We are very excited to introduce you to Emily Soccorsy of Root + River and a fellow member of the W Source Arcadia. We are also thrilled to announce the launch of her personal website that Hammersmith Support built!

As one of the cofounders of Root + River, a brand strategy practice, Emily works to help her clients create their brand from the inside out, utilizing their values and mission. The result is a strong, relatable, and unique brand for each client.

Read on to see Emily’s story and her advice for other entrepreneurs.

Tell us a little about you.

Lately, I’ve been telling people that if I had a religious practice, it would be language. I am a lover of language, of words, of narrative. I am a creative. I paint, I draw, I collage, I create digital drawings and I also craft prose and poetry and I recently co-authored a book called “Rooting Up: Essays on Modern Branding.”

I am also an entrepreneur who brings that creative spirit and passion for wordsmith-ing into my work as a CEO and co-founder of our brand strategy practice.

Being emotional, creative and business savvy are all one and the same to me. No separation needed.

I believe as humans, far too often, we push the creative or passionate or emotional parts of ourselves to the side. This is unnecessary and detrimental to our growth as human beings and business leaders. I want to integrate my many talents and interests in compelling ways to create things that are unique, true, innovative, revelatory for clients, good for the world, and profitable, too.

Of all the aspects of me, I am most proud of being a mother to two funny, kind, creative and smart daughters and a partner to my husband, Jason, who works in non-profit development.

Talk to us about your “why” and how that motivated you to start your business.

At Root + River, we believe that all great brands are spiritual experiences. We work with mission-driven leaders who are defiant about expressing their purpose, standards and beliefs in their brand. We help them uncover those core truths, once and for all, then coach them on how to integrate them into their culture and into their marketing.

We practice and teach what we call intrinsic branding (from the inside out) and pair that with humanistic marketing (marketing that engages an audience by appealing to common humanity and shared beliefs).

What is unique about your style and product offering?

We were motivated to form Root + River to alleviate business owners’ writers’ (and speakers’) block! Most business leaders, even those with a marketing background, struggle to articulate clearly and consistently express who they are and what they believe. If they can’t do that as well as they want to – they lose the chance to build their culture, attract amazing people and clients, and build a lasting and meaningful brand.

Our mission is to inspire leaders to go inward, to guide them to uncover the root truth of themselves and their brands.

Our gifts are uncovering and articulating those core truths and coaching leaders on using them in marketing. We wanted to share our gifts with the world.

We do everything differently at Root + River! After all, one of our core beliefs is in defiance. Here are three specific differentiators for our brand strategy engagements and coaching:

1. You are guided, not told. We are non-prescriptive. You are smart and grounded and know who you are. You live your brand every day. So we will never tell you what your brand is. Instead, we partner with you to guide you to uncovering and articulating it. Once we do that work together, we will refine and hone your brand message until it sings. Then, together, we will integrate strategy for how we share that with your ideal audience.

2. You will be branding long after we’re done. Our work long outlives our engagement. Our objective is to uncover and articulate a brand that lasts for the life of your business and teach you how to keep it going. We go that deep and are that specific and intentional. We don’t believe in drop-in consulting or learned helplessness. We don’t use taglines or manipulative, flash-in-the-pan marketing. We don’t want to sell you ongoing marketing tactics. Instead, we craft everything with a long-term mindset, hand it over, then stay available for future growth or strategy shifts, should they occur.

3. Your branding will touch every part of your business. Branding is everyone’s responsibility, not just the leader of the company or for the marketing director. It’s a practice everyone in your organization is already engaged in daily. We work to increase the organizational brand intelligence and solidify the common language of the brand. We engage with whole teams to roll out brand language and collaboratively apply it to sales, culture and HR, as well as brand and marketing.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

My advice to other entrepreneurs is multifold:

