UK Lifestyle Blog 2018-05-20T20:20:33+00:00
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3 Things I’ve Learned Since Starting my Own Business

Last month we celebrated Float Digital turning 2 years old. How the HECK did that happen!? When I first quit my job to launch my little digital marketing agency, I didn’t even dream things would go this well. I recently wrote a little piece on our company blog about what we’ve achieved in the last 12 months, and when I read it back, I honestly couldn’t believe we’d come this far.

People always ask me “What’s the biggest challenges you’ve faced running your own business?”. I’ve always felt a sense of guilt coupled with confusion, and responded every time with “I haven’t had any challenges”. I could honestly say I never found running a company difficult, and I certainly never had any hurdles.

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I guess you could say I’ve been pretty lucky. We’ve been nominated for national awards, presented at some of the largest marketing conferences in Europe and whilst turning over a healthy profit that we can both live on (and pay for an awesome wedding and honeymoon!). We’ve been doing all of this whilst enjoying long weekends and trips away. Seriously, what more could we possibly ask for?


Alas! Three weeks ago, everything changed. It’s almost like my 2 year trial was up and now shit was getting real. Our exponential growth has caught up with us, we soon realised we were completely out of our depth, despite working our butts off all week 🍑 It’s okay, everything is under control; it’s actually been really good because it’s forced us to change the way we operate *silver linings*.

The only thing is, I’m kicking myself. I feel like most of these things could have been avoided if I just did a little bit more research. Like I said though, it’s given us that little push now to get everything right, and I guess we’re always going to be learning. So here’s some advice I wish I had:

Hire based on recommendations

You’re probably thinking “I’m not planning on hiring anybody”, well I have news for you – you will. Outsourcing and hiring experts to help you run your business is a no-brainer. Sometimes you need to hire people because you aren’t qualified to do it yourself, such as a lawyer or an accountant. Other times, it’s just to free up your time so you can spend it doing stuff that’s really important. Technically, I could write my own contracts but I wouldn’t feel confident that they’re good enough to hold up (more on that soon!).

I used to try and do my own finances but a) it was so time-consuming b) I found that my accountant could save me heaps of money, so she was worth her weight in gold. Last year my company officially incorporated and is now a limited company, which changes how we do things. Now, even if I wanted to, I can’t file my own tax returns because I’m not qualified to do so. We have a bookkeeper and an accountant that deal with everything and I have the peace of mind that it’s being dealt with properly, and all above board.

We have an amazing content writer called Lee-Anne, great SEO contractors, and a team of experts that deal with our social media platforms, which saves us hours every single day. The time that they save us in invaluable because it means we can dedicate time to our clients. My fiancée and I are always throwing ideas back and forth but it’s nice to have a team of people that have an input on the best things to do.

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We’re lucky we have a team of people that we trust but it wasn’t easy to do. When I first began outsourcing I didn’t appreciate the importance of recommendations, I just welcomed people onboard that gave a good proposal. Turns out, this was a bad idea and almost ended up costing me a lot of money. I found out that the services I was receiving was actually going to do my business more harm than good, and I switched suppliers. At the time I wasn’t educated enough to understand this, but eventually you work out the who’s a pirate and who is a trusted supplier. I won’t go into it, but I’ll just leave it with this: Reviews matter.

You might not be ready to employ people but instead you might have started using websites, like AppPaye, as your business is growing. So, don’t forget, recommendations don’t just apply to people; they apply to products and services, too.

Be firm with your clients on deliverables

When we first started delivering retained packages for our clients our proposals were quite vague in what the client would receive. This opened us up to clients potentially being unhappy! Luckily, this didn’t happen to us and we’ve always had positive feedback, however, if our proposals were a little bit clearer it would have saved a lot of unnecessary phone calls and emails. We decided to make our bronze, silver and gold packages much clearer so clients knew exactly what they were going to receive. This was never really a problem with us, but I can see how it could be for other businesses that deliver a service, especially on an ongoing basis.

We have run into trouble based on clients not really understanding what we do, and expecting us to do all kind of random jobs for them that don’t relate to our 2 core services, SEO & PPC. If you don’t know what these services are, I don’t blame you, not everybody does! It’s essentially Search Engine Marketing; or ‘Getting People to the Top of Google’, is how I like to word it! This means increasing visibility in the normal results and by using ads.

