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New website and social media

I'm planning to redo my website and get into social media. What do you think of my ideas?

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From Peter Saxton

After looking at all the offerings I have made a decision on my marketing:

Website software - NetObjects Fusion £85

Email - G-Lock EasyMail7 £130

Blogging - Coffee Cup Flash Blogger £25

Electronic signatures - Adobe Sign £115 per year

Social media - Hootsuite £96 per year

I pay about £1,000 per year for internet, telephone, website hosting and domain names.

I pay about £3,000 per year for Digita software.

I'm quite happy with the above. The social media software is quite cheap and it enables me to stay in control. People will realise that what I send out is all my own work - for good or bad - paying for newsletters and websites doesn't give any value because it's obvious it's got very little to do with the individual.

Has anybody got any ideas that may make me change my mind?

Replies (27)

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By tom123
04th Jan 2017 20:39

Hi Peter,

I agree with your approach of making things personal - that's got to be worth something.

I know that Glennzy re-did his own website, and it appears to be getting some good results.

The ability to schedule messages is key - so they don't get lost in all the noise - hence hootsuite sounds good.

My wife runs a small design business - so we are doing similar things with her marketing etc.

Good luck,

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By petersaxton
04th Jan 2017 20:52

Thanks
It makes me cringe when I see those flashy websites. Especially when you know that the people who own them barely know a debit from a credit.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
04th Jan 2017 21:18

Hi Peter

That will take up a huge amount of your time. I chose to outsource all of this and I'm glad I did.

I use Your Firm Online for my website:

https://www.yourfirmonline.co.uk/

Pretty happy with the result. Costs £99 plus vat per month, they will do any updates (text content, links) that you ask for usually same day, no extra cost.

They also send out monthly newsletters to clients/contacts and have up to date factsheets/budget reports etc added on the website.

I use a local marketing company for Twitter and Facebook - cost about £80 plus vat per month. I spent some time with them to help get the tone of the messages right.

Thinking in terms of cost/clients - it only takes 2 average size new clients to cover the cost for the whole year.

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By Harrison88
04th Jan 2017 22:09

Website software - NetObjects Fusion £85 - Try Wordpress for the blog and site. There are a lot of free templates out there. It's free.

Email - G-Lock EasyMail7 £130 - You won't beat Google Apps?Domains

Blogging - Coffee Cup Flash Blogger £25 WordPress is free or there are a range of other free software easy to use. Any decent website hoster will have scripts which does the hard installation work for you

Electronic signatures - Adobe Sign £115 per year

Social media - Hootsuite £96 per year - why not do it manually?

I pay about £1,000 per year for internet, telephone, website hosting and domain names. - Website hosting shouldn't cost more than £5 per month with someone reputable like Vidahost

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By Glenn Martin
04th Jan 2017 22:11

Hi Peter.

I just bought a Wordpress theme and worked with my pal who is a bit more tech savvy than me to put website together. It looks ok but lacks content and I am working on an updated version with a bit more to it. Also you need to get it to work on mobiles and make contact me button easy to use.

I don't have any built in news feeds or calculators on it, as question how much they are used against the cost.

I did pay a few quid to get some basic SEO which has got me top of google for my home town for accountant and first page for tax advisor in Durham.

That's worth further investment IMO.

I currently get 1 referral per week from website, but feel I have barely scratched the service with this.

I went on social media course and use hootsuite to bring it together to point all activity towards website.

It's a bit hit and miss for me I may well outsource the social media side this year. My worry is that if outsourced they may just do the same for half a dozen accountants so not much use.

Looking at maybe buying in newsletters that Kent mentions now that data base is expanding.

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By Tickers
04th Jan 2017 23:34

How does Adobe sign tie in with the marketing?

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Replying to Tickers:
By petersaxton
05th Jan 2017 08:57

I mentioned it just because I was going to have a page on the website for document exchange.

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By petersaxton
05th Jan 2017 08:00

Thank you for the comments.

I realise that some things could take a lot of time but that is why I like the idea of Hootsuite. I could spend a day writing content for the next month and let it do the posting.

“I don't have any built in news feeds or calculators on it, as question how much they are used against the cost.”

