Verve Search raises over £2,500 for the Felix Project
As the year comes to a close, we’d like to bring attention to an important charity and the huge achievements our team has made on their behalf.
In 2021, Verve Search began a new charity initiative to raise money for the Felix Project.
What is the Felix Project?
Founded in 2016, the Felix Project tackles both the issues of wastage in the food industry and hunger in London by redistributing surplus food from 539 suppliers (including supermarkets and restaurants) to hundreds of charities and schools across the capital.
According to the Felix Project, 1.5 million adults in London currently struggle to afford food, which also means 400,000 children are going hungry. We knew we had to do something to help this very important charity deliver food to those who are struggling.
Meeting our target
At the beginning of the year, we set a target of £2,000, and we organised four fundraising events to help us reach it:
Virtual Cook-Along – To bring attention to the issue of the huge amounts of waste in the food industry, we got together on Zoom and learned together how to use leftovers to make a tasty meal.
Live Below The Line – We tried living off of just £1 a day for five days, teaching us how difficult it can be to live in poverty and barely make ends meet.
Vitality Big Half – Three brave souls ran the Vitality Big Half marathon, resulting in some very sore legs and some hefty donations.
Bake Sale – We organised a bake sale in our office and encouraged everyone to bake some delicious treats and raise money for a good cause too!
We surpassed our fundraising target
Not only did we have some fun and get to know our colleagues better with these events, but we raised an initial £2,091 for the Felix Project. OMG, our parent company, then rounded that amount off with another £500 donation, which brought the fundraising total for 2021 to £2,591!
To put that into perspective, a donation of £30 delivers enough food for 183 meals. That means our huge donation will help deliver 15,800 meals to those who really need them this Christmas.
We’re hugely proud of all the fundraising we’ve done this year for such an important charity, and hope to continue our efforts next year. If you’d like to donate to the Felix Project in the meantime, you can do so here.
Tips for looking after your wellbeing during lockdown and beyond
I don’t think I need to explain what a roller coaster this past year has been for all of us. I’ve been struggling a lot with working from home and not being allowed to see my friends or visit my family in Sweden as often as I am used to.
Coping with my mental health has been a challenge, but over the last year, I’ve found some helpful tips I can share on how to stay positive, motivated, and healthy while working from home during lockdown and beyond.
What you can do during work hours
Keep up the banter and the group chats
From daily office banter to coffee break chats, talking with your colleagues is essential in forming good relationships with your colleagues.
When working from home, we miss out on the face-to-face interactions we are so used to. That’s why when we at Verve Search had to start working from home, we knew how important it was to implement these interactions virtually.
For example, my team has created a ‘non-official’ group chat on Slack to discuss topics that are not related to our work. These conversations with my team create a feeling of togetherness and support that extends further than work-related discussions.
It might not seem like it, but it really is essential to put aside 15 minutes of your day to talk about a funny tweet, a cool article, or just about your weekend plans.
Keep communication human
If you’re only communicating online, it’s really important to be aware of how you write to your colleagues. It’s easy to forget to be polite in texts when you’re busy or stressed, and for that reason, it’s crucial to be aware of your language when you communicate.
I always make sure to say ‘please’ when I ask for help and ‘thank you’ whenever I’ve received the help I needed. This might sound obvious to many, but I’ve become more aware of how language can change after a year of only using Slack and learned that simple politeness can be missed.
Also, when giving feedback on work, I always highlight the good parts I’ve noticed as well as giving suggestions. Keep in mind that the person on the other end can’t see or hear you, so using emojis for example can be a good suggestion of tone.
Turn off non-personal notifications
When it comes to Slack, you might find yourself involved in a lot of group chats for different projects and campaigns. Often you might not even be involved in the current process but will still receive notifications. My suggestion is to turn off notifications on general group chats and let Slack notify you if you have been mentioned in a message.
I also recommend turning off notifications on your phone and only allowing yourself to check your phone twice every hour. I put my phone away so I can’t reach it and when I am allowed to look at it again, I give myself a few minutes to scroll through my notifications. Turning off notifications on both Slack and on my phone has definitely increased my productivity as there are fewer distractions taking up my attention.
