structured training scheme provided.

So I had a successful application for an Account Assistant last week, but unfortunately I didn’t get the job. However, I had to do an initial interview and also a second interview as a 20 minute presentation with Q&A, which both went well and I learned a load on the way. So here are the main points I noticed from the process, for future reference for myself and also others looking to get into search marketing with little experience.

Be able to show passion for all things digital. The interviewers loved the fact that I’m active on social media, I blog about things I love, and have taken it into my own hands to keep up to date with the latest developments in digital marketing. It really does create great conversation, and shows that you are willing to learn about the area you’re attempting to work in off your own back.

Be as technical as possible. I’d always been interested in SEO, but the first interview was a disaster when it came to the technical side of things. Although the jobs are entry level, you should always be able to demonstrate knowledge of the important parts of the industry such as the terms used, the tools used and the influential figures.

Keep ROI in mind at all times. This point was made clear to me by the lovely folk at the SEO Hangout Panel community on Google+ who have helped me out a hell of alot recently! ROI is really important. After all the main goal of an agency is to generate profit for their clients. So all your discussion about SEO should bear ROI in mind. One of the challenges I had was to explain how social media & brand awareness has a measurable impact on ROI, but that’s a matter for a separate post entirely!

Know what to measure and how. This relates to the last point. I think if there was one thing about my presentation that wasn’t so strong, it was the measurables. I concentrated a lot on the on-page optimisation, keywords and link building, but not enough on reporting metrics. Yes I would increase the amount of long-tail keywords ranked for, but how would I communicate the effectiveness of these to the client? And also the cost. Obviously I had no idea of the clients budget, but it would have helped to even have a guess at the budget and predict some figures, to show a more analytical mindset too. This excellent article by Raven Tools is helpful for reporting metrics.

Incentives. Incentives! I completely missed this one out. If you’re creating a link building strategy, this should always be a big one. I mentioned it not once, until I was asked and couldn’t answer properly. Why would people want to take the time to link to the site in question? And it’s not always money...

So keep these in mind when applying for SEO. I know I will on my continued job hunt... and I’m sure I’ll be able to add many more points to this list in the near future!

firebug, screaming frog, google drive, SEO quake, Raven tools
This was the last slide of my presentation; a list of the SEO tools I'd used to audit the site. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Google Keep Initial Impressions

So Keep is official and launched. It looks really great, I love the idea of quickly colouring your notes, and the interface is much cleaner than Evernote or even Wunderlist, and certainly a hell of a lot cooler than Scratchpad. In fact, the browser based interface https://drive.google.com/keep/ just looks amazing. Simple, immediately understandable and very fast.

But what first strikes me is that this product seems to be best for Google users only. I realise that Google will eventually release it everywhere (as they are planning to do with a lot of products i.e Google Now) but how long will it take them? People are so used to Evernote that it'll be hard to switch, which will be made much worse if the users of Evernote are on iOS devices or a phone with a version of Android lower than 4.0.

I would love to start using this app regularly, especially considering it runs so quickly on my Chromebook (compared to Evernote which is extremely sluggish) but I feel like it's another burden on my already fragmented productivity apps.

Hopefully it'll get better and more compatible quickly. But for now, I'll stick with Evernote. I hope you're listening Google.
Google Keep Evernote Competitor Features

Monday, 18 March 2013

Christopher Nolan's 'Following'

I'd never heard of this film until a few days ago. If you haven't seen it it's certainly worth a watch. Interesting to see the huge difference between this and his recent stuff like Inception. Great to see how budget constraints can affect film writing in a good way. Every great director has to start somewhere, and this is a pretty cool film.
Christopher Nolan directed the Dark Knight Batman Films

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Why I love Google+

The past few weeks has seen me pretty much turn back into a Google fanboy again.

I strayed away from their products and services when I got my Macbook Pro and iPhone, as I was using the inbuilt email clients instead. But let’s face it, the native Apple mail can’t compete with Gmail, and the iPhone app looks gorgeous. With this I started using Google+ again, and joined some great communities.

These communities are essentially like every other forum/social network ‘group’, but with a few added features. However it’s not really the functionality of the groups that’s great; it’s the level of engagement. Ask a question on the Chromebooks group and there’s an answer in minutes. Drop into the Nexus group and see a bunch of geeky guys positing their awesome homescreen layouts, with a ton of comments to follow. There’s no spam, no (serious) trolling, no fake accounts, just a bunch of people with the same interests, genuinely engaging in interesting conversation.

I would say Google+ is the only social network available with this level of quality engagement. I use Twitter a lot, and still think it’s great, but the conversation isn't quite as complex due to the character limitations, and there are a ton of people who are just collecting followers and are totally disengaged. I only really use Facebook when I want to see fountains of shit spewing from my news feed, it’s a joke how bad it’s become.

So get on Google+, search for your interests on the ‘Communities’ section and start chatting, or even set up your own community.




Update: in one day, this post has 7 shares, over 20 comments and 54 +1's (and counting) from Google+. Twitter and Facebook have had no engagement.