I think the theory is that if it’s on your website you must know it.

“I pay about £1,000 per year for internet, telephone, website hosting and domain names. - Website hosting shouldn't cost more than £5 per month with someone reputable like Vidahost”

Most of that expense is for internet access and telephone. Website hosting and domain names is very little. I just included it for completeness.

“Social media - Hootsuite £96 per year - why not do it manually?”

Easy to schedule posts.

“Email - G-Lock EasyMail7 £130 - You won't beat Google Apps?”

I like how I can link directly to Digita Data Mining Tool. I run a report again and the Contact Group automatically updates.

“That will take up a huge amount of your time. I chose to outsource all of this and I'm glad I did.
I use Your Firm Online for my website:
https://www.yourfirmonline.co.uk/
Pretty happy with the result. Costs £99 plus vat per month, they will do any updates (text content, links) that you ask for usually same day, no extra cost.
They also send out monthly newsletters to clients/contacts and have up to date factsheets/budget reports etc added on the website.
I use a local marketing company for Twitter and Facebook - cost about £80 plus vat per month. I spent some time with them to help get the tone of the messages right.”

Your Firm Online looks interesting. I can give my plan a go for a year and see how I get on. I can always pay for things I can’t find the time to do or can’t do well after that.

I do like a more homely feel to anything than the corporate look and feel of so much marketing.

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By petersaxton
05th Jan 2017 08:30

Glennzy
I have just looked at your website. I like the look although it is still too corporate for me. What shocked me was the prices. I know that some people charge a lot more than me but I'm reasonably happy with my prices. I will charge less than £1,000 for a low maintenance limited company but I can be charging £1,500 to £2,000 when there's a bit of work involved. I will only charge £200 or £300 for a self employed tax return if they are trained to give me the information that makes it easy for me. I was imagining how little I would be able to charge if I lived in Hull. Do you think there's a lot of price competition where you are?

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Replying to petersaxton:
By Glenn Martin
05th Jan 2017 09:23

In way were shocked Peter around prices.

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Replying to Glennzy:
By petersaxton
05th Jan 2017 10:30

Your prices are very cheap.

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Replying to petersaxton:
By Glenn Martin
05th Jan 2017 10:47

My prices achieved are probably same as yours Peter.

Limited Co is from £900 minimum - average is around £2000.
Contractor - from £1000 per year.

CIS contractor - £300

Looking to get fees up this year.

Xero based fee packages are on par with local firms.

I will take on board your comments though and look to review the market in greater detail over next few months.

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By cheekychappy
05th Jan 2017 08:31

Unless you have significant experience in web design, your website will turn out [***] if you do it by yourself.

You may think it looks alright, you may even think it looks good. The reality is, it will be [***]. You will have wasted lots and lots of time creating [***].

The market for website designers is massively overcrowded. A decent web designer can be picked up for a very reasonable sum. They will do a much better job than you will ever be able to do.

Get a good designer to do the build. You can manage it yourself after if you want to.

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Replying to cheekychappy:
By petersaxton
05th Jan 2017 08:56

Even if I make a mess of it I will be getting the content together to give an idea of what I want to a website designer.

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By andybailey
05th Jan 2017 09:04

I see time and time again on here how clients have tried to do things themselves and made a mess then come to an accountant to sort it out...

It's the same for accountants! I'm not suggesting you'll make a mess Peter and you may be able to do it cheaper yourself, but it will not be as good as engaging an expert. Do the bits you can reasonably manage to a good level yourself and get outside help for the rest. And don't forget the opportunity cost- whilst you're building your website and managing social media you're not doing chargeable work...which is more valuable to your firm?

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By Harrison88
05th Jan 2017 09:30

At the same time though, I think companies like My Firm Online take advantage of the little experience accountants have and then people think it is the norm to be charged such a high price. If you think the content is worth it, fair enough, but you could invest five months of that fee into a website designer and they will pull something more permanent for you.

You can even browse websites like themeforest and get a designer to customise it for you at a heavily reduced rate. Wordpress even comes with a back-end WYSIWYG editor like Word so you can easily see the output.

