Business Advice

What to consider before you pay to advertise

I get asked a lot whether or not you should pay for an advert in a national magazine. This is usually after you have been phoned by a magazine with a “once in a lifetime”, “you must decide today” offer the day before said magazine goes to print. With this in mind, here are some tips to consider if you ware thinking of paying to advertise.

What to consider before you pay to advertise

Firstly, a disclaimer. I am not here to say you should or should not advertise – this is wholly up to you. But whatever you choose, make sure you make the decision from an informed place rather than a rushed place such as the example above.

I also want to remind you that magazines need people to advertise in order to survive. As does commercial radio and TV. I sometimes hear people complaining about getting calls to advertise, but it is important to remember that the day all ads dry up is the day that the publication goes out of business. I love reading print magazines and hope that they continue – but without revenue coming in they won’t.

Advertising Tip 1: Do your research

It is important to only advertise in publications that your ideal customer is reading rather than one that you aspire to be in. If your customer is a creative millennial they won’t be reading something aimed at older women such as Prima so you should not waste your money advertising there as it is the wrong place. Don’t just take up the best deal offered to you without considering if your ideal customer is buying it. That is why advertising on social media is great as you can target your perfect demographics (age, likes, location, marital status etc) which you cannot do for print.

Advertising Tip 2: Set a budget

For 2019, decide how much you are prepared to pay each month for advertising. It doesn’t matter if it is £20 or £200, just decide what it is. That way, when a magazine calls you clearly know if you can afford it (if your ideal customer reads it of course). You can advertise for as little as a fiver on Facebook so remember that no budget is too small.

Advertising Tip 3: Consider all options

There are many places you can advertise. Starting with the cheapest: the most cost effective is Facebook and Instagram where you can boost for a fiver. Blogs and online platforms are next, where you can pay between £50 and £500. Local papers and What’s On sites are also a good option but please consider tip 4 before you commit. I am not sure how many people read local papers any more so be careful advertising here. Then there are national magazines and papers but this is not cheap! ( a one pager in Grazia is about £15K!)

It is worth remembering more traditional and old school ways to advertise too. If you run a local business, paying for a poster in your local cafe may be a great idea to be seen and won’t cost much – maybe a few quid.

Advertising Tip 4: Ask for their stats

Be demanding of those advertising managers that call you. Ask them for the demographics of their readers – find out who they are then cross reference with who your ideal customers is. I would also ask for other testimonials from other advertisers, and then their website stats such as how many people visit per day, what is their bounce rate like. Ask for as much information as possible and if they cannot give it, do not pass with your money.

If someone asks me to advertise, the first thing I ask is for them to send me their Media Pack with all their stats in.

Advertising Tip 5: Should you negotiate?

Large companies have a Rate Card – which is the amount they ideally want for the advert. To be honest I feel like it is a mythical thing as I never am offered ad space at this figure. I personally would only negotiate with large companies as I know these are the ones that call me on the last day offering me a great deal.

I would never negotiate with an independent. Remember they need this ad spend to survive – so if I cannot afford it, I will either save up or use my money elsewhere.

Advertising Tip 6: Getting a return on investment (ROI)

It is important to know if your ad is successful and the best way to do this is to add an offer onto the advert. When advertising my wedding shows I add an offer onto the design so I can actually see how this coverts to paying customers. However it is worth remembering that people need many touch points to buy from you, so you may not get a return straight away.

Advertising Tip 7: Consider your alternatives

Consider advertorials and sponsored posts. An advertorial is a paid for article in a magazine that looks to the untrained eye as it was written by the magazine. For example, a toothpaste company may pay for a two page feature half way through the magazine all about teeth whitening with a small image of their product at the bottom. In the corner it should clearly say Advertorial or Promotion to show that it is paid for. Most readers miss this/don’t realise so it may be a better way to be seen.

You can do the same with a blog – write a sponsored post for them. Every blog has different rules about this but it can be a great way to be seen as it is shared to their social media the same as all their usual blog posts.

However the best way to get in a magazine is an editorial which is written by the publication and is free. This will get you the best traction – and this of course is PR.  

I recently did a Facebook Live about this so in case I missed anything – here it is! (Warning, my dog joins in the video!)

7 things I’ve learned from starting a business from scratch

I was lucky enough to share my business learnings with Marie Claire earlier this year. Here are my top 7 things that I learnt when I started out back in 2008.

