The world and his dog have had to adapt to life with the coronavirus – and this includes finding new ways of living and working.

And this goes for small businesses like ours too. Fortunately, from the start we already had a digital following for Life In Orpington magazine. But what the threat of the coronavirus did was to make us reexamine how we appeal to and engage with our digital audience. We needed to turn up the digital dial!

So for May a huge chunk of money was spent on marketing and advertising it – and we’re thrilled to see both our social media likes and follows shoot up – and more importantly, we gained a significant amount of subscribers to our monthly newsletters that deliver the digital issue. If you’re reading this and haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here.

What we learned

This month we came across a few new concepts that we hadn’t previously heard of. With increasing numbers of people turning their attention to new hobbies during lockdown, we discovered ‘amigurumi’ – the Japanese art of crocheting small creatures or characters. It’s super cute – and although we haven’t given it a go, apparently it’s relatively cheap to do.

Helen from BR6 Life also told us about Screencast – a nice little platform that enables you to record your screen to be able to show it to others. It’s a great idea for small businesses to use and you can also share and edit videos via the platform.

We also discovered how wonderful it was for communities to pull together – even during lockdown. For example, Nicky’s road had a socially distanced VE Day Street party, meaning that she was able to get to know her neighbours a little better and her kids made new friends. It’s also lovely to come out every Thursday and clap for our carers – and see our neighbours from afar.

New advertisers

A huge welcome to Gracious Care, BNI Lightning and Celeste for joining us in our debut digital-only magazine. Thank you for your support which has helped us get the message out there to the wider community and get eyes on our 50-page May issue! We’re particularly proud to bring you a 17-page ‘Coronavirus Survival Guide’ which meant hours and hours of research and writing – all positive, uplifting news that celebrates communities coming together to help one another.

For June we’re doing another digital issue and we hope to be back in print for July again – this time with a few more hundred digital and subscribers and social media followers.

A special mention should also go to The Bed Post for kindly sponsoring our Puzzle Page for the next six months – we’ll now be giving away a £15 iTunes voucher to the winner every month.

And thank you also to local businessman and Orpington shopowner, Chandra Sharma, who kindly donates a £10 stationery voucher every month for the ‘star response’ to our letters page. Send us an email at and you could be our next winner!

Out and about

Ordinarily we would have been out and about at a few things this month, but instead we attended a few business Zoom calls including local networking.

One of these was the monthly PIB meeting and it was great to discover how other local businesses are adapting. For example, Caroline from Eco Domestics has developed new scents in her candles and room sprays. And Harriet from Harriet Buckingham Photography is now booking social distancing photo shoots.

Turning up the digital dial

Other discoveries included Jude Shore Travel taking advance bookings for 2021, while the aforementioned Chandra is involved in organising plenty of online business support meetings.

Meanwhile, Nicky managed to get out and donate some essential items to the Help Orpington NHS shop, while Lauretta took part in two charity exercise events – one with Fran from Flin’s Fitness to donate and raise money for the NHS, and the other being #StepTogether, organised by Maria Riley from Acorns and Oaks which helped raise funds for Mind and Alpkit.

Other news & updates

This month saw Councillor Hannah Gray elected as the new Mayor of Bromley. We’ve previously been witness to the great work that Hannah has done and we know she’ll pull out all the stops to do a great job. In her own words “I just want to help people”, she speaks from the heart and is passionate about making the borough a nicer place to live and work.

Cllr Gray was appointed in a virtual online meeting – streamed live via the council’s website. You can watch the replay here A huge congratulations Cllr Gray!

Until next month, stay safe!