  • Develop a tribe. Entrepreneurialism is frequently lonely work. It requires a tribe for support, for curbing loneliness and isolation, and for challenging your thinking. It is too easy get stuck in the echo chamber of your mind and not have anyone to play devil’s advocate or challenge your thinking. As an entrepreneur, you need this.
  • Find someone to hold you accountable and love you up. Again, being an entrepreneur is arduous, constant and full of forks in the road. I have found that making progress depends on having someone holding you accountable because you will always have 1,000 things to do. The accountability person can help you focus on the one most important thing in front of you. This person can also be a cheerleader, a mirror for your successes and someone who loves on you on those days you feel crappy. I recommend this be someone outside of your business, like a coach, a mentor or a good friend who is also an entrepreneur.
  • Take breaks. It’s too easy to work your heart out as an entrepreneur. Pretty soon you’re also working your mind and your body off and de-prioritizing your friends and family, too. The sooner you can develop a discipline around taking breaks, taking time off, sequestering yourself in something joyous, goofing off regularly, and doing nothing at all regularly, the better you will be as a leader, and as a human.
  • Finally, tend to your brand by doing the deep work. Your brand is how other people experience what you believe. Your root beliefs are the reason people want to work with you. They power you every day. If articulated and shared, they could also be attracting people who believe what you believe, while repelling from you the people who do not believe what you believe. This repelling effect will save you so much time, energy and resources as an entrepreneur. Being truly different in your brand provides a huge return on investment.

Contact Emily

www.emjoyinc.com

@emilyatlarge

www.RootandRiver.com

@rootandriver

humans@rootandriver.com

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Did you catch our post about the history of women in technology last week? Even at Hammersmith Support, we learned a lot from that post! This week we’re excited to bring you a brief Q&A from several modern-day women in tech.

Question: What Advice Would You Give to Young Women Working in, or Aspiring to Work in the Technology Industry?

Preeti Adhikary, Director, AI Lead at Emergents @ Weild & Co. | Forbes Communication Council | Yale MAM’21

“There are a lot of technical and non-technical roles within the tech industry. My advice for women would be to know where they can start and also understand where they can end up. Never stop learning and improving/upskilling yourself. Be an active networker even when you’re not looking for a job.”


Alexandria Ross, Ross Consulting

“Persevere. Don’t cave in when times get tough. No matter what you are feeling on the inside, project calmness and coolness. We must continue to pave the way for women to change the tide and continue to make major inroads to tech. The old mindset is dying out and the new generation has the opportunity to be the change we want to see, equality in tech. I worked in tech when there were very few women, but my love for the technology fueled my determination.”


Kate Schneider, Director of Product, CYTK

“There are three key traits I’ve cultivated throughout my career that have proven extremely useful as I’ve navigated the occasionally treacherous waters of being a woman in technology. First is perseverance. I never give up unless all hope is gone or I’ve managed to find or create a more advantageous opportunity (I can’t stress enough the importance of networking to help with the latter). The second is curiosity. Not only is this a quality that leads to resourcefulness, it is an essential trait that I look for when hiring. The third is confidence – building it takes effort and what has served me very well countless times is wielding it when my scabbard appears empty. By choosing to trust my instincts and rely upon myself even when I wasn’t feeling it, I was able to push through difficult circumstances and take the necessary risks to succeed.”


Akemi Ueki, VP Marketing and Business Development, Biosensing Instrument

“Get an education, put in 100% effort and speak out! Women’s views bring new and refreshing perspectives in a male-dominated high tech world, so don’t be shy about speaking out.”


How Hammersmith Support Is Empowering Women in Business with Technical Training

As we continue this month with our focus on women, we want to continue to support women and empower them with skills to excel in the technology field. One of our core values is giving back and we want to help train not only women and girls, but everyone on the technology we use and empower others with the skills to manage their website and make technology less intimidating.

To expand our focus on our core value of giving back, we are offering free training sessions that include tips on how to maintain and understand your WordPress website.

Book your free WordPress training session today!

