V.T. Building Services – Home Extensions & Renovations

Vasile – Owner and Builder at V.T. Building Services in Dublin

WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION AND WHY DID YOU WANT TO GET A WEBSITE?

I have been in business as a builder for years, I always took lots of pictures of my projects and showed them to new clients. It’s great for them to see what’s possible and it makes it easier for them to see how their home can be transformed.

Clients often asked me over the years if I have a website as they were interested in seeing a few of my previous projects, but I could always just show them the photos on my phone.

So at the end of 2019 I decided it was finally time to get my own site.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

I’m good at building houses but not building websites. I’m also very busy and my work days often don’t finish before 10pm, so I asked Julie if she could set up a site for me.

Did you go for WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

She gave me the option to build the website in WordPress.com or WordPress.org. I didn’t mind as long as my site could be found in Google and potential clients could browse through a portfolio of some of my previous projects.

She said that’s no problem with either platform as they both do well in regards to SEO. She also mentioned that I should try to get a few testimonials for the website. Then she said something which made the crucial difference for me: If we build the site in WordPress.com I will not have to deal with software maintenance, backups or security updates.

She was right, I often work 14h+ days and won’t have time to look anything like that – so WordPress.com for my small business website is the one for me!

What’s the website doing for your business?

Most of the content was only added this summer so I know it’ll take a while to move up in Google, but it’s a fantastic tool for potential clients.

I have added the website to my business card. When I meet people for a first consultation I leave my card with them and ask them to have a look at my portfolio in their own time after the meeting.

I have only added a few projects so far, but I’m adding more every couple of weeks and I got some great feedback and even new business out of it. So yes, it’s working well for me.

What have you learnt from the time managing your website?

I think often people who don’t really know anything about small business websites – like me and many others in the building trade. We would like to have a website to support our business, but don’t even know where to start. I see ads to ‘get your own website’ but it looks like a standard package and nobody is there to discuss with me what I really need. It can be very confusing so it’s easy to put it on the long finger and do it later.

I was glad I could speak to Julie about what kind of website I would like and get her feedback on what will be the best option for me longterm. I didn’t want to spend a five figure amount on a website with expensive maintenance contracts, I just wanted a simple website to show off my work – and that’s what I got now, thanks!

It looks professional and it can really help potential clients to make a buying decision. Especially when it’s a great commitment like a house extension, renovation or attic conversion. People like to know what you’ve done in the past and what previous clients think about your work – the website does that for me perfectly.

Any advice for somebody who is just starting out?

I think if you’re busy like me and don’t want to spend too much time on your website, give Julie a call, she’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. She can also do some of the work for you. She is much quicker than I would ever be doing it myself.

If you’re computer savvy I’m sure it’s not that difficult to do it yourself, I’ve seen her doing some work for me and it looks straightforward enough. But I have to prioritise as my days are very long already and getting her to create a portfolio for me here and there, is well worth it.

Here you can find out more about Vasi and his business

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Anne O’Shea – Self Study Science

Anne O’Shea – Teacher and owner of Self Study Science – Science lessons that you can do at home

How did you get started? What was your inspiration and why did you want to do it?

Self Study Science​ was developed to help students who have limited access to education, to learn science by themselves. My target audience is refugee students, firstly because their education has been interrupted, and also because they are not always entitled to education in their new country, or the new country does not have the capacity to include them.

Their level of education prior to leaving their countries ranges from high secondary school to no education.

I record videos of myself doing the experiments, and write worksheets to help them. I aim to teach the scientific method, observation and recording observations, recording results and graphing them, thinking like a scientist and the design of a fair test.

English is not the students’ first language, but usually they can understand English better than they can read or write in English. Therefore videos with spoken English is a good starting place for their self-study.

How it all started and why I set up the website?

For the past few years I have volunteered as a teacher in the Greek islands. The students are refugees from various countries. Some live in camps, and are not enrolled in Greek schools as there is no capacity to take all of them.

NGOs run educational projects, and I worked in Gekko school in Lesvos, which was set up by the NGO ​Together for Better Days​. In February 2020, the school was closed for safety reasons (many protests against refugees and volunteers).

In March all education facilities in Greece were closed due to Coronavirus. Recently the situation has become more unstable as the main camp (Moria) burned down and many people were homeless, had lost all their possessions and are now living in tents. Education will be put on hold for these children.

