A thousand sheep, nine children and a website that gets over 1,000 views a day: key elements in the success story of Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess.
Amanda runs a remote 2,000-acre hill farm at Ravenseat, North Yorkshire, with her husband Clive. As well as caring for the children, the animals, guests at the farm's B&B and tea rooms, she has written two best-selling books about her life and been seen by millions on television and at public events. Her third book, The Adventures of The Yorkshire Shepherdess, was launched last month.
Yet under five years ago Amanda's website was doing her no favours. Then Rob Davies came to stay in the farm's shepherd's hut while on a walking weekend. Rob says: “I was chatting to Clive and Amanda over a cup of tea, and when they discovered that I was a website consultant, Clive said: 'You should re-do Amanda's – it's rubbish!”
At the time, Amanda felt her site was adequate and declined Rob's offer to create a new one. “But I was keen to do it because of her rising profile and I could see she would need a proper one someday, so almost two years' later I asked her again, and this time she said yes,” says Rob, who is the Spoton.net franchisee for North Yorkshire, providing It'seeze website creation and consultancy services to small businesses.
Rob took the two-hour journey to the remote farm to talk to Amanda about what she wanted, and when the site was eventually created, she loved it.
The site features Amanda's stunning photographs of her family, the sheep, the farm and the rugged countryside of Swaledale. It gives details of her books, media interviews, public speaking tours, guest accommodation and cream teas.
Amanda says: “Previously I was sceptical about the merits of a good website but the new one has been pivotal in the advancement of my business. Rob proved to me that a website can be much more than a standard template, and that first online impressions count. Whereas once I saw my website as little more than a business listing, I now recognise it as an important asset in my enterprise.”
“Now manage the website for her, adding new information about, for instance, her public speaking events. I think it's the best website I have been involved in creating, and it has helped me win new business,” says Rob.
Rob's consultancy service has also helped many other North Yorkshire businesses including accommodation providers, pubs, restaurants, construction companies, health and beauty businesses, charities and community groups to create and maintain successful websites.
Rob, who has been a Spoton.net franchisee for five years, says: “My former career in advertising and design means I was used to helping businesses market themselves, but the Spoton.net franchise head office does the site building for you, so to succeed as a Spoton.net franchisee you don't need an in-depth knowledge of technology to build a rewarding business.”