Remote Working And Surviving The Next Few Months

Try to make plans, be creative and put systems in place...

Well we are all starting to realise, very quickly how this is going to affect us. At our offices, we felt safe in the presumption that we could all work very comfortably from home. All systems we currently use can be successfully actioned remotely. Which is perfect for our online work. Nothing should change for us right? WRONG!

What we have come to understand very quickly that, working with so many other external companies means that their businesses have been dreadfully affected, which then has an impact on ours. We are still here though, all working. We are available so you can get in touch to make changes to your website, write a post explaining what is happening for your business, as well as modifying the way you are working. To adapt to the changing market conditions.

There are many ways to still communicate. As many companies are now finding out. Using Slack, Facetime, Whats App, Zoom, Skype, Podio, Google Docs, plus many many other online applications means that you are still in contact with all your fellow staff. As well as ensuring you are all working on the same information. The options are endless, so it is important to put in place what works for you as a business. Which is great! But all businesses need to know they can still get customers, either into their shops, physically or online. To be able to buy from them, enjoy their services as well as staying safe and keeping their loved ones safe too.

There are so many useful articles at the moment, so we thought we would share a few ideas that may help:

Get your cashflow sorted

Call in some debts and ensure everything possible has been invoiced. It will be tough for any business to pay promptly at the moment, but try and ensure you have everything up to date, so you know where you are.

Keep marketing and promoting your business

Now more than ever, you need to keep reminding people you are still here. In general, people still need products and services. And those who are marketing their business more effectively will come out on top. Especially once everything is gradually getting back to normal. Changing your marketing message may be worthwhile. But keep reminding people that you are still here and still open for business. Many of our customers are now adapting what they offer, to keep going and get through this. Move online more, offer something different, offer better delivery options. There may be some angle that you haven’t thought of. Brainstorm and see what ideas you can come up with!

Sourcing your products

Now may be the time to look around and see where else you can source your products from. Use local companies who won’t have to travel too far to get to you. Again, be creative. Many companies are offering delivery – take advantage of this so you can save time to work more on other things.

Move online

Shops will be one of the worst to be hit by all of this. So people will be buying more online – now could be the time for you to start offering this as an option. Even if you can’t afford to add an ecommerce solution to your website, make it prominent that you can offer this. Make sure you can show as many of your products on your website, so customers can see what they could have if they bought from you. This could be a great option for anyone who physically sells products but has not opted yet for online selling.

Plan for the future

Try and spend some time reflecting on what you want and how you see yourselves in 6 months. Where do you want to be? It is vital to plan ahead and work out how you are going to come through it. Try to keep a clear head and remove emotions from this. Hard and extraordinary times as these are, spend a bit of time writing or updating your business plan. This could create new ideas for the future and keep your business afloat. We are all obviously hoping that the Government assist us, but if you can put new plans in place then that will be a great start.

Be creative

This is so tough as we understand so many businesses will be completely firefighting at the moment. But try and be creative. There could be other ways that you sell your products or services. Try and think what you can offer people, with your expertise. There could be something that will ensure your business stays afloat during these really trying times.

Can we help you?

We are all still here and working. If you need to make changes to your website then please do get in touch. Just give us a call on 01435 817226 or send us an email. We may be able to adapt what you have already. or perhaps help you to offer something different to your customers. Maybe we can set up an email campaign for you. Telling all your customers of the improvements and updates you are making to your business. Or to just be there to chat through your ideas. We need to help each other out at the moment and we will do our best to help you.

Warmest washes from all at Sokada Ltd

As we said in our first Instagram post of this year, 2020 for Sokada is shaping up to be one of the most exciting to date!

If you’ve come to visit us at our offices, you’ll come to know that we have quite a compact office. Having been here since the start in 2016, it’s become clearer in recent months that we need to upscale our offices a bit. We were looking for somewhere that was still in a prime location on Heathfield High Street but with slightly more floor space.

We’ve been looking for the perfect place to move into for a few months now – and as luck would have it, in December last year we found the perfect place.

Our New Office is… Next door!

That’s right – we’re moving just a few feet away to the office next door to us, previously used by Belladonna Beauty. With this new and bigger space we’ll be able to do much more in our office, and we’re already looking at how best to use our new space.

moving office
We’re packing up our offices at the end of this week to move in on Monday 2nd March!

