• Love it or loathe it, Google is still the primary search engine in the world, pulling in over 90% of the search engine traffic

    Every day there are approximately 3.5 billion searches per day on Google. 

    That’s a lot of chances for you to get your coworking space in front of your future community members. 

    But how do you utilise this search capacity, and turn it into leads for your coworking space?

    If you’ve read any of my other blogs, then you’ll know that I think that one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective ways to increase traffic and customers for your coworking space is to claim and optimise your Google My Business (GMB) listing. 

    Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated And this is one of those really effective, but really simple steps that you can take to improve your business. 

    So, in this blog I’ll look at what Google My Business is, plus six ways to optimise it in order to get more leads for your coworking space. 

    What exactly is Google My Business (and what are the advantages)?

    Google My Business (GMB), is a free listing of your business operating information that has the ability to display reviews, posts and more. 

    You’ll see it when you Google a business, it pops up on the right-hand side of your listing. 

    There are a number of things that you can do using GMB including:

    • Display business information and post opening hours
    • Post news and updates on Google and stay engaged with your customers.
    • Share photos that make your business stand out.
    • Gather reviews, to share social proof with potential customers.

    By registering your business Google will automatically show your coworking space listing in relevant search results, specifically to people looking in your area, which is crucial for driving local traffic.

    In fact, your Google My Business profile will get more traffic than your website. 

    But how do you convert these visitors into customers?

    According to Google, those with a GMB listing are twice as likely to gain trust, and 38% more likely to entice potential customers to visit their premises than those without a listing. 

    Luckily, you can enhance your local visibility on Google for FREE by simply listing and verifying your business on Google My Business. It’s the perfect addition to your coworking marketing strategy and it doesn’t cost a penny.  

    How to use Google My Business to generate more leads for your coworking space…

    But it’s not enough to just register and be done with it. You need to ensure that your listing is up-to-date, and taking advantage of all the different elements of Google My Business. 

    There are a few things that you can do to optimise your listing:

    1. Register your Google My Business account…
    2. Fill out your whole Google My Business profile…
    3. Add photos to your Google My Business profile…
    4. Post news and updates to your Google My Business profile…
    5. Encourage customers to write reviews to demonstrate social proof…
    6. Link Google Analytics to Google My Business…

    1. Register your Google My Business account…

    I know it seems a little obvious, however, you need to list and verify your business on Google My Business. If you don’t do this, then your website may show up in relevant searches, but you will not have a GMB listing. 

    It’s a really simple thing to do, but trust me when I tell you that it will make a massive difference to your business. Not only will it make your business stand out in searches, but it will make you seem more legit.

    You register your coworking space here.

    2. Fill out your entire Google My Business profile…

    I know, I know it can be tempting to just fill in the bare minimum and hope it increases your coworking space leads. But you should really fill in as much information about your coworking space as possible. 

    Google says: “Local results favour the most relevant results for each search. Businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches.”

    Google decides who to show in a search based on three factors:

    • Relevance: How well does your listing match the search?
    • Distance: How far your location is from the searcher?
    • Prominence: How well known is your coworking space?

    Making sure all the relevant information is included in your listing will ensure that Google can match your community to as many searches as possible, therefore allowing you to pop up in front of more potential future coworking members.

    Hint: Search for other coworking spots local to you to see what they include in their listing

    3. Add photos to your profile

    People love “seeing” things with their own eyes. 

    Much like social media, it’s important that you add images of your logo and branding to your GMB listing so that people recognise and relate to your brand online. 

    But I’d recommend that you go one step further and upload pictures of your coworking space, and maybe even community members. 

    This will help people visualise what it’s like to be part of your community, and will help your listing stand out. 

    In fact, Google says that businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for directions, and 35% more clicks through to their websites. 

    So, taking time out to upload some professional looking photos to your listing will really help boost those leads and potentially turn them into paying members. 

    4. Post news and updates to your GMB profile…

    Neither your business nor your Google My Business profile should be a static thing. They are both dynamic, living, breathing entities, and your GMB profile should reflect this. 

    Google My Business allows you to keep your members, and potential members up-to-date with what’s happening by posting news and updates. This could be anything from change in opening hours, to a special offer. 

    For example, right now they have the option to post a COVID-19 update. So you can easily let people know whether you are open or closed, or whether you have any special measures in place. 

    Updating this also shows Google that you are still active and relevant, which means they will know to rank you higher in search results. 

    5. Encourage customers to write reviews to demonstrate social proof…

    Of course, you are going to say your coworking space is great. And I know that it is. 

    But, potential members are more likely to believe it if other people rave about your community. This might be the deciding factor in some choosing you over another space. 

    That’s why it’s important to encourage (hopefully positive) reviews from your existing coworking members. 

    PS. You might have to ask your coworking community to leave a review if they have a minute. It’s not always something that people will do without asking. 

    And, don’t forget to respond to those reviews, not only is this really polite and good practice but it helps to build trust. Even if you happen to get a not so great review, responding well publicly can help build trust and confidence in your coworking space.

    You can never really know how effective something is until you track it. 

    Which is why it’s important to make sure that you link your Google My Business into your Google Analytics account (this is your reminder to set up your website Google Analytics if you haven’t yet).

    Setting up a UTM link will enable you to track how many people make it to your website from your Google My Business profile, and what exactly they are looking at (so you know what to focus on optimising).

    So, are you ready to use Google My Business for your coworking space?

    In my opinion, not using Google My Business is a total waste. Not only is it FREE (so there’s really no reason no to use it), but it can help you drive local business to your coworking space, especially if you take a few steps to ensure it is fully optimised. 

    It’s really too great an opportunity to pass up, especially for a coworking community which relies on local traffic.
    If you want to learn more about how to market your coworking business then let me know. And it might be worth booking in for my Digital Marketing 101 workshop — to make sure the fundamentals of marketing are all in place. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference.

  • Why A Blog Will Win A Cage Fight With Social Media

    I had an agonising chat with a mate who runs a coworking space the other day, so I’m writing this post rather than punching them on the nose. 

    They said they would invest all their marketing money in Instagram when the lockdown ends so people could see their space.  

    I was in tears.  

    “I know I need a website, and once people get there, then they can buy a membership. That’s the job of a website.” 

    “But it’s much quicker to take my phone and make a caption and hashtags than write a blog post.”  

    You can see their point. 



    Something we’ve found out in the last six months on Instagram for Velvet Platform and PayPugs is that no one gives a flying ‘duck’ about you.  

    Ok, they do if you are my mates Tash and Marte on Breaking the Distance or art champion ZHC or Jennifer Aniston

    Of course, we did not try EVERYTHING, and we LOVE Instagram, but the ROI is crap.  

    Also, I believe with every social media thing, people connect with people, not brand, but you need to be there, and you need to enjoy it.  


    So what do you do? 

    Content, I’m going to go with blogging because I LOVE this. 

    I also love audio, and I’m finally warming up to video.  

    But blogging – writing some words on your website is the thing we can all do.  

    Ideally, you’ll have your website, but if not, jump on Medium or Linkedin to get going.  

    Why Words?

    Words sell things, they tell a story, and they write a review.  

    Whether you are making a blog post like what you are reading now or relying on a social network, you are writing and reading.  

    You don’t want to make crap content. 

    You certainly don’t want to make those fucking annoying little short posts that have a headline to get you to the website but tell you nothing.  

    As Avinash Kaushik from Google says, people who read longer posts are more committed to you.  

    I agree; we don’t want channel flickers. 

    We want to build an audience and authority.  

    For our ECA podcast sponsored by Cobot, we have a small and loyal audience, and we enjoy a connection.  

    People I know say, ‘I listened to your podcast’ – this is great.  

    But we’re looking to increase our audience. We’re 80+ episodes in and understand our place in the microscopic world of podcasts on coworking.  

    Now we have to work out how to get a bigger audience, and so do you.  


    I’m napalm dyslexic, and in the last ten years, my world has come alive; I use: 



    Autocomplete in One Note and Google  

    I’ve completed 2321 writing day in 750 Words.com since December 2013.

    Written 1,959,456 words.   

    And I’ve built a skill.  

    So if you can put the effort in, and so few people do, you will get somewhere. 

    The time it takes to write. 

    Look on App Sumo 

    Frase – research in Frase    

    Otter – interview  

    Google docs – shared between people 

    WP – how to add it on. 

    I send people to Jammy, Copyblogger, Grammarly, Hubspot  




    Bullet points  

    Marcus – photo 

    Don’t write for your mates; write for your customer  

    For a long time, I wrote for my mates; I’d write to impress, sometimes connect, and look back, I was trying to find my voice. 

    But part of it was writing so people would read what I had done, and if I wrote something, those few people would read at least it got read.  

    When I started to write for people who I’d wanted to hire me, it got better.  

    The best way I’ve found is the ‘They Ask You Answer‘ method by Marcus Sheridan in the book of the same name.