Pretty straight forward, huh? Well, here’s what we’ve been asked to do:

  • Web development
  • Newsletter marketing
  • Web design
  • Project managing content
  • Calendar management
  • Javascript
  • Social media
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Bespoke CSS
  • Shop refunds
  • Transcript writing
  • Malware clean up

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We’re pretty clued up on all of these services and we can deliver them. This is great for us, because as business owners we don’t need to outsource this stuff if we don’t want to. For example, we built our own website and if we ever want bespoke changes, we can just code them in ourselves, saving us heaps of money. But our clients often ask for these services; for a while we used to ‘umm’ and ‘ahhh’ about how we could help them. Why? We wanted to make their life easier, we knew we could help, and it was an easy way to make a bit of extra cash.

This soon turned into a problem when we realised we were spending more time on things we didn’t want to do, and we ended up running other people’s businesses for them based on ad hoc payment. We essentially turned into virtual assistants for a short period of time, and it got messy real quick. Stick to what you know because then you can be known if your industry for what you do best. Luckily, we didn’t entertain this idea for long but I already experienced the stress of offering all these services.

Your contracts must be water tight

We’ve got a pretty solid terms and conditions document, our proposals are very clear, and our investment packages clearly outline what we offer. Client have an onboarding process and we find out everything we need to know about them, they pay their invoice one month before we begin working and then we deliver the project. The process is pretty straight-forward and I feel like we covered all basis. Oh boy, was I wrong! Individual contracts for each scope of work with a clear Start date is so important.

We loved that we could offer a service with zero contracts, no minimum commitment and no cancellation fees. We’re real people, offering a service to make an honest wage. This is one of the things our clients love about us because there isn’t many other companies that are this flexible. We’re not trying to scam anybody out of any money, and so we don’t feel the need to tie our customers in. If they want our help, great! If they don’t, also fine. We’re so lucky that we have enough clients that we don’t have to lock people in, there’s always other clients that are on our waiting list, dying to get a slot in our calendars.

This was never a problem until a client decided they didn’t want to pay until the work was completed. We’re very understanding so we decided to deliver the project before payment was received. We began the work, after being told to go ahead. Two months later we’re left without payment. I only have myself to blame for being so laid back and not putting it into a contract. We learnt our lessons, and we’ll always stick to our contracts, and we’ll always require payment upfront. Make sure you don’t forget how important these contracts are!

I essentially need a backbone. What lessons have you learnt from running your own business? 🤔

June 18, 2018|Blogging Tips|

Why We’re Loving Staycations in Our Quirky Campervan

In the past, Brits have famously headed for locations like Mallorca, the Algarve or Benidorm for their summer jollies – no doubt in an effort to soak up a year’s worth of sun in one week! Yet recently studies have begun to show a change of attitude, with more and more Britons foregoing foreign destinations in favour of more local trips. This article will examine this trend, to establish whether Cornwall really is the new Crete.

Whispers surrounding the growing popularity of the staycation have abounded ever since the Brexit vote in 2016, yet enough time has now passed to allow this speculation to turn to plausible theory as more and more data is released to back it up. A leader in this field, is the annual study released by the accommodation provider Travelodge. This year they found that the number of British people opting to stay at home for their main holiday has increased by 2% since the 2017 study – now standing at 57% (well over half!).

Pull over and enjoy the view!! PC: @rileys_travels

A post shared by VANLiFe 🚐💨 (@vanlife) on

In line with these findings, peer-to-peer rental platform, Fat Lama, have found that the number of campervan rentals on their platform has more than doubled in the past year (rising from 2.45% to 5.74% of their GMV). If this is not enough to convince you that staycations are now ‘trending’ so to speak, the Caravanning and Camping Club have reported a 10% increase in UK campsite bookings this year. Clearly, staycations (and campervan trips) are on the rise across the board, begging the question what has prompted this new trend?



What’s all the hype about!? 🌍

No doubt people have a wealth of personal reasons for opting to stay on their home turf this year, yet such a universal increase in popularity suggests that some broader factors must be at work as well.

