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The future is online!

So many organisations and businesses are moving elements of their provision online and make it look so easy. What can be hard about it? A few plug ins added to a website and you’re away!

Well, I have struggled with crippling self doubt and worry over the last few months as I try to develop an online club for Inkpots.

Last summer, it became clear that Inkpots had reached a point where I either stayed as we were – several after school clubs and holiday clubs in mid Sussex – or find a way of expanding so that the format could be enjoyed by more children. The most obvious solution was to create an online club, transferring activities so that the reach could be extended – maybe even to other countries.

It seemed simple. Just create a membership gateway, record a few videos and promote like crazy and I would be off.

Wrong. Very wrong.

I started off with great plans and ideas; a lovely logo was developed by our designer Jane. She and I also talked about how we would set up the membership side of things. Several people signed up to kept up-to-date with developments – really exciting stuff!

I began sourcing all the information on online clubs I could find, gathering up nuggets of advice and suggestions. It wouldn’t be long before I would be able to launch Inkpots Inc (I had even got as far as a name too!).

Then everything stopped.

I could blame opening up a new after school club,  and spending time supporting funding bids for our literacy group or trying to get to grips with email marketing – and all of these did use up my working hours.

But the reality was quite different. I was scared.

I could dress this up, make excuses, or gloss it all over. But I feel it’s really important to share this, as it is essential that I get Inkpots Inc onto the right tracks from the start.

A turning point came when I was making plans for 2017. ‘Online club’ has been on my development list for so many months, that it was embarrassing. Every time I thought about it, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. So I made a list and wrote down what I was so scared and worried about. The list looks like this – it’s currently on my office wall:

  • I worried about how I replicate the warmth and friendliness of the after school clubs online;
  • How would I communicate with the children safely?
  • How would I ensure I  provide a package that children and parents actually want?
  • I was concerned about this all being a failure;
  • I was really worried about making videos – didn’t even know where to start!

I regularly tell children that writing worries down really helps to start to sort things out – it’s just a shame I didn’t take my own advice before! Because once I made this list, I began to think that maybe – just maybe – I could sort these issues out.

The first thing I did was to send out a survey to ask some people what they thought – it didn’t bring a huge response but was enough to spur me on. I had the bare bones of an offering that would bring Inkpots to the worldwide web.

Sometimes though, luck plays a big part in these things, and a chance remark in a Facebook group led me to sign up to a great course on making videos. I am not sure I will ever be a natural but the sheer terror at the thought of doing videos has gone. (For more information, please visit http://www.niamharthur.com/)

The biggest turning point, however, was when I shared my worries in a business group I belong to. As a small business owner, it is important to source the right kind of support for your business. I hit gold when I joined the Worditude Club, run by Laura Robinson. Laura’s support is invaluable and together with some of the thoughtful and supportive members of the club, she helped steer me back on track.

The challenges are still there and I have plenty of work to do to particularly around child protection, as it is imperative that the security and safety I can offer at face-to-face groups translates to the online club too.

But I am confident enough now to say that Inkpots Inc will launch on 1 May 2017!

In my next blog, I will outline the package I am developing – and that will be a great time for you to let me know of any ideas you and your children may have too.

To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the developments (especially around the launch), please sign up here for bulletins (which will now be a lot more regular).

Gill 

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