Where to spend money when self employed

As a self employed singer, I am a totally self contained act, having my own equipment, and managing my own bookings, however I wanted to do a quick blog post today about when you should actually be spending money.

As I am self employed (all be it part-time at the moment) I often find that I am saying to myself, no, don’t pay someone to do that – you can do it yourself. The reason for this is very simple – you have good months, and bad months, and so sometimes, you aren’t always sure if you are going to have enough money for basic things.

Because of this, I have always done everything myself before and at the gig – including setting up, doing my levels and playing / pausing my backing tracks, along with the admin side of things too. As I have recently set up a performing arts school, started teaching singing lessons privately and organise a charity event each year, I started feeling that doing everything for a performance was too much on my own, and so I spoke to a good friend of mine to see if he might be interested in “tech-ing” for me.

He has now helped me at a number of performances, and I have to say that he is a God-send. I don’t have to worry about the different levels of the backing tracks (which used to mean I’d have to discreetly change the levels myself while singing), and the gaps between the different tracks are all dealt with too. He also sets up the PA system, and packs it down, so I don’t have to lift a finger! Overall, I am less worried about everything at the performances he has been at, and therefore have been able to focus much more on the performance, and not about how I was going to reach the PA to pause the backing before the next song started!

So, my advice to you today, is if you are self employed, and there are some things that either stress you out, mean you don’t look quite as professional as you are, or you just simply don’t like doing – don’t complain about it, budget into your prices to pay someone else to do it!


Music Festivals and other events in and around the Portsmouth Area

I like to give my pupils as many opportunities to perform as possible, so I thought it would only be fair to put together a list of all the events I have found in the area that offer to them to get involved with, so that others in the Portsmouth area can find out what is going on too.

Please click on the names of each event to go through to their website and find out more.

If I’ve missed anything, please do let me know, and I’ll add it to the list – I hope this can become a useful resource for local musicians and performers, so bookmark this post!

Music Festivals

These have “classes” which you can enter. They are a great way of “benchmarking” where you are in your performing if you don’t take exams, as you will be marked on your song by professional adjudicators. They all have prices attached to entering a class, and you will probably need to hire a pianist for accompaniment if you are singing.

Chichester Music Festival : February. Closing date for entries is November.

Portsmouth Music Festival : February – March. Closing date for entries is November.

Southampton Music Festival : March. Closing date for entries is December.

Fareham Music Festival : May. Closing date for entries is March.

Gosport Music Festival : October – November. Closing date for entries is July.

My recommended pianists are:
Nicky Tabeart: 02392472583
Amy Beresford: a_beresford@hotmail.co.uk and 07805714544


These are various events organised by a number of different people / companies that it is worth getting involved with.

Waterlooville Music Festival : June. They run a market place music system, where different musical groups are given time slots throughout the day to perform. This is a great opportunity to sing what you like, and really build your confidence, however time slots are very limited, and usually fill up pretty quickly.

The Mad Hatters Charity Tea Party : July.  This is my charity event! We have a stage area where we like to have a running show of local artists, so if you want to perform, just get in touch!

Weyfest Music FestivalAugust. 

A Victorian Festival of Christmas : November – December. A three day event held every year at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. It is quite an intensive three days, however the experience you gain is just fantastic. The easiest way to get involved is through Groundlings Theatre Company – pop them an email on info@groundlings.co.uk and say you’d like to volunteer for next year.

Party Prizes for babies and toddlers

I recently ran a Christmas party for a toddler group. On the surface, this sounds (relatively) easy – put some music together, run some games, and hand out some prizes. That last one however, is not as easy as it sounds.

As I was looking round the shops, I quickly found that almost all the items available at a reasonable price (bearing in mind I was buying for a party of 20 – 30!) were either not appropriate for the age, or would constitute as a choking hazard. There was also the issue that it was a mixed gender party, so I was ideally looking for non-gender specific prizes.

Here is what I did end up with:

  • Pencils and rubbers – princess and pirate themed
  • Polkadot purses
  • Small soft balls with a football pattern
  • Bath toys
  • Bouncy balls
  • Soft sweets

Annoyingly, I only thought of the bath toys after I had bought the first items, as in hindsight I think finding some packs of bath toys to use as prizes would have been a much better idea than the pencils and rubbers.

