Red Robot Media Forms EU Company to Guard Against Brexit

Red Robot Media Forms EU Company to Guard Against Brexit

UK copywriting company launches EU company to maintain EU links

On the day the UK government triggers Article 50 to exit the EU, Red Robot Media has today formally applied for registration of a new Estonian sister company.

The new Estonian company will allow Red Robot to retain a presence in the EU after Brexit. For EU clients, the move will also guard against Brexit uncertainty and give the company more flexibility post-Brexit.

Red Robot’s director and technical writer Claire Broadley is a member of the Estonian e-residency program. The program allows individuals from anywhere in the world to set up an Estonian company and maintain close links with the EU after Brexit. There are currently approximately 1,000 UK citizens registered as Estonian e-residents.

Claire’s new company, Red Robot OÜ, will operate out of Tallinn, Estonia. It will offer the same services that the UK company Red Robot Media offers now, including technical blogging, business blogging, system documentation, and video production.

We produce content for clients worldwide. Estonian e-residency offers a simple way to maintain strong EU links after Brexit. 

ID card

UK Estonian e-residents are creating companies to guard against Brexit uncertainty and ensure they can access valuable benefits of EU membership. Red Robot OÜ will also be able to access all of the benefits of the Digital Single Market, a program which the UK intends to exit over the course of the next two years.

Red Robot OÜ hopes to accept payments in euro from June, direct to its Estonian bank account, which will help it to protect against any further devaluation of the pound. Customers of the UK company can still pay in pounds sterling.

All of Red Robot Media’s clients will have the open of transferring their business to Red Robot OÜ in Estonia if they wish. This will allow them to enjoy the same service that they currently enjoy, provisioned within the EU legal and data protection framework.

For micro businesses like Red Robot Media, Brexit presents challenges in terms of costs and legal compliance. In particular, it is difficult for a very small business to attract significant EU business in an unclear post-Brexit environment. The Estonian e-residency program allows micro businesses to put contingency plans in place.

Red Robot OÜ is being registered with the Estonian Business Registry by LeapIn.eu. LeapIn provides management services for Estonian companies that are administered by Estonian e-residents overseas.

For more information about Estonian e-residency after Brexit, please see our e-residency blog post.

About Red Robot Media

Red Robot Media is a UK company specialising in technical writing and business copywriting. It is located in Horsforth, close to Leeds Bradford Airport. The company was founded in 2010.

Claire Broadley started the company formation with the Estonian Business Registry in March 2017, on the day Article 50 was triggered by the UK government.

All media enquiries can be sent to [email protected]

Could Your Blog Be Flagged as Fake News?

Could Your Blog Be Flagged as Fake News?

We’re only a few months into 2017, but already, it seems that ‘fake news’ could be the phrase of the year. It started out as a catchphrase on Trump’s campaign trail, but it’s now morphed into a snap criticism of pretty much any kind of content. If someone finds your business blog to be lacking in authenticity, it could be flagged as fake news, along with some of the web’s least ethical publishers.

Fake newsFake news outperformed real news during the US presidential election. And we’re all potentially susceptible. Researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education found that young people are surprisingly bad at picking out truth from lies.

That’s why Facebook is introducing tools that allow content to be flagged as ‘fake’ by users. This content is then passed on to humans for review, and content that is deemed inaccurate will be marked prominently with a banner in users’ timelines. There are also browser plugins that do the same thing. But fake news spreads because of the kneejerk reaction to share it, and it’s going to take time before social media users change their habits.

For bloggers, this means accuracy and authenticity will be more important than ever, lest they be caught up in the fake news debacle. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to elevate the quality of your content and make it distinct from fake news websites.

How is Fake News Defined?

Fake news articles are defined as ‘non-satirical news stories’, or good, old-fashioned hoaxes. Websites publish fake stories to generate large amounts of traffic, then earn money from the adverts embedded around them.

