Blogging is becoming much more important for both online and offline businesses. Many local businesses are having to get online to find new business and raise their profile, particularly now that competition is so fierce on the high street. I thought that it would be good to chat to someone who was promoting their own local business online, which is why I have lined up a special interview with Clair Trebes!
Clair runs her own site ‘ThisIsClairTrebes.com’, as well as managing the website and online profile of her family business ‘ThePrintCentreRomford.com’. She is an excellent writer (having written for us here) and self-confessed social media addict who enjoys helping people online.
Over to Clair…
Clair Trebes Interview
How Did You Get Started?
I’ve always had an interest in Social Media, it always fascinated me how the world could connect seamlessly at your fingertips. It was a change in the economy that forced me to start looking at “online” ways of connecting and communicating with people for my family business and very quickly I had success in finding new customers though this method (and changed a lot of people’s opinion around me about the “point” of Social Media)
I’ve only ever been good at writing, and so many people had told me for so long to make more effort with my writing on a more serious level, so I started using Facebook notes to write mini blogs for my family business profiles (little did I know at the time that I was actually doing “article marketing”)
That wasn’t enough for me though, Ian Bass is a very close person to my family and he is an Internet Marketer, and I had always wondered what one of those was …… Ian gave me a great opportunity to be mentored by his business partner Chris Farrell with their intense 6 week course “Chris Mentor Me” (with some of Chris’ students including Jo Barnes, Casey Zeman & Rosh Khan to name but a few) this was THE best decision I’ve ever made.
I had the Social Media bit down, but I wasn’t aware of how to sew it all together and really build an online business – there are a LOT of elements and without someone holding your hand through the process I can really see why so many people don’t get the end result they desire.
I have a LOT to thank Ian & Chris for, that’s for sure!
How Important Do You Think Blogging Is To Local Businesses?
All I can say here is this: If we didn’t take the action we did with building the online presence for our printing business, I doubt we would have survived. It is tough, for any small business (tangible or otherwise) People are so much more connected now via the internet if you don’t step up people won’t find you.
Having a company blog and social media presence allows customers to interact with you on a personal level, they buy into you and learn more about your business than just its’ name, logo and products.
I don’t believe it’s too late to start either, everything is very much still in its infancy and the future is VERY much online. To have longevity as a local business I really do believe you need to actively start building your name / reputation up online … and with the introduction of Google+ and Local Places you really can quite easily get your local business on the map so to speak!
How Did You Go About Getting Your Local Business Up and Running Online?
For a VERY long time our online presence REALLY let us down! My dad has owned his largest printing company for over 25 years now, and in around 2006 he brought out another smaller printing company that was actually a customer of his. Both websites were neglected for a long time.
Time was the biggest constraint, trying to keep people in their jobs was the priority, but in doing so we were losing out on potential online customers.
The building that my Dad’s factory in we gave a really distinct name too “The Print Centre” and our location is on a major road with a LOT of traffic, so we decided to get ourselves online by utilising that name for the website (as we knew people were searching it, and could be rightfully losing business that was ours)
I learned a lot about using WordPress for building websites, and it’s a GREAT CMS with very little actual web design skills involved (so any local business or start up could do exactly what I have done by using WordPress). Because we didn’t want to have a large outlay for this site we decided to use my skills to build this site and make it user friendly so people could order online.
Although it’s not a case of just building the website and away we go. Now we are spending time building the overall presence of it up online, through advertising, social media, SEO – it is a big commitment but it is very much an investment that we are already seeing positive results from.
What’s Your Typical Work Day Like?
No 2 days are the same really! That’s the great thing about having any online business to look after! I split my time from home and the office, but I prefer to be in the office as it gives me great structure to my day. If I worked from home all day, I believe that third party distractions might affect my own productivity levels, so I like the whole “getting up and going to work” scenario. Sometimes I may be out in meetings or training with various people … Today for example I have my dog here too so that’s another added “bonus” 😉
I have a lot of flexibility and throughout the day I work on all the responsibilities I have including my own business and the family. I tend to spend the mornings catching up on all things – Social Media, Reading, Emails, Website maintenance (ie adding more products, changing prices, adding advertising etc.) Then my afternoons I really focus on the writing side of things. I write one article a week for the company blog, so I really look for inspiration for that, and I try to write at least one article for my own website too (I’d like to write more believe me!!!) But there are only so many hours in a day! I also have a weekly newsletter to write too so its quite hard to do everything!
I tend to leave work around 4.30-5pm if I’ve done my 6am gym session (where I listen and watch stuff on my iPad work related whilst on the treadmill) then I will go home and about 7PM will spend an hour or 2 doing my own website maintenance if needed and connecting with those people who are in different time-zones that I deal with too!
Who/What Inspires You?