That means we’re only a few steps away from our old office, if you know where that is, you take the right-hand door next to our old office, turn right, left, and down the corridor.

From the 1st March if you have a meeting with us, you can ring our doorbell which is at the door on the high street, in between Westwoods and Pople & Broad Opticians.

Moving Day

We’re going to be moving offices from the 28th February. So over the course of this day, we’ll have our phone lines and Internet connection switched over. This means you may not be able to get in touch by phone for a little while. It should only take a day for us to set everything up again, so we’ll be back to business as usual on Monday 1st March.

Our New Address

Our New Address is nearly the same as our old one;

Suite C,
Bank Buildings,
Cherwell Road,
Heathfield,
East Sussex,
TN21 8JT

As Christmas is only just around the corner – we’d like to wish all of our lovely clients a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Do you like what we’ve done to make our website Christmassy? Santa himself put a little flurry appear on our site. If you’re one of our clients, and you’d like to see some snow on your website for the Christmas period; email us, and we’ll add some for you!

We hope you have a Great Christmas

We hope you’re spending this festive period with friends and family, and you get the chance to relax before the start of the New Year. As we’ve done before, we’ll close the office for a few days over Christmas; just so that everyone here can put their feet up a bit!

You might be getting Christmas cards from businesses like us. We hope you don’t take it personally, as we haven’t sent cards to anyone this year. Instead, we’ve decided to spend some money giving to charity, after all, Christmas is all about giving, and not receiving. So that’s why we’ve chosen the charity Warming Up the Homeless to donate to. So if you’d like to join us in helping this worthy cause over the Christmas period, click here.

Our Christmas Party!

We decided to hold our Christmas Party this year at Pilio; a boutique Greek Bistro in Heathfield. As you can see from the photo, there were lots of empty plates and beer bottles – so we can only assume it was well received!

Thank you to Pilio for having us, and providing such delicious food!

christmas party at Sokada

Christmas Opening Hours

We hope nothing goes wrong whilst we’re out of the office, but should a website or email related emergency occur please contact us via Email with the subject line URGENT.

But if it’s less urgent, our office opening hours over the Christmas period are;

Monday 23rd December – Friday 27th December
Closed

Monday 30th DecemberTuesday 31st December
Open 9:00 – 17:00

Wednesday 1st January 2020
Closed

Thursday 2nd January 2020
Open – Business as usual!

We are now pleased to offer our clients a CDN package to improve the performance of your website. This package is particularly helpful if either your website has a lot of images, or you have visitors to your website from all around the world.

If you’ve not heard of a CDN before, you probably have a lot of questions like what is a CDN? How does a CDN work? Does it cost me an arm and a leg? (spoiler: it won’t)

This blog post will hopefully answer all the questions you have and help you decide whether a CDN package would be a good idea for your website.

What is a CDN?

A CDN stands for ‘Content Delivery Network’, and you would certainly not be alone in thinking that you’ve never heard of it before. But in fact, they’ve been around for quite some time now. Did you know that over half the traffic on the internet at the moment is served by a CDN?

This is because most large businesses such as Facebook, Amazon and Google all have their own CDN, and they’re used to improve the loading times of websites around the world. But just because the big boys of the internet use them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother having one for your own website.

Why You Should Use a CDN

A CDN might sound self-explanatory, and to a certain extent, it does do what it says on the tin. A CDN helps with the delivery of the content (mainly images) on your website through a network of different servers. But what a CDN does is put all your images onto different servers around the world. This means that wherever you are, your images are sourced from the quickest server that you can reach, and your page load speeds and images are loaded much quicker.

How Does a CDN Help Me?

If your website is hosted on our server, it’s currently sitting on UK cloud-based servers. So when someone visits your website, all of the content and images comes from the same place and is transferred to the user’s phone or computer.

This is fine if your clients are in the UK, as our server is never that far away from them, and it doesn’t take that much time for them to load your website. But what if you have someone in Australia that wants to visit your website. Their computer or phone still must access the same UK server, and because it’s so far away (even for technology), it will take a long time for the page to load.

Another instance of when a CDN comes in handy is if you have lots of visitors to your website at once. This might be because you’ve just posted an interesting blog post that people want to read. If there is one server dealing with all these visits to your website, it’s going to slow your website down.

