November 17, 2011

Putting Your Online Shop on a Marketing Regimen

Filed under: Promotions — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 2:01 pm

It’s no secret: the more people in your target demographic who find your online shop, the better your chances are at making sales. Most of your website visitors are going to come from links or search engines. The good news is these things go together like peas and carrots. The more good quality sites you have linking to your site, the more search engines will favor your site. Inbound links are a top ingredient for search engine optimization.

Now getting 1,000 new links sounds like a daunting task. But what if I told you you could have more than double those inbound links to your online shop by this time next year? Let’s make a new year’s resolution: this time next year you are going to have over 2,000 inbound links to your website if you’re willing to do about 15 minutes of work every day on your marketing. That’s it! 15 minutes/day = over 2,000 links!

Now to start this plan you’ll want to do a little reconnaissance. Start by making a list of sites where you could get links. Here are the categories to consider:

  • Bookmarking sites (i.e. StumbleUpon, StyleHive, Digg, Delicious)
  • Social Media sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr)
  • Niche Directory sites (i.e. Unanimous Craft, Bust’s Girl Wide Web, Indie Collective)
  • Blogs (i.e. Smaller Box, Design Sponge, etc.)

Make your list as extensive as you can, you’ll be referring back to it every day until this time next year when you have your thousands of links. It might take a few hours this week to gather your initial list, but once you’ve got it you’ve basically got your to do list.

Now here’s your regimen:

5 minutes: Posting new content to your website (i.e. a new product, a blog post, etc.). Make sure your content isn’t 100% your products. You also want to produce interesting content so people don’t feel like your site is nothing but a sales pitch. A site with good content is likely to get more attention than a site with nothing but products on it.

2 minutes: Posting a link to your new content on 2 social media sites (i.e. your Twitter account and your Facebook page)

2 minutes: Posting your link to your new content on 3 social bookmarking sites (i.e. StumbleUpon and Stylehive)

6 minutes: Adding your site to a new directory or pitching your site to a blog on your list of blogs to pitch. If you don’t have new content to pitch to a blog, pitch your services as a guest blogger, since guest posting still gets you a link.

That’s all you have to do. If you don’t have new content to share every day, go back through your archives and share an older blog post or existing product on sites that haven’t linked those pieces of content yet. This process should get you about 5 to 6 new links each day. By the end of the year you’ll have over 2,000 new links. You should see a gradual boost in your site traffic, search rank and sales as the year goes on.

ATTENTION ETSY USERS: If you’re thinking about enacting this plan for your Etsy shop, my advice is don’t. If you spend 15 minutes/day marketing, you’ll have dedicated over 90 hours of labor to your marketing by year’s end. All that link juice is benefiting Do you want to work an extra 90 hours this year to help Etsy be more successful?

I think 100% of your marketing efforts should 100% benefit YOU and only YOU. If you’re going to invest 90 hours of your precious time marketing, do it with your own website so that 100% of the benefits are yours alone. Don’t just take my word for it, leading marketing blog Copyblogger would say the same thing.

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September 23, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Hooray it’s Friday! Don’t forget we’ve just opened up I Shop Indie for holiday season members, get more details here. Now on with the links…

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August 5, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Check out the links below, they’re the best business articles I read this week from other blogs:

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July 22, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

They’re calling for a heat index of 120 today. Yuck! Sounds like the perfect weather for staying indoors with the AC and catching up on some biz reads. Here are my suggestions:

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July 1, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 8:47 am

This week’s round up is heavy on the SEO info, but there were so many great SEO articles this week. Have a terrific 3 day weekend, all! See you next week 🙂

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June 24, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 12:28 pm

Happy Friday! Below are my recommended reads this week from around the web:

Lastly, I wanted to recommend checking out Kyle-Beth Hilfer’s legal blog. She covers legal issues that pertain to small business and creative professionals. Add it to your feed reader for great insights on this important topic.

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June 17, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , — Meredith @ 1:45 pm

What a busy week here in Smaller Box land! Tons of good conversation about marketplace websites, branding, and picking the best business/marketing blogs to follow. My anti-guru rant had been a long time coming since it’s a subject that irks me and continues to irk me. I’ve wanted to broach this topic for a while, but didn’t want to sound like a jerk.

This has been a bit of a soul searching week for me with blogging about business and marketing. I find myself holding back things I really want to say because I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, and people seem to like you more when you tell them what they want to hear. That said, Smaller Box started as a hobby for me, and if I say things that make people not like me so much, that’s fine. I make the bulk of my income elsewhere, so I’m not going broke if my readers decide they hate me.

When I say things that aren’t popular, it’s not because I want to be a jerk, it’s because I want to help my readers. That means sometimes I’m going to say “You need to learn SEO” or “You’re under-capitalized” or “Your product photos are unacceptable”. Those things are hard to hear for a lot of people, but fixing those problems is what’s necessary to make your business better. I say these things based on running my own company and seeing what’s worked and what has not.

Running a business is hard. It is a lot of work. It does require capital. It does force you to take on tasks that are challenging or yucky or unnatural for you. I’m never going to promise you a super-fast, super-easy magic bullet to solve your problems because there’s no such thing. What I can promise is I’ll share the tactics and strategies that, in my experience, are effective. I’ll give you concrete direction to help you run your business, but the work part is all you. If you can’t handle a tough love approach to business advice, this blog probably isn’t the right place for you.