Last week, we touched on why gaining certification as a Woman-Owned Business matters. This week, we’ll add some context by looking at this in a bit more depth. How much do you know about the history of women in tech? Would it surprise you to know that the earliest coder was a mathematician named Ada Lovelace, who executed the first computer program in 1833? Or that women were responsible for programming as far back as World War II? Read on to find out more about women’s roots in the industry, where we are today, and what the future holds for women in tech.

Past

As far back as World War II, programming and coding were used to support the allied war effort – and the work was done predominantly by women. In fact, in the early 1940s, actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr created “frequency hopping,” using radio frequencies as a way of avoiding third-party jamming signals. Her invention is considered to be the precursor to Wi-Fi. Throughout the 1940s and ’50s, programming-related jobs, including punch-card operators and technicians who wrote instructions for room-sized computers, were considered secretarial. In general, men focused their efforts on hardware and women on software.

This trajectory continued through the mid-1980s until the advent of personal computers. At home, boys were more generally encouraged to foster computer skills, so that by the time they hit college, they had more confidence and experience with computers than did most girls. This early exposure, along with gender-biased treatment and promotions in larger companies, led to a steady decline of women in technology that has continued.

Present

Surprisingly, according to the New York Times, by 2010 the number of US women in technology-related fields had dropped to 17%. By contrast, in India, a country where women are faced with many additional barriers to education, including 8 p.m. curfews even in college, approximately 40% of students studying computer science are women. When interviewed, women in the US who had left the technology field cited issues such as lower pay for the same work and being left behind when promotions were available, despite being just as qualified if not more for positions. The excitement and love they had for their jobs had been squelched over the years in larger corporate environments.

Where Are We Now?

The good news? The future looks bright for women in tech. In early education, there is a greater emphasis on providing STEM-based learning to boys AND girls. Girls and boys alike are gaining early exposure to and experience with programming by playing code-based games like Osmo and Roblox. Many more student and young entrepreneur organizations are focusing on mentoring girls and young women, which can make a tremendous impact on their success in the field. Organizations such as Girls Who Code and Built by Girls offer opportunities for young women to learn the basics and beyond of programming, build confidence, and provide support for exploring technology-related questions. They focus on mentoring and empowering, helping to develop a network for girls and young women interested in entering technology-related fields.

Let Hammersmith Support Help Empower You and Your Business

At Hammersmith Support, we want to help ensure the future of technology is bright not just for women and girls, but for everyone. We believe in providing our customers with the very best service, empowering them to understand technology and supporting our community by modeling what it looks like to run a successful Woman-Owned Business.

Our core values are transparency, giving back and customer service. We want you to understand the technology you use so that you can be confident that you know how your website works and have a hand in keeping it working. To further our focus on our core values, we are offering free training sessions that include tips on how to maintain and understand your WordPress website.

Visit our Calendly link to book your free WordPress training session today!

This year, Hammersmith Support became a Certified Woman-Owned Business. Really, we’ve always been a woman-owned business, but being certified through the Small Business Administration was a goal for 2020. We are excited to now have this certification to continue to set our company apart from our competition. And there are a few additional benefits we’ll tell you about below.

Why Is It Beneficial?

There are a few benefits to having the certification. First, the federal government’s annual goal is to award 5% of federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses. These contracts are often consistent and reliable sources of business and without certification, a company would be ineligible for the contract.

In addition, being a certified business elevates visibility with clients. Larger, public companies may have requirements similar to those of government agencies or have goals of working with a more diverse pool of contractors.

The certification makes our business eligible for grants from various organizations and governments agencies. Considering the current focus on inclusivity, being a certified woman-owned business provides grant-making organizations and businesses the opportunity to work toward balancing the gender gap, which is especially pervasive in technology fields.

Finally, being a successful woman-owned business offers a model for girls and young women contemplating a career in web development and/or computer programming. Part of Hammersmith Support’s emphasis on giving back is being role models for girls and women who might want to enter this industry and who may be looking for examples of how to thrive in it.

What Qualifies a Company for Certification?