Fake news publishers are not alone in publishing stories for clicks. But during a time of heightened political tensions — such as a presidential election — fake news can also influence public opinion. One prominent example is Underground News Report, which has a long disclaimer paragraph in its footer. But to read the crucial part about its ‘satirical’ content, you’ll need to scroll past dozens of fake news stories about the Clintons, Trumps, and Obamas.

Worryingly, the longer the phrase ‘fake news’ is in use, the broader the definition seems to get. Trump has been quoted as saying that any poll that isn’t in his favour is fake news, and the phrase also been used as a badge of shame when journalists make a mistake in an otherwise factual report. It’s a messy situation, and one that businesses would do well to steer clear of.

Authenticity is Key in Blogging

Thankfully, there has been a marked improvement in the quality of content on the web over the last 5 years. In our experience, businesses are prepared to pay more for content than they used to, and they engage professional writers rather than paying for cheap content spinners that wreck your rankings.

But if journalists are struggling with credibility, this should be a warning sign to bloggers as well. There is another step change coming. And businesses that think that a blog is ‘just a blog’ are going to fall foul of it.

There’s nothing wrong with posting 500 words a week to market your products or services, but you need to invest some effort into those articles and really hammer out an authentic narrative. In an age of increased scrutiny and a need for better accuracy, this is an area that businesses need to work on urgently.

If you don’t have the resources to produce this kind of content in-house, you must outsource blog writing duties to an experienced writer; someone that is committed to fact-checking and producing high-quality content. This frees up your internal staff to do the jobs they really want to be doing.

Readers are increasingly demanding better blog posts anyway, so it’s a win-win for everyone when this happens.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Accuracy and Authenticity

Fake news can be amusing, but it can also cause genuine harm. In some cases, fake news is actually propaganda. Now, more than ever, it’s important to put a little more effort into your content.

1. Increase the length of your blog posts

It’s quite easy to waffle for 500 words and throw the result up as a blog post. This is what many fake news websites do. They know that it’s easy to fabricate breaking news stories, because people who read them want to be the first to share the post with their friends. These posts are also very short and easy to skim-read. As such, those fake posts go viral very quickly, which is why they are so profitable for the writers.

But it’s incredibly difficult to write 1,000+ words of fake content fast. And most fake news websites aren’t interested in producing anything like that kind of length. They just fire out short blogs as quickly as possible. This is a really key way to set yourself apart.

From today, aim to double the word count of the blogs you’re publishing so that you can explore topics in greater depth, and make your content look distinct from a typical fake news blog site. Yes: that means doubling your investment in blogging. But read on to find out how you can easily double its value, too.

2. Choose the Right Content Types

Do you know the difference between news posts and pillar content? Is your blog evergreen, or going stale within hours?

Choosing the right content types can help you to get more from your investment in blogging. A mixture of pillar and evergreen content, with some news and reviews, helps to cover all bases.

Additionally, we find that a thorough, data-driven blog post or ebook might cost two or three times the amount of a throwaway blog post. But it will far more traffic over time than a cheap, basic post, and is a much better use of your budget. For example, a post that I wrote here in 2011 is still the most popular post on the Red Robot website, and it draws at least twice the amount of traffic of the next most popular piece.

3. Keep Popular Posts Current and Accurate

If you want your old blog posts to pay dividends for years, you need to spend time revising them. A highly successful evergreen post can be thwarted by broken links, outdated research, or new strategies that supersede old advice.

Optimise your old blog posts to maintain their accuracy and give your whole blog added credibility.

This can also help you to squeeze longevity out of posts that would otherwise wither and die.

4. Back Up Claims With Real Sources

It’s important to back up claims in a blog with recognised, credible sources. Ideally, every claim should be linked. Look for research within the last year, and link to the primary source.

This is journalism 101, but bloggers are different animals. They sometimes link to sources that are disreputable, and this can contribute towards your site being included in a bad virtual neighbourhood.