    Learning how to blog for real

    Over on Jammy Digital, you can download a whole spreadsheet, checklist and content planning toolkit that will save you days of guesswork. 

    Please get it here.

    In our company, the whole team are signed up for Impact Plus because they train the They Ask You Answer and focus on HubSpot.  

    Often people whine ‘they have not got time to watch a video’ and sneer.  

    I have not got time to watch a video either; in fact, I send them all to an app and listen to them. 

    But I found that when I swapped out binge-watching Netflix and Facebook to watch videos on content marketing, my income went up, and my anxiety went down.  

    Paying serious attention to how you organise your time, what you make a priority is a big deal.  

    I have always struggled with this; I never stop reading about it and looking for better ways.  

    It is not seeking a new and better system; it removes the blocks and impediments in my workflow and knows where to ask for help. 

    An essential book for me was Scott Belsky and Making Ideas Happen – he interviewed hundreds of business leaders and creatives about how they organise their workday by day and month by month.  

    The people that took a little from every system and made their system did the best.  

    When someone screaming at you like a religious fanatic about GST, Prince2 or Scrum methods, run away.  

    Indeed Jeff and JJ from Scrum inc say the same, use the outline of the framework and shape it what works for the people on your team.  


    London Bloggers Meet Up and Write Club  

  • Why we need to talk about coworking

    For a decade now, I’ve been watching people marketing coworking space. I’ve spent even more time watching people do marketing for their small businesses.

    I see a massive disconnect between what people say they want to do and what they actually do.

    Think of it like this, Dave Ramsey says that the best place to look for your life and financial priorities is your bank account.

    When I was a student, I’d whine about having no money and snuggling to pay the rent. 

    When you looked at my bank account, it read like a Time Out bar and club guide for central London.

    I had two good jobs in a restaurant and nightclub, but I acted like my customers, not like a student.

    And it is the same with marketing, and I’m going to go a little deeper here; it is what we talk about as a group of people.

    We Don’t Work In the workspace and coworking industry, there is a company, and you can read about it in Reeves book here. If this was Harry Potter, it would be Voldemort.

    Now I want to be clear that I’ve attended and run events over the years, and I’ve never been mistreated by a staff member from this company, so let’s get that clear.

    But my mate Neill constantly remind me of 2014 post here about Death Star Start-Ups.

    We are a Death Star company.

    But in the coworking industry, people and publications can’t wait to share a story about ‘we’ All Work. One of the most influential publications on the internet about work mentions them every week.

    This is like the Green Party tweeting about Mein Kamp every week.

    What is going wrong When we ask people in the Coworking Assembly what they need help with it. When we dig a bit, it comes down to ‘we need help with marketing, and the support people need getting people to find out about what a shared workspace, coworking space is.

    I know how they feel; I need help with marketing all the time.

    Most of the time, when someone comes into a workspace, they know pretty fast if they are going to move into that one or not.

    There is a skill in the way you do the tour, but that is another blog post.

    Earlier this year, a story from This week in coworking said that for every ‘We’ coworking space in Toronto, there are 25 independent coworking spaces.

    Jeannine has been saying this for years. Of course, you all know there are more small businesses in places like Reading; you just think Oracle, Microsoft and Vodafone.

    As Alex points out in his 10K jobs manifesto – it is better to have small biz than a big one.

    You can hear his 10-minute talk at the beginning of this video here.

    So tell me about your business.

    I love to say to people – ‘tell me about your business!’ 

    I learnt to do this at networking events fifteen years ago because it was so scary to talk about my one-person operation back then.

    People would talk for ages and never mention a shit head Death Star company.

    I then started to run workshops where I’d ask people to tell me about their business. 

    Then I’d have them write it down – basically, and then they’d have a blog post.

    Instead of one person, I heard about they’d be able to put it on their website or LinkedIn and millions would find it.

    We are what we say. 

    I am blown away by how many people share and RT. We have a global pandemic, and there has never been more information about spreading a virus.

    I got a little heated in This week in coworking on Friday and used some foul language.

    Instead of talking about building up freelance, micro and small business, we talked about that fucking ‘We’ company again. 

    Every time we spend time on one thing, we lose out on another.

    For example, Laura, co-founder of Women Who Cowork, has a vision of the coworking industry becoming the first gender-equal industry. 

    We have conversations about equality all the time. 

    Over the last five years, people have started to believe and understand; I know I have.

    It is a whole education process. 

    How we share, that story is a delicate process. 

    Cat Johnson, a vital voice in coworking, said, ‘when we come across as telling people they are not doing it right, it is hardly inviting.’

    We certainly don’t want to be bullying people.

  • How do you get your first few customers?

    We’re minutes away from launching our Velvet Platform and are looking for our first round of customers or early adopters. 

    Everyone from freelancers to coworking space owners asks me, ‘how do I get my first few customers?’

    This post will share the basic outline of what we are doing to get our first customers. 

    And then, in the future, you can come back and read what is working and what is not working. 

    So, how do you get your first few customers?

    That is hard to answer, and I know I need to write ‘it depends’ to a question like that.

    I believe you have to go out and listen either in person or on the internet. 

    People, including me, think that you can open something up and then people who want it will show up by magic; it does not work that way. 

    Like Alex, the Chairman of our company, said, ‘no one cares what we do!’ 

    I was delighted to hear him say this because usually, founders and CEO’s are delusional about how their products look to people in real life.  

    Marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.

    We have a ‘tight everything’ budget – so we have to bootstrap.

    Building tech and getting financial licences is a terrifyingly expensive thing to do. 

    I was super excited to get our marketing budget.

    But when it arrived, I had to get out a magnifying glass to see it. 

    But this is a good thing.

    In the last decade, I’ve been part of start-up teams or watched people get investment and blow it on a ‘growth hacker’ or another quick fix method. 

    They ‘outsource their success’ by throwing money at someone instead of plugging into the grit and doing the work. 

    My mate Jon Buscall says, ‘marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.’ 

    By doing solid, consistent actions every day, we will build what Darren Hardy calls the Compound Effect.

    Our marketing team. 

    Our marketing team is a group of freelancers from all over the world.

    We’ve now been together for eighteen months, and we worked together on European Coworking Assembly and European Freelancers Week before Velvet Platform and PayPugs came along.

    Read more about how we work in this post here: How I’m Absolutely Boosting My Productivity Score Every Week

    In 2020 we: 

    • Launched or rebuilt ten websites
    • Published over 80 podcasts 
    • Sent hundreds of email newsletters
    • Posted over a hundred blogs 
    • Sent thousands of social media posts
    • Produced events and meet-ups like Coworking Symposium and London Bloggers Meet Up, to name a few. 

    And we’re going round again now – RSVP here for Coworking Symposium 2021. 

    Getting paid as a freelancer

    In 2020 as COVID gripped the world, our team got a long way without much; more than once, we had no idea if we’d get paid. 

    One of the most stressful, gut-wrenching things when you have family and bills is when clients delay paying you. 

    Money stress gives me pain, like someone drilling the side of my forehead with a road drill. 

    Then my creativity stops dead. 

    Then I panic because I can’t think. 

    But all this pain helps us when communicating Velvet Platform; we are the user. 

    Imagine a man marketing women’s hygiene products and pretending to know where the product’s meaning is. 

    As a group, we have a long list of real-life situations of collaborating with fellow freelancers on projects and sending invoices and waiting for money to clear. 

    We’re not a big fuck-off firm full of people who have only ever got paid by salary who think they know what life as a gig worker, freelancer or consultant is. 

    Building a social media audience

    Even before we built our website, we’ve been making a small social media audience on: 





    Of course, you need a social media voice, but social media does not convert people into customers and is even worse if you are a company or a brand. 

    In the fifteen years I’ve been active on social media, I’ve seen people follow and interact with people, not companies. 

    We want to start some trouble here, of course, but I’m not betting the ranch on social media. 

    The place I think we can have fun and impact is with influencers on our Instagram account.

    Also, on LinkedIn, the freelancer and Coworking conversations have exploded in the last six months. 

    Things like This week in Coworking get a massive response every week. 

    I chat with my long time agency friend Phil Szomszor on giving LinkedIn a go in this podcast here.


    The human race is now immune to ‘advertising’, and like Jay Baer kicked out in his 2013 book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype – the best marketing has to be helpful. 

    When we have a solid customer journey and sales funnel worked out, AND our content marketing articles are stacked higher, then we’ll advertise. 

    Companies blow thousands of pounds on advertising to get people to their website, and then when people get there, it is unclear what to do. 

    Every Tuesday, I learn from my mate Kenda at the Marketing Automation Academy to make a total sales funnel; it is an art. 

    I talk with Kenda about understanding Your Customer’s Journey in this podcast here.

    Articles and the BIG FIVE

    For Velvet Platform, we’re going deep with the BIG FIVE, a method I’ve seen build for a decade now and trust it.