So with all that in mind, here’s what I recommend reading this weekend:

  • Good SEO Starts With Smart Purchasing – a lot of readers have asked me if I do SEO for small businesses. The answer is “no” and it’s because SEO is a big job that most of my readers can’t afford to hire for yet. When I tell people they are better off learning SEO than hiring an SEO pro (because a good full-service SEO pro will probably wind up costing like $10,000), they seem to think I am nuts. This article does a great job of explaining why it’s expensive to hire a good full-service SEO consultant and why you need to learn about what SEO involves before you consider hiring a pro.
  • SEO is About Hurry Up and Wait – Great info about how SEO is about making tweaks and waiting
  • How to Build a Simple Mobile Friendly Site for Your Small Business – Nice free resource on doing a mobile device-friendly version of your website
  • DIY SEO: How to Check On Page Ranking Factors Using Google Docs – a bit of a nerdy read but pretty good tips on doing on-page SEO
  • Bloggable Questions – Great list of questions your customers may have about your business, many of which are great prompts for blog posts.

Lastly, if you have not taken a look at Justine Grey’s Wholesale Action Ecourse, do check it out. It’s a really amazing resource if you want to start doing wholesale.

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June 7, 2011

SEO: It’s Not That Hard and It is That Worthwhile

Filed under: SEO — Tags: — Meredith @ 5:41 am

If I had a nickel for every inaccurate statement regarding search engine optimization (SEO) that I’ve seen bandied about the creative entrepreneur scene I could be retired on a beach somewhere right now. Here’s a sampling:

SEO is too complicated and hard, it’s for techies only.

SEO is expensive, you have to hire a professional

SEO can be put on autopilot. I found this great program, if you give them just $49.95 they’ll submit your site to search engines.

No, no and HELL NO!

Look, SEO is not rocket science. Yes, it will take a little reading on your part to understand it, but since you’re here, I already know you can read, so I am 100% sure you are up to this. The important thing is reading information on SEO that’s accurate and easy-to-understand, even if you’re not very technical. The good news is I’ve gathered just that sort of reading and put it into a handy FREE guide. All you have to do is download and read. If you give SEO a few hours each week, you’ll be able to do SEO on your own and start seeing results. My handy guide breaks SEO down into 4 manageable pieces and provides expert advice on how to approach each component. I’ve even included links to several other SEO beginner guides, in case you find my guide isn’t working for you.

Here’s what SEO has done for my online retail business:

1. Helped people find my products
My online shop sells t-shirts. This is just the kind of product you see on a stranger on the street and think “I like that, I wonder where they got it.” So you go home and google a description of the shirt, and try to find what you saw. If the t-shirt designer is smart, they wrote copy about their design using language a casual observer might use to describe the design, so that when the potential customer searches for the tee, they find it.

One of the most popular tees is my collection is Fuzz Aldrin, and when you google his name, he comes up as the first match. As a result, I get a fair amount of orders from organic search traffic that searches on that phrase.

I know some designers prefer to give their products more whimsical names. If you feel strongly about doing this, you can use other pages on your site like blog posts or product category pages to help customers find your products based on their descriptions. Just make sure some page (or pages) on your site does the job.

2. Helped people find my brand
Yesterday, I talked a little about attribution management. The crux of what I wrote is that marketing is cumulative and many things lead to sales. It might take your customer seeing your company in a magazine, in a banner ad, etc. before they buy. When they’re ready to buy, their first step might be go just google your company name. If your SEO sucks, you might not come up.

One of the phrases that brings me a lot of sales from search engine traffic is “exboyfriend”. It’s my company name and people often search on it to find me.  Thanks to SEO, they’re able to find me quickly when they search by my name.

3. Helped people find products they wanted
Sometimes we’re shopping for something specific but don’t already have a place in mind to find it. Since our collection of designs at Ex-Boyfriend is pretty extensive, we get a fair amount of conversions on what SEO professionals call the “long tail”. Long tail phrases are those that are low volume (meaning not a ton of people search on them), but fairly specific (meaning when people do search on them, they are likely to buy because they’ve found something very specific that they want).  I get conversions on phrases like “kids luchador shirt”, simply because there aren’t a ton of those. People wouldn’t be able to even find those products on my site, if it wasn’t optimized for search.

The three examples above regularly generate thousands of dollars of revenue for my online business. This is why SEO is so valuable and worth taking the time to learn about. It’s an online marketing tool that can generate tons of sales, without any cash investment, as long as you’re willing to do the work of learning about SEO and implementing the strategies. If you’re ready to get started and need a jumping off point, download my free guide, it’s a great way to get familiar with SEO and start getting your own site optimized.


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June 3, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Sorry June’s started off a little quiet. I am back from vacation and have more posts lined up for next week. In the meantime, check out some of these useful reads below:

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May 27, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Sorry this week was light on posts. I am on vacation in Berlin right now. In the meantime, here are some links. Also don’t forget to sign up for my 6/8 group coaching session. Space is almost filled, and this is a great, budget-friendly way to try out coaching and pick my brain on any topic you’ve seen me write about. We’ll talk by phone for a full hour! I’ll not only answer your questions, you’ll get to hear me answer questions other entrepreneurs put forth, so everyone will benefit.

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