Getting Your Small Business Noticed Online using the following tips.
Gone are the days of setting up a small business, putting one sign outside, and just sitting back waiting for traffic to come to you. Now-a-days you must work very hard to get in front of your ideal client/customer.
After working as a graphic designer for a local manufacturer, I started my small graphic design / art business out of a small sunroom in my home. My husband and I wanted me to be at home with our son while he grew up. I am not one to sit and stare at a wall or tv. I can not focus long enough to read books. And you can only paint so many murals in your home and bake so many muffins and cookies. So I became very bored when our baby boy slept. Being creative and an artist, I had to have a creative outlet. That is when I started my own small business “My Personal Artist” now called Mospens Studio http://www.mospensstudio.com/.
My first website was on AOL and was free. I wanted my own website built by a professional web designer but the cost I thought was way too much money. I knew it was a task I could tackle. I bought a mac and created my own website from scratch using Dreamweaver (wyswyg and html software). It was a very corny looking website, but it worked!
I began getting online traffic from California, NYC, London, and more! I began getting requests for illustrations, and stationery. One magazine featured my work and my business took off like wild fire. I was tearing edges, fingers bleeding, almost in tears because of the overwhelming orders. I could NOT keep up. That is when my husband joined the team! Today, we work out of our home due to the 12+ hour work days.
I have an associate degree in Visual Communications from AIP. Through the 18+ years of being self employed I have learned many many things about doing business online. A lot has changed over the last decade. So today, I will share some tips with you the small business owner in hopes of helping you develop your online presence.
1.) Blog. Start a free blog on blogger. Blogger is google’s blogging platform. Once you start your blog, you will immediately start getting traffic. To stay interesting to the search engines and your clients/customers you will want to blog at least 6 times a month. You will want your posts spread out during the month. You don’t want to post all 6 in one day. Use links to your shop(s) and all social media channels you are on. Tips: Be sure to make your photo sizes the same for all images. This makes your blog look much more professional. Try to be consistent and have themed posts if you have to. This is something I still to this day struggle with. It takes being organized and dedication. And I much rather paint on canvas in my spare time. 🙂 Think like your customer. What do they search for? What would be interesting to them? How can I help them. Then create a blog post about it. Be interesting and unique. Have fun! http://blogger.com/
2.) Website. Having a main website other than blogger looks professional and is your “go to home” for your business. From your main website you will have links to social media, your shop, and your blog. You will want your website to be mobile friendly. I do not recommend freebie websites you see on TV commercials. Sorry. I just don’t. I experienced them first hand and have NEVER seen a website built with one at the top of a search engine results. I love WordPress on my own server. It is user friendly. I bought Genesis Framework and built my own child theme. http://my.studiopress.com/themes/genesis/ It works great for me. If you build your site using wordpress and/or using genesis, keep in mind you can easily search google for help as needed. It is a complete D.I.Y. website formula that works great! … I know some artist who use Bigcartel for their shops. If you have a nice budget to work with, hiring a professional website designer is great!
3.) Meta tags. You need meta tags. End of story. Without meta tags you make the search engines work a bit harder to figure your site out. The meta tags will point the search engines in the right direction and allow them to slurp your details and index you where your site needs to be. Important meta tags to use are: Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords. If you use wordpress, I love SEO by Yoast.
4.) Social media. Today you need to be on Facebook (personal page), Facebook fan page, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. You should try to post on all social media at least once a day. Keep in mind the time your ideal client/customer will be browsing these social media channels. I personally do not post once a day. I truly do try to. But it does not always happen due to my current deadlines.
5.) Etsy. Is a very affordable way to get a shopping cart system and get in front of your clients/customers. Be sure to use keyword phrases in your “Shop Announcement.” This shows up on Google searches and will bring you traffic. Add at least 70 products with your main keyword phrase. Let’s say you sell “handmade jewelry” you will want about 50-70 items to your shop. Be sure to use the keyword phrase “Handmade Jewelry” in your product title. If you are selling a silver starfish necklace this would be a good choice: “Silver Starfish Necklace, Beach Necklace, Handmade Jewelry.” Be sure to use all 13 tags. Create a section for all of your necklaces. Then once you create a necklace page, copy it for each new necklace you add. This way you do not have to keep rewriting your tags. I only recently started our etsy site and noticed it takes time to gain trust with new customers. Once you start to see what sells, you can create new items just like it. Etsy seems to take a bit of time to gain followers and customers. Be very patient and do not give up. Holidays on Etsy get very busy. Set shipping deadlines so you don’t get overwhelmed or end up sending out late product. I found small items that cost under $20.00 seem to sell for gifts. So keep this in mind. I could go on and on about Etsy, so maybe I will revisit this in another post later. https://www.etsy.com/
6.) Google Business Pages. If your have a brick-and-mortar storefront your clients/customers are more local, you will want a free google business page. https://www.google.com/business/ When your customer searches for let’s say “tanning salons green, ohio” you will see results for local businesses. Most times if you search on your cell phone, you will see these results for local business also. It is imperative that your local business is listed here. Preferably, first! If not, you will LOSE so much business to your competitor.
7.) Zazzle. If you are an artist, and you are not on Zazzle … you should be. It is a great place to upload your art and sell on postage stamps, cell phone covers, and more! I have been on Zazzle for years. What I love about Zazzle is they sell for you. They take orders online, print, and ship the product directly to the customer for you. Easy peasy. You get a check for your royalties. For me it is a nice option to offer my stationery clients matching stamps. I do not sell stationery on Zazzle. This way we can maintain quality control here in my studio. Check it out! http://www.zazzle.com/
8.) Google+ Set up a page where you post new products, current projects you are working on, and any sales or specials you are offering. Each post include at least 2 hashtags and a link to your website. Google+ will push the information almost immediately into the google search engine and the google bot/spider will slurp up your details. Some call this pinging. It is like saying, here I am! Check out what I have to say not only to your customer but to Google. Do not get frustrated if you do not get “likes” / pluses from other people. That is not really why you are there. (this is my opinion and what I found due to experience). Keep posting and the search engines will keep slurping. Slurping = taking in your information and adding to their index if they “like” your information.
9.) Instagram. I am going to try to keep this information short and sweet. You need to be on Instagram. You should post at least one pic a day. Use hashtags. Don’t listen to people who say Oh ONLY use 1-2 hashtags. They do not know what they are talking about. I did tons and tons of research and found you must use hashtags to grow your following and get in front of your customer. Use hashtags your ideal customer would use to find YOU. Don’t assume because your competitor uses a certain hashtag that it will work for you. I love to experiment with hashtags and see what works best for my business. You should do the same. Take note of the best time people like your pics. If your customers are in NYC and are early birds you may catch them on their morning commute. If they are in LA relaxing at the end of their day the time will be way different. … I will end here. I could go on and on. You can download Instagram app on your cell phone and create an account that way. You will have to upload photos to Instagram via your cell.
I am sure once I click PUBLISH on this post, I will think of loads more to share. I will be sure to post again if this happens.
If you have a small business, please feel free to share and add a link to your website! I would also love to hear from you.
Never give up and keep working hard every single day at your business and you will see results.