How Do You Promote Your Website?

This is not art because we're smiling!

Robin and I – Eton 1980s

Justine Perry @justine_perry asked me a question during #ggchat, “Aside from SEO and on social media, how do you promote your website?” However, instead of emailing Justine an answer, as promised, I thought I would answer her here on SlashHair. Mainly because some #HairHour participants may also be interested?

The thing is, I don’t really promote my website(s), I kind of just let it all happen! Which is SO terribly wrong. Anyway, forget me, can you see where Justine’s coming from? What does one do to promote one’s website that isn’t SEO and/or social media related?

How good at doing It are you?

Maybe good website promotion starts off with a good reputation? Generally speaking, if a hairdresser, musician or writer [artist] wants to be successful, they must be able to perform at a highly competitive level. Crappy artists don’t usually attract fans, and therefore will not attract a continual stream of visitors to their website. So, how good you are as an artist can, and I believe will, effect the numbers of people visiting your website.

And, if you’re an independent artist, it doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. You will need professional help and advice – Find the right professional for the job.

Word of mouth (and I’m not necessarily talking about social media) is a vital and free form of recommendation for all artists. Personally, I’m never going to recommend a person or product that’s bloody useless – because that will make Me look bad.

Doing the Business

Professionalism affects your marketing effort, your approach to business, your business acumen, will also have an effect on the numbers of visitors to your website. This could mean: being open about your fees, creating a trusted and safe eCommerce website, or turning up to the gig in a shiny van with your name and web address printed on the side.

How others regard your business, will effect the way they interact with you.

How do you connect with people?

I’m talking about ‘real world’ relationships. Connectivity is actually a subsection within business: Marketing and PR.

It’s how you connect with people and how you get them to take notice. Be on the same wavelength as the person with whom you are talking, it’s empathy and rapport. And it’s marketing – bringing yourself to the attention and consciousness of your potential clients, customers or fans [client]. A massive subject.

You must know your client – if you want your website promotion to be successful – Create a ‘Target Client Profile’. (Creating a target client profile may change the way you promote your website.)

Have you got any ideas?

The main thing I hate about the fashion and beauty industry is the false atmosphere of excitement and the untruthful claims of success that they trowel out – I’ve lived with it since 1973! However, you do need to attract website visitors with an incentive, a hook, people need a reason to visit your website. And if you offer a load of old bollocks, you will get jack shit.

Of course most artists offer free products, merchandise or music. Actually, free information is the real biggy on the net!

Here’s an extreme example: if your target clients are horse racing enthusiasts and you sent out an email saying, “Visit my website tomorrow after 10.30 AM. I will tell you the winner of the 2.30 at Ascot.” And the horse wins the race. You’d have some new Superfans, who’ll visit your website every time you email them with worthwhile information. That’s a hook; a reason to visit your website.

The hook could simply be a photograph of your client/s published on your website, which is far more realistic. People tend to be interested in themselves and what they can get out of it!

All You Need Is Love

How Do You Promote Your Website? With: Performance, Professionalism, Connectivity and good old Capt’n Hook, oh, and Love ;)

Celebrity Hair Cutting Shears

Century Classic - hair cutting shears

My current hair cutting shears: Century Classic, Tondeo, made in Solingen, Germany 6″ (68mm blade) (1998-ish)

After over forty years of hairdressing my hair cutting shears have become a part of my hand. They’re as much a prosthetic, two razor-sharp fingers, as they are a hand tool. I love that I even get some sensation of touch; when I cut hair I can feel them cutting and the hair’s texture.

As was the tradition when I was a Junior (1973), my first pair of shears were given to me by my stylist, Robert Lobetta; they were engraved with a salon’s name: Andre Bernard. The shears were five and a half inches, blunt and pitted with the corrosion that is so typical of badly maintained scissors. I either gave them back to Robert or chucked them away, however, I have a feeling that he may have actually asked for them back.

Robert gave me another pair that were equally as bad, this time engraved with the name Artisan. So I dumped them and took myself off to Ogee’s on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Earlham Street to buy a brand new pair of hair cutting shears.