So whenever your writer makes a claim, there should be a source, along with a natural link to that source. Hopefully, it goes without saying that the link should not go to a fake news website.

5. Always Name the Author

Clients still ask us whether blogs should be posted under a real name, a pen name, or the name of someone at their company.

Without exception, we recommend using someone’s real name (and you can use our writer’s name if they produced the content for you). Naming a real person helps to create authenticity and create a narrative. It also gives you the opportunity to add a byline for the author, which is one of the best ways to fend off accusations of hoax news.

Avoid posting blogs under your generic WordPress username (such as ‘admin’ or ‘xyzseocompany’). Not only does this look unprofessional, but exposing an admin username on a blog can increase the risk of a brute force hack.

Is Trust the New Click?

We live in an age of unprecedented access to information. In 2015, around 2 million blog posts were being uploaded to the internet every day. As long as there is money to be made from fake news, it will be published and consumed, because posts that go viral quickly tend to rise to the top of the pile.

Michael Kuntz, writing for NiemebLab, says that “trust is the new click”. Authenticity is important, and as Facebook and other platforms start to fish for fake news, you need to avoid being caught up in the net. The better your content, and the better your authority on a subject, the better chance you have of building trust with your readers.

7 Ways to Cash In Your PAYG SIM Credit

7 Ways to Cash In Your PAYG SIM Credit

CIPSC

If you often switch phones, you’ll probably have ended up with a drawer full of old SIM cards. Some of these may have credit on them. We recently conducted a SIM card audit in our Leeds office and found more than £30 of unused credit on various cards.

Mobile phone networks often bundle pay as you go phones with a compulsory credit purchase. The networks know that people buy PAYG handsets with the intention of unlocking them and using them on another network; naturally, the networks want to ensure they make something from the transaction before that happens.

So how do you make the best use of that credit? Simple: reclaim it, spend it or donate it. Here are 5 ways to do that.

1. o2 Charge Your Mobile: Google Play, iTunes, and More

Charge Your Mobile allows o2 customers to pay for music, apps, and ebooks using their PAYG balance. This also works if you have an o2 Pay Monthly account.

The Charge Your Mobile service works with an impressive array of services. You can use o2 credit to buy content from Google Play, iTunes, the Microsoft Store, and other digital content providers.

You’ll find usage instructions on the Charge Your Mobile homepage.

2. Transfer Your Credit

No UK mobile operator offers cash refunds for credit that’s already been purchased. But you may be able to transfer your credit to another account with the same operator.

We’ve done this with EE when we accidentally topped up a SIM that was lost. EE customer service will also transfer credit if you purchase a new PAYG SIM card from them, but you have credit on an old card that you will no longer need. This transfer may be conditional on deactivating the old SIM once the transfer is done.

Some networks will add your PAYG balance as a credit on your first contract bill. Three advertises this service on its website.

Policies change all the time, so it’s best to call your provider directly and ask them. Remember: if you want to transfer PAYG credit to a contract, they may require that you buy the contract directly from them, so ask before making the purchase.

3. Spend Credit On Games

Facebook allows O2, EE, Three, Vodafone, and Virgin Mobile customers to pay for in-game items using mobile credit. When you pay for an item, add a new payment method, and select Mobile Phone. This option isn’t available for all games, and Facebook doesn’t accept mobile phone credit for other services yet.

You can also use mobile credit to pay for Riot Points in League of Legends, or purchase games for PlayStation 4. Note that SEN wallet purchases are limited to £30 a day, or the limit set by your mobile provider, if it’s lower.

4. Load a gambling account

If you’re over 18, you can sign up for a betting or gaming account, and then load your phone credit onto that. AndroidSlots has put together a list of betting and gaming websites that accept deposits by phone.

5. Look for a Payforit Vendor

Payforit is a service run by major UK mobile networks, and it allows users to pay for premium content on their phones. This includes adult content, gambling sites (including MobileWins), and recurring subscriptions.