Utilise time management tools and resources
Our team has started using a time management tool called Trello. With it, we’re able to create a checklist for what needs to be done on the current day and throughout the week. Before we started using this tool, the only checklist of things I needed to do existed in my head. Trello helps me to be more organised and keep track of what needs to be done and when. You’re also given an overview of what your colleagues are working on and can therefore see who has time to assist you with your workload.
Raise your concerns if you need to
When the Verve team began to work from home, I instantly felt very anxious. I raised this concern with one of my team leads and said that I was worried about my mental health. She helped me set goals, gave me examples of what I could do in my spare time, and had virtual lunches with me.
Because I felt like I was working in a safe work environment, I could raise this issue with my team lead, but you can also try reaching out to one of your colleagues if you aren’t comfortable speaking to a manager. When it comes to work-related issues I always feel better talking to someone that can relate, so I decided to be open about my struggles with the people I work with. If even one person is aware of your worries, then that person may be able to support you.
Feel comfortable in your home and workspace
Changing up your environment can be difficult if you live in a small flat or if you’re sharing your home with others, but it’s important to be able to feel comfortable and creative while you’re working. That’s why my best tip (and perhaps the most enjoyable) is to redecorate.
I moved my kitchen table closer to the window, changed seats, and put flowers next to my computer. If you don’t feel like redecorating, you could try taking meetings in different areas of your home like in your bed or on the sofa.
Cleaning and organising your room or the area you work in can hugely help with productivity. Make sure to take some time to clean your kitchen area, wash up after your lunch, and minimise any distracting mess around you.
What you can do in your free time
Keep a regular routine
I lost my daily routines when we first began working from home, including walking as part of my commute and even something as simple as getting dressed in the morning. To bring back some sense of normality, I returned to doing some of the simple things that I did before lockdown.
I got back into the habit of getting changed in the morning (as it can be tempting to stay in PJs all day), eating breakfast, and drinking my morning coffee while reading the news. Your routine might also involve eating at regular times, scheduling calls with your friends and family, or pursuing a passion project.
If it’s hard for you to keep a routine, try creating a schedule of your upcoming week on Sunday nights, making sure to include what time you have your meals and how and when to exercise in the evenings. Studies have shown that continuing with your routines or implementing new ones can reduce stress, help you sleep better, and improve your overall health.
One study suggests that it takes anywhere between 18 and 254 days to form a new habit, so don’t put pressure on yourself to make something a routine instantly, just remember to carve out some time for yourself to do the things that you enjoy doing.
Exercise can really help
If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself to go outside or exercise, set doable goals for yourself each week. Be kind to yourself – if for example you don’t have the energy to go out for a run, go out for a walk or run a shorter distance. Listening to your body and doing as much as you can is enough.
We’ve left a rather miserable winter, and springtime will mean it’s more pleasant to spend time outdoors. One of my goals this year was to go on a walk every day before work, but since I am not a morning person, this goal lasted less than a week. Instead of not going out at all during the day, I decided to start working earlier so I could take a longer lunch break and go for a walk then. Try and spend time in a park or any green space close to you as that time spent in nature can really improve your mood.
Start a journal
I started journaling a couple of months ago and it has really changed the way I perceive my life. Journaling can really help someone to understand what they have control over and what they don’t. Often we spend needless time worrying about things we can’t even change or affect, and journaling helps you shift focus onto what you can.
Every evening I write down my worries and fears. One common mistake is that people write down their thoughts without reflecting on them. Here’s an example of how to do it correctly based on the following worry:
I am worried I won’t be able to see my family for a couple of months.
This is a fear I imagine many people that are far away from their families have had throughout 2020 and 2021. But it doesn’t help you if you only write down the fear and thought – you need to recognise the reason why you feel this way. When we will be able to travel is out of our control. So ask yourself: “Why do I feel this way?”
Because I am scared that if anything would happen I am unable to see them.
Now we’re getting closer to the real reason behind your fear. Ask yourself: “What am I in full control of?”
