Need a Leigh copywriter, Wigan Council??

Shout-out to @80sNostalgia on Twitter for spotting this one - clearly my reputation as a Leigh copywriter and proofreader hasn't reached as far as Wigan Council, or no doubt they'd have hired me to edit their latest road markings!

Atherton is hardly miles away - it's within walking distance of my house, especially if you catch the wrong night bus and find yourself abandoned there - but with the road now clearly marked 'Liegh' there's not much feeling of neighbourly respect...

It's not even the best way to get to Leigh (or 'Liegh') as, unless you want to bypass the town completely and come into it from the far side, you're better off taking the undirected left turn on to - yup - Leigh Road.

Leaving Atherton in the direction of Wigan to get to Leigh is a case of literally going round the houses.

In case any proof were needed, Google Maps clearly shows the old road markings as of May 2015, complete with the correct spelling of Leigh!

C'mon Wigan Council, if you need a Leigh copywriter to proofread five-letter words for you, I'm right here...


Thanks to @leythdave we now know 'Liegh' has been scrubbed from the surface of the street and replaced with the correct 'Leigh' spelling, hurrah!

Update WordPress to Mobile-Friendly

If you have been affected by Google's recent 'mobile-friendly' algorithm update, AKA Mobilegeddon, I can help update your WordPress site to be mobile-friendly, using official WordPress plugins - no dodgy third-party add-ons or extensive website redesigns.

If your website is powered by WordPress (and I'm talking about using WordPress on your own website or URL, not having a blog hosted on then it should be possible to make it mobile-friendly without needing a huge amount of work to your existing site template.

As of late April 2015, Google announced an algorithm update which means, if your website is not 'mobile-friendly' according to Google's definition, it will be penalised in the search results for searches conducted via a mobile device.

(It's important to be clear about this - only searches carried out on a mobile device will be affected, but in almost all cases it's still worth making sure your site is viewed as mobile-friendly by Google.)

Unless your website has a responsive design or a specific mobile template, it's very likely that it will fail the test - but simply updating it to be mobile-friendly can give you an edge over your competition in mobile search results for this very reason.

As I said above, there should be no need for extensive redesign work - I am by no means a professional web designer, but I can make your WordPress site mobile-friendly all the same, from an SEO perspective.

How do I do this?

I can install an official WordPress plug-in which will allow you to switch on a mobile-friendly site template just by ticking a box in your settings page.

This is the fastest and easiest way to get a non-mobile-friendly WordPress site to be mobile-friendly, and even if you plan to get a fully responsive website designed later, it's still a quick way to make sure you don't lose any more of your SEO value than you already have done.

In order to install and activate the plugin, I'll need admin access to your WordPress installation; many of my clients already give me a login so I can upload SEO content directly to their site, so there's no need to feel awkward about it, I know my way around WordPress and what's safe to touch.

To install the plugin I may need to update your WordPress installation, but this is very quickly and easily done just by clicking the prompt at the top of your admin screen.

What will it do?

Google look for a few specific things that could make your website difficult to view on a mobile device - links too close together, text too small, and so on.

Activating a mobile-friendly template means your website will detect visits from mobile devices, and show those visitors a stripped-down version of your site.

It will still include navigation to all of the main pages of your site, your main homepage content, and a link to view the full desktop version of your site too, so you're not making it impossible for people to find any of your pages - in fact, you're making it much easier for them to read the information on a small screen.

The mobile-friendly template is a standard WordPress one and is typical of most mobile sites of this kind; I'm not offering a web design service here and I won't be able to edit the template, but as a low-cost option or as a stop-gap until your fully responsive website template is ready, this is a fast and cheap method.

(To put it into some context, the method I'm offering here is the approach I have used on my own WordPress sites, and I'm perfectly happy with the results.)

How much will it cost?

I'm offering to:
  • update your WordPress installation (if required)
  • install the relevant plugin
  • activate the mobile-friendly template
  • confirm that your site is mobile-friendly
I can provide you with before and after results from Google's own mobile-friendly testing tool to show that the process has been successful, and show you how Google now sees your site on mobile devices.

Where we encounter any problems - unusual server configurations that prevent the plugin from working - I can offer a certain amount of troubleshooting to try to get it to activate correctly (if you've ever done anything like this with WordPress before, you'll know it can take a little bit of persuading sometimes) and if it's clear that it won't work for any reason, obviously I won't charge for the work done or the time taken.

If you have a standalone WordPress site and you need it to be mobile-friendly, this is the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to achieve that - if all goes well, the whole process can be completed in a matter of minutes, although I'm allowing extra time in each case for before and after testing, troubleshooting and any other delays.

For everything I'm charging a flat fee of £100 - by comparison, I've heard of some website owners being quoted over £1,300 for a responsive site template, so this is very much a cheaper option! And if I can't successfully complete the update on your site for any reason, there's no charge, so hopefully no risk.


All enquiries are welcome, doesn't matter if you're a company, a sole trader, a sponsored blogger etc, the Mobilegeddon algorithm update potentially affects everybody so now is the time to act and make sure your site is mobile-friendly.

I simply need administrator access to your WordPress dashboard, and you should be aware that:
  • any updates are carried out at your own risk, I will follow the normal update process as outlined above, but if anything goes wrong for reasons outside of my control, I'm not promising limitless resources to put it right!
  • this is a one-time procedure to make your WordPress site mobile-friendly, I'm not offering ongoing tech support or any future updates if Google's algorithms change again, or a bespoke mobile site template.
That being said, I genuinely believe this is the easiest and best option for small businesses etc who just need to quickly make WordPress mobile-friendly to avoid losing out on any SEO value you've built up over the years.


