What is the Trading Online Voucher?

Welcome to my short guide to the Trading Online Voucher. This is a local government grant initiative to help small businesses acquire the ability to sell their goods and services online.

The amount the Local Enterprise Office, who administer the scheme, contribute to this grant has increased to 90% under Covid-19 business lockdown. So it’s something seriously worth considering if you have goods or services you can sell online, or if in light of Covid-19 restrictions, moving your business online looks like a worthwhile option.

Either way, I can help you achieve this! Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Contact Me COVID-19

– Local Enterprise Office –
TRADING ONLINE VOUCHER

– WHAT –
IS IT FOR

The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Trading Online Voucher is a grant of up to €2,500 for creating or modifying a website with an e-commerce facility. In other words a shopping cart, or similar facility for selling goods, products or services. The LEO have recently increased their contribution to 90% of the Trading Online Voucher value, so you only need to find 10% of the cost.

– WHO –
CAN APPLY

Any small business can apply, as long as you have up to 10 employees, and have been trading for at least 6 months. You can only use the voucher to purchase services for an e-commerce website, in other words a website that is selling something. If you don’t have goods or services to sell online, your business won’t be eligible. The good news is that it’s a grant so you don’t have to pay the money back!

– HOW –
TO APPLY

A few other criteria apply (as detailed on the LEO website), so if it sounds like you are  eligible, you can apply for the Trading Online Voucher via your Local Enterprise Office. They will be able to give you more information on how the scheme works. In addition, you will need to get 3 quotes for the work required. I can help you with this!
Just drop me a line for a quote. Apply Now

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What

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Who

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How

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How to Create Instagram Highlights

Why Create Instagram Highlights?

No business can underestimate how powerful a tool Instagram is. It has become a top social media contender for connecting with customers and communicate key messages.

An instantly visual social media platform, Instagram’s Story feature is a popular place to be creative with your content. For example, you can post an image with stickers and gifs, communicate your favourite things, conduct a Q&A or a poll,  count down to an event, or add a 15 second video.

These are all ways in which your customers can see the ‘real you’, and you can add a personal touch to your business. It’s also an important way for customers to choose you over your competitors. They will feel they can relate to you and engage with your brand.

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A limitation to your Instagram Stories is that content is only available to view for 24 hours. So how do you make your super looking Story content available for your customers to view permanently?

You add them to your Highlights. Those little round circles on your profile page, sandwiched between your bio and your newsfeed posts, under the title Story Highlights.

As the title says, it’s a place to keep your favourite stories on your profile (this text is only visible only if you are yet to add your first Highlight).

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How to Create Highlights

So, how do you make Story Highlights? Well firstly, in order to add an image or 15 second video to a Highlight, it must have appeared in your Instagram Story first. You won’t be able to add content to your Highlight from your Instagram feed or your camera roll. Nor can you share other people’s posts directly to your Highlight.

You can add content to a Highlight in two ways:

1. By clicking on the plus button inside the Highlight circle when on your profile page (get to this by clicking on the circle with your profile picture on the far right hand icon at the bottom of your screen)

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2. By going existing content in your Story and then selecting the round Highlight icon at the bottom of the screen.

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Adding a Highlight Title

Don’t forget to add a title to your Highlight – the shorter the better. The title limit is up to 15 characters. Your title will dot out after 11 characters, so keep it to a single word if possible or a couple of short ones.

You will be able to add your title in the process of creating your Highlight. Once you’ve clicked on the plus symbol to create a new Highlight, and added your content from your Story library, you will be given the option to add your title and edit your cover image. Enter the Highlight title at the grey ‘Highlights’ prompt.

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You can also edit the Highlight cover image here. Tap on Edit Cover, and you can either choose an alternative image from those you have selected to feature in your Highlight. Or select a completely new image from your phone’s photo gallery.

You can also create custom covers for your Highlights.

Creating Custom Highlight Covers

Creating custom cover images for your Highlights is a good way of asserting your branding or colour palette on your Instagram page. It can also make your row of Highlights look neat and professional.

Your custom cover can be something as simple as your logo, or a design created around your brand colours and image.

Here are some examples of brands who have used custom Highlight covers:

How to Create Highlight Covers

There are various ways you can create Highlight cover images. Probably the easiest is to use an App which will provide templates and image sizes for you.

The one I recommend is Canva Stories – an App for creating Instagram Stories that contains a function to create Highlight Covers. You can download this free from your App Store.

Once you’ve downloaded the App, scroll down to the Highlight Cover section and tap on the various templates to get started. There are lots to choose from.

You can also do a search on ‘Instagram Highlight Cover’ in the desktop version of Canva, and you’ll get the same thing.

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What to Highlight

You can create a Highlight from just about anything, but content that lends itself to a Highlight would be something like an event, a product launch, or a new product range. Try and go for several images as opposed to just one. Ideally it should be a story that users can tap through to get an idea of your vision, product or service.

Best of luck, I hope this helps you with your Instagram Stories, and as always leave a comment or message me if you have any questions.

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Working from Home

For many of us, working from home has become the norm over the past few weeks in light of lockdowns and social distancing. I’ve worked partly from home for nearly twenty years, but if working from home is something you’re still getting used to, there are a few things you can do to make life easier.

