My Story… (so far)

My Story… (so far)

It’s been 2 years now since I launched my business. My son had just turned 2, life was complicated, and I was faced with some important decisions. One thing I knew though…was that I wanted my son to be proud of me. That was non-negotiable. And there are a lot of reasons why.

My life had had a few ups and downs. I had been highly academic at school – through good fortune – but had to leave part way through my A Levels, due to family circumstances. I started work immediately and somehow fell into Sales; and I was good at it. A successful career in Recruitment followed – until I was on the wrong end of a hit and run in 2004 that changed everything. I was left with no money, no career, and a six year journey (with 17+ procedures) to get back to “me” again. For much of that time I was bedbound, in and out of hospital and in terrible, life-altering pain. You can read more about that here or here – if you want to, of course.

During that time I went through every possible emotion a human probably can. From desperation to determination (and back again, a few times) but I never, ever gave up believing life would be good again, one day. Even when I was told the future looked pretty bleak, I couldn’t just lay there hopeless. So I read. I educated myself. I pored over books and absorbed information; from useless tit-bits to books about Buddhism, and eventually, when there was nothing left on the book shelves to read…I picked up an old college text book on HTML. It was dull, and out of date, but I taught myself to code from scratch from that book. I created basic websites, and I tinkered until they looked good. It was purely a hobby, but it kept me amused.

Around the same time, I discovered this new little thing, called Twitter. It was in it’s fledgling stages and was brilliant, back then. There was a real sense of community and I found people in similar situations to my own, and started to feel less alone. I also learned about these weird little things called “blogs”, which would obviously never take off (!) and were mainly about food and recipes, back then. I decided to set one up for myself; just to vent about my injuries, my frustrations, the loss I felt, the limitations. On good days, I’d write about fashion, and I started to mention a few club nights that my old friends were hosting, or DJing at….that I’d be at if I could. It became an eclectic, odd little mix of thoughts and ideas, pain and dreams. It was anonymous, then (I called myself JJ so I could be real, without judgement) and somehow, after just a few months, back in 2008 it got noticed by some PR companies. And then some more. And then, somehow, as I started to get better and life started to improve…we started to win awards and get invited to work with some of the world’s largest brands. I was invited to judge the Johnson and Johnson Beauty Awards, I hosted events, I sat on Media panels and I was invited to be on the committee, and later the Ambassador for The London Lifestyle Awards. That little blog (Love London) I’d started from my bed became a completely unexpected success, with hundreds of thousands of views a month and a community of readers whose engagement that was more rewarding than any of the invitations or recognition we received elsewhere.

I always redesigned the site every year, to keep it fresh and interesting. I started by adapting WordPress themes, and sometimes designed them from scratch. I never took anything out of the box and took pride in the positive comments we got (this was LONG before the big money came to blogging, it’s not uncommon to see some truly stunning blog designs now! Some I’m thankful to have been a part of). Before long, blogging friends started to ask me to update their sites, and I enjoyed doing it. A lot.

Fast forward a bit, and I started to do some freelance work with my friend and colleague Steve, who ran the best social media recruitment agency in London. I helped him build the businesses online community, and we put on some events together, bringing PR, Social Media and Bloggers/Influencers together to improve their practices and understanding of each other. We loved every minute of it, and I learned so much about the digital world. I also met some of the best people I know, many of whom just so happen to be Digital superstars, and the people who had been in the industry from the outset. The Digital world, which has been my hobby and my playground, became my passion, and I knew this was my future.

Once I’d had my baby, I knew after a few months that I wanted to get back to work. I was a single Mum, I was skint, I was still suffering some long term health conditions thanks to the trauma of my accident (CFS and Fibromyalgia) and I was scared – but I knew I was not going to sit back and do nothing. So I started very small, doing some freelance social media and community work for friends. I designed my own websites, of course, and people liked them. They started asking me to design some for them, too. And I realised I LOVED IT. Whilst I knew, and loved social media, and creating communities, website design had become my core skill, my most in-demand service and the thing I was most proud of.

And so, here we are. From learning to code 10 years ago, to doing what I love EVERY DAY now, it’s been a journey full of lessons and one I’m looking forward to continuing for a very long time. I’m now proud to be combining website design with website maintenance and workshops on all of the above; there’s nothing I love more than talking to clients, getting to understand their business dreams and helping them to bring those to life.