Electricity experiment: The science programme that I was following in Greece was developed by Science United Project using equipment donated by them.

How this website will work to educate?

In general, students living in refugee camps do have access to smartphones and wifi or data. Some NGOs (such as ​Action for Education​) raise money to donate data to their students while face-to-face education is closed in their projects. Students have been supplementing their learning using the internet, outside of class time.

My goal is to reach the students through their volunteer teachers and others that interact directly with them and their families. I have used my contacts and some social media groups so far, but I could do more with this. I am part of an Educational sharing group (​RefugeeEd​) who meet online every so often. The coordinator of this group has shared my website with the Red Cross in Athens who work with refugees.

Access to my website Self Study Science is open to everyone – all students and teachers can use it.

Technical details about my website

  • Started work: May 2020
  • Launched: late June 2020
  • Marketing: I sent emails to my contacts in the voluntary sector, NGOs and posted to some Social Media sites: late July 2020 (Facebook only so far)
  • Type of site: WordPress.com
  • Time that site has been live when writing this: 2.5 months
  • Budget: Self-funded. Very low-cost model – materials for teaching (such as mini whiteboard) can be reused; the website hosting fee is the only expense. It is a free website so will not generate an income and the main input is time.
  • I am the sole person working on the site. A Facebook post resulted in someone offering to translate a vocabulary list into Greek.

Mistakes I’ve learnt from

  • Underestimating the time to add content and make videos and edit them.
  • Lack of motivation when adding content (no deadlines mean less productivity, and lots of writing can be tedious).
  • Perfectionism (it will never be finished to perfection so the time to upload takes much longer). I am not happy with how I sound on the video.

Things that work for me to keep going

  • Tell people your idea, who will encourage you and ask you how it is going, it’s good motivation!
  • Set targets each week so that you get (at least) some of them completed.
  • Keep advertising your site, and keep adding material to keep people interested.

Good results & benefits so far

  • Learning how to make and edit videos is fun. Learning how to put the website together is interesting.
  • I do not need to travel to educate the students.

My website goals for the future

The website is in its early stages. I launched it with only two experiments, with a view to updating weekly with new experiments.
I haven’t reached my goal yet – to communicate directly with students. A former colleague who teaches English in Cambodia was planning to use the lessons from my Facebook post.
When travel is safe again, I will travel to try to connect the site with teachers and students.
I will accept contributions from others to add to the site with content or translation of vocabulary lists. I look forward to getting feedback, especially from students.

Thanks Anne for telling us how you built your WordPress website and are developing your teaching resources. I wish you all the best and I’m sure that your teaching website will help many people all over the world learning more about science, especially in these difficult circumstances.

You can find out more about Anne, her science projects and teaching methods at SelfStudyScience.com

If you have any comments or questions for Anne please leave them below

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WalkTalkDonegal – guided walking holidays in Ireland

Sean Mullen – Owner and guide at WalkTalkDonegal.com and WalkTalkIreland.com – guided walking holidays in Ireland

How did you get started? What was your inspiration and why did you want to do it?

I still remember those seminars (WordPress Starter and Advanced course) from the distant past. They influenced me to start a website for my business – Walking and Talking in Ireland and to use WordPress. At first, it was more of a brochure website and then one of my walkers from Amsterdam developed and maintained my present sites.

I had two sites because I wanted to do Donegal only walks whereas WalkTalkIreland was Antrim and Donegal.

I couldn’t think of a way to add to the WalkTalkIreland site without making it very unwieldy so therefore developed the WalkTalkDonegal site.

I’m still not sure if it is such a good idea having both. At any rate, I may just concentrate on Donegal in future and therefore may ‘retire’ WalkTalkIreland’ – I’m not sure yet whether that’s a good or bad idea?

Choosing a suitable name for the site

My first issue was choosing a name – I had thought of ‘Out and About’ but found it was already being used. Since I wanted to emphasise friendship and being together I came up with the name Walking and Talking. 

I had previously run an English language school and believed in the classroom on the move – teaching doing outdoor activities this fitted my ideas.

What was the business idea and how did it develop?

I started in 2000 and my idea was to link Antrim and Donegal i.e. a cross-border operation with small groups – maximum of 12. In the end, I averaged about 8 or 9.