You know the well-known phrase ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ – A CDN works on this kind of principle. A CDN is able to use multiple servers at once to help one person or hundreds of people load a page. What this means is there is never too much work for one server to manage.

To show you just how much a CDN improves your page load speeds; here’s an example of our own site, showing that across the world. We have speeds that score at least 97% based on PageSpeed score and a load time of 1.2 Seconds!

Why You Should Use a CDN

Why Should I Care About Page Load speeds?

One reason you should care about page load speeds is that it affects your customer’s experience. Studies have shown that for every extra second it takes your page to load you lose 7% of your traffic.

It’s not just conversions that you need to consider. For over a year, Google has been taking into account the loading speed of a page to help determine page rankings on their search engines. What this means is the longer it takes for your page to load, the lower down in the search results you will appear.

Where Do I Sign Up?

We’re offering our CDN package to all of our clients that don’t have an E-Commerce website. This package costs £100 for the initial setup and full website optimisation and then £10/month to continue hosting on our CDN.

If you’d like to add this package to your website, or you have any questions about our CDN, please get in touch with us.

About Me

I’m Kieran, I’m 22 years old, and I’m working at Sokada doing online marketing for our clients. Having lived in Heathfield pretty much all my life; I have a good understanding of the local area. I’ve also previously worked on local community social media pages for businesses and local authorities.

I recently graduated from the University of Sussex where I studied Media & Communications. The course was aimed at discussing the role that media plays in society. My degree has provided me with a valuable insight into how social media is used by businesses to promote their brand and connect with their customers.

Outside of work and studying, I do a fair bit of gaming (although not to the same level as Jamie!). I enjoy real-world simulation games such as X-Plane and Train Simulator. Although I can’t fly a plane or drive a train, I still enjoy trying to perfect my flying and driving skills.

Before Sokada

My last job was working at Starbucks alongside my studies at University. I really enjoy making (and drinking) good coffee; so if you see me in the office, I’ll undoubtedly have a coffee cup (or two!) on my desk. Whilst I loved my job at Starbucks, I’m happy that I’m moving on to something more related to my field of study.

A few years ago I secured a casual six month contract funded by a grant from Heathfield & Waldron Parish Council. This contract was to help setup and operate a social media strategy for Heathfield. In this role, I was responsible for guiding a range of public sector organisations and local businesses to post engaging content.

Life at Sokada

My life at Sokada is working to improve our clients visibility online, through blog-writing, keyword research, or using social media.

However, Marketing is not the only thing I’m doing; my writing skills also come in handy when it comes to content writing for new websites.

Why Sokada?

Having already worked alongside both Julian and Jude, I know that I work well with both of them. They both have a real passion for the work that they do, and their attentiveness serves them both well in this field of work. It will be a real pleasure to work with them once again to provide the best marketing and websites for our clients.

My commute to work is also a short walk down the road, which is absolutely perfect!

A typical day at Sokada

My day at Sokada will be working on online marketing tasks such as writing blog posts, posting on client’s social media pages, and content writing for new websites. I will also be completing a few office admin tasks from time to time, to keep the office organised.

Cyber Security and understanding more

I went to a really informative Cyber Security event last week in Hailsham. It was presented by Andy Rawlinson from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and sponsored by the Hailsham Chamber of Commerce and Astec Computing (UK).

We see a lot of companies in our day to day work, who don’t really have a lot of understanding of the dangers of the internet, or even the importance of having a reliable, secure IT infrastructure.

I think people and businesses just think they will be OK. However, listening to the presentation this morning, they clearly won’t be!

Some of the elements I understood more than others as we see them all the time, like Phishing, Denial of Service Attacks and Website Hacking.

Cyber Security

Some of the key elements I took away with me were:

Anti-Virus

Make sure that any device you have that connects to the Internet is running an up to date anti-virus system. These don’t have to be expensive, there are some really good free ones; but you have to use something. Keep this up to date and make sure that it is working properly, as well as regularly scan your devices.

Also use something to detect Malware on your devices. Malware is the malicious software or programs that are harmful to your devices; it’s these that actually do all the dirty work.

Firewalls

A firewall is your first line of defense. It’s a protective barrier that sits on your PC or router and protects you from unwanted access to the system. You can change the security settings on your firewall to suit your requirements, making them specific to you.