I used the first three for the pass the parcels, and created one parcel for girls and one for boys. Again, on the surface this sounds like a good idea, however in the future I will be putting more and more efforts into finding gender neutral prizes, as (especially at the age of 0 – 5) there will inevitably be brothers and sisters there, and the parents usually will need to sit with their children to help them with the game. The other prizes I used for the other games I ran, and chose which to give out based on the age of the winner.

All in all, I had a fantastic time running this party, the children were just lovely, and the older ones were very keen to get involved with the games (while some of the younger ones were happy being memorised by the disco lights!), and from the feedback I’ve had, everyone had a good time!

I am currently in the process of putting together various information documents for my own use for children’s parties, which I’d love to be able to publish online for everyone to use, so if you have children, I would love to hear your thoughts on what would make good prizes at a party (and also what doesn’t make a good prize at a party!) Please post your thoughts below, and let me know what age your kids are too 🙂

Why having a good foundation for your website is so important for SEO

Now, most of you know that my day job is as a web designer – so this of course puts me in a unique situation where I know a lot about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and other “web rules”, which I can use to implement on my website. More and more recently I have been getting enquiries through my website for the various services I offer, and comments from others that my “exposure” on the web is pretty good.

My belief has always been, as is the belief of the web design company I work for, that a solid foundation for a website is extremely important. This lies in hand coding the website, working on SEO before and during the creation of the site, and also making sure that certain standards – such as W3C – are maintained.

I have today discovered a perfect example of how important these things are. My website – www.beckishort.co.uk – has been hand-coded from scratch, with W3C compliant code, and SEO in mind from the start. My search rankings are already pretty good for a number of phrases:

Gig Singer Hampshire (position 2)
Wedding Singer Hampshire (position 1)
Singing Lessons Portsmouth (position 1)
Princess Party Hampshire (position 13)

plus quite a few more. I am also starting to appear within the first 50 results (first 5 pages) for some of these phrases without the location on the end of them! (Singing Lessons – position 44, Female Actress – position 40, Gig Singer – position 7) All of this means that my website as a whole has a good rating within Google – which puts me in a strong position to help with rankings when I add a new page.

Today I found a perfect example of just how this affects my rankings, which I just felt I had to share with you.

I added my vintage wedding singer page less than two weeks ago & I’m already:

position 1 for “vintage wedding singer hampshire”
position 4 for “1940’s singer hampshire”
position 19 for “vintage wedding singer”

All of the above results are as they appear in “Google UK All”. I receive weekly search engine ranking reports from WebOK to tell me where my chosen key-phrases are ranking, and this helps me to keep tweaking the content and links to it in order to optimise my site to the best possible result.

I know that a lot of people think that a professionally created website is expensive, and they’d much rather just create their own using a free service, but I feel that you have to ask the question – how much more business might you be able to gain from being at the top of the search engines for key-phrases within your field?

Of course, search results fluctuate quite often, and so my number 1 position for “vintage wedding singer hampshire” may drop down over the next few weeks, but as a general rule, fluctuations are usually within about 5 spaces either side of the position you are in now – unless you are doing work on the phrase of course!

PS: as a quick side note, I quite often get the comment from people “if you type in my business name, we’re first in Google.” My response? That’s all well and good…but a potential customer doesn’t know your business name. They just know they are looking for someone who does what you do. If this sounds familiar, you might find a post I wrote last year about choosing keyphrases on the WebOK blog interesting.

A Top Tip for Actors with Tattoos

I recently came across this great tutorial to covering up tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos myself, but I find it really frustrating when you see a tattoo that either doesn’t fit the character, or even worse the time period in a show – whether that be on TV, film, stage or any other kind of performance.

I know quite often if it is a student film, or low budget, these sorts of things will just be ignored, but in my opinion, it’s the little things that make a good film / show amazing – attention to detail, so here is one more thing that there will no longer be an excuse for not doing!

Covering Up Tattoos


  1. use a red lipstick covering the outlines
  2. pat on a light concealer, using a setting powder
  3. pat on your skin tone concealer, and clean up any mistakes using baby wipes to remove excess concealer
  4. use a fluffy brush and smooth it out with foundation powder.

There’s also a video tutorial here to help you out.