Such was my ego I didn’t want to look like a n00bie junior buying his first pair of hair cutting shears. I confidently strode up to the counter and pointed at a pair almost exactly the same as the Artisan shears. “Can I have a gander at those,” I said, and she handed them over. I cut the hairs off of the back of my hand like I would a client’s neck fluff, and showing off, I span them on my finger like a cowboy would his .45 Colt pistol, then I slapped them down on the counter saying, “I’ll take ’em.” What a douchebag I was. They turned out to be a pretty average shyte pair.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thrown a knife, but I spent the entire summer holidays when I was thirteen teaching myself how to throw my Scout sheath knife. Basically, what you do is: hold the blade of the knife between fingers and thumb with the spine of the knife towards the palm of your hand, and the handle pointing away from you and towards the target. Keep fingers and palm away from the point and the sharpened edge. Cock your wrist sideways towards your forearm, and throw the knife almost like a dart. The knife will rotate, cartwheel like, and hopefully the knife point will stick in!

The point of the matter being rotation. Spin any hand tool and you’ll soon discover its balance and sometimes its purpose of use. A balanced pair of shears will feel good in the hand.

Concorde - hair cutting shears

Concorde, FLAJ (inox stainless steel) 5.5″ (60mm blade) (1976)

Never buy a pair of shears because of what they look like. My grandfather used to say, “A bad workman always blames his tools.” Well I surely cussed those little fuckers.

I hold no sentimentality or affection for my shears, I usually give them away when I’ve finished with them. These were given to a friend who uses them to trim her fringe very occasionally – I was glad to see the back of them.

ECA - hair cutting shears

ECA, made in Solingen, Germany (rostfrei stainless steel) 5.5″ (50mm blade) (1980)

One of my favourite pairs of shears even though they were the only pair to really bite me – they cut a nice big V on the base of my index finger. Most hairdressers cut themselves with a new pair of shears at least once. I saw Ricci Burns slice through his knuckle to the bone, he got a trip to hospital and six stitches for his troubles – well, we thought it was funny at the time!

Jaguar - hair cutting shears

Jaguar satin, Easy Rand Rocket, made in Solingen, Germany (ice tempered stainless steel) 5″ (40mm blade) (1990-ish)

These were the only shears that I’ve had professionally sharpened – they fucked them up for me by grinding too much off of the blade. I usually sharpen my shears myself on my great-grandfather’s fine whetstone – it’s getting a little worn after about a hundred years.

A regular rub on the whetstone, a wipe with a thick chamois and a few drops of clear machine oil and my old hair cutting shears are back up like new again.

My most magical and memorable scissor moment wasn’t a celebrity encounter, and they weren’t even my scissors, it was when I cut my son’s cord with the midwife’s umbilical scissors – what sensational and emotional feeling.

An Epic Test Session – August 1981

Epic Test Session – Saturday 15th August 1981 – Day 1

The punchline that had me laughing like a drain was, “I suppose a fuck’s out of the question!” But I can’t remember the joke! Chris and I were heading out of London on the M4 in his clapped out 1970s Morris Marina en route to what would become an epic test session.

A few weeks earlier we’d visited Models 1 on the Fulham Road to drop off some photographs and killing two birds with one stone, we then went on to Nevs down the King’s Road to talk about testing with one of their models. After Nevs and while walking down to the Picasso Café for a lunchtime snack, we spotted a girl with her mum. “She’s a cracker,” we said in unison; and to my surprise and admiration Chris introduced himself, wrote down his and Model 1’s phone numbers on a scrap of paper and said, “If you want to become a model, get in contact.”

She did get in contact, and that’s where we were heading – to Bath, Somerset! I’d been working with Patrick Lichfield about three weeks previously and Chris had been assisting Lichfield all week, so apart from telling jokes, we mainly talked about the technicalities of different lighting set-ups, and that was almost just as funny, because there were plenty of shenanigans with Lichfield and his lighting arrangements, especially when Chris was involved – he could tell a good story could Chris.