When you add new software or apps to your PC, you will need to change the permissions on your Firewall and you will probably notice requests to do this. You can also review what software/websites have access to your system. Setting up your firewall properly is important.

Secure Offsite Backups

Make sure you have an effective back up of your computer data. If you can get a backup of your system files that’s even better. This will make it easier to get things working again if your security is breached. Also do your best to understand how the backups work and what is actually backed up. As well as this, you need to know how to restore the backed-up files.

Backups should be offsite. Whether that’s in the cloud or on a drive that you physically remove from the office after the backup is completed. You may not want to trust a cloud backup, but they are generally pretty good and make a lot of sense.

If you don’t have time to do this, or the inclination, then it makes sense to find an IT company who can help you create a backup plan.

2FA (2 Factor Authentication)

These days most online systems that require you to login with a password also give you the option to set up 2FA. This basically means that when you login with your user/password it will also send an authorisation code, usually to your mobile phone. To gain access you will need to have access to the phone and enter the code that is sent to you.

We build a lot of WordPress websites and we have been starting to implement 2FA on the CMS (Content Management System) so that you can’t login and make changes unless you can authenticate properly. This is relatively simple to do so ask your developer to help you.

Email security

This is something that affects us more than most of the others on a day to day basis. We manage email for most of our clients and security and strong passwords are very important. We also see quite a few Phishing emails which we regularly speak to clients about. Spotting a dodgy email can be hard enough especially as they are so well disguised, but it’s really important that if you have any suspicions then you must not open an email.

As a rule of thumb, large companies, banks and government bodies won’t ask you to login to your account via an email. If you are worried call them instead. Phishing emails will try and push you, by adding a sense of urgency to the request, but again if the request is unexpected or urgent and you don’t know what it is then it’s probably not from who you think it is.

Having a good password won’t stop you opening a phishing email, but it might stop someone using your email account for a different purpose. Hackers can use your account to attack other businesses, sending thousands of emails to slow and cause their systems to crash. DoS (Denial of Service) attacks may not be focused on you but if you are part of one, even unwittingly, it can lead to your mail account getting blocked and much more.

Create a business wide policy in regard to handling suspicious email, so that as a group you understand how to handle these as well as how to deal with them.

Password Management systems

Having good quality passwords is very important. Ideally of 14 characters or more, with upper and lower case text plus numbers and special characters. Unfortunately, the better you make them the harder they are to remember.

Another good idea is to create a pass phrase, so three sets of words that you can remember but that aren’t linked or obvious… something like “RelaxingFriendsSkiing” might be a good one for me. You can then juice this up a little by making some of the characters numbers or using special characters; “#Rel4xingFriends$kiing”.

But creating and remembering lots of good passwords is still going to be hard, so you could try using a password management system. These store and remember all your different passwords with you using one good pass phrase to access the management system. A lot of these can also remember and log you in automatically to systems that you use regularly. But only do this on devices you trust and manage and of course make sure you use 2FA.

Some simple steps to take

OK so here are the basics of what we have said above:

  • Make sure you use a good anti-virus and keep this up to date and working
  • Combine this with a good Malware package to illuminate malicious software
  • Back up your critical business systems and understand how to restore the back up if anything goes wrong
  • Use 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) whenever possible
  • Use business email and make sure your passwords are strong. Also have a policy within your business for dealing with suspicious emails
  • Invest in a good password manager

For me the single most important thing to do is get help. Speak to an expert about your Cyber Security and work with them to do as much as you can to prevent access to your systems. This is definitely worth spending money on as it potentially can save you EVERYTHING…

Wow so yesterday was the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web. Obviously it took some time to go from a proposal written by Tim Berners-Lee to what we call the internet today. I read that his supervisor wrote “Vague but exciting…” at the top of the document. 

happy birthday WWW

So is this going to catch on then?

It reminds me of the time I first heard mention of the internet. I was in my print studio and a friend had called me to discuss his new business; he needed a designer as he was setting up a website design company. This was back in late 1997 and when he explained that the internet would enable companies to share information and advertise all over the world, I apparently asked him “So is this going to catch on then?”; he reliably informed me that the Internet was going to be the next big thing. Well done Paul I think you might have been right. 