    The BIG FIVE are what customers want to read:

    1. Cost and pricing
    2. Comparisons
    3. Problems (theirs and yours)
    4. Best of lists (top ten etc.)
    5. Reviews

    No one gives a shit that you’ve won an award, launched a new website, have excellent customer service or even how much you innovate. 

    They want to know is: 

    How much it costs

    How it works 

    When they can get it. 

    90 days of massive action

    Over the last five years, I’ve watched many micro and small businesses grow by taking part in the 90-day content challenge built on the Big Five. 

    And I know people in the UK who have added hundreds of thousands of pounds of revenue to their company by writing a few blog posts with the Big Five method. 

    Content is where natural SEO is.

    Of course, you have to have your site set up correctly, but new valid words on your website get you found in search engines and build your online authority. 

    You can hear from Debbie Ekins about content marketing and the BIG FIVE in this podcast here

    Finding our voice and community

    We need to work on our voice; it will come, but I’m impatient.  

    We have professional looking pictures and artwork, which I’m very proud of, but I feel that we won’t have a character until we get to know the people using Velvet Platform and what makes them laugh.

    For example, I’ve been part of AppSumo for years, where the community members call themselves ‘Sumolings.’

    I’ve only met a few of these people, but I feel part of the community and have an AppSumo addiction. 

    I’m an Appsumo fanboy saving £10k a year.

    I’ve spent a few thousand pounds with AppSumo over the last six years, and I do have apps I’ve never used or were crap. 

    But the ones that made it have paid off big time – I mean BIG TIME.

    Between all the products we use for PayPugs and Velvet Platform and Grumble from SEO apps, email marketing, content marketing research and scrum project tools, we’re saving over £10k a year. 

    Saving £10k a year is a massive chunk of change when you are bootstrapping and getting going. 

    For example, you can listen to my podcast on the Soundwise App I got from App Sumo. Click here.

    Our basic 90-day plan marketing plan

    So I’m a big believer in the content, and we’re heading out like this:

    We’ll post two to three times a week like this.

    1. We’ll interview Ed Goodman from Freelancer Heroes for ‘this week in freelancing.’

    I got this idea from my mate and collaborator, Hector.

    I’ve sat beside Hector as he built This week in coworking email and watched it blow up. 

    Hector’s exclusive newsletter went to a new level when he added the weekly Clubhouse meet up.

    Ed already has a Facebook Friday live stream interview with the 11k strong UK-based Freelance Heroes Facebook group.

    2. Big Five Post – this will be questions we get on support, use cases and how the whole Velvet thing works. 

    3. I’ll post every week – and these posts will be what I submit to the next 90-day content challenge.

    These posts are from my experiences of twenty years of freelancing, remote working, podcasting, running events, communities and being a working parent.  

    Fun Fact about how Velvet Platform started:

    In 2019, Ed took to Twitter to ask about how to collect money for a charity quiz. 

    His tweets got picked up by Jeannine, who is now CEO at PayPugs with me. 

    When Jeannine ran this past Alex, a member of her coworking space, it became one of the primary use cases that led to the Velvet Platform creation. 

    Meet Up’s and Events

    In London, Velvet is sponsoring the Meet Up groups that we have built up over the last ten years.

    It was tough to keep these going in 2020, and having a small amount of funding to kick them off again is excellent.

    We’re not at the level of the good old days when company’s like eBayVodafoneZipCar and TalkTalk would sponsor thousands of pounds for an event and buy all the beer – but we were not in a global pandemic back then. 

    I love these groups, I’ve been on Meet Up since 2008, and it was the first place in the world where I read the word ‘coworking’ on Tony Bacigalupo’s NWC Meet Up.

    Some of my best friends in London have come from bloggers meet up, write club and other antics. 

    We even hosted an event at our London office for Meet Up organisers with Scott, the Meet-Up founder, back in 2012. 

    Email lists and lead magnets

    Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t what to do for a lead magnet for VP – But we need to build an email list – I tell everyone this!

    And believe me, 2020 was the year I am so glad to have kept our email lists active.  

    Sorry to bore you, but having a GDPR compliant connection to thousands of people via email is a precious thing to own. 

    We kept up emailing the London Coworking AssemblyEuropean Coworking AssemblyEuropean Freelancers Week, and other projects. 

    I’m listening harder than ever to Kenda in our weekly Marketing Automation Academy lessons. 

    BTW You can join Kenda for our London Bloggers Meet Up on How To Ace Newsletters here

    I’m working on getting Martin and Lyndsay after their SEO success for beginners session; they were a big hit – but I’ve lost their phone number. 

    First project examples

    Podcast Project 

    The first project to be set up is this, and it is one of the problems that inspired the Velvet Platform

    The project is the European Coworking Assembly podcast, which Cobot sponsor. 

    (Cobot makes software to run and manage your coworking business.) 

    Instead of the long-winded way payment gets sent now, Cobot will put the money in Velvet Platform, and the fee will automatically get sent to the podcast team every month. 

    Writers project

    In the London Coworking Assembly, we’re growing a group of paid writers from UrbanMBA students to hunt down coworking stories from the sprawling metropolis.

    Think of it as the Marvel Bullpen for Coworking in London, AKA the Full Bullpen.

    The people at these five companies are long time supporters of our Coworking Assembly mischief, and it is very cool of them to be willing to sponsor and help set this new project up for UrbanMBA.

    Our London Coworking Assembly sponsors are:


    Tech Sapiens



    Salto Systems

    We’ll plug all these companies into the Velvet Platform, and then the writers and podcasters will get paid out automatically when the work is marked complete. 

    Velvet beta testers welcome

    We have a beta testers group that you’d be very welcome to join. 

    The Velvet Platform will work for you as a: 


    International project founder

    Remote first companies and employee

    Multicurrency project


    Revenue share project

    Influencers and collaborator

    Co-living project

    Event coordinator

    You can request an early invite’ here, and we’ll be in touch – mention my name, and you’ll get a good seat.

  • So, reader, last week, I took a look at how my workflow and execution was going in this post here.

    After a week of action, and there was a lot of effort, the hard truth is I’ve got a lot of improvement to do. 

    Part of me still feels like I’m writing a blog for someone else. 

    Ten years ago, one of my freelancer jobs was ghostwriting a thought leadership blog for a tech firm’s CEO.

    As I write this, it feels like I am making this up for him, not me.

    But the problems I’m having are mine, and I’m looking to sort them out.

    Making my sprint board

    Last week I wrote about how I’d sorted out my sprint board in Nifty and had a go at getting all our team into the scrum.

    On Monday, at our weekly catch up, I shouted out a few things, and everyone agreed to have a go. 

    We decided a daily stand up in slack was how we’d start; ten people in five times zones means a written update works best.

    Everyone also gently suggested I could give them more work and stop trying to do everything solo. 

    After 20 years of being a freelancer, the habit of doing everything on my own is hard to break. 

    And it is not like I was superhuman at it; there is a lot of blood on the dance floor from me working this way. 

    I made my sprint board public and started to use it. 

    More on this later.

    S&M catch up call

    Every two weeks, all the marketing squad has an hour-long call and Jelena, Kristine, and Jeannine join in.

    We kicked off this week with a stand-up; everyone shared what they are working on and what is in their way.

    It went well, maybe only because I did less talking, so the whole thing was more interesting. 

    The energy felt good; Sharmae, our Hubspot warrior and soon to be Scrum Master, went off to hunt down stand up apps to plug into slack.

    The next day everyone made their stand up in slack, and the same the day after.

    So stage one happens fast; people were up for it, and now we need to make sure it makes sense to people. 

    It works like this.

    Sharma sends a reminder message, and by the end of the day, everyone has added what they are doing.

    I noticed my anxiety dropped by 70% when I read peoples updates.

    This simple share frees up a part of my brain that started ticking about where we are and what we could do.

    Soon we’ll stop dicking around writing marketing reports and look at the sprint board to see what has got done. 

    With the sprint board updated daily, it will be more accurate than a report. 

    Fast Company

    A lot happens in our marketing team; websites, blogs, emails and documents get spat out at an alarming rate.

    Some weeks Alex, our founder, starts yet another company to operate in another part of the world. 

    We have a core group of products around: 

    • AML (anti-money laundering)
    • KYC (know your customer)
    • GDPR (I never know what that stands for) 
    • And a whole load of tech, fin-tech and marketing.

    Everything happens fast.

    This week we launched Grumble for business formation almost anywhere in the world.

    Ask don’t tell

    In the JJ Sutherland books about scrum, he constantly rams home about listening to the team and working out how to do things together.

    Telling them we’re doing scrum is not going to get the best from people; we’re going to slow down to speed up. 

    By Thursday, I’d started to get impatient about how we were doing scrum. 

    Then I realised we’d only talked about it on Friday and agreed to start it on Monday.

    Jeff Sutherland, the co-founder of the Agile Manifesto, explains the structure of scrum in this video. 

    The Gangster content move 

    One of our team’s best ‘tricks’ is content production. 