This option is best used with caution. Some users have reported mysterious recurring charges from Payforit, which are usually caused by premium rate texts, so be sure that you want to sign up before you click any subscription links.

6. Donate to Charity by Text

You can donate to many UK charities by sending a simple text message. The JustGiving website explains how this works.

You don’t have to pay for the text, and you can choose an amount between £1 and £10 each time you donate.

To donate, you need the VIC code for the charity, and the number. The Cancer Research UK Text to Donate page explains the donation process in more detail. Most major charities have a text donation number.

7. Pay for Spotify Premium or Family

Spotify allows you to purchase a monthly Premium subscription using the balance on a PAYG account. If you’re on a contract, the money will be added to your monthly bill.

Payment by mobile is available on EE, Vodafone, O2, and 3. The monthly subscription is £9.99, or you can opt for the Family subscription for £14.99. The service will continue to bill you monthly until you cancel, or your SIM card runs out of credit.

If you already pay for Spotify, you’ll need to revert to a Free plan, and then set up your subscription again.

Any More Ideas?

Short of selling your SIM card on an auction site, these are the five best solutions we found if you need to use up your PAYG SIM credit. Our favourite option is charity donation: it’s hassle-free and far better than letting your unused PAYG credit go to waste.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2013. It was completely rewritten in February 2017 to bring it up to date.

After Brexit, What Are the Benefits of Estonian E-Residency?

After Brexit, What Are the Benefits of Estonian E-Residency?

One week ago, I applied to for e-residency of Estonia, in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Even if you feel positive or optimistic, you’d have to agree that UK businesses are heading into a prolonged period of uncertainty. Depending on the way you run your business, e-residency may be an option worth exploring.

E-residency ID cardEstonia launched its e-residency programme in 2014. It may help you to retain some of the important benefits we may lose when the UK finally exits the EU. You may want to register now; equally, it may be sensible to wait. We’ve already registered, just in case.

Before You Apply for E-Residency

If you’re unsure about the impact of a political decision on your business, ask your accountant for their advice. Ours was quick to point out that we are in a state of uncertainty, so we cannot plan for anything while we don’t have the facts.

I would caution against registering as an e-citizen of Estonia if:

  • You don’t have the cash for the application.
  • You’re not reliant on strong connections to the EU to do business.
  • You want to ensure your residency in the EU (this programme doesn’t offer that).

But even if we just take e-residency as an experiment in virtual business, it is definitely interesting.

What is Estonian E-Residency?

Estonia’s e-residency scheme is designed to increase the number of businesses operating out of the country. The e-residency card gives you the right to set up a business in Estonia, which is important for UK residents for two reasons.

  1. You can have a virtual business address in Estonia, which then opens up the possibility of signing up for services with EU providers under EU law. This could be a benefit if you want to store data in the cloud, for example, since we don’t yet know whether existing EU information security or data protection law will apply to the UK. (Yes, this could be a horrendous mess for companies operating in the cloud.) It could also let you lock in EU discounts when we exit.
  2. You could potentially open a euro bank account. The pound has recovered against the euro since its initial crash, but we’re in the early stages of a very long withdrawal process. If you work for clients that pay you in euros, having a bank account may not be a bad idea. (You will need to go to Estonia to open the account, but you can manage it online.)

Estonia’s e-residency programme does not give you citizenship in Estonia, and it does not give you the right to travel in the Schengen area. If you’re concerned about citizenship, it might be better to look into your options for obtaining a passport within an EU country first.

Applying for E-Residency

The application process is all done online, and there’s just one form to fill in. You will need a photo of yourself that complies with the requirements, so it’s best to get that ready before you start. Additionally, you’ll need a photo of your UK passport.

When the form’s done, you pay a registration fee of €101.99.

The application process takes anything from two to eight weeks; mine was accepted within a month.