Chris had picked up a couple of outfits from Bruce Oldfield – on pain of death should anything happen to them (which it did, but he got away with it!) – and I’d picked up the latest Jousse release from Way-In at Harrods and a whole load of accessories, which caused an unholy kerfuffle on return because Way-In had loaned out so much stock to Press and Stylists that they hardly had anything left to sell!

Chris and I picked up Persephone from her home and headed into Bath, where we met the makeup artist Arianne. And we set to work.

Persephone old boy. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.Persephone old boy. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.

Persephone in Bruce Oldfield. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.Persephone in Bruce Oldfield. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.

© Model: Persephone in Bruce Oldfield, Photographer: Chris Roberts © 1981, Hair: Ian Robson, Makeup: Arianne. Bath

Deep lilac silk Bruce Oldfield dress. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981.

Test Session – Sunday 16th August 1981 – Day 2

I awoke in a seedy hotel room, and my head was pounding from the heavy session we’d had in a cellar bar called Moles! A taxi took us to the Roman baths where we had an early morning photo session booked with Persephone.

Persephone on diving stone. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 16:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.Persephone on diving stone. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 16:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.

© Model: Persephone, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson

Persephone on the diving stone, the great bath, Roman Baths, Bath 16:08:1981. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne.

The outcome of a productive, successful and epic test session is loads of high quality photographs. From a new model’s perspective these photographs can be used in a Z-card.

© Model: Persephone (Z-card A), Photographers: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. Models1 London

Persephone Models1 Elite 1981

© Model: Persephone (Z-card B), Photographers: Chris Roberts, Victor Yuan 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. Models1 London

Persephone Models1 Elite 1981

Just to note, at around this time (’81) Elite Models had formed a partnership with Models1, which lasted for just a few years!

How To Become A Session Hairstylist

Session Hairstylist: Ian (me). Photographer: Chris Roberts. Hard at work light-testing 01:10:1981.

Session Hairstylist: Ian (me). Photographer: Chris Roberts. Hard at work light-testing 01:10:1981. Polaroid. Before digital cameras we collected Polaroids like Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

Becoming a session hairstylist

My first photographic session ever, was as Robert Lobetta’s junior when I worked at Ricci Burns – Over 21 magazine (1973). Photographer Willie Christie.

My first photographic session as a hairstylist (flying solo) was for Woman and Home magazine (1974) – No photo credits, just a fee of ten quid (about a hundred pounds today 2015). Actually, I was still a junior and about two months away from becoming a hairstylist!

…What happened was: Oliver, the manager of Ricci Burns, King’s Road, went around the salon, stylist to stylist, starting from Robert, asking if they wanted to do a photo-session after work that night – it was a Friday! Everyone was saying no because they were going out!

When Ollie finally asked me, out of utter desperation (because he obviously didn’t want to do it either), I said yes, and I was totally over the fucking moon. I was deliriously happy and unusually nervous, even though I’d assisted on countless photo-sessions. Ollie said, “Don’t tell them you’re a junior!” Robert said, “I’ll kill you if you lose it.” (I’d borrowed his session bag!)

About a week after the Woman and Home session, Ollie came over to me and said, “I’d like you to do a fashion show for Coco (a Chelsea boutique) tomorrow and by-the-way, Penny Ryder phoned to say that Woman and Home loved your work.”

So, is that how to become a session hairstylist? Join a noted London salon and train with the world’s best hairstylists?

No, there’s more to it than that, you’ve got to really want to be a session hairstylist, because there’s quite a lot of shit.

Get your name out there

In this age of connectivity, I think most of us know the power of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram coupled with owning a Website and having an email mailing-list. However, the one brilliant thing about hairdressers is our wonderful ability to do face-to-face.

When I first went freelance I decided to hawk my portfolio around to the magazines and the photographers that I’d worked with while at Ricci’s. And I thought that I may as well start with Brides magazine – Vogue House!