Keeping close contact with both my family in Sweden and my family of friends in London to create a sense of safety and support.
This is something you are in control of. You can change your mindset and way of approaching things, but you can’t control the external world. When you have written this final thought down, you’ll understand what you are actually worried about, release the worry, and spend your energy focusing on what you are in control of.
After I have acknowledged my fear, I always write down three things I am grateful for. Practicing gratitude has been proven to increase wellbeing and happiness. It can sometimes feel that every day is the same, but when you really reflect on your day you will find small things that have made your day better. Here’s a snippet from my journal:
I am grateful for the FaceTime call with my brother.
I am grateful for the long walk during my lunch break.
I am grateful for reaching my goal of reading 20 books within a year.
Try new ways of meditating
I never thought meditation worked for me because when I tried it, I would get annoyed by the fact that I couldn’t concentrate – but that’s precisely the reason I needed it. Research has shown that meditation can help you relax and sleep better, and it can also improve your emotional wellbeing.
Try meditation when you first wake up, during your lunch break, or before you go to sleep. I use an app called Headspace which is great for letting me choose how long I want to meditate. I started off meditating for three minutes and now, a month later, I can sit still and focussed for 15 minutes. I do this to be able to control my breathing, which helps when I’m feeling stressed or anxious.
Talk to someone
Despite this being a global pandemic, it can be easy to forget that everyone has been going through a tough time. Because of this, you’ll also need to be careful with how you reach out to people. Before reaching out to a friend, it’s very important to ask for permission before talking about what you might be struggling with.
Many of us have been carrying the burden of being away from our families and being isolated. Before reaching out to someone, it’s important to first ask them: “Do you have time for a chat?”. This gives room for the person in question to think and feel if they have the mental capacity to talk about your concerns.
The person receiving this text/call always has the right to say: “I am not feeling very well at the moment either, I don’t have the mental capacity right now. Is it ok if we schedule a zoom call tomorrow?”. It’s important not to take on too much, even if you want to be supportive. You can’t help anyone if you are not feeling well yourself.
For more information on where you can seek support in the UK, the NHS lists a range of mental health charities here.
How to write a blog for a business
Adding a blog to your business website is a brilliant way to connect with your customers and also adds strength to your brand.
Many businesses haven’t latched on to the idea that a blog is a beneficial tool to use. Most believe a blog can be time-consuming; that thinking up ideas for posts and honing the quality isn’t worth the effort. We, at Verve Search, believe that’s utter rubbish.
A business blog for your website is not a waste of your time or website space. In fact, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business which will inevitably lead to more sales, establish yourself as a leading authority in the industry, and give you a chance to broaden your market reach. Plus, it’s bloody easy to blog. Everyone’s doing it these days. I bet even your own mother is a blogger. Believe me, that’s no insult.
Here are some top tips on how to blog for business professionals:
1. YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE YOUR READERS SO WRITE FOR THEM
Writing a blog for your business is completely different to a personal blog. In other words, IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU!!! Your business blog is about your business and your customers, would you believe! Always remember that the people who are going to read your blog are customers, and potential customers, so write for them. Your blog posts should aim to answer any possible questions they may have and deliver new insights into your industry.
2. PLAN BLOG CONTENT IN ADVANCE
Phrase one: “There simply isn’t the time!” Phrase two: “I have no idea what to write about!” How many of you have used these two phrases as an excuse for not having a blog? Be honest. Well brighten up lads and ladies for there is a solution: plan your blog posts. This will solve any excuses for lack of time and ideas when the weekly calendar rolls around to blog-post-day (which should be at least once a week by the way, more on that later). With a bit of planning at the start of each month, you can have enough ideas to keep the blog running for weeks.
3. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A GOOD TITLE
Overlooking the power of a blog title is a big no-no. It impacts on how a blog post is found in the search engine. The first thing a potential reader looks at is the title. You need a long tail keyword headline that draws readers in and indicates what the post is about. Long tail key words consist of longer phrases that internet users enter in search engines in order to find out more specific information. Good ways to attract readers’ attention are to use action verbs and questions.