Some people kept returning and asked me if I would do some other walks so I decided to do Donegal only weeks – more convenient for myself since I  live in Donegal. However I found it difficult to add this to the WalkTalkIreland website – I felt it would become too clunky and complicated.

I therefore created another website WalkTalkDonegal and hoped one would feed off the other and create higher rankings in Google.

One thing led to the next, now I’m helping to run Fanad Lighthouse, which is extra special!

These last couple of years I have been diverted from looking after my websites because of helping to run Fanad Lighthouse which is extra special.
Check it out yourself.

How do you drum up business?

I do not use outside operators to bring me customers – I prefer mailing each person and letting them know all the details of how the week runs.

I get a lot of my business from word of mouth. I did a minimal amount of advertising on Facebook. All in all my budget was very minimal since I did not intend creating a large business.

I provide business for B&Bs, local restaurants and I hire minibus drivers so I do support the local economy.

However being well placed in Google is very important and very difficult to achieve. I believe you have to be constantly watching and supporting your placement.

I’m also on Tripadvisor, LinkedIn, Facebook and on local tourist websites.

My website is the base for my business. It’s great to have as I can link to it from all these platforms and give people a really good understanding of what they can expect before booking.

I’m supported by Failte Ireland since I’m an ambassador for the Wild Atlantic Way. Since I speak German and have a German website Failte Ireland ask me to look after German journalists who visit Donegal – normally I will be mentioned in their articles. 

I was also filmed for Austrian TV and apparently this is still repeated even though it was made over 10 years ago.

Because of Covid this year has been cancelled and I do not know exactly what the future holds.

‘Good for heart, body and soul’

walktalkdonegal.com & walktalkireland.com

Thanks Sean for telling us how you built your WordPress website and are developing your business. I wish you all the best and I’m sure that your business will quickly return to its previous success once Covid is over, which hopefully will be happening soon.

You can find out more about Sean and his business at WalkTalkIreland and WalkTalkDonegal
 
And you can also find him on Facebook

If you have any comments or questions for Sean please leave them below

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Showcase – Your Web Stories!

I’d love to feature YOUR website story!

As WPuncovered.com mostly focuses on new website owners, I think it would be great to feature some stories of former course participants or others who have taken the leap to start something new. It’s a place to showcase your website, tell us how you got there, what hurdles have been in your way and what you’ve learnt on the way.

It’ll be a great opportunity for you to get more traffic to your site and will offer great benefits to others who are just getting started. 

Are you interested?

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

JOHN MAXWELL

If you would like to have your site and story featured in our showcase, please let me know! Get in touch with any questions you might have, but to give you an idea of what kind of information I’d be looking for: 

  • How did you get started? What was your inspiration and why did you want to do it?
  • What was your budget?
  • Is your site built in WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
  • Did you create the site yourself or did you take over after a developer built the site?
  • How long has it been live now?
  • Did you reach your initial goal, or did your goal change?
  • What kind of marketing tools do you use (any social media in particular, newsletter, etc) and what works best for you?
  • What have you learnt from the time managing your website (biggest mistakes, greatest challenges or best changes)?
  • Any advice for somebody who is just starting out?
  • If you would like to share anything else about the growth of your website, including any kind of successes – small or big – you have landed with your site, that would be great. (I.e. growth of your email list, particular clients you landed, size of deals, specific products/services which are most in demand on your site, affiliate marketing income, connections you made or anything similar like that). 

Who could be featured?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Even if you are still at the very beginning of your journey, you can be part of this. Just tell us your story and let us know what your goals are with your site – we might be able to help!

I will of course publish the name of your company and your own if you like, and add a link to your website into the post for readers to visit your site. Also please remember, inbound links are loved by Google, so they’re fantastic for your website’s SEO. I’m planning to put a lot of effort into this site and believe this category will be quite popular with readers, so your story might be read for many years to come over and over again.

In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.

ABRAHAM MASLOW

Please feel free to tell your story in your own words and includes anything you think could be of interest or value to other people who are thinking of setting up their own website and small business owners. If you could please answer as many of the questions above that would be great, but not required. As a guideline, it would be great if your story could be between 400 and 1,200 words please (this post is just under 650 words, so it’s not difficult to do). 

The first few featured websites will be included in our next newsletter when we launch the site and unveil the domain to all our subscribers and followers. 

Please let me know if you’re interested or have any questions at all by email or just leave a comment below.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

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