Since this trend has been gaining momentum since 2016, the obvious catalyst for change has to be the Brexit vote. This is not just a case of jumping on the ‘Brexit bandwagon’ (blaming it for everything from the struggling economy to your most recent breakup) – there is actually significant evidence to back it up.

There is no doubt that the sudden drop in the value of the pound in 2016 corresponded to the Brexit vote, and this has had a huge impact on the British tourist scene. Firstly, Brits are the only ones holidaying here – VisitBritain has reported an increase of foreign visitors by 6.2% in 2017, set to rise by a further 4.4% this year.

Since Britain’s ancient charms aren’t going anywhere soon (hopefully), it would not be unreasonable to assume that this influx is due to the weakening pound making it better value than ever before to visit the UK.

Yet, the British tourist scene is clearly benefiting from the patronage of its natives as well. Once again, it appears to owe its thanks to Brexit (one of the very few who do) for bringing in the extra trade, as the falling pound has not just made UK holidays a financially good option for foreign visitors.

Anxiety about the exchange rate has tipped the balance for many people when deciding where to book this year, one such candidate, is Becky a 22 year old who, despite being a keen traveller, is opting to take a campervan around Scotland this year. After landing in Peru on the day of the Brexit result and consequently burning through her money far faster than she anticipated, Becky has chosen to explore the UK this year as a safer financial option.

It seems that stories like Becky’s are not atypical to a post-Brexit world. until the split actually comes, the uncertainty of foreign travel is not a risk worth taking for people on tight budgets.

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So, it seems that Brexit has landed most of us fairly and squarely on British shores this summer (the irony of this is not lost on me). It’s now up to the rest of this article to advise you how to spend it. One form of travel that I believe lends itself especially well to UK travel is hitting the road in a campervan.

Why I’m sold on traveling on wheels 🚐

The rise in popularity in staycations does not necessarily prompt a corresponding rise in campervan rentals, yet from what we have seen from both Fat Lama data and the Caravanning and Camping Club, the popularity of camping is certainly on the up.

Perhaps, this is because the freedom to travel the road is very much ‘on brand’ with the average avocado-munching, penniless millennial who would rather invest in an experience than material goods. Or, perhaps it’s simply because us Brits have always loved a good bargain! Either way, here are my top reasons for taking on the camper this year:

UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle BlogBirkenstocks c/o Footway

1. Access To Nature

Britain has some famously beautiful countryside whether it’s the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, the craggy tops of the Scottish Highlands or the stunning coastline of Cornwall – what better way to access it than on your own four wheels and agenda. If its remoteness you seek, then a campervan gives you the freedom to move away from the tourist train that depends on hostels and hotels, and find some of the true treasures all of your own.

2. Freedom to Move

Though Britain has arguably got some of the most beautiful countryside around, it does have one problem… the weather. British summers are famously unpredictable, and the last thing you want to do is be stuck in a rainy resort for your summer break. This is where the camper comes into its own – you are not rooted to your accommodation. If the resort or the weather doesn’t suit you, move on to sunnier climes. Weather aside, the freedom to make your own way, stop when you want and move when you don’t is fantastically liberating.

You’re also not burdened or restricted by carrying heavy bags around with you all the time 👇

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3. Your money goes further

If freedom and the open road are not enough to tempt you away from your hotel, perhaps the low price of a camper trip will. Whether you own your own camper or rent one for a one off trip, campers are almost always the best value option – especially when you factor in that you have covered transport and accommodation in one fell swoop.

4. Food and Comfort On The Road

This final point ties nicely in with my last one, if you carry everything with you including your kitchen, you can save a ton of money by avoiding eating out. If you are doing long distance travel this can be far better for your health too. After all, if you have your own food source, you do not need to rely on fast food chains and convenience stores that dominant roadside services as much (though I won’t judge you for the occasional roadside chippy). Lastly, rather than all squishing into a car or a Ryanair flight, camper travel gives you space to relax on the road and even take a nap if necessary (though hopefully not whilst actually driving).

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Where to start your adventure?