2

Create a Space

Designate space to your work area. A spare room with a table for your laptop and plenty of plugs. If, like me, your spare room is only big enough for the bed, your dining room table will have to do. Make sure this surface area can be left undisturbed, and that it is in a quiet part of your house. If you can get out to the shops and can afford it, a vase of fresh flowers makes a huge difference and nice to look at when you’re mulling something over.

3

Remove Distractions & Temptations

If, like me, you’re easily distracted (and not expecting any work calls), put your phone on silent and mute application notifications. The quickest way to do this is to switch your phone to Airplane Mode. Quit any other applications on your laptop that may eat your attention, such as email notifications or WhatsApp messages if you have the application loaded onto your desktop.

4

Play Some Music

I find it easier to concentrate if I’m listening to relaxing music. Applications like Spotify or Google Play are great to have on in the background. A bluetooth speaker makes for better sound quality than directly from a laptop or phone (you can buy these online for as little as €15).

5

Keep in Touch

Deep into isolation, it’s good to keep in touch with friends and co-workers. An excellent, easy to use, application for this is Zoom (40 minute limit call duration on the free version) or WhatsApp which is a good alternative to Zoom, but limited to four people on a group call at any one time (call one person and then invite the others via the plus icon on the top right hand side of your phone screen). Although distracting, WhatsApp is a great way to message people as a group, and can be easily downloaded and used from your laptop as opposed to on your phone.

9

Plan Your Day

Working from home can mean your working day floats in and out. For your own sanity and productivity, set regular hours for yourself that include start and end times. It’s important to be able to switch off when you’re not working. If you have a great idea or need to remember something, have a pen and paper close by so that you don’t need to open up your laptop (and become distracted by a work email or message).

6

Get Dressed!

Tempting as it may be to sit in your pyjamas all day – especially if you don’t have any video calls scheduled – the sense of laziness can affect your mood. Getting dressed and washed tells your brain you’re ready for business (and anyone else who might need your attention).

8

Take Breaks

Working from home, by yourself, you may forget to take breaks. Without the distraction of colleagues and meetings, you may enjoy the sudden burst of productivity from working uninterrupted. However, without regular breaks this productivity can slow.

Equally as important is taking regular exercise. As my gym is closed, I’m running or walking. If the weather is bad there are tons of free exercise videos on YouTube. My favourites are the glute burning ones from Bailey Brown.

Try to eat well and regularly. The beauty of working from home is that you can stick your dinner in the oven and carry on working. By the time you’re done, you can eat!

10

Don’t be Hard on Yourself

Remember we are living in exceptional times. You can’t be productive and brilliant every day, and it is perfectly understandable to feel anxious or worried. Taking breaks, eating well, talking to someone and exercising are all great ways to be good to yourself. If things really get on  top of you, there is always someone ready to listen at Samaritans.

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Working from home, being isolated from friends and co-workers, takes some getting used to. Don’t be hard on yourself. Whatever you manage to do, you are making a contribution for all of us.

How to Create a Positive Online Response to Corona

Creating a Positive Response

How do you create a positive response to the Corona virus on social media? Everyone is finding it tough at the moment – to do business, to lead a normal life, to remain calm and look to the future. Below I’ve set out some tips for responding to the Corona crisis online that I hope will help you keep in touch with your followers and reconnect with them when the crisis passes.

Stay at Home! Stay Safe! It has never been easier…

 

  • Events and official behaviour guidelines are changing rapidly (sometimes several times a day) so stick to creating posts in real time, avoid scheduling on social media and concentrate on adding to your Story.
  • Your followers may know of someone who is affected by Covid-19, so keep your posts positive and upbeat – without being flippant.
  • Support and encourage your followers to remember the key official messages: stay at home, maintain social distance if outside, wash your hands.
  • Now is not the time for promotion! Don’t post anything sales or marketing oriented, as this will be seen by your followers as insensitive in a time of crisis.
  • Keep followers updated of any changes in your business practices or trading hours.
  • If you post directly about the virus make sure it comes from trusted sources (official national health authority – i.e. HSE or NHS, World Heath Organisation, or official government website – i.e. www.gov.ie or www.gov.uk, etc.)
  • Pinterest is a great source for positive quotes and graphics related to the key message of ’Stay Safe’ or ’Stay Home’ that you can repost with your own positive message, or recreate something similar on Canva.
  • Posting once a week is enough to keep in touch with your customers at this uncertain time, without inundating their feed with what could be taken as covert marketing in a times of crisis.
  • Post some images or information on how you are coping as a business, or personally – at home and with family if you feel comfortable posting from your private space, this is a great way of engaging with your followers at a level they can relate to, the key thing to remember here is connection.
  • Be responsive – check your feeds regularly, acknowledge comments from followers and answer messages promptly.
  • Share messages and initiatives from your followers and community to stay in the local loop.
  • Give out some C’s! Show you Care, Create awareness, show how you are Coping, remain Calm, Connect.

I hope these points for responding to the Corona Crisis online help. Let me know if you have any yourselves.