Thursday, June 10, 2010

Making The Online Thing Work

Earlier this month I set up a blog and online store for my friend Neo2. So yesterday she emailed me saying asking me to educate her on making her blog and online store financially viable.

As you can imagine, there are no magic answers. Online businesses demand just as much hard work as brick and mortar businesses, and my setting up the blog for her was the easy part.

The hard part is making sure that there is freshh content on a regular basis, that people who could potentially buy her products are informed that her business exists and is online, and that her friends and business associates help her to spread the word about her products.

" I already told my friends and the people at my church about the blog and online store," she said.

That's nice. The question is, did they hear her? Was what she was saying interesting enough for them to visit the site? I certainly didn't see comments from her friends on the site, which tells me that, even if they visited and saw her products, they were still not inspired to say or do anything. Or maybe, they would have, if the knowledge that Neo2 has a blog and online store had managed to stay in their minds. But considering the amount of info we are inundated with daily, there's also a possibility that they've already forgotten that she started a blog and online store.....

Then there's the fact that real world friends are not necessarily interested in reading one's blog. Most of mine don't actually read it, and I'm always fascinated by how suprised they get when they realise that the little blog I told them about back in 2006 is still around and being read:-)

So what were my answers to Neo2's questions?
1. What should I be doing to get sales where the blog is concerned?
Grow the number of people who visit your site daily. Tell them about how you make the jewellery. Showcase your products, offering good reasonable prices. Run promotions and competitions. Make it easy for your visitors to buy. Deliver excellent quality products so that your new customers are so happy they come back to buy more, and they tell their close friends about your products.

Just normal day to day business development? Absolutely! The rules of good business still apply.

2. I haven’t had a nibble since the Canada lady [one sales enquiry when site was launched].
Probably because you're not getting a lot of new traffic. The site needs to buzzing with new visitors everyday, and your online store needs to be buzzing with new products that totally beg the potential buyers to take them home.

3. How do I know when people are interested in buying my products?
They'll buy ( credit cad facility available), or they'll email you to ask for more information about a particular product. The trick is to make it easy for them to buy right there and then, so they don't forget and don't change their minds about buying from you.

5. Do you want more stock? [ so I can take photos, upload them on the blog and online store as part of the online catalogue]
Absolutely. New stock means new content and new products on offer.

5. How can I effectively make this online thing work?
Treat it as a business. Tell everyone you know about your products. Make it attractive for your friends and family and colleagues to tell their networks about your products. Work hard, consistently, invest in the blog and store as you would any other business. And do yourself a favour - don't count on making good returns on investment in the short-term.

8. How being online help me market my products to SA clients?
You have greater reach, because you're not limited to selling to people in your city only. And your potential customers buy by credit card, so it doesn't really matter whether they in SA or another country.

I hope many of my online readers will also find the info useful.

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