    In the last 12 months, across our company and coworking projects, we’ve produced hundreds of blogs, podcasts, and email newsletters. 

    Our ‘gangster move’, as Professor Scott Galloway, author of ‘Post Corona‘ likes to say, is interviewing people.

    We record an interview, send the audio to the Otter app and then editing the transcript.

    We used to ask people for guest blogs and spent more time email people to ask where it was, and hardly ever got any. 

    Anyone can do this, even you.

    But getting it edited, so it sounds human and readable, is where the art is and finishing it.

    Formula one content team

    Watch this video of the Red Bull formula one pit stop team here.

    Imagine who many conversations they’ve had as a team to get to this level of flow.

    How do they work out which team members makes the best move in which position?

    I quickly got thinking if we could get high-quality content production to this level of team flow?

    We design an interview system from the questions to the recording to the editing and the featured images to hitting publish.

    How long?

    • Two weeks?
    • Two days?
    • Two hours?

    We have a rock-solid foundation.

    We follow StoryBrand, Business Made Simple University, and They Ask You Answer and put our spin on it all.

    Our team has a lot of character, experience and zest, so I am confident no one, apart from me, will turn into a zombie.

    We have a lot of technical knowledge inside Velvet Platform and PayPugs. 

    Our goal is to get on our website to build trust and save people asking the same questions. On the phone with us.

    These days 80% or more of the buyer journey happens online, and people research before calling us. 

    The $10 million blog post

    Years ago, when I wrote the CEO’s ghost blog, I also talked at conferences about ‘How one man made $4 million from one blog post.’ 

    People would rush to see the get rich quick tactic I was sharing. 

    Marcus Sheridan was the one man, and his $4 million blog post was ‘How much does a fibreglass pool cost?’ 

    At that point in 2012, he’d tracked 4.4 dollars worth of sales from people finding that post. 

    When I asked Marcus in 2020, they’d tracked $10 million of revenue in HubSpot alone. 

    Drop the est.

    People don’t want to know you are the leading, biggest, oldest, 

    greatest, anything ending in ‘est’ is more of a trust killer for me. 

    People want to know how much it will cost and work with for them?

    Think about when you are looking for headphones on Amazon. 

    Do you look for things like: 

    Does the Bluetooth work with Chome Cast? 

    Is this keyboard Windows compatible? 

    How many USB slots does this have?

    Will this power supply work in my country?

    I bet you don’t look for how many awards it has won or if the company say they are the biggest. 

    What does that even mean anyway?

    Back to my sprint board

    So I got to the end of the week, and a lot got done, and I could have tracked more and been more focused.

    The true answer is that I did not complete my work that was essential to the team completing their sprint work. 

    And I’m the team leader.

    I am horrified at how many important things like email newsletters and event descriptions rolled over to the end of Friday.

    Calls I had scheduled took more time, well they did not take more time. I enjoyed chatting. 

    I spent more time on my email than I thought. 

    I said yes to meetings at short notice and spent more time thinking about the appointment than being in it. 

    Action steps

    I’ve been using RescueTime for a decade now, and this week I paid more attention to it, and the news is not good.

    I’m going to ruthlessly reset the focus time to only allow me into the apps and websites I use. 

    I also noticed I spend a crazy amount of time switching between apps and messaging tools – so I got Shift again. 

    Another thing I committed to was Text Expander.

    It enables you to type long words, even this whole blog post, in a keyboard shortcut. 

    I’ve used CRM email templates and predictive text for years. 

    Every day I write Velvet PlatformLondon Coworking Assembly,

    London Bloggers Meet Up

    A LOT.

    Sending personal emails to people is essential to me. I often include links to projects like this hyperlinked block below.

    Now I type ‘cwp’ instead of all the text and hyperlinking. 

    In 2021, we’re building these coworking projects. 

    Text Expander also auto checks and corrects words from HubSpot to appearance.

    Everything I write online, on mobile or on my computer gets a Grammarly check. 

    The Text Expander features and auto check adds even more speed to writing, editing and all in one screen. 

    Writing out tasks

    I keep a better focus on a task list when it is right in front of my nose. 

    So this week, I wrote my daily tasks on the whiteboard opposite my desk in our Velvet Platform office.

    Also, I went back to the short daily planner sheet that is part of the ‘Hero on a mission’ course. 

    You’ll find this easy yet profound daily productivity lesson inside Business Made Simple University

    I want to be a bigger man who does not have to fill in a sheet to help him get his work done. 

    But it makes it happen and stops me from lying to myself and others about what will happen. 

    Why it is not exceptional 

    I the mid 90’s worked with a mighty Sous Chef called Chris Pope in the Mayfair Intercontinental Hotel in London. 

    I worked in the restaurant and the kitchen in my two years there.

    We’d serve people like Roger Moore, Lisa Stansfield and Bernie Ecclestone, The Monkees, Gwen Stefani, The Beasties Boys, to name a few regulars.

    And these were only famous people; alongside this, there was an endless stream of Royalty and business people. 

    That kitchen was one of the most significant learning curves of my life; there was no fucking around.

    Chris was a total pro; I was still getting over seeing someone famous in the hotel lobby every day. 

    Being a committed Sous Chef, Chris quickly got to work on me; I’d be all happy I’d chopped some mushrooms in thirty minutes. 

    Chris would be like, ‘Mitchell, it’s not exceptional; it’s just what we expect.’ 

    He’d often add something like, ‘when you can do it in 10 minutes, you’ll get my attention.’

    Commitment vs action

    One day he delivered me a stern lecture about the responsibility of committing to the team. 

    He was more hurt than pissed off. 

    You see, I thought I’d fully committed; Chris pointed out my actions made it evident that I’d only ‘made a claim’ about my commitment to the chef work and team. 

    I was chopping up a box of onions and wrestling another Break for the Border; ‘Jose Cuervo induced’ hangover as Chris bellowed this at me. 

    That was over twenty years ago, and that scene pops in my head when I need the lesson. 

    My ten-year-old son knows that story and now walks around our house telling me, ‘Dad, it’s not exceptional, it’s just whats’s expect! 

    And he’s fucking right. 

    No gold star?

    And this is true of my work now; I still secretly hope for a gold star or a standing ovation when I complete a routine task.

    So when I: 

    • Post a podcast. 
    • Lock the front door.
    • Publish what you’re currently reading. 
    • Get my son to school at 08:45. 
    • Pay an invoice on time. 

    A little part of me wants Oprah to surprise me in a TV studio with all my work colleagues and family and give me a car. 

    Of course, no one gives a flying fuck when or how I do these everyday things. 

    And it is a pure mental waste for me; it must have a self-induced mental health tax, as well as the time cost.

    Value-driven leader

    The concept of a value-driven leader is a Business Made Simple University theme. 

    If you have read any Viktor Frankl and Stephen Covey, you’ll be well on your way with this idea. 

    Most of all, I am committed to getting my shit working before I start shouting about how great it all is. 

    It is super crucial for me to change myself before asking other people to adapt.

    One of the greatest life lessons I’ve gained from doing the 12 Week year is reflection and review. 

    I want to write now: I look back at every week in a detailed exercise. 

    But I rush it every Monday morning with Karen in our weekly WAM – see this post here. 

    I then reflect by writing posts like the one you are reading, and in the 90-day content challenge, these posts get reviewed. 

    Even these little pockets of ‘after-action report’, peer review and reflection get me something. 

    Anger and gratitude

    Whenever someone like my wife, son or team member points out a shortcoming or blind spot, I have a wave of anger flow over me. 

    But I’m angry with myself for not spotting it; I’m grateful that these people give a shit even to want to point it out.

    The further I get into this current Velvet Platform and PayPugs journey, the more challenging and exciting it is. 

    I feel alive and engaged more and more every day, and we’re only getting warmed up!

  • So, reader, I stopped writing here for a couple of weeks, and this post is about how I got back in the groove. 

    In the last two weeks, I’ve been losing my hair, and parts of my body have been falling off with confusion and stress. 

    Then I thought about how to set the reset button. 

    It can’t go on like this; I spent a day walking around, hoping that by the end of the day, it would all have sorted itself out.

    It did not.

    There was not anything particularly wrong, but I felt a massive amount of brain fog and confusion. 

    But this is not that doom and terror depression-like stress and despair.

    I mean, this is a kind of holy fuck; this is happening rush of confusion. 

    It’s like having a baby.

    Like when you become a parent, you walk around for nine-months saying, ‘we’re going to have a baby!’ 

    Then one day, your baby arrives, and everything changes.

    For nine months, you knew it was going to change, and you’ve seen babies before, then when you have your own one in your home – holy moly! 

    What is happening then?

    In 2020 there was a ‘does anyone know what is going on feeling?’ 

    We battled hard with websites, London Coworking Assembly membership and European Freelancers Week

    Now we’re about to hit a new phase, and it feels like the ‘real’ work is about to begin. 