Kate Beavis indie PR

Image by Anna Berry

Make a plan

When we start a business we often jump straight in, without a clear plan or direction; we just know we want to be our own boss, and not work 9-5. Before you take that jump, write down what it is you want to do but also want you want to be known for. I wanted to be known as a vintage expert, selling quality, beautiful items in a modern way. Because I had that plan, it meant that I ensured that every decision I made would only ever add to that vision and that I took opportunities, even if they were unpaid, to get me to that goal. For example, I chose to write unpaid for a vintage magazine to increase my reach within my field and give me the experience of writing all so that people would start to know me as an expert as well as see my products.

It is also worth thinking about where you want to be in 5 years, something that can be hard to articulate when starting out. This could be having your own shop on the high street, or something like, working less hours so I can start a family – write it down and stick it on your wall to remind yourself of the direction you want to follow.


Start small

I started my business with just one vintage handbag. I bought it for 50p and sold it for £30 on an eBay auction, making a huge amount of profit from my first sale (minus fees of course). I then went to a jumble sale and bought lots more with the profit and again sold them. Something this simple, became the start of my business but also it meant I started with the tiniest investment ever. Obviously, this isn’t always going to be the case and you may need more than one coin to start with, but my advice is to start small, with a low risk investment. Maybe set yourself a budget and a timeline – for example £200 and 6 months to make it work. When you make some profit, invest it back into the business and watch it grow. Of course, this means you won’t be taking much money out to start with, which is why it is a good idea to start while still in your full-time job.


Do your research

Check out what your competitors are doing, what their product or service is like, how their website looks and what they are doing on social media. While you don’t want to copy them it is a good idea to have a view on what they are doing well and not so well as this will help form part of your plan. Be careful not to be inspired too much though, remind yourself of your own vision to keep yourself on track.

When I started, I spent hours researching websites and businesses asking myself who I aspired to be like and who I wanted to be as successful as, even companies that were not selling vintage. I looked beyond the visual also, focusing on their customer service to help form a firm idea of how I wanted to be perceived.

Ask yourself who your customers are going to be? This may be unknown at this point but it is a good idea to try and establish who they are. How old are they, where do they live, what is their lifestyle like? Ask yourself as many questions as possible so that you are clear on who you are talking to on the website and on social media. Your tone of voice, photography, in fact all your branding will then be right for your target end user.

7 things I've learned from starting a business from scratch

Image by Amy Rose Deffley

Get social

Once you have bought your URL, go to every social media platform and create an account, even if you don’t plan to use them all. There is nothing worse than someone sharing content on a networking site in your name believe me! Once set up, write a strong biography and replicate it on every platform sharing your website details and how you can be contacted. Ideally you need a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest which can be done via free scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or by replicating the same piece of content across all of them.

Once you have started the best advice I can give is to engage with your audience and don’t worry too much about the quantity of followers you have. You are better to have 100 fully engaged people who love what you do than 1000 disinterested people who couldn’t care less.

Spend some time actively engaging with new people such as other people in your industry so that can start to form a network who can help you in the future as well as provide support when you need it. Share great images that represent your brand to draw people in. Follow the magazines that are relevant and speak to them! At the start, I got great press from 3 magazines within the first 2 months from networking on Twitter – it really does work!


Grow your tribe

My biggest regret when starting out was that I didn’t start a mailing group as I felt I didn’t need to as my social media following was healthy. This meant that when I had a new product or a new service that I wanted to share I had to rely on the everchanging algorithms of Facebook. Big Mistake. From the outset, start a newsletter group using a simple platform such as Mailchimp to speak to your  customers without spamming them. Maybe offer incentives to join the list such as money off vouchers and use a pop up window online even though you may think they are ugly – they work!


Create content

It is not just customers that love reading content, it is the search engines too who reward you by pushing you up the search pages. Create regular content on your website in the form of a blog, even if you feel that you have nothing to say. Think about what questions your customers will be writing into a search request and then create a blog post answering this query. I started by blog in 2010 as a way to support my product, creating content about the history of my vintage items that I had for sale, how to care for them and ideas for displaying them. Never did I plan for the blog to overtake the online shop but this didn’t matter as it fitted into my original plan of being a vintage expert.


Be brave

Finally, you need to be brave to start your own business, you need to believe in yourself and your idea and really go for it. Take some risks along the way and say yes to collaborations and opportunities; remember my writing for free for a magazine mentioned earlier? This lead to getting a book deal in 2013. I took the risk of writing to Paloma Faith asking her to write my foreword thinking I had nothing to lose – and she said yes!

You do also need to know that running your business isn’t always easy and sometimes, especially at the start you end up working far more hours than you did in your 9-5 job. Set yourself some rules at the beginning about when you do and don’t work. Try and get a good work life balance so that you can enjoy the flexibility being your own boss gives you.

The Indie Practice with Kate Beavis

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