You’ll pick up your Estonian card from one of the designated pick-up points, which are Estonian embassies or similar. There’s only one pick-up location in the UK — the embassy in Knightsbridge — so factor in the cost of getting there. You don’t need to attend an interview, but you will have to give your fingerprints before your card is handed over. If you don’t attend within 6 months, your card will be returned to Estonia.

Naturally, there is a chance your application will be declined. In that event, we’d have to assume that you won’t get a refund.

Other Reasons to Apply for E-Residency

Estonia is very keen to project itself as a forward-thinking, digitally engaged country, and e-residency is one way that it’s promoting a digitally transformed approach to business and life. Estonians enjoy access to voting, healthcare records, law, policing and education through one portal. This, to me, seems like an initiative modern digitally-minded people should support.

E-residency will give you a means to sign contracts legally in Estonia, which could be handy for freelancers employed by EU clients. You get your own digital encryption key that can be used for e-signing online.

Here’s an important downside. The system does not change your tax residency. You need professional advice to avoid being taxed twice. In any case, any change to your business circumstances or structure should be run by an accountant, before you go ahead.

Summary

The fallout from Brexit has been alarming for us as a micro-business, soon to be ripped out of our core market. We are certainly not the only people who are worried, as the massive viral response to my Brexit blog has proven.

Estonian e-residency is not going to fix anything for you immediately. We don’t know if it’s necessary or not, because we don’t know what we’re losing or gaining yet. But people who do business with the EU may want to look into it as an option, just in case.

Update, 29 April 2017: We’ve now started the process of setting up a business in Estonia using my e-residency card. For more information, see our press release here.

How to Sprout a Series of Blogs From Just One Idea

How to Sprout a Series of Blogs From Just One Idea

Ideas sproutingBrainstorming blog topics is not easy. I can state that confidently, after more than 6 years’ experience as a business blogger. Some businesses provide me with blog topics; some ask me to formulate them on their behalf. It can be difficult to come up with a constant stream of ideas, even if you do it for a living.

Sprouting blog topics is a good way to give your blog a cohesive theme, even if you don’t have time to develop a full content strategy with your SEO advisor, or freelance blogger. It’s also an efficient way to brainstorm for new content ideas, since you devise topics ‘in the moment’ as you write. (Not in a meeting, when you’re under pressure.)

I sprout topics in a hierarchical way. I write the core article, and then build satellites around it. I then launch blog posts in a carefully planned order, so that all the internal links are valid when they go live.

Why Sprout Blogs From One Idea?

There are three main reasons that I like to sprout topics like this:

  1. Sprouting blogs promotes internal linking organically. Internal links will reinforce your keywords, make navigation easier, and distribute link juice from a popular blog throughout your site. Here’s a very good blog from KissMetrics which explains the importance of internal linking.
  2. Formulating topics from existing content is very efficient. If you’re pushed for time, you’ll hesitate at the thought of writing a dozen blog posts for your business, rather than just one. But hear me out: if you sprout lots of sub-topics from one main topic, you get more mileage from one idea. The key is to invest time into ensuring every article is of a high quality, and to keep the topics closely related.
  3. Sprouting topic ideas is an effortless way to create more content. This is the best way to keep fresh content flowing, so you can show authority on a topic. Sustain your authority over a series, and give yourself more opportunities to build new themes with minimum effort.

Just one more thing. Have a notepad handy before you begin the first article. (I like to use Google Keep.)

1. Draft Out Your Evergreen Blog Content

Your brand new pillar post comes first. You (or your freelance blogger) is going to write this from your main topic idea.

You probably already have a pretty good framework in your head for this, so use that to your advantage. Invest lots of time and resource into getting it right. The pillar post is going to be the core of the series, and all the other articles will be satellites to it. (It’s also going to be the one you publish last, so don’t worry too much about fine-tuning just yet.)

As you write the pillar post, note down any requirement to link to another page for more information, or detail. These are going to be your ideas for satellite articles. You aren’t going to write all of these, but writing a good-sized list will give you more to work with later.