There are several groups that offer a form of a Woman-Owned Business Certification. We opted to work with the Small Business Administration as we found their process and cost to be the best fit for our business. To be eligible for certification, a company must be at minimum, 51% owned, operated, controlled, and managed by a woman. There are four entities that offer a form of certification:

  • Small Business Administration
  • Disadvantage Business Enterprise
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
  • National Woman Business Owners Corporation

Read More

Click over to our blog page to learn more about other women-owned businesses as well as industry topics!

It’s finally here! We are excited to bring you an interview with the Hammersmith Support founder, Heather Locke. Heather has grown Hammersmith Support from just her and her laptop to a full-scale team! The Hammersmith Support service models have changed and expanded as well, growing from building websites to partnering with design specialists in the build process, and now website maintenance packages. With all that growth, Heather has learned some things along the way and is sharing her thoughts with fellow entrepreneurs.

Tell Us About Hammersmith Support

I started Hammersmith Support in 2010 as a solo-preneur after working for several years in the website development industry. My experience from that time was invaluable. But while I enjoyed the projects I worked on and the clients I worked with, I always knew that I wanted my own business. I wanted the freedom to control my own destiny, and I wanted to be an example to my daughter, London. It is important to me that I’m able to not only encourage her dreams, but to show her they are achievable when you work hard for them.

Why Is Being a Certified Woman-Owned Business Important to You?

When I came across the Woman-Owned Business certification, I realized it was something I needed to do for Hammersmith Support. Being in a male-dominated industry, this certification gives us one more way to set ourselves apart from our competition.

From the business side, Woman-Owned Business certification gives us access to government contracts and other opportunities, as well as increased visibility with our clients.

What Are 3 Tips You Have for Other Entrepreneurs?

  • Don’t be afraid to delegate. There’s a limit to how much we can do on our own – surround yourself with people you trust, and then trust them to do what you ask them.
  • I read this quote and it has always stuck with me; “If you’re going to eat Moby Dick, bring tartar sauce.” Having a successful mindset, even when you’re not quite there yet, is key. Always present yourself as a successful person.
  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Let their knowledge be the driver pushing you to the next level.

Get in Touch

Contact Heather through the Hammersmith Support contact form, or using the information below. Read more about Heather’s journey from her Voyage Phoenix interview!

info@hammersmithsupport.com

602-391-8024

@hammersmithsupport

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Click over to our blog page to read more from other successful business women, industry insights, and more!

Heather Locke of Hammersmith Support

When it comes to building a custom website, one designer does not fit all. Just like any creative job, some professionals are geared towards different industries, styles, specialties, and so on. Finding the right fit may take a little work, but the results of collaborating with the right website designer means your site will not only look beautiful but will also function well for your business and convert visitors into customers.

So, what kind of questions should you ask when looking for a website designer? Here are a few to get you started:

What Types of Businesses Do They Typically Work With?

This is a two-way street. On one hand, you want to know that a designer has experience in your industry…but at the same time, having experience in other areas is important, too. Having a well-rounded portfolio means that designers can adapt and create something unique for their clients based on their individual business.

A reputable company will be able to produce a portfolio of live websites that they have built. Bonus points if they A. still maintain those sites and B. have a referral from the owner.

Can the Designer Implement the Kind of Functionality That Your Business Site Needs?

Finding a great web designer who can create stunningly gorgeous websites is good, but if the site doesn’t have the functionality that you need, then you’re really just spending money on a pretty piece of art. A website that doesn’t convert visitors into customers utilizing smart functions on the site won’t do you any good.

Are They Telling You What You Already Know?

It’s important to remember that you’re not the expert and there should be things you don’t know about what should go into your website. So if a website designer is telling you only things you already know, beware. As professionals, they should be able to explain all parts of the website and why they’re necessary, even the parts you’re not familiar with.

On the flip side, someone not explaining consistently what is important or not important, and why – is a big red flag as well. A good website designer will be able to explain all aspects of the site build in understandable terms.

Does the Design Include “Behind the Curtain” Necessities?