If you’d like a chat about how we can help you, please do get in touch at hello@jjmiller.co.uk – and if you have any questions about any of the above please do send me a message. My story has not been a smooth one and there have been times it’s not been easy, but as the old quote says…

Exciting News…& 20% Discount!

Exciting News…& 20% Discount!

It’s been an exciting few weeks here. Not only has Spring truly sprung and we’re enjoying some gorgeous sunshine after the long weekend break, but we’re in the middle of some huge changes here too.

Just over a year since my business was launched, I’m proud to say we have just received some backing that is allowing us to grow. Next week, we move into new offices, and the team will be growing substantially, allowing us to take on more projects and also extend our offering…but more on that a little later.

To celebrate this rather incredible development, we’ve decided to pay it forward and offer a 20% discount to anyone contacting us about a new website design for the rest of April. There’s no obligation to go ahead, or to proceed immediately – the offer will stand for any genuine enquiries made between today and the end of the month – on any size website. We have options for everyone, whether you’re just starting put and have no online presence at all, to larger corporates who want to update their existing digital profile.

We specialise in creating beautiful, easy to use WordPress websites that help you shine online. We integrate your social media profiles (or can help establish them for you, if needed), get to know you and your business and can even help you create your online brand if you don’t have a formal branding plan in place. We want to put your personality on screen so that your website truly reflects you, your objectives and your achievements – creating something you’re truly proud of.

Putting that into perspective financially – it means that you can get a ready made website, including one year’s free hosting, for under £120. Which pretty much means that anyone, at any stage of their business, has the perfect opportunity to get online, even on the tightest of budgets! Bespoke websites are available from just £680. You can’t argue with that…can you?

We’d love to talk to you over the coming weeks, whatever stage you’re at, and whatever the scale of your project.

We can be contacted on Facebook, or via our contact form, or directly at hello@jjmiller.co.uk.

Please do share this offer with anyone you think may benefit.

Rules for Being Amazing (Words To Live By)

Rules for Being Amazing (Words To Live By)

I don’t intend to make a habit of writing blog posts with a personal angle here, but just this once, I’m going to make an exception, as I believe there’s an important message to be shared here for both life in general, and business.

This week has been rather a difficult one for me as I learned that someone very special to me is more than slightly unwell. There have been a roller-coaster of emotions…but one thing I keep coming back to.

This person is AMAZING.

And not just in a “they’re-my-friend-and-I-have-to-think-that” kind of way. I mean in an astonishingly brilliant, talented, vibrant, generous, soulful, accomplished, wise and mind-bogglingly hilarious way.

I have often been astounded by his knowledge, tenacity and wisdom and his whole attitude to life; never more so than in the last week and the way he has approached the news.

I posted this quote, by Robin Sharma, on the original version of this site but it got lost in the re-brand so I wanted to post it again. Because I truly believe that, as my friend has done, we should try to live whole-heartedly, without reservation and fear; with kindness and love as the core values of everything we do. I’ve been reminded of that this week, and it’s spurred me on to make some important and inspired (I hope!) life and business decisions.

With Bank Holiday weekend coming up, it’s a great time to relax, unwind, regroup and take a moment to think about our approach to everything we do…

…and this is a great place to start.

The Rules for Being Amazing

by Robin Sharma. 

JJ Miller Branding: Rules for being Amazing (Robin Sharma Quote)

Words we should all live by, for sure.

The Best Free Stock Photo Resources for 2016

The Best Free Stock Photo Resources for 2016

Stock photography used to be cheesy.

I mean, embarrassingly so. The thought of adding one of those terrible stock images to my site would fill me with dread a couple of years ago – but with the rise in companies and Photographers suing Bloggers and small businesses for use of their copyright (yes, this happens a lot) it’s really not worth the risk. No more popping on to Google and finding the first image that suits your content. Well, not unless you have a few hundreds (or thousands) of pounds to pay the fees later on if you get caught. So, stock images have become my (and your) friend. And luckily, there are now plenty of sites that hold stock images that really don’t suck. In fact, many of them are rather lovely.

The stock photography sites I tend to use are searchable, and contain a wide variety of images, suitable for all types of content. I’ve put together a list of the ones I use most often, and some others that can be really useful for more niche projects. So, bookmark this page, and use the list whenever you need it!

Stock Photography that makes a great impact


 

PS: If you’re wondering why you need images in your blog posts anyway, the stats make it clear.

stock image stats blogging

(source/source)

Can’t argue with that, can you?!