The assistant editor came out of her office and I stood to attention. She shook my outstretched hand and abruptly tore my portfolio from the other, and walked straight back into her chaotic office, opening the portfolio as she went – Out fell: a brown A4 envelope containing a number of contact sheets, half a dozen loose colour transparencies in their plastic and glass frames, three business cards and a scrappy piece of paper with a few scribbled notes for my eyes only! I frantically picked up the embarrassing spillage. In the meantime, the assistant editor had unceremoniously dumped my portfolio on her desk and flipped through its twelve pages faster than she could say, “Not Interested” and returned to the door while zipping-up the portfolio saying, “We’ll contact you – Goodbye.” I put the paraphernalia into the brown envelope, retrieved my portfolio, handed her a card and found myself on the other side of the door. The whole thing, which I laughingly call an interview, took about thirty seconds – and that’s being generous!

I was completely nonplussed and felt pretty dejected, my thick skin wore very thin that day.

Ages later the assistant editor phoned and asked me to do a last minute, “no credits, no fee,” photo session with the American fashion photographer Arthur Elgort with whom I’d worked before – awesome.

Never underestimate the super-human ability of a frantically busy, seasoned professional – I was so naive because I’d been mollycoddled by a salon, Ricci Burns.

Maybe life would have been a lot simpler if I’d joined a specialist agency for freelance session hairstylists – And maybe not?

The horrid truth – Move To London!

The fashion industry is London centric and I think it will be (for lots of reasons) for the next fifty years. A legacy of post war Britain, the Swinging Sixties and the art, film and music industries.

Obviously there are opportunities for session hairstylists in the major cities and provinces, but the focus is in London! #LondonFashionWeek?

Photographer: Chris Roberts. Hair & make-up Ian (me). Richard's studio 06:02:1982. Test Session.

Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model Cassie. Hair & make-up Ian (me). Richard’s studio 06:02:1982. Test Session Polaroid.

Build a portfolio by doing Test Sessions

If you’re a n00bie/wannabe session hairstylist: a test session is where a photographer, model, make-up artist and hairdresser (occasionally also: stylist and fashion designer) come together to create a photograph. A photograph that can be included in their portfolios.

Participating in a test session is the best way to start your journey to becoming a session hairstylist. Session work is all about teamwork – When a group of talented creatives with big personalities come together, something extraordinary usually happens; and when the buzz is right the results can be mind-blowingly sensational. But I hope you can also imagine what it’s like when things are not so awesome? Yeah, that’s what test sessions are partly for: understanding creative teamwork!

Test sessions are also magnificent for building connections and relationships; for instance, most of the young photographers you test with will be assistant fashion photographers: ‏Chris Roberts (who I did about three years of photographic sessions with) was assistant to Willie Christie and Patrick Lichfield – And you’d be surprised how far their networks spread.

On the other hand, you might test with someone like ‏Charlie Kemp, he wasn’t an assistant, his wife Maril was a top model with Laraine Ashton. Charlie and I did a lot of testing together throughout the 1980s, he specialised in portfolio work, and he knew everyone – we spent too much time in the pub – he taught me a lot.

Hitting Paydirt

When you’re standing behind a model in a tiny cupboard with a massive mirror and an arc lamp burning the back of your neck and the ridiculous advertorial that the newspaper is laughably calling a fashion feature actually represents an artistic boundary that you said you wouldn’t cross in a billion years, but you’ve got ten jobs exactly the same lined up for next week.

You’ll know when you’ve hit paydirt when Vogue fashion editor Alexandra Shulman gives you a ring!

And BTW, it’s a very, very small world.

Me Being Presented To Princess Margaret

Me being presented to Princess Margaret at the silk commission fashion show Edinburgh just before Princess Diana's wedding in 1981

Yes John that’s Me being presented to Princess Margaret at The Silk Commission fashion show in Edinburgh; it was just before Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981 (May I think) – David and Elizabeth Emanuel were showing 3 silk taffeta wedding dresses! You may be able to detect that my eyes are vampire-like, my make-up is by Richard Sharah.