    In the last four weeks, we’ve:

    Published our PayPugs site, and it’s making money.

    Published our Velvet Platform website, and the payment platform is in testing right now.

    London Coworking Assembly is going strong with the events and meetups building steadily. 

    We signed four sponsors who will fund students from UrbanMBA to write blog posts on the London Coworking Assembly site. 



    Tech Sapiens


    Salto Systems

    All their sponsorship payments will go through the Velvet Platform; how good is that for a product launch? 

    We’re filling up fast for our second Coworking Symposium event with the Prague University of Economics and Business.

    The Coworking I.D.E.A. Project to make coworking more Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable and Accessible is off to a strong start.

    Back to the scrum book

    So I went back to my beloved Jeff Sutherland scrum book and looked at how I could get a grip. 

    The book is called Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time – you can get it here.

    ‘Scrum’ is a project method born out of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development – or did Agile come from Scrum?

    I’ve been in many projects where we’ve used Scrum or our version of it. 

    In 2014 as I headed off to Coworking Europe and the coworking camp for the first time, I downloaded Scrum by Jeff Sutherland. 

    I walked around Lisbon listening to how all those little columns on trello or kanban boards could build space ships, cars and cash machines. 

    And build them with less work, on time and on budget. 


    Where did Scrum help?

    I’d been messing about with Trello for a few years and loved it, but I did not completely understand how it worked.

    Reading that book was a total Neo in the Matrix stopping the bullets moment. 

    I loved the way you organise and show where you are, doing things in a way that lets others see what is going on.

    Being open and honest with your energy, time, and the amount you have on was great. 

    Your project board is like lists of post-it notes in four columns. 

    Backlog – this is everything in the project – think of it like ‘an inbox’.

    To do – what you are doing now (sprint backlog)

    Doing – what you are doing right now.

    Done – what you have completed. 

    Ensuring you are not doing things for the sake of doing them, doing little steps and seeing if that is what everyone needed. 

    And checking in often, the best is every day in a Stand-Up. 


    What is a daily stand up?

    The basic stand up is:

    A 15-minute report done standing up, so you don’t get comfortable! 

    Everyone reports:

    What they did.

    What they are going to do.

    What is in their way?

    The ‘what is in your way’ is the mind-blowing question for me.

    90% of the things in my way are things I’m too scared to ask for help with. 

    And for a long time, I’d rather struggle to work it out than ask for help or pass the task on. 

    Of course, after a certain point, everyone knows you are in the shit. 

    They can smell you are avoiding asking for help, so it is better to ask for help early. 

    Too much going on?

    For around five years now, my mate Karen and I have had a ‘Weekly Accountability Call’ – known as a “WAM” every Monday at 09:30 am.

    Based on the “12 Week Year” book, this “WAM” session is a weekly stand up. 

    We share what we got done last week and what we are going to do next week.


    Now my point here is this:

    Whatever is happening, I have too much on; I’m in a whirlwind.

    If I am a freelancer – I’m in a whirlwind.

    If I am helping run a coworking space – I’m in a whirlwind. 

    Or, as I am now part of a 50 person company running two-three brands – and guess what? 

    In his 2015 book, 4 Disciplines of Execution which, builds on a 2005 workshop recording by Stephen R. Covey Jennifer Colosimo, the author Sean Covey digs into our ‘mode of working.’

    Sean got my attention when he talked about people ‘working in a whirlwind.’ 

    I have long thought that I love working in a whirlwind; I get a lot done. 

    But how does this affect everyone else?


    My work wife

    My ‘work wife’ Jeannine has legal, business acumen and in-depth knowledge of learning and working styles. 

    Jeannine was already skilled in accepting my whirlwind. 

    Now she knows how to nudge me with a stick and keep me going or get me to stop.

    She is skilled at letting me know I’m lying to me, her and the rest of our team when I say, ‘yes, I have time for that; let me do it!’

    But it has taken several car crash episodes over the five years to learn to keep my mouth shut and only work on what I can do. 

    These days when Jeannine asks, ‘are you sure you have enough time?’ I know where to go. 


    Are you living on the edge?

    A long time ago, I talked with my mate Daniel, and somehow he slipped into the conversation a question. 

    ‘Bernie, have you ever considered you love living on the edge? Is this the place you like to operate from?’

    To be clear, ‘living on the edge’ in this context is not in a glamorous James Bond type way. 

    But a tragic self-sabotage type way. 

    Like a drunk elephant trying to walk on a tight rope over a group of school children eating their pack lunch in a museum. 


    The Whirlwind

    It is worth connecting Daniels question to the whirlwind I work in now.

    Because whatever is going on, good or bad, I still get myself in the same spot.

    The effect on me.

    When I don’t get things done, I get angry and mad with myself. 

    Then things pile up.

    Then I get very stuck and don’t think straight.


    The Total Kill to my flow

    Two things that kill my flow and creativity dead are too much going on and no money in my bank account. 

    When I enter space, I have to use my self-awareness not to start an infinite loop of doom. 

    Even if I only have £50, I know I can buy an excellent double espresso, a kombucha and get the bus home with my son if it’s raining.

    When I have to micromanage money, I compulsively check my bank every thirty minutes on my phone. 

    Eventually, I start having exhausting panic attacks, and my brain shuts down.


    Ctrl, Alt, Delete

    As you may know yourself, cash flow has been razor-thin through 2020, so being able to work in a whirlwind with very little cash was a great skill to have. 

    But now that type of pain is over. 

    Even with the world in a place of uncertainty, I’ve never been on more solid ground. 

    I’ve developed a ‘Ctrl, Alt, Delete’ tactic from journaling and making life plans. 

    You can find these plans in the ‘12 Week Year‘ book, and the ‘Hero on a mission‘ course in Business Made Simple University

    Because I write out where things are going and what I’m going to use to get me there, I can delete the swarm I’ve created for myself and reset. 


    Setting up scrum boards

    So I reread the Jeff Sutherland scrum book – that is around 15 times in six years now.

    I love rereading books now; I’m in a different position to when I brought them.

    In every book, I hear new things relevant to the goals and frustrations I have now. 

    I jumped into Nifty, the project alternative to Asana, Trello, and Basecamp I got from App Sumo. 

    If you are interested here’s a blog I wrote about scrum.


    Pro tip: Get on App Sumo

    If you are starting something, get over to App Sumo and start paying attention to the deals. 

    Two App Sumo products we use in our company are: 

    Nifty project tool:

    I paid a one-off fee of $250 for a lifetime plan for 15 seats, unlimited clients and guests, and 1 TB of storage. 

    If we paid monthly, it would $149 A MONTH!

    Frase AI/SEO content creator: 

    I paid a one-off fee of $138 for a lifetime team plan that would be $114 A MONTH!

    That is $3,156 saving a year for a $388.00 investment! 

    Can you imagine adding up the time we save with both Frase and Nifty

    Because that is where the real gold is; Frase scans the internet for other content based on our topic, which alone saves a couple of research hours on writing a post. 

    Join App Sumo for free here.


    But, no one is coming to save you, not even an app.

    I’ve invested a lot of time learning how to learn; it has helped me outrun and fall in love with my dyslexia. 

    Especially things like Mind MeisterVoice Dream Reader, and my Ipad have changed my life and career. 

    But it is important to note that you have to do the work.

    If we were in college, the reward comes from reading 1984 by George Orwell or Romeo and Juliet and then doing the essay. 

    There is no reward in buying an essay from a website or an app.

    It is tempting to ‘outsource our success’ to other people, apps, website and other peoples plans. 

    Nobody and no apps are coming to save you.


    The Set-Up Now

    I opened the scrum board template in Nifty you see below.

    Then I set myself a set of five week-long sprints and loaded all the things only I can do in there. 

    I’m going to have to be super disciplined to keep focused on time blocks and not take on other stuff. 

    When I commit to this, I’ll clear my backlog.

    I’ll get back content for blogs, podcasts, websites and emails that I’ve struggled to do in the last two weeks. 

    I adore writing and interviewing people; it breaks my heart when I allow myself to fall off the wagon and into my whirlwind. 

  • Do We Improve a Weakness or Focus on Key Strengths?

    TLDR – I got a good result from doubling down on a weakness.

    Before you get into this post, I’m offering a very personal reflection of weaknesses and strengths.
    So if you are looking for scientific confirmation, this is not the post for you.
    My miserable, little life is a constant work in progress with highs and lows.
    I am yet to make enough money to set fire to Lamborghini’s ‘live’ on Instagram for a laugh, so don’t expect a watertight success formula here.
    So should we improve our weaknesses or focus on strengths?
    In this post’s context, I would say it depends on your end goal or life plan.
    If you are in a place where being the best in the world at something will serve you, follow what Jim Collins calls the hedgehog concept.
    The Hedgehog Concept comes from the Jim Collins book Good to Great.

    A simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding about the intersection of three circles:
    1) What you are deeply passionate about?
    2) What you can be the best in the world at?
    3) What best drives your economic or resource engine?