This is similar to the functionality of the site. A great web designer is going to recommend a lot of things that your site visitors won’t see but that are necessary for site functionality. Things like plugins to improve SEO, loading times, and spam blockers. Security certificates, accessibility functions, mobile optimization and so on. Again, the visual design of the website is as important as the functionality behind the scenes.

Have You Scheduled a Free Consultation with Hammersmith Support?

At Hammersmith Support, we offer a free consultations! This is where we can talk through your ideas, needs, and wants for your business website. Click over to our contact page where you can schedule a call directly from our website.

At Hammersmith Support, we value well-designed websites. We also know the importance of maintaining those sites regularly. We’ve posted about what WordPress website maintenance is and why it’s important. But we want to take a deeper look into exactly what on your site requires maintenance and why it matters how frequently maintenance is done.

Platform

The beauty of working with the WordPress platform is that it is always evolving to give users a better product. And that’s what you want as a customer! But with those changes come regular updates. Not staying current with those updates could potentially cause a lot of headaches. An older version of your platform could expose your site to security breaches, slow loading times, and overall poor performance of your website.

Plugins

Aaah, plugins. These awesome little bites of software are great for adding functionality to our sites. An example could be a spam blocker, an SEO booster, or your contact form – there are countless different plugins. While they add so much to a website, plugins need to be updated and tested regularly. You don’t want to find out three months after it happened that your contact form plugin has stopped working and is throwing an error or appearing to work but not sending notifications to you, so potential leads are somewhere in limbo.

Frequency

Annoying as it may be, your website really does need to be updated at least once a month, possibly more if a core update is pushed out (i.e., a security patch). Waiting too long can result in the update causing a plugin conflict and rendering parts of your site (or worse, your entire site) unusable. Just as with tuning up your car, waiting too long or not servicing it regularly can add to your cost in the long run. It’s much less expensive overall to maintain your site than it is to try recovering it or updating two years’ worth of plugins and WordPress versions, fixing all of the pages and forms that are broken in the process.

One More Thought

While a lack of maintenance on your website may not affect your site’s functionality immediately, it will definitely impact it at some point. The impact could be that you have broken graphics or sections of your site that are not displaying correctly. Or it could be that you wake up one morning to an inbox full of emails telling you that your homepage now displays inappropriate material placed there by hackers who were able to gain access through plugins that had not been updated.

Just remember SSP: Security, SEO Ranking, & Performance because without website maintenance, these will deteriorate or be compromised over time.

We’re Here to Help

At Hammersmith Support, we’re here to help make your site as amazing as possible. We can build your site from scratch, redesign your existing site, and update and maintain your site once it’s in tip-top shape so that it’s sure to stay that way. Contact us to talk through what we can do for you.

At Hammersmith Support, we specialize in creating custom-designed websites that are tailored to your business and its individual needs. Our discovery process helps us to understand exactly what our clients’ needs are, which allows us to build a powerful site that is scalable and sustainable for the long run. A custom-built website has a plethora of other benefits as well.

Design

Having a site that is built for precisely what you and your business need means that it will work exactly as you want it to. Everything from blog pages, ecommerce, and downloads to email integration – all of this is built with your individual requirements in mind.

Having a custom-designed site also means that it will look like you want it to. Everything from colors, logos, and images to content will be on-brand for your business.

SEO

Custom-designed websites have built-in SEO. Search engine optimization is incorporated into the site’s design through each page’s content and images. This is important for boosting SEO organically. In addition, code like local schema can be added to help customers find you.

Security

Not only is a lack of security bad news for potentially exposing your customers, it’s also bad for your SEO. Some search engines block websites without an SSL. And if they don’t, they likely will rank your site lower because of the risk. Having a site built just for your business will ensure that A. there is a Secure Socket Layer and B. any additional encryption necessary for your type of business is built right into the design.

Speed

A custom website is built to maximize download speeds for all of the data on your site. It will also include things like a CDN or plugins necessary to have your site running at optimum speed.

Responsiveness

With more than half of the world’s population accessing the internet via a mobile device, having a site that is responsive to any screen it is being viewed on is essential. And Google search loves websites that are built with mobile-first design.