So with the trend and the reasoning established one question remains, where are the top spots favoured by staycationers this year? If you are thinking of joining the trend, here are my top 5 recommendations for UK travel:


Devon

As one of the largest counties in England, Devon has a lot to offer someone with the freedom and ability to explore it. If you have access to a campervan you could spend days traversing the country and still find things beautiful spots that will make you want to instantly pull over. Crossing the Dartmoor you can come across remote regions like Bellever forest or even encounter a herd of wild ponies. If you are a surf seeker you will not be disappointed either, with the (almost laughable quaint sounding) beaches of Bigbury-on-Sea, Westward Ho! and Saunton Sands all firm favourites with borders and sun bathers alike!

Cornwall

An immovable favourite with British holiday makers, Cornwall’s spectacular coast, quaint villages and wild moors have attracted visitors for centuries, inspiring many a ripping yarn (if you’re a Poldark or Daphne Du Maurier fan you will know what I mean). Camper travel in Cornwall is not only achievable, it’s actually desirable as the peninsular remains surprisingly difficult to access by public transport and accommodation can be some of the most expensive in Britain in peak times. Read about our here trips here.

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The Cotswolds

If you fancy something more relaxed than the ragged extremes of the Cornish moors, Lake District or Scottish Highlands, why not try the creamy stoned villages and rolling hills of the Cotswolds – the epitome of gentle English countryside. The accessibility of this area from London means that it’s often crammed in the weekends thorough summer with city dwellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle (and inadvertently creating a new one in their mass exodus). Exploring the area by camper will allow you to get off the usual tourist trails and discover hidden delights like Great Tew, The Slaughters (not as grim as it sounds) and the Rollright Stones.

Scottish Highlands

Wild, untamed and hauntingly beautiful the Scottish Highlands attract many visitors from Britain and further afield every year. The sheer remoteness of the highlands and islands makes travel without a car almost impossible and therefore travel with a camper absolutely ideal. My advice is to take your time and explore some of the lesser known destinations – I can assure you Scotland has plenty more castles than just Eilean Donan! Venture west on the ferry and explore some of the best beaches in Britain or aim high and conquer the Cairngorms. You’ll find it’s not for nothing that Scotland has been voted the most beautiful country in the world last year.

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The Lake District

I have often thought that the Lake District is a slightly misleading title for the area. Yes, there are plenty of lakes, but far more noticeable than that are the stunning mountains that rise up from nowhere and then drop dramatically into huge pools of water – in a way that you do not tend to outside the Scottish Highlands.

It is certainly a well-appreciated geographical treasure, with its famous dales immortalised in the writings of William Wordsworth and preserved by the will of Beatrix Potter (she left all her land there to the National Trust, thus preserving it for the enjoyment of future generations like yourselves). Exploring the area by camper will allow you to access the remoter dales and explore the area on your own terms away from the expensive accommodation in walking hotspots like Keswick, Kendall and Glenridding.


Though it’s easy to see the jest in Brexit preventing Britons from going abroad, the point of this article is a serious one. It’s easy to hanker after the beaches of Mediterranean or cities of Europe, without appreciating the beauty that sits on your own doorstep. So if you are feeling a bit financially pinched this year, be grateful that you’re staying at home. By embracing the open road and making your own way, you just might have one of your most memorable holidays to date.

June 15, 2018|Van Life|
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Shortlisted Best UK Lifestyle Blog – Myprotein™ Fitness Awards 2017 🌺🥥

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog written by me, Sam Charles! Ranked as Up and Coming on Bloglovin’, Strawberry Squeeze publishes content from health and beauty to travel and adventure.

I aim to updated the blog at least once a week (usually much more often!) with guides, inspiration and reviews. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with all my posts 💕

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog but what exactly does that mean? Mediakix defines a lifestyle blog as “digital content representation of its author’s everyday life and interests”. This is perfect for fickle little me, that changes what they’re doing every 5 minutes.

Whilst my career, my fiancée and my home is consistent, my hobbies and interest are all over the place. Life is too short and I want to experience EVERYTHING. One weekend I’ll be climbing a mountain, another I’ll be surfing, then the next week I’ll be watching learning how to create macrame wall hangings.

I always wonder how successful I could make the blog if it was in a niche with a focus but alas, it just wouldn’t be me.

Do you run a UK lifestyle or fitness blog, and want to contribute to my Strawberry Squeeze? If so, I want to hear from you!🍓hello@strawberrysqueeze.co.uk

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