    How I started to think about my weakness.

    Way back in 2016, when Slack, Zoom and Elementor for WordPress were still shiny new things, I participated in a mind map workshop by my friend Caroline.
    It was in the ‘Coworking Camp’ part of the Coworking Europe Conference that year.
    In the simple class, Caroline asked us to map out where we’d like to be in one, three, five and ten years.
    Of course, this timeline had occurred to me before but doing it with a group of people and doing it on a mind map blew my head off.
    Painfully it brought into focus how many things I was spending time on that had nothing to with where I wanted to go with my family, my career and life.
    It was not that bad; I was in the right place for many things.
    But as Jim Collins says, I did not have the right people on my bus, and no one was in the right seats.

    Building a life plan

    After the Coworking Conference, I dived into Fizzle, an excellent place for freelancers and ‘independent economic agents’ to find to sort their act out.
    Fizzle worked for me at the time because there was a clear road map to show you through the hours of courses in there.
    In summer 2017, sitting in my mates garden in Poland hammering away at my keyboard, I decided to make a ten-year life commitment to sorting my shit out.
    I can’t recall whether it was my idea or something in a course in Fizzle.
    Before you get too impressed, I only know this because I set reminders and appointments in my google calendar for those ten years.
    I’ve never found the plan again, but it is basically to travel and live in Spain, Poland, Argentina and the UK and work online.
    That work will be creating content, podcasts, blogs and be in building community and building things.
    Painfully vague, I know.

    Get Specific

    One of the best things I got out of Fizzle in 2017 was the decision matrix exercise which was part of the road map.
    Outlined here in this video
    I listed everything I know or think I know about and then scored each thing out of ten to how it works for me.
    A new and fast-growing topic:
    Something you’re already an expert at:
    Something you love, almost in an unhealthy way (you eat, sleep and breath this):
    A topic that you know important/influential people within:
    There was a lot in there; the three topics that came out the other end were:

    • Podcasting
    • Coworking
    • Productivity

    So I had to find a way to make all these things work together, which, to be honest, took a while find.
    So that was August 2017, and as we head for August 2021, it is way nearer than I thought it would be.
    We’re not about to head into an ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’ post.

    Here is the turning point

    In January 2019, I read David Goggins book ‘Can’t hurt me’, which is the best book I have in the hundreds of books in my Audible library,
    It helped me stop the endless self-doubt and inner complaining that had rattled around my head for my entire life.
    But it confused me when Goggins told us we should double down on our weaknesses.
    He has a riff about ‘true growth is at scratch’, and if we only do the same thing all the time we sacrifice our growth, we get comfortable.
    He recommends we look at things and say I’m not good at it, but I’m going to be great.

    What I’m crap at

    I am crap at many things, so I was not about to double down on learning Japanese.
    Nor was I about to double down being a midwife.
    I was crap at hitting publish and writing.
    So crap, every post and podcast and email I publish were like giving birth, so maybe that midwife weakness is not a weakness after all.
    What stopped me? Things like imposter syndrome, lack of planning, lack of direction and unbelievable fear.

    I had to beat this.

    Part of me thought I was great at content, which was a fantasy.
    I did not view my ‘content ability’ as a weakness; this is something I could do better than most people.
    But following the ’12 Week Year’ and ’90 Day Challege’ showed me how much of a fantasy my publishing career was.

    I doubled down.

    I grew up and went to war with myself on how to make hitting publish happen.
    What part of the process goes wrong for me?
    Where do I waste time?
    A big issue was getting my work out of Google docs and onto a website.
    Checking the post with Grammarly and Natural Reader takes me ages.
    I’m wonderfully Dyslexic, so I often miss letters or words, even after checking hundreds of times.
    When formatting posts, working in Canva and other SEO elements, I’d go down a rabbit hole for hours, days, even weeks.

    Get some help

    Venice and Zara came on board to help with our websites and hitting publish.
    I hired my mate Debbie to write posts that I know we need, but I don’t have the aptitude for writing.
    Like this one on coworking space software.
    Jax, a fellow marketing freelancer and I accidentally formed a rock-solid working relationship, and delivery shot up.
    (Mainly her doing!)
    One killer move was that we started to record interviews with people, run them through the otter app and edit them into blog posts.

    I committed to only a few frameworks.

    Everything I work on comes from these three books or frameworks.
    I go into detail in this post here.

    • 12 Week Year
    • They Ask You Answer
    • Marketing Made Simple

    Of course, these books connect to other practices, frameworks, communities, classes and software.
    But I always come back to these three when I’m confused or overwhelmed, which happens daily.

    How is my weakness working out?

    In January 2019, I read the David Goggins book and started the fight with myself.
    After a struggle, wandering around in the dark, and bumping into more than a few hard things, great results started happening.

    2020 was where real growth happened.

    In the face of the most challenging time for our industry and the world, my crew consistently produced more content than ever.
    Most of our workflow across all our projects got organised at the end of 2019.
    In 2020, we published more podcasts, blogs, and email newsletters than ever.
    I mean, like hundreds and hundreds, my face fell off.
    So many words got written and published that we felt like Marvel Comics.

    Marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.

    My mate Jon Buscall has been saying this for years; this is how I understand the ‘hit publish’ quest.
    It started with sorting out my ‘hit publish’ issue and has led to a never-ending job of fine-tuning and constant improvement.
    There is still so much to do, to fix, to learn.
    Right now, I’m focusing on copywriting, email marketing and headline writing.
    After this journey, I’d tell you to pick a weakness within where you want to be strong; what are you avoiding?
    What part of your puzzle does not work?
    Look at that with radical self-honesty, and get some help!

  • I had a few calls last month with people opening a coworking space in their local area. 

    This post has the answers I found myself giving every time; all of the people I spoke with were independent owners with their own money. 

    They are opening in their local town or village because they do not want to travel anymore. 

    You’ll have noticed our global pandemic. 

    The pandemic brings an endless debate on the future of work; together with a wheelbarrow load of uncertainty.

    Even people like me, who have only a passing understanding of economics, know that we’re in for a rough ride ahead. 

    But at the same time, if you have a website and know how to use it, you will do well. 

    Professor Scott Galloway writes about this in his book Post Corona published at the end of 2020.

    He shows how online, e-commerce and tech grew more in 2020 than in the last 20 years. 

    Please don’t get too excited; he also details who is suffering and where we need to pay attention as a human race. 

    The future of work is now.

    While the world is in the shit if you have a website that solves a problem and communicate well, you’ll be fine.

    As you wade through the fluff and noise, it is evident that the way people work has changed forever. 

    It is a change that was coming anyway. 

    Still, COVID has accelerated the adoption of remote work and stopped the commute dead in its tracks.

    Our friends at Town Square spent summer 2020 thinking about one question – what if everyone could walk to work?

    I’ve been doing video calls, running around coworking spaces or working from home for a decade now. 

    I thought this was what most people who hammer a keyboard for al living did? 

    For many of my friends and family, this is a new paradigm. 

    This time last year they thought Zoom was a song by Fat Larry’s Band. 

    The rise of the neighbourhood workspace

    In March 2020, as the world evacuated to home, people told me about these ‘new things’ called Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom. 

    People also started to tell me about remote work and coworking. 

    It seemed an understanding of this strange world I’d been operating in for years had gone mainstream. 

    We podcasted with David Brown in summer 2020 as he opened his new coworking space in Queens Park London. 

    He got sixty new members in a few weeks – Podcast here: David Brown – The 15-Minute City And The Good Space Work ClubListen here.

    Harder than you think

    As I write this, we’re working on two websites for our products PayPugs and Velvet Platform

    We’re a team of people building, writing and posting things and I still need to blow into a paper bag to calm down.

    My head is always about to fall off because it is hard to see what something is until it is out there and put to work. 

    My main message is to do one or two things well and park everything else. 

    Everyone has an opinion on what is most important, so be careful who you listen to, especially me. 

    1. Be careful about how you spend your budget.

    And you need to have a budget for marketing it is the fuel for people knowing how you can help them with your product or service. 

    Don’t confuse ‘having a budget’ with ‘not having to pay’ I’d say don’t spend money on stuff you don’t understand yet. 

    I’ve met too many people who sign up for the pro version of Hubspot or pay £10k for a website before they have a customer.  

    They are outsourcing their success to technology rather than taking responsibility for their marketing. 

    2. Start with a simple website first

    Even if you have a one-page website where people can put their email address in that is enough. 

    The combination of having somewhere to send people and get their email address so you can send them an email newsletter to say ‘we are open’ is the marketing equivalent of a small gas burner and tin can to cook with when you are camping. 

    Next, you need to get a blog section on there and write about what you are working on, then post this and send it to the email list. 

    Listen to: Kenda Macdonald: Understanding Your Customer’s Journey.

    How To Market Your Coworking Space the Simple Way

    3. How much does a website cost?

    It depends. 

    Sorry, every line has to start with that.

