Lauren Mitchell is a co-founder of Willow Digital. She’s a creative and passionate digital marketer with a range of experience in the marketing field including graphic design, content creation and management.
Originally, Lauren began her career in marketing as a graphic designer for a major Australian retailer. Working in a fast-paced environment that was results-driven allowed her passion for marketing to grow.
Fortunately, Lauren also had the opportunity to expand her skill set by working in online content development and social media for another major retailer – which is where her real passion for digital marketing came alive!
Lauren’s experience in digital marketing now includes working for businesses in both private and public sectors, including not-for-profit.
Outside of Willow Digital, Lauren is addicted to Sharpies! She creates illustrations for colouring books and runs an online art store called Wanderline, selling original artworks and limited-edition prints.
Can you share a bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Laura Watson, my business partner, and I were fortunate enough to meet each other through an old workplace through this venture. We really saw a need to create accessible digital marketing solutions for small businesses and not-for-profits. We understand they don’t necessarily have the time, budget or resources to invest in this area and run effective digital marketing campaigns. So we brought it to life!
Could you explain your business model to us?
We’re essentially a one-stop shop when it comes to digital and design. We offer everything a small business or start-up would need to make them visible online. We cover everything from logo design, web design, through to branding, setting up social media accounts and creating marketing campaigns.
Beyond that, we also offer copywriting, graphic design, Facebook advertising management and assist with developing marketing strategies and campaigns to help accelerate a business online.
Could you share what you’re working on right now and what you’re most excited about in the next year?
As we’re still in the early stages of our business were really refining our product offering. As we’re starting to understand the needs of small businesses and not-for-profits, we’re tailoring our service offerings and creating new and affordable packages.
How do you make ideas happen?
By not making sleep a priority! No, it’s all about using resources that are available to you. Connect with people, share your ideas, collaborate.
We’ve found the benefits of networking and connecting with others. It’s important to find support through other people and businesses who you trust and can also rely on.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some pretty wonderful people over the last few years. Although, not directly a mentor as such, you can find yourself receiving some incredible advice from everyday people – like my hairdresser! A business-owner herself, she offers wonderful words of wisdom and helps to put things into perspective from another person who also founded a business.
What does your typical day look like for you?
Depending on our project load, we could be working on websites, logo concepts, social media content strategies, and hopefully when we’ve got the time – working on our own marketing too!
What challenges have you faced when starting a business in Australia?
For us, breaking through the barrier and getting our name out there.
It can be tough given the great deal of competition there is with outsourced overseas digital marketing providers. A lot of businesses these days see financial benefits in outsourcing work to overseas VAs, or even using Fiverr. This in a way is indirectly hurting small businesses and other creatives. Sometimes we can’t compete with the pricing.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Invest time into creating a social media calendar for your business. Make the time to sit down, write, source or create content and schedule posts ahead of time so you can sit back and know that your social accounts are active.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
I’m a huge fan of Kate Toon – she’s a fantastic copywriter who also offers SEO training courses which are perfect for business owners, giving you advice on how to improve your SEO without actually spending anything. She provides a really awesome support network through Facebook, which I think is great. It’s an opportunity for businesses to learn and understand SEO themselves (cost-effectively) without running the risk of being overcharged by a larger agency.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Businesses have such incredible power and influence these days, especially now that social media is a part of our life. At a click of a button, your message can be exposed to hundreds of thousands of people within minutes. We should use this incredible exposure to encourage one another to inspire change, to promote powerful and positive messages!
Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?
One particular movement I support is Words With Heart, founded by Lauren Shuttleworth. She built an eco-friendly stationery social enterprise which funds women’s and girls’ education projects. Every product that is sold, provides a specific number of education days to women and girls in need.
Are there 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
Social Media Examiner has easy to read articles on digital marketing and social media, they’re also worth following on Facebook.
Try signing up to Google Alerts which will notify you when a particular keyword in your industry (that you choose) is used online – perfect for sourcing content, or to find out when people are talking about you online.
Canva is perfect for whipping up little graphics with text for use on social media. You can get away with the free version for making simple designs.
What 3 Australians do you think we should follow on Twitter?
Do you have any opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
We’ll be looking to connect with more copywriters, graphic designers and bloggers in the future. We’re also really open to opportunities to collaborate on projects, and funding is always welcome!
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, what would it be?
Is there a checklist or a business coach for start-ups to help you with finances, tax, contracts etc.?
What’s your favourite restaurant in Brisbane?
Harajuku Gyoza at Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, always has a crazy energy and amazing food!