Indie Harrogate: The next step……..

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote the 5 part series of blogs about indies in Harrogate and it’s been amazing to see and read the response from other indie business owners, residents and other interested parties.

In that last two weeks my ideas have begun to crystallise and I’ve had meetings with various people discussing how to move forward.

Much like my earlier blogs I am going to lay my ideas out.  If you like them then please do sign up to support Indie Harrogate whoever you are – business owner, interested resident or anyone else.  If you don’t like them that’s fine, comment if you like and tell me why or just forget you ever saw them.

Indie Harrogate Director Paul Rawlinson
This is me!

Why me?

I’m here, I want to do something, I have a plan and I have the connections and experience to make it happen.

I am one of you – a resident, a business owner and someone who cares deeply about indies in this town.  I believe I have a track record already of trying to help other businesses in town.  We can do more.

Like you, I meet with people all the time who try to sell me advertising.  I know it’s annoying, promises are made that are rarely kept.  I’ll present my idea and I’ll just let you decide if you like it.  No hard sell.

I am ‘all-in’ on the success of the Indie scene in Harrogate because both of the businesses I run are part of it.  This means that if Indie Harrogate succeeds it will help my businesses to be more successful – I have skin in the game.

I do not need to make money directly from Indie Harrogate – my businesses can do that for me.

The Indie Harrogate Guide

The first step that I am putting into  action is to create an Indie guide to Harrogate.  I wrote the plan for this guide and spoke to a few people about it this time last year, but I just didn’t get around to making it a reality.

This printed booklet will feature the best indie businesses that Harrogate has to offer in a single publication that visitors and residents can trust.

I know that as indies most of us are struggling to finish the year with a net profit, many will be lower than 10% and others won’t be making money at all.  Offering discounts isn’t a sustainable way to move forward and grow our businesses so I won’t ask you to do that.  The Indie Harrogate guide will instead tell some of the interesting stories that are part of every good indie business.  It will attempt to distill what is great and unique about each business involved and encourage people to visit because we are really good at what we do and we provide value for the prices we charge.

Can anyone be a part of the Indie Harrogate Guide?

If we’re going to create a resource that is valuable to visitors and residents it has to be reliable.   I have spoken before about one of the biggest weaknesses of our sector being inconsistency – there is always that question mark in the mind of a guest over whether to take the risk on an indie.  We need to remove this barrier and the way to do that is by being selective over which businesses are included in the guide.

This is a harsh reality, but businesses that do not deliver a significantly better experience than the chains most of the time cannot be included.  I apologise if that sounds tough but if we’re going to do this it needs to work……..first time.  Some people will probably say:

“Who is this Paul guy to decide which indies are good or not?”

A very valid question.  My proposal is to put together a panel drawn from a number of sectors that will decide on whether businesses are included in the guide or not.  I’m thinking hospitality, retail, accommodation, transport, professional services, bloggers, public servants and passionate members of the general public.  Other sectors not discounted either, but the list could go on and on.

If you’d like to volunteer for the panel then tick the relevant box when you submit your details below.

What will it cost?

Costs are still being finalised but I envisage an investment of around £250 + VAT being the cost of entering the guide for it’s one year lifespan.  This will pay for a single page spread about your business.   Indie Harrogate will supply you with enough copies of the book to sell at RRP that covers your investment (ex VAT).  So if the RRP of the guide is £2 we would supply you with 125 copies – shift them all and you have your money back.

You will need to provide professional photography of your business – if you don’t have that we’ll offer a fixed price photography package you can add on at a really competitive rate.

The initial print run is aimed to be around 20,000 copies.

There’re lots of other things planned for the guide but I don’t want to give it all away on here right now.

How will it be put together?

I am confirming the designers, content editors and printers as I write.  It will be an entirely professional publication that is branded and printed to a high specification that is a credit to all the businesses that are part of it.  We aren’t going into this with half-measures.

The guide will have a number of spaces set aside for sponsors who will be able to use their pages to advertise their business.  It really will be a bare minimum (definitely less than 10 sponsors) and they will need to be complementary businesses to sit alongside those that are featured in the guide.

If you are part of an organisation that might be interested in sponsoring or supporting the guide in some way – fill out your details, we’d love to hear from you.

What are the timelines?

The target is to engage the designers in mid-September and to have a pitch package put together to show you all by mid-October.  We’ll do this over some beer and pizza at Major Tom’s Social.  I’ll be funding this initial work by the designers so you had better believe I think we’ll create a great proposal – because if we don’t no-one will be interested and I’ll have wasted a lot of time and money.

At this point we can begin the process of signing those businesses that are interested up to the guide, carry out initial content collection with the aim of having space in the guide filled and paid for by Christmas.

There will be a further month to then get the content finalised and any photographs etc completed by the end of January before a sign off for print in mid-February and a launch in early March 2018.

How do I sign up?

If you fill out the form at the bottom of the page and tick the relevant boxes that gives me a start on knowing who to get in touch with.  Of course there is no commitment until I have all the figures worked out but it’ll give me an idea of interest and I’ll likely want to send out some surveys asking for your help to get the content right.

Indie Harrogate Website

In addition to the Indie Harrogate guide there will also be a website with accompanying social media accounts created.

Actually they are already created so whilst they aren’t active right now do head over to the relevant channels and follow them if you would like:

Twitter: @IndieHarrogate

Instagram: @IndieHarrogate

Facebook: @IndieHarrogate

The website will be populated with the content from the guide and additional content from businesses.

It will have a blog, potentially a what’s on guide and we’re open to more ideas if you want to submit them.

Websites need to be constantly updated so there will be a content creation plan put in place.   This will be dependent, to some extent, on the success of the guide and associated ongoing revenue streams.  I will be hiring a member of staff at Baltzersen’s to aid with delivering this so I will own the risk of that overhead.

Indie Harrogate Podcast

I have started recording an Indie Harrogate Podcast.  This will include interviews with local business owners but will also be widened out to anyone that might have something interesting that they’d like to talk about.  This one is going to be a bit of a challenge because I’ve not done this kind of thing before but I hope we can make it interesting, informative and fun.

If you’d like to be on that (and I know it’s getting boring now) then tick the relevant box below.

Further Work

Assuming we can get this first part of the plan going I have two further strands of work planned out and a few interesting side projects running alongside.  More to follow on these.


There we have it.   It might not be rocket science or a super hi-tech way of getting things started but I believe we’ll create a valuable and useful resource that will be used extensively by visitors and residents alike.

This process will help to start building a few more links between indie businesses and provide a little bit more organisation so we can start acting as one significant block rather than 200 micro-businesses.

There is strength in numbers.



Submit your details if you’d like to be involved with the campaign…..

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