    Budget between £40 and £100 a month for your website at the start.

    I’ve met many people scared about paying this money, but they’d spend that on a takeaway pizza and some beers without thinking. 

    The two places I’d recommend are WordPress or Squarespace.

    I prefer WordPress, and it is the one I’ve been learning for the last fifteen years.

    As you grow, WordPress will grow with you; at this very early stage, you don’t want to be even thinking about these things. 

    It is like working out what University you child will go to a few hours after they’ve been born. 

    Square Space could be a more simple option at this early stage because it has things like an email list built-in. 

    Once you get past this very early stage, expect to pay between £1500 and £5000 for a website to run your business. 

    All those people who ‘got a WordPress website done for £500 on Fiver.com are full of shit and will pay the price later. 

    Our coworking friends Included won’t build you a WordPress website, but they’ll maintain it for you – more here.

    The book Marketing Made Simple maps out how to make a website and includes worksheets you can give a web designer. 

    Donald Miller and JJ Peterson

    4. Where to host your website?

    Now you will need to do some research, W.P. Engine host my websites, here, you can set up a website and keep it online from £25 a month.

    I’ve been using W.P. Engine services for years, and they are rock solid. 

    Of course, you can find hosting for £5 a month, but you get what you pay for in quality, plus good support means you’ll sleep well at night.

    And W.P. Engine has incredible support in a chat can quickly point you in the right direction. 

    Even if you only have a one-page website, having it set up correctly from the start is what you need to do. 

    Look up How much does it cost to build your WordPress website?

    By Jammy Digital

    And see Included web people for WordPress support for coworking spaces. 

    5. Start an email newsletter – NOW!

    Get people’s email addresses, but only interested people. 

    You will hear people shouting the words’ sales funnel’ when talking about marketing, you will be dazzled by their YouTube videos and technology. 

    Your email list is your sales funnel. 

    When you ask people to put their email address into your website, you start making a sales funnel. 

    You will already know these people; you talk with them at the school gates when you pick your kids up, they are in your networking groups. 

    Then every week you will email a couple of paragraph’s and maybe a picture saying something like:

    Hello Sam, 

    We’re working here on ‘Local Coworking Space’ and will be ready in a few weeks. 

    We’re excited to open, and we’d like to invite you to come and have a look around when it works for you. 

    Why is this useful for you?

    Maybe you are like us and last year stopped running for the train and commuting into town for work. 

    Have you been working from home for a long time now and looking somewhere to get your work done that is close to home?

    To be around other people who are in a similar mindset and work better when around people?

    Our main reason for creating this workspace was to get our work done and connect with other local people. 

    Of course, if this is not something you are looking for please feel free to unsubscribe, we’ll send a helpful update every week.

    Hit reply book a time to look around or tell us what would be useful. 

    Thanks to from **Your name here**

    When you send something personal it will show you give a shit.

    It is worth putting in extra effort to speak.

    If you have one hundred people join your email list and only have twenty desks tell you’ll be off to a good start. 

    Is what we’re doing too. 

    We’re about to open Velvet Platform and I’ll be personally emailing back everyone who puts there email in our website to asking a simple questions. 

    Not to ‘hard sell’ but to find out what matters to them. 

    And this is because we want to be in tune with people not ‘telling them stuff’ after while we’ll have a good feel for what is essential to people on the list. 

    An excellent book for working this out is The Mum Test

    By Rob Fitzpatrick

    6. Should I be on social media?

    Yes and no.

    Have that one-page website with an email list. 

    Then pick where else you’ll have fun and be on that social media platform. 

    When you have a team, a budget then you can be everywhere. 

    If I still worked for a coworking space, I’d take a picture and post it on Instagram every day, after that and I’d be on LinkedIn. 

    One real and straightforward Instagram post about what is happening in your coworking space every day will do more to connect with your audience than any advert. 

    LinkedIn is professional people from all walks of life, all with a budget for something. 

    Social media advertising?

    And don’t do any social media advertising until you have a website, paying for an advert that says ‘space to rent’ is like throwing a fridge out a window.


    Exactly there is no point to it. 

    People may see the advert, but any advert that is not a part of a planned customer journey is a waste of money.

    Listen to: Kenda Macdonald: Understanding Your Customer’s Journey.

    How To Market Your Coworking Space the Simple Way

    7. Get some software to run your coworking space.


    There is software? 

    What does it do?

    Read this post here – The Best Coworking Space Management Software: Nexudus Vs Cobot Vs OfficeRnD

    I know at least another ten software platforms for running your coworking space on, so please don’t think these are the only these three. 

    If you have under one hundred seats in your coworking space spending £30 – £60 a month on software is a bargain. 

    You will be able to automate booking desks, meeting rooms, invoicing, and communication with your members. 

    There is a learning curve, and most platforms come with a month-long free trial. 

    8. Further resources:

    Coworking or shared workspace- whatever you want to call it has been growing non-stop for fifteen years (at least) here is a list of projects, people and things to help you save time and not reinvent the wheel. 

    Here are the ten main Coworking Assembly projects in Europe and the U.K.

    9. Go and do some work.

    Along with sorting out the building, getting staff and ordering the furniture you do well by investing time in:

    Making a straightforward website

    Building an email list and sending an email every week

    Using coworking space software 

    You will be in a better place to keep your costs low and attract members.

  • Quick start to your marketing plan, well you need to allow at least fourteen hours.
    And then the time you spend thinking about it.
    But you don’t make thousands of pounds a month by spending a few minutes making a plan and executing it in one day.

    The Pain

    A lot of the pain we face with marketing is not knowing what bit to do when. 

    Every book, video, blog post or course gives us a new idea.

    You end up trying a new thing every week, second and third guessing yourself. 

    I also believe people are either too lazy to work it out or outsource their success and hope it works. 

    Which is why I meet so many people paying £500 a month for SEO, but they never put new content on their website. 

    SEO is Dead! 

    In the decade I’ve been running London Bloggers Meet Up I’ve heard the term ‘SEO is dead’ around a million times. 

    (And I am downplaying that stat). 

    I have yet to see the time when SEO is dead. 

    The right, helpful content helps you optimise your website for search engines, and it’s always been that way. 

    The short cut

    Anyway, after thirty-odd years of the internet, we’re still sending emails and going to a search box to type in words. 

    We’re all looking for the secret edge, the magic trick and the shortcut, me too! 

    But after reading hundreds of books, taking online courses and running workshops not stop for years, I’ve got it down to these three books. 

    Emails and blogs once a week

    And it is the painful art of consistency that will make you stand out, not desperate discounts, free beer or table football in your coworking space.

    If you’d opened a coworking space in the London gold rush of 2014 and had done a blog and an email every week, your consistency would have you killing it in SEO now. 

    Since I got into coworking in 2010, I’ve met very few people bothered to maintain an email newsletter and write on their website. 

    And in 2021, having a website that shares who you are and makes people want to leave you their email address is one of the most valuable things you can have. 

    We have thousands of people we can email every week between all our projects, which kept the show on the road in 2020, it has taken years to build up those emails. 

    Too late to start?

    But it is never too late to start. 

    And one side bonus of the COVID is more people are online than ever before. 

    And more people are looking for a space to work near where they live. 

    This podcast we did with David Brown shows how valuable a ‘local coworking space’ became in 2020 – listen here.

    The mental leap is hard.

    We’ve struggled too, for over ten years the gang and I’ve been running weekly events on MeetUp.com. 

    Through 2020, I did not know what to do because my mindset for meetup.com was stuck on ‘in person’ events. 

    I could not make the mental leap from in-person to online with Meet Up.

    We had hundreds of people attend our other online events every month. 

    But I never got the Meetup.com going again until 2021. 

    Now is the best time to get going.

    At some point, we’ll all be going to work somewhere other than our kitchen table. 

    So putting words on the internet for people to read who and what we are about is an action we can take today. 

    So turn off Netflix, head over to Amazon and get these books and grab a note pad while you’re there.

    How long will this take?

    These three books come to around 14 hours listening time in total. 

    They have worksheets and help you work out what to do, which will also save you time.

    One of the main reasons for reading these books is to know what to tell people in your team or a marketing consultant what you want. 

    The person who shows up to a web developer and knows what they want building gets better value than someone who makes it up as they go. 

    Pro-tip. Hire a writer

    One of the best things you can do is hire a writer. 

    When you have someone to write blog posts for you, this gives you the backbone to email people and share on social. 

    Useful blog posts help you get found in search, and give you something to share on social media. 

    Instead of paying someone £500 to do some SEO stuff, deliver that to a writer to write you a post a week. 

    Even in 2021, so few coworking spaces post relevant stuff to the internet, you’ll stand out in a few weeks. 

    The Only Three Books You Need

    12 Week Year 

    I am always raging about this book. 

    I’ve been following this formula for four years. 

    While I still have not got a private jet on 24-hour standby, I know myself, have more confidence and learn how to keep track of where I’m going. 