For example, notice how actionable the title of this blog post is indicating that you, the reader, will learn how to write a successful business blog. If I opted for a questioning title I could have gone for ‘Should You Add A Blog To Your Business Website?’ (The answer is ‘yes’ by the way).
4. CREATE CONSTRUCTIVE CONTENT
Providing your readers with valuable content is key to a successful business blog. It’s a way of establishing your business website as a leading authority in your industry. Writing about what you know is the easiest way to write.
For example, let’s say your business sells concrete countertops (yes, of course there are businesses for that!) which can admittedly be a dry subject but it’s your concrete business and you’re an expert on the subject. Write posts on the subject of choosing the right diamond pads for your concrete countertop, how fluctuating weather conditions can affect concrete, what concrete countertops look like around the world. You can even veer away a bit and write something about how concrete is used in art projects. It’s all relevant and interesting content…as relevant and interesting as concrete can be.
Also, if you give readers posts that are informative and answer any questions they may have had on the subject they will reward you by becoming loyal customers. Make your customers see that you are the concrete solution to their concrete problem.
5. BLOG LITTLE BUT OFTEN
Blog posts are not essays, so keep them short and sweet. People online are more likely to scan website content so it’s important to make every single word count. As a guide, aim between 250 and 500 words per post. This is just a guideline and not a rule. If it takes you 1000 words or more to get a message across to your readers (just like this post) that’s absolutely fine. In terms of how often, the best practise is to blog at a consistency you believe you can maintain – once a week is good. Set a day to upload the post and stick to it. Search engines like new content and the more frequently you update your blog and website the higher your rankings.
6. GET THE WHOLE TEAM INVOLVED
The blog shouldn’t be seen as one person’s sole responsibility. It’ll quickly become too overwhelming for that person and you’ll soon hear the two whining phrases outlined in point No.2. Give everyone a chance to write and share the responsibility of the blog. And when I say everyone I mean everyone from the CEO to the tea boy. The best way to make this work is to draw up a blog rota every month. The different styles of writing and the tones that will emerge from the number of people blogging will add more personality and ‘human’ depth. Plus, the more people you get to become bloggers, the bigger your pool of content ideas. Bonus.
7. BE INSPIRED BY CUSTOMERS
Remember that the customers are your readers. Sometimes customers have specific questions. Don’t just ask them in an FAQ section. Instead, answer the question by writing a post.
For example, your business sells concrete countertops (yes, seriously there are businesses out there that do that!) and customers you’ve dealt with in the past wanted to know the ways to make their concrete countertop look more interesting. You can write a post outlining the options available to them from imbedding coloured glass to making a mosaic pattern, creating a marble effect or using glow-in-the-dark aggregate. Question answered.
Research what customers are looking for by using the search engine. Look at search suggestions and related searches. Find keywords for your research. You can use a tool such as Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find key word phrases that could turn into blog post titles which will drive more traffic to the blog.
8. BE VISUAL
A simple technique to turn potential readers into actual readers is to provide images. Photos, graphs, infographics and videos have the power to communicate in a different, more instant, way than words. Images draw an audience in and provide an additional point of interest to your posts.
N.B. Do also make sure any images you use for your blog are either yours or Creative Commons images.
9. RESPOND TO COMMENTS
Invite your customers to leave comments each time you post content. It’s a way of getting free market research and customer insight, opinions, reviews and complaints. Always respond back to comments in a polite and civil manner, especially in the case with complaints. Treat them as constructive criticism, even if they are rather rude. Maintain a level of class with your comments. If you stay classy, your business will too.
10. ANALYSE YOUR BLOG PERFORMANCE
Use a web stats tool such as Google Analytics to measure your website’s performance. It’s free and is quick to install. You can use it to monitor how your blog’s performance is doing and get an idea of the ways people are finding your blog and what posts are the most popular. From all that information you can judge what’s been a success and how you can improve your future blog posts.
So, that’s pretty much what you need to know about how to write a blog for a business. I hope this post has given you a few ideas on how to create a successful business blog. If you have any other tips, please feel free to leave comments. Now get blogging! Cheers.