Accessibility

Websites that are individually designed are able to take into account how they are accessed by potential clients. It’s important that every website be accessible to any reader, but this is especially important for businesses that have a differently-abled target market.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

Ready to get your website built? Already have a site that needs some work? Hammersmith Support is here to help. We only design custom, unique websites for our clients and we take great care to understand all of our clients’ needs to build an amazing website for their business. Contact us to talk through what your website can do for you.

We’ve posted quite a bit about different ways to organically boost your SEO. And the one marketing tool that always checks the most boxes is a business blog.

Without a blog, your website has one link to your site, your URL. But if you posted a blog once a week for a year, you would have 52 links pointing back to your website. Fifty-two! That’s fifty-one additional ways that a potential customer could find your site. That’s huge.

In addition to the links back to your site, business blogs are great for a few more reasons. Here’s why.

SEO

Your website is constantly being crawled by search engines to analyze and categorize your site. The easier it is for a crawler to do this, the better chances your site will get returned when someone searches for a related topic. Google uses over 200 factors to analyze and then rank your site, including freshness of content, magnitude of updated information, and quality of content, especially grammar and punctuation. Blogs check off a lot of these Google Ranking Factors, making it an absolute must to include on your site.

Images

Speaking of SEO, having great images in your blogs not only boosts your SEO but it’s also an opportunity for you to share and add new images without having to redesign your website – meaning the images posted in your blog change often without having to update the main images on your site. Keeping a consistent feel across your site is important, but so is displaying new and exciting graphics. A blog is the perfect spot to keep your customers and readers up-to-date on what’s happening while maintaining the look and feel of your site.

Micro Content

Blog topics are a perfect way to feed your micro content (i.e. social media). Blogs are macro content because they are longer, more detailed posts. But those detailed posts can be broken down into bite-sized pieces and used to feed your micro content. For example, this post could be broken down by headings (images, SEO, links) and used for one to 3+ social media posts. The result is a consistent social media presence and cohesive message for your marketing.

How Hammersmith Support Can Help

Do you have a blog tab set up on your site? Let’s talk. Hammersmith Support’s comprehensive monthly maintenance can help get your blog set up, get your site on track, and keep it there with monthly check ups.

Our client highlight this week is ProRhetoric.com. We were so excited to be a part of the rebuilding and rebranding of the website Vital Speeches of the Day to transform into Pro Rhetoric.

The focus of Pro Rhetoric has always been to publish the most important speeches in the world in order to “represent the best thoughts of the best minds on current national and international issues.” Their goal is to offer resources and commentary that appeal to speechwriters. Pro Rhetoric was eager to change the look and improve the overall functionality of their site, as well as offer more options and new resources for readers.

Rebranding

The Pro Rhetoric rebranding was centered around creating a more news-like and less archival feel. While they liked the overall layout of their pages, Pro Rhetoric sought to change the “mood” of the site. Hammersmith Support started with a new color scheme to convey an informative atmosphere. The colors were changed from pastels to a blue pallet with several shades and tones working together. The color blue is often interpreted as “trustworthy” by consumers.

Rebuilding

The original site was built using Drupal, but the client decided to move to WordPress to make the site easier to use on the back end as well as more customizable on the front end. Hammersmith Support added functionality to allow for online subscriptions and renewals, paying close attention to the security of the site. The site supports a variety of content including videos, uploads, event-specific information, a job board, and advertising.

With these various needs, creating a site that was not only functional but also well organized and easy to navigate was essential. In addition, the site needed to support separate content for visitors and paid subscribers.

Supporting

Pro Rhetoric updates their site daily, sometimes more than once a day, in order to provide the latest information to their subscribers and visitors. Hammersmith Support is currently working with Pro Rhetoric in relation to information updates, as well as supporting their site to maintain security, speed, and optimum functionality.

Check out the Pro Rhetoric finished product by clicking here: www.prorhetoric.com.