OK, lots of people inspire me … My Dad is number 1 – he’s extremely supportive and believes in everything I do.
Aside from him, Chris Farrell – because he really is one in a million and I know that first hand, I’ve never come across ANYONE who can teach like he can, and knowing he is 100% makes it so much better, it’s a minefield learning blogging and internet marketing, and if you want to learn it there is nobody I could / would recommend more than him.
Gary Vaynerchuk – One word for this man : WOW – maybe a little controversial in his “approach” but he fascinates me, I’ve never come across anyone who can convey a message like Gary can – he inspires me to be the best I can be!
Jo Barnes – She is Mrs Social Media, and knowing where she came from (the same ranks I am currently in with Chris Farrell) motivates me more than anything If I could have even 5% of the success of Jo’s business I’d be very happy and successful! Knowing it is a possibility is quite empowering and scary at the same time!
Aside from that, Life inspires me – knowing I have the power and thoughts to direct my life in the direction I want it to go is amazing!
What Motivates You?
Money doesn’t motivate me – it never has (I often worry about this, as I think it probably should!!!)
Making a difference motivates me, knowing I can help someone drives me forwards to always evolve and try harder. That is in all aspects of my life too – I believe I am on a big journey in my life and learning LOTS along the way, it’s a really liberating experience too.
Ultimately I want to be successful enough to look after my parents, who have always backed me on everything, I would love nothing more than to work hard enough and get the results that would mean my Dad doesn’t have to work 7 days a week and can spend more time with my Mum and they could enjoy their lives and retirement doing the things they love the most!
What Made You Want To Start Your Own Site?
Truth be told it just happened. I did the ‘Chris Mentor Me Course’ and as a result my curiosity for internet marketing took over. I couldn’t have done that course and then NOT started my own business, it would have been a big waste of the opportunity I’d been given.
I believed in the power of Social Media and the internet so this was exciting for me and because of that I wanted to share it with people.
Initially I wanted to blog about London and things people could do on a shoestring budget – places to eat, vouchers, etc. (it is still in my mindset actually) BUT a chat with my Dad made me come to the realisation that I had a LOT of skills, and practical understanding about Social Media, so whilst learning new skills (i.e. building a list, building a website) I should do it about something I already knew about …… And there you have it … ThisIsClairTrebes was born.
I always wanted to be a “brand” my surname is quite unique, and if people become synonymous with my name then its easier to stand out in a big market place of people searching for Social Media as Clair Trebes Online – which is what I hope people will eventually start searching for.
People often ask me about my association to my Family business and the future: I am a shareholder and its been around almost as long as I’ve been alive – it will always be a part of my working life – but as the future progresses forward perhaps the family business will develop in a different direction? Who knows J
What’s The Most Important Part Of Your Site?
The most important part of my site is ME! Every single aspect of that site is me, I do ALL the work, about 98% of the content is mine (aside from the odd guest writer)
I have NEVER (and will NEVER) claimed I am an expert or guru, I am a bit of a social media junkie who loves writing!
I am a regular person on a journey of learning who can document my success and knowledge to help people like me! I am really open about this too, my personality is shown throughout the site – I want people to be able to connect with me. I appreciate I am in a very fortunate position, but I am no different to anyone else so to be ME and interact on all of the website is so important to me.
What Makes You The Most Money?
I make money in a few different ways – affiliate marketing is a great way of earning and I do OK with making money through that. I believe there is a right way to do it (which is why I do OK from it!) Only affiliate products out that you have personally used and can endorse!
Its funny because I am getting a lot of affiliate requests from people about my eBook – “Easy Twitter Guide”, and a LOT of these people haven’t read it? How can you effectively promote and subsequently earn off a product you have no idea about?
My own products are other great sales avenue for me – my eBook “Easy Twitter Guide” still in its early days, but is making me money each day – which is really good.
Aside from that my other ways of making money are in writing for people (more “official” things other than articles – Press releases, PR blurb, etc.) and my 1-2-1 sessions either in person or via Skype. (An excellent way of making money online!)
If You Could Go Back In Time 5-10 Years, What Advice Would You Give Yourself?
Do you know what, there is not much I would have told myself, aside from “don’t waste a second” I am 32 in a few weeks time and I’ve had a great life!
What Would Be Your Best Piece Of Advice To Any Newbie Blogger Out There Reading This?
As the famous Nike slogan goes “just do it” be prepared to make mistakes, you learn from them – so they aren’t a bad thing!
Do your research, find the good guys and surround yourself with them, learn from them, absorb a lot and always follow your heart.
There are a lot of people out there who will happily promise you the world and take a lot of money off you in doing so. If it seems to good to be true then it probably is! I’ve never worked harder in my life …… But I’ve never been happier in what I do!