Don’t publish the core article yet.

2. Review the List of Satellite Topics

On your notepad (or virtual equivalent), review all the ideas that sprouted from your main article.

Select 1-2 ideas per 500 words of the original article, as a maximum. If you have too many, mark out the ones you feel most confident about. The other ideas can be turned into links to third party sites.

Discard any idea that isn’t a perfect fit for your niche.

3. Create Your Satellite Blog Content

Working from the list in step 2, write all of the satellite blogs that will surround your original piece. Remember:

  • You may need a freelance blogger to offer some resource, and ensure variety. You want to avoid overlap and duplicate content.
  • Plan to link satellites together, if the need arises. But don’t force any unnatural links into them.
  • Pay attention to your keywords, and try to stick to similar themes.
  • Note any more satellite topics that come up, and consider writing those up as well.

4. Create All Your Links

Now, you should have a clutch of blogs that all relate to each other, and a good idea of where the links are going to go. It’s time to plan the internal links that connect them.

Again, don’t do this unnaturally. Ensure the anchor text is loose, and only add these internal links where it makes sense to do so. Ideally, all internal links need to appear where they naturally came about when you wrote your pillar post. (If in doubt, less forced optimisation is always preferable.)

One of your satellites needs to link only to content already live on your site, for reasons that will become apparent in a moment.

5. Finalise and Schedule Your Blogs

This is the important part: you need to publish these blogs in the right order. You have a bunch of links going backwards and forwards, and it’s important that you don’t send any visitors to a missing page by publishing a ‘child’ before the ‘parent’. So, at this final step, you’re going to proofread your content, tweak it, and (potentially) tweak the links at the same time.

Set the blog with no new incoming links to publish first. Then, schedule any blogs with links to the first blog. Then you can schedule the next tier of blogs that link to the scheduled ones. And so on. You may need to tweak your linking strategy to make sure you’re always working backwards.

Normally, your initial pillar post will be one of the last to go live, since it has the most number of offshoot links.

Schedule your content to go live every few days, or once a week. This will build interest, and give Google fresh content to index over several weeks, without overloading people with too much at once.

Sprouting: Things to Remember

  • Satellite articles should be as interesting, engaging and detailed as the main article. They don’t necessarily need to be the same length, but you should invest the same amount of effort so that the quality is consistent.
  • Give all blogs a consistent style. If you’ve hired a freelance blogger to help you, ask them to tweak the content you wrote yourself so that it all has the same voice.
  • Link out to other sites generously. Don’t hog the limelight. It pays to mix it up, so throw out a few links to authoritative sources, where they are naturally required.
  • Optimise your anchor text, within reason. Long-tail phrases are fine; include a keyword now and again. Don’t link every occurrence of a phrase to another blog, and don’t try to over-organise your links; be as natural as you can without creating any broken ones.
  • Avoid being too circular. Throw in an internal link to a static page, or to an older blog post, so that you distribute link juice throughout the whole site and avoid unnatural linking patterns.
  • Don’t duplicate your ideas across blogs. Give each piece a unique reason to exist, and take it in its own direction.
  • Check all of your links very carefully. The second the blog is published, go back and review it. Use IFTTT to up set an email alert, triggered by your RSS feed.

Other Ways to Use the Technique

Use the same sprouting technique to formulate topics for a book. Drill down into your chapter topics, and sprout new sections off existing ideas. You can also use this to spawn ideas for social media posts, or headings for new sections of your site.

Even if you choose not to sprout topics quite so methodically, sprouting is good practice for the future. Why? It makes you think from the reader’s point of view, which is sometimes difficult when you’re running a business. If a section of your content needs further explanation, jot it down as a future idea. Simple. Providing you stay on topic, stay natural, and hire quality freelance bloggers to support you, you’ll grow your blog organically and help to reinforce the themes of your site.