Could there be a world for me
beyond the rainbow's arch?
Could there be a life for me
beyond the soldier's march?
The men who fell, I knew them well;
I've walked where they have lain.
Faces past; I saw them last,
saw as they were slain.

Gone is youth, replaced by truth;
the terrors of this Earth.
Innocence is no defence;
this is no time for mirth.
And so I march toward the arch,
toward the golden glow.
When this life ends, perhaps my friends
will take me in their tow.

Will you, my friend, be at the end?
Perhaps I'll never know.

2014: Reflections on a terrible year

If you're among my closest friends, you may have noticed I've been pretty stressed this year. HSBC can take the blame for most of that - when, in January, they offered me a mortgage unprompted over the counter, and then told me being self-employed wouldn't be a problem, I stupidly thought I might end up with a mortgage from them.

Ten months later and with the help of the excellent Contractor Financials, I finally managed to buy my first house, too late to get properly moved in before Christmas, with the result that I've spent the past six weeks basically living on a bed and no other furniture.

I'm not totally miserable, by any means - I'm happy to have a place of my own and all that, it's just unfortunate that it took at least six months longer than it should have done, and all the time spent chasing the bank(s) for a decision left me with a backlog of work that I still haven't quite caught up on (sorry, clients).

So that brings me to 2015 and my promises to myself and to my clients for the new year.

Regular clients get priority - no more delaying regular delivery of work in order to fit in short-notice one-off orders.

No more huge, repetitive orders that eat into my very soul. If more than about 25-30 pages are needed with basically the same long-tail keyword phrase, I'm not going to do it anymore, it physically hurts me every time I take something on like that.

And I think basically, those two things should get me back to working at my best. It's been a tough few months but I'm already making amends, and now I have my new place (and will finally get the last of the furniture I need in January) I'm in a much better position for getting the work done.

Small businesses in particular, I want to help you - whatever your budget is, I'm sure I can help you use it in a way that will have real results.

Get in touch and let's work together to make 2015 a much better year for all concerned.

Poundland's NYE prize draw might be the best ever

There's nothing quite like a good competition - and Poundland's newly launched social media prize draw is undoubtedly a fine example of how a great prize doesn't have to eat into your business's bottom line.

It's a simple enough retweet-based prize draw:

...and if you follow the link to the Terms & Conditions, you can see exactly what's in the hamper. It's brilliant.
  • one pack of 30 half pint plastic tumblers
  • one pack of 20 large tumblers
  • one 50g colour hair spray
  • one pack of 8 plastic cocktail glasses
  • one pack of 80 white napkins
  • one pack of 30 white paper party plates
  • one pack of 18 silver paper party plates
  • one pack of 250 straws
  • one pack of 40 colourful disposable shot glasses
  • one pack of 40 clear disposable shot glasses
  • one inflatable guitar
  • one inflatable microphone
  • one pack of 50 balloons
  • one pack of 18 silver plastic cutlery set
  • one pack of 80 white disposable cutlery set
  • 6 packs of 100 cocktail sticks
  • one curly wig
  • one straight wig
I'm not too sure who would need 600 cocktail sticks, but I suppose it depends how many pickled onions you plan to put on sticks.

The thing is, assuming all of these are Poundland products, that's a total prize value of £23. At retail price, not cost price.

I'm not dissing the competition at all, I've retweeted and followed Poundland and I'll be delighted if I win - I just think it's a genius prize.

The tweet cost them nothing (well, assuming they didn't hire a social media exec especially for this) and the prize can't have cost much more than £10 max at cost price.

As I write this - less than 15 minutes after they tweeted it - it's been RT'd 50 times and favorited by 8 people too, and at least some of those (including me) will have followed Poundland on Twitter as a result of the tweet.

No doubt the retweets and follows will continue to grow - how many would you need to make it worth £10 for a tweet?

Wish me luck, I really want those wigs.

Alyssa Smith: "We don't need to be Bill Gates"

If you follow me on Twitter, it's no secret that I'm a big fan of jewellery entrepreneur Alyssa Smith.

Admittedly her product range is aimed mainly at female customers, but I'm still holding out hope for a bespoke design as soon as I'm in a position to place an order!

In the meantime, it's been great to see Alyssa's public profile grow and grow, thanks in no small part to her endless and tireless efforts on Twitter, endorsements from celebs like Suzi Perry, and occasional appearances as the back end of a bus.

Now she's not only international on the web, she's also national on the TV, following an appearance on Channel 4 News.

My first impression as I watched this was that Alyssa had almost been put there as a target for the 'no' side of the debate - as though being a successful entrepreneur makes you the bad guy when so many others fail.

But in the end it turned out to be a fair and balanced discussion of the value of education even for those who go on to create a job or business of their own (like me!), the topics - like business finance - that are missing from university degrees when preparing people for self-employment, and the risks involved with trying to go into business on your own.

Like Channel 4 News, who chose Alyssa's quote as the title for this segment on their website, I especially loved the line "We don't need to be Bill Gates", which sums up my own approach to self-employment perfectly.

I'm not trying to be a billionaire, I just feel lucky that I get paid for doing something I really love doing, and I price my services accordingly - enough so that I can afford to pay my bills and live reasonably comfortably, but not so much that I'll be able to retire in 2015.

The fact is, if I'm not getting paid to write, I write other stuff for fun anyway, so I may as well have enough work to fill my day, hopefully without getting swamped.

Maybe that's one of the most important things in an entrepreneur - a genuine desire to work in their chosen profession, and to give it the effort it requires.

From what I've seen of Alyssa, she's definitely not lacking in effort, and it's great to see she's being rewarded for the blood, sweat and tears I know she's put into her business.

Visit Alyssa Smith's website here or follow her on Twitter.