    This book shows you how to map out your next five years and work in 12-week chunks towards that, no pissing around. 

    Every Monday for the last four years, I’ve had a weekly accountability meeting with my mate Karen, and I dread to think where I would be if I had not done this. 

    We follow this in our marketing team for our startups PayPugs and Velvet and the Coworking Assembly

    When you know where you are going in the next twelve weeks, you also know what not to do. 

    So all those shiny objects don’t seem so attractive anymore. 

    The book comes with downloadable worksheets and if you want to commit there is a workbook you can get here.

    I wonder how many of us sit down and plan what we want in the next 12 weeks? 

    How about one year, three years and five vs how many of us get up and hope for the best. 

    They Ask You Answer

    When this book and BIG FIVE framework landed, it solved the question I was forever being asked, ‘what do I blog about?’

    I’ve been following Marcus’ since 2011 and used his example of ‘answer peoples questions’ in workshops. 

    I’d often delight in saying that no one gives a shit that you were ‘London Small Business of the year 2010’ they are looking for ‘how much is a?’ 

    I’ve worked with Marcus online and in person, and I’ve taught this in workshops with clients ever since. 

    This book spells out how many small and medium businesses have made millions in revenue from writing blog posts that answer peoples questions.

    I’ve met people who have worked with Marcus selling everything from pools, sheds, car leasing to consulting. 

    They’ve blown up their businesses by writing two to three posts a week that answer peoples questions. 

    In my workshop, I get people to openly talk about what customers and members ask and then have people write down the answers. 

    Often people get solid drafts for 12 weeks worth of blog posts done in three hours by working together in a group. 

    A blog section on your website that performs well beats paying that mystery SEO person £500 a month. 

    If you want to support and accountability, you could join me in MYMO to learn and practice this stuff every week. 

    Marketing Made Simple

    The four hours it will take you to listen to this book will save you hours. 

    I’ve spent five days locked in a room in Nashville with the authors learning the contents of this book at it has transformed the way I work in a year. 

    We used this framework the new website for PayPugs

    It took us three weeks from ‘let’s make a new website’ to ‘hit publish’ and a few days after we hit publish we were getting more PayPugs leads. 

    Marketing Made Simple give you the path to a straightforward website, a clear message, and building an email list. 

    It also comes with a simple worksheet to fill in and design an action plan to give your team or marketing consultant. 

    Don’t want to read the book? You can join the online course here Marking Made Simple and do the three-hour online class today. 

    Why read these books?

    These three books are the ‘best of everything’ and all references other rock-solid work of people you will have read about before. 

    One of the most challenging and ugliest things is working out what bit to do, and the combination of these three books will help you:

    1. Get a plan in place for your business.
    1. Know what to write that will help you get found online and allow people.
    1. Follow a simple framework, so you know what NOT to do. 

    Still, stuck?

    Book a call with me to work out your twelve-week plan

    Or get you whole team on a workshop with me to make a plan, start a podcast, build an email list. 

  • How I Got Into Coworking – You Never Know Who

    How do we meet people? Making an event out of connecting. 

    How I got into coworking 

    My friend Debbie has been in the copywriting business since before we had computers. She sat down one day to work out how she knew everyone in her business world. 

    It all led back to a handful people, and it is the same with me.

    It is fascinating because no matter how much you plan the events you attend. The courses you take or which way you swipe on a dating app. You never know who is going to impact your life in the long run.

    Many of the people who have shaped my career come down to Julius and Carmen. These introductions were never transactional, they were about ‘being on the same page’ or ‘in the same head space.’

    In 2008 I joined their ‘LinkedIn London’ Meetup which eventually rebranded to Spicy Networking. It is about this time they started The Event Manager Blog and Event Manager Group on LinkedIn. 

    “You never know what might happen” part happens when two people meet who have at least some kind of life for themselves.

    Like me, Julius and Carmen were keen to run events where good people connect well and people who like networking and asks for a list of attendees to spam later felt unstuck.

    I’ve had many conversations with people at points where the most significant decision that day was what to have for lunch because I had nothing else going for me. 

    They have to have goals and be thinking about things.

    But it is ok to be working it out. 

    One of the reasons I’m writing this now is because of listening to this podcast back in 2011 with Mitch Joel and Marcus.

    Which five years later led to me joining Chris Marrs CMA and the 90 Day Challenge. 

    At CMA I met the MYMO gang who took over the 90 Day Challenge.

    I also met Kenda here, who told me about the StoryBrand book. Which, then led me to fly to Nashville, to do the StoryBrand guide training. 

    Now I’m part of the leadership team at a Fintech startup. And this ten-person comms team are following the BIG FIVE and StoryBrand method.  

    And that company came out of coworking in 2020. However, for me it started to happen back in 2008 when I signed up for twitter and meetup. 

    My Coworking Story Began

    My coworking story began in 2008 when I joined meet up and found New Work Cites and a guy named Tony Bacigalupo.

    He had a meet up in New York where freelancers, consultants and creatives shared office space. https://youtu.be/btKPMPBoo_Q

    I was running a few networking groups and trying to get a grip on building a career as a freelancer in London.

    While I love these networking groups – many of us are still friends and work with other today. It was already getting exhausting running a traditional breakfast networking group. 

    I enjoy being with others, supporting and caring. What I didn’t like was sleazy selling, self-promotion, and asking people what they should be doing. That was what was going on in the networking world.

    All the best networking groups I’ve been part of have not had the word networking anywhere near them.

    I know that will upset some of you, but when you organise a group of peers to meet up, you take the time set the scene and curate the event magic happens. 

    When you put the word networking on it, an angel dies in a nasty accident with a food blender in a galaxy far away. 

    My first coworking events

    The best parts of networking groups were when we all sat around the table after breakfast and chatted and whipped out our laptops.

    When the formal meeting ended we’d do work together. 

    People would share problems, ask questions about software. We talk about books and events or bitch about an email that had just arrived and ask for help.

    It was around this time I was starting to do ‘coworking things’. I did not know anything about coworking, but I’d already got into the spirit. 

    It was also this time in 2009 where I start to take part in. And I begin running Unconferences and Bar Camps like Tweet Camp. And that expands to how we use twitter and Be2Camp which was about construction, the built environment and collaboration. 

    These unconference events were informal, geeky and full of real people doing real things. 

    I thrived in these environments, I felt at home, met active and interesting people and learnt new and useful things.

    At these Unconferances we’d sit around tables with our Samsung N110 Netbook’s 

    Coworking things.

    At the beginning of September, Julius invited me to an invite-only event at Sun Systems run by a larger-than-life character called Jeff. 

    I rocked up and, to be honest, had a minimal idea what it was all about. 

    Nearly 200 people squeezed into a conference room on the city side of London Bridge. 

    Twitter was blowing up.

    The room was full of exciting people from tech and software from aching cool little startups to Adobe, Salesforce and @Jobsworth from BT.

    I was genuinely excited and when Jeff shouted about buying a ticket I got one. 

    I wondered if I’d just gone to one of those events where they sell you a £20k life coaching program at the next event, but I trusted Julius and Carmen 1000%, and I was dizzy. 

    In between this and the actual event I got a call from an old mentor Geoff, you see everyone was called Geoff in my life at this time. 

    Jeff had his ear in grown-up startup tech, telecommunications, satellites and engineering. When he was mentoring me, I felt like I asked for advice about making salads from Oliver Reed.

    He’d ask me questions about cash flow forecasts and scalability that made my eyes bleed.

    There were long awkward silences at the mentoring sessions. These sessions were over lunch that I brought. 

    Jeff was there to help an injured animal (me) out of a bear trap and not the free lunch. 


    So Jeff barks down the phone something like ‘Mitchell. You know many people, how to get them to show up places and we need something like that for this new incubator we’re opening, come in and meet the team.’

    He hung up. Now I had to go. 

    I’m sure he’d be tracking me from a satellite somewhere if I didn’t. 

    We camped out in an office until the primary space available in Smithfield Market that was to become the Innovation Warehouse in May 2011. 

    I walked around like I owned the place and Ami gave me funny looks all day because he did own it. 

    Then the 140conf came to London. 

    I was blown away by the format and people there. Stephen Fry was the first person on stage – yes THE Stephen Fry – as a result of that day I’m one of the 48K people he followed on 

    Twitter, he has 12 million people following so clearly I’m in the same league. 

    It is not much about coworking at this conference, but there is a lot about working and communicating as communities. 

    Something huge was happening in town, and big business was just about understanding the internet and working out social media. Everyone on stage was talking about the Cluetrain Manifesto, and some even had iPhones capable of 3G. 

    At this conference, I met the Creative Stores, a tech agency in Brussels that I would end up being a freelancer for in London, and where I found out about this new app called Instagram – I mean who would want a social network that only held photos?

    I would – it gave rebirth my love of photography that I’d left in a letter asking the London College of Printing to put my place on hold for a year in 1992.