“Forging Ahead”: The title of a Terrence Cuneo poster commissioned during the ‘50s for British Railways, makes for an exceptionally eye-catching and powerful slogan. Unequivocally, it summons the idea of movement and drive, underlain by the power of creating or hammering out something from base metal; something purposeful and enduring created from something rudimentary.
Credit: Terrence Cuneo
The poster recently caught my attention during a trip to the National Railway Museum in York where I was interviewing for a job on the railway; Its message seems entirely appropriate in the current climate.
As pilots we are encouraged to seek out contingencies and ‘forge ahead’ when facing obstacles en-route; the fallout from Covid has been no exception. Finding an alternative career path whilst aviation continues to face significant headwinds offers a chance to explore another industry, gain additional skills and reestablish some of the professional structure many of us are missing at present.
At a base level, Cuneo’s poster is simply a nice picture on a piece of 70-year-old canvas. But, on a more meaningful basis, it represents the idea of continuously moving forward, adapting with the times and seeking opportunity through adversity.
Finding the inspiration to do this at times can be challenging because for many of us, aviation isn’t just a career - it’s a lifestyle.
Separating ourselves from the predetermined or planned path that we’ve mapped out for ourselves, can bring anxiety and insecurities; particularly as it feels like we are forcibly moving ourselves further from our goal or desired destination.
But, taking these small steps and exploring other sectors in the interim can often add to an established skillset and dispel the fear of standing still or stagnating as the world moves forwards from the pandemic; building on overall resilience.
On the subject of progress, my aerial media business continues to forge ahead. In the last blog I finalised my logo, completed my branding exercise and wrote about website construction; registering a domain, site hosting, setting up a company mailbox and commencing the construction of my website. In parallel with this, I completed my GVC or General Visual Line of Sight Certificate, one of the qualifications I need to operate legally and safely.
In this blog I’ll further the discussion around website construction and talk about some of the considerations in achieving this, as well as other projects tangential to this.
At a bare minimum, a website needs a homepage with menu, some company background for credibility, a list of product offerings, and a way for potential clients to get in touch.
I sought inspiration from some of my ‘go-to’ brands and those I envisaged popular with my target audience - restaurants, consumer goods, etc. I tried to identify what makes them stand out, how they construct their website and ‘the journey’ consumers go through from initially landing on the home page through to final purchase.
Of course, this is business specific, and as a media company, I will be heavily reliant on a prominent portfolio or showreel to demonstrate my capabilities. Your business may be different. Refer back to your business plan: What am I trying to offer and how am I going to sell it?
The journey must be clear and navigable.
According to Time, 55% of web users spend an average of 15 seconds actively reading a page, so impact is key. ‘Calls to action’ such as
‘Sign up now’ or ‘Find out more’ can prompt or encourage users to venture further into your shop window and are tools used extensively by the marketing industry. Utilise these punchy slogans to guide users through your site by the most efficient means, subconsciously.
Decide if you want a multi-page site, or a site of one page that users can scroll through the different sections. Single page scrolling sites are great for mobile traffic as they can be quicker to load, are easily navigable and, therefore, channel interest efficiently on a smaller screen. Conversely, a multi-page site can convey more information but be clunky on smaller devices. Try and think about your target interest with this in mind.
Wix has provided a great opportunity to tailor a mobile and desktop site to maintain some flexibility at this stage. Launching a ‘media heavy’ site has presented its own problems, particularly with download speeds for mobile devices and I’ve had to be ruthless in what I choose to upload. Website modifications are consistently checked through my phone to confirm site layout and speed, keeping pages offline to the public until I’m satisfied with them.
I initially experimented with the site templates at my disposal - landing pages and contact pages etc.; as well as the available visual features, such as parallax scrolling and drop down menu formats before modifying myself under the advanced developer options. I’m keen to maintain a professional image and small touches such as the addition of a ‘favicon’ - the small icon that appears on browser tabs specific to your site - adds a sense of reputability to my brand.
It’s worth considering that navigating the site is not solely dependent on the simplicity of the layout - the presentation of text is also important.
GOV.UK recommends a reading age of 9 for websites. Use short sentences of 15-20 words, with paragraphs no longer than 4 sentences. Avoid jargon and never assume a high literacy. Ask someone to read your work or utilise a reading age checker such as the Flesch-Kincaid test: www.webfx.com/tools/read-able to assist. Remember, your audience may be using a mobile device, so keep text to a minimum where possible.
Generating leads is important and will be the biggest challenge most will face in the establishment phase of a new business.
When building the ‘Contact Us’ page, I had to research the new requirements around GDPR or data protection, especially if I am to hold potential client details on a database. There’s a plethora of information online, head to: www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2021/08/data-protection-act-principles-for-small-business for a good summary on how to cover yourself as a small business.
In line with my plan to generate leads and to project a corporate, professional image, I’ve spent time researching similar competitors, their websites and how they present themselves - identifying what others are doing and seeing where I might add value.
It’s been clear from the outset I will need a portfolio of my work as a visual ‘shop window’. I’ve been developing techniques for capturing shots and video assisted by reading articles online, forums (see: Grey Arrows), free webinars as well as watching YouTube videos in my spare time. As my knowledge base grows, I’ve invested in kit to improve my product - mostly second hand from sites such as Ebay, reducing my cost base.
I’m in the process of planning a trip to Scotland to capture some of the more visually interesting landscapes of the UK to broaden my portfolio and social media appeal, and have found some great apps to assist with my planning and execution - more on this trip in the next blog.
It’s also worth highlighting as the website gains traction, my consideration turns towards marketing and price point. Broadening the variety of media in my portfolio means my operating frequency is also increasing. Therefore, it’s worth pointing out the importance of liability and kit insurance, - particularly for a drone business. This is another topic I intend to touch on in the next blog.
To round off, the website will continue to be tweaked with time over the coming weeks, evolving with the business. Further obstacles encountered going forwards may be addressed in future blogs. For now, my focus will shift to understanding how I can build credibility, connect with my target audience and price myself commercially as I forge ahead to secure my first commercial job.
Oliver is an A320/321 First Officer and one of our great, volunteer Resilient Pilot Mentors.
To connect with Oliver and meet the rest of our team, visit our ‘Supported’ page.