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Replying to Harrison88:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
05th Jan 2017 09:39

@Harrisson88 - £99 plus vat for me is money well spent. The real value for me is the newsletters sent to clients and having up to date tax information on the website.

@Glennzy - some of those prices do look low, shouldn't it say 'from £xx a month'. I know when we've compared fees we're actually not that far apart.

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Replying to Kent accountant:
By Glenn Martin
05th Jan 2017 10:05

Yes the prices are very much from (and will be tweeked upwards with next revision, when I was talking with others (from South) at the Accountex get together they were suprised that we get similar fees to them up North.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
05th Jan 2017 09:34

Peter - I built my original website myself and did the SEO with some advice from a client. I spent well over 100 hours doing this, some of the time spent was rewarding, most of it was frustrating and a waste of my time.

Lets assume my average hourly rate is £80, that is a cost of over £8,000 (over a 3 year period).

Why not speak to a local marketing firm (web design, copywriting, SEO) to come up with the layout/format and you provide the basic content for them to work with. They then optimise your site and also do your social media.

This would cost far less than £8,000 plus you could spend the time saved converting the new leads you get and doing the work.

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Replying to Kent accountant:
By petersaxton
05th Jan 2017 10:34

I will come up with the content on NetObjects Fusion. I like how easy it is to plan out the website. Once I've come up with my ideas I may well get a designer in to do it properly. I don't see me ever getting in somebody to do my social media posts because I think I want something more personal. My ideas are just the broad plan. I want to be flexible about things going forward. I guess I will have to be very flexible anyway!

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
05th Jan 2017 09:34

@cheeky - looks like you're the 'go to expert' for SEO when it comes to '[***]'.

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Replying to Kent accountant:
By cheekychappy
05th Jan 2017 09:41

ratemypoo.com already beat me to it.

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By Tim Charles
06th Jan 2017 11:46

I can recommend rocket spark for building your own website. https://www.rocketspark.com/uk/
They also look atfter the on-going secruity which is really important.
My Wordpress website got hacked and thousands of emails were sent from my domain name. I updated the Wordpress version regularly, but it was some of the pluggins I had that had not been updated that made my website venerable to attack.
Definetly agree you should do your own newsletters, so many accountants have signed up to the same newsletter service, which I think is a big turnoff for clients when they're getting info that's not relevant.

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By petersaxton
06th Jan 2017 11:55

"I can recommend rocket spark for building your own website. https://www.rocketspark.com/uk/
They also look atfter the on-going secruity which is really important."
Thanks, I'll have a look at them properly after January.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
06th Jan 2017 12:16

I got a journalist mate to write the text for my website - from my input, obviously.

£125 - worth every penny.

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Freddie
By Slim Freddie
06th Jan 2017 14:57

I use hootesuite and it's fantastic for managing all my social media channels. For client newsletter emails I use mailchimp as it's free for me. I used to spend a good bit of money on PPC and someone to manage campaigns but after looking at the analysis that ROI wasn't worth it. Business gmail then for emails which allows us then to store files on Google drive which is super too.

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Neophyte
By Neophyte
02nd Mar 2017 18:37

Hi Peter - looking at doing a similar appraisal soon. But I'm very tight and will only pay for quality software and services.

Website: We did our own website using Joomla and an off the shelf template. I then built in a client portal and a webchat using add-ons. It's all very easy to do if you are tech literate and I would never dream of paying some of the costs that are quoted by web designers. Most clients comment that our website is impressive and sets us apart from the competition.

Social Media - Hootsuite is great. I'd use the free version first as I'm not sure you would need any of the paid for functionality.

Emails - Mailchimp is fantastic. Again the free version is fine at the beginning.

Blogging - Joomla has built in functionality and free add-ons can further enhance this.

We pay around £500 per annum for fibre broadband, VOIP phones, hosting and domains.

We use Digita currently, but may look at other options.

Also on our list this year is CRM, web analytics for follow-ups, our own app, robotics to automate tasks etc.

We might start cross-selling some of these services to clients, as most startups we see want an accountant, website and social media management etc.

A one stop shop with a fixed fee might prove attractive and help retention.

Ambitious - we will see....

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