Well I took the design job and worked there for 11 months before moving on to what I hoped was bigger and better things. After 18 months selling, planning, designing and building (I wouldn’t call it developing) websites I went back to what I think I do best… running my own business. 

I remember that noise that the modem made as it connected via the phone line at 14.4kb/s or later at the positively explosive 28.8kb/s, or  trying to design and build websites with graphics that were tiny by today’s standards and structuring a website using tables; such fun…  

The rise and fall of giants

Yahoo seemed to own the world in 2004 raking in astronomical profits, they would surely dominate the internet for years to come, but it wasn’t soon after that the much simpler Google search came about… rather than paying for a position on a search engine your content helped you get there instead. It felt like Yahoo disappeared almost overnight as is the way with the internet. 

I suppose 2004 was also the start of social media as we know it now, with MySpace and then Facebook bringing a new way to communicate. Whether you like social media or not it has had a dramatic effect on nearly all of us, especially our children. 

One of the biggest areas of change caused by the internet has to be shopping; e-commerce is changing the physical nature of our high streets. It’s hard for specific types of businesses to compete with the internet, with the high street becoming more about service lead businesses rather than shops selling things. Love or hate them Amazon’s plan to lose millions before making billions seems to have worked for them rather well with them dominating internet sales. 

Easy Money!

Then there is my personal favourite; no it’s not what you are thinking… online gaming is now a job, you can play games all day on the internet and get paid to do so. Some streamers get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a month through online subscriptions, donations, sponsorship and merchandise; one of my favorites Shroud recently celebrated getting 100,000 subscribers! 

I’m looking to see what happens over the next few years. 

So once again happy birthday WWW. Love Julian

Networking works!

Julian goes to a few local networking groups. As a company, we want to get our name out there, meet new businesses, talk to people and hopefully give them good advice that will help to grow their businesses. At one of these groups was Jane Guest from Adaray Marketing. Julian, along the course of a few conversations chatted with Jane who then referred Sokada to her clients, organic skincare brand, Nathalie Bond, based in Sheffield.

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

Nathalie Bond is a family run business. They have created their own brand of luxury handmade organic skincare. It is being sold wholesale, abroad and through other online companies, but they also wanted to start promoting it themselves to the massive growing online retail market.

Nat and Andy are a great family led couple, (expecting their third baby) who want to offer an alternative to the mass produced, chemical filled, skincare products that are being sold worldwide. They have gone back to basics, using organic essential oils and butters. Everything is organic, gentle and most importantly, there is no animal testing and no harsh chemicals or additives.

Product testing

So in the spirit of trying the products before we work on them, we bought some through their online shop. They arrived promptly, beautifully boxed with no damage whatsoever. The packaging is all completely recyclable, as are pretty much all of their jars and bottles.

Jude has always been thinking of going organic, when it comes to skincare. So we ordered some of the handmade soaps, the Bloom skin balm and a set of the organic facial skincare, as well as some of the liquid soap, with a lip balm thrown in for good measure. The organic soaps are wonderful to cleanse your face as well as body. Using the soap bars in the shower with a bath puff ball sponge (whatever you call it…) works perfectly, letting you use the soap as a body wash. But apparently you can also use the liquid soaps, which are also ideal sitting in the kitchen, downstairs loo or at the bathroom sink.

The skin balm is great for the body, including feet, elbows as well as the rest of the skin. It is just as lovely on the face and neck though!

And using the organic soap, with the Bloom face mist and then the Gentle face oil, leaves your face clear, smooth and completely moisturised. This is such an easy skincare routine and with all products having a multi-use capability, they are extremely versatile.

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

In summary

Obviously, we can’t always product test all the businesses we work with at Sokada. However this was an ideal opportunity. And this organic skincare company is really going places. Wonderful gentle products that can also be used on sensitive skin, baby skin, during pregnancy as well as skin with allergies. The ingredients in these wonderful products are organic, gentle but still smell fabulous! We have already ordered again and will continue to do so.

And what makes it even easier to make the transition across to this skincare brand is the price! It is really competitive and you don’t need loads of products for a daily skincare routine, which doesn’t break the bank (unlike some skincare brands!).

Sokada are currently working with Nat and Andy on their online marketing as well as a Google Adwords campaign – all is going very well and bringing them in lots of online orders and new customers from the retail sector.

Nathalie Bond Organic Skincare are a definite “YES!” from Sokada!