Actually it wasn’t a fashion show that I particularly enjoyed, it was more like an extravagant, over ostentatious wedding where the bride’s mother was a cross between Hyacinth Bucket (Patricia Routledge in Keeping Up Appearances) and Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders in Ab Fab) – but maybe that’s because I got pissed halfway through?

The fashion show itself was a charity event organised, I think, by The Silk Commission (a now defunct organisation promoting silk in fashion) and held at the stunning Hopetoun House, South Queensferry, Edinburgh. Princess Margaret was in attendance, and it was she, I assume, who’d sent the lovies into a tizzy.

There was more pressure however; the fashion show was held a few weeks before the royal wedding (which took place on Wed 29 July 1981), and David and Elizabeth Emanuel were there gently teasing us with three silk taffeta wedding dresses – more excitement and speculation among the pseudo-glitterati – ivory silk, pure taffeta, antique lace, thousands of pearls and sequins and a shed load of train, didn’t really pull onto the platform!

The hair for the fashion show went well, it was typical 1980s big hair, glamorous, avant-garde and slightly Gothic chignons. The make-up artist was the intriguing and funny Richard Sharah; weirdly, I cut his hair in the afternoon before the show, and he did My vampire like make-up!

The main event was in the evening. Vangelis’s Chariots of Fire blasted out, I stood at the entrance to the runway, checking the models before they walked out – almost everyone else tried to peek through a minuscule hole in the curtain! One canny eyed observer claimed to spot Princess Margaret refilling her glass from a gin bottle hidden in her bag!

After the fashion show all of the combatants were presented to the wonderful Princess Margaret – hence the photograph – then we retreated to a Summer Ball in the main house (the fashion show was in a wing). Plenty of booze and grub.

 

Reginald “Reggie” Bosanquet (9 August 1932 – 27 May 1984) anchor of News at Ten for ITN from 1967 to 1979. Image courtesy UPPA (Universal Pictorial Press Agency).

It was the end of the evening and the taxi was late, I’d been standing outside on the drive and I’d decided to go back in. Walking up the stone steps that form a grand and impressive main entrance to Hopetoun House, I looked up and saw Reggie standing towards the top. He rocked backwards and forwards almost imperceptibly, and he fixed his eyes on me.

The man was a well-known television personality and alcoholic; for years he’d been lampooned in the media with nicknames like: Reginald Beaujolais, Reginald Boozalot and Boozy Bosie. But I’d always liked his rakish look. At the time (1981) Reggie was ‏Rector of the University of Glasgow which is why, I assume, he was there.

As I ascended the stone stairs Reggie, with his eyes firmly fixed on mine, fell forward. I rushed up and managed to grab him by the front of his dinner jacket, and sort of pull him to the side, which stopped us both falling down to a gay looking death! I just left him laying on the step and went back in.

When I came out a little later, Reggie was gone, and so was I. And when I got in the taxi I said to the driver, “Reginald Bosanquet, News at Ten, don’t know where, don’t know when!”

“Yea drunken sassenach!” I’ve always assumed he was talking about Princess Margaret!!!  xXx

What Happened To Fashion Photographer Rod Delroy?

Photographer Rod Delroy | Model: Kate Dowson | Hair: Ian Robson | Way In - Harrods 7 August 1981

Photographer: Rod Delroy. Model: Kate Dowson. Hair: Ian Robson.
Fashion: Way In at Harrods. Friday 7 August 1981.
A Scanned Polaroid Photograph from my collection.

I only worked with the wonderful fashion photographer Rod Delroy about a dozen times. First time was in 1976 for The Evening Standard – funnily enough the last time was in 1981 also for an editorial in The Evening Standard.

A memorable session with Rod was a promotional shoot for Way In – Way In was an in-store fashion boutique/department at Harrods.

I suppose, if I remember correctly, the session was our attempt to pay homage to, and add some sophistication and change to the ever dwindling New Romantics fashion scene, which by August 1981 was getting past its best – Spandau Ballet meets Edgar Degas!

I’ve a strong feeling that Delightful Delroy has pegged out – if you know what has happened to the fashion photographer Rod Delroy, Please Let Me Know