Promoting any new business can be difficult. A great place to start is the internet- where you can spread the word to more people, quickly. The best part? Most of it is free! Here are 5 steps to promoting yourself in cyber world:
1. Have a Website, and make it good.
This is the not-free part, but it’s the most important step of marketing online. There are many options for an affordable website- you can have a great, simple site for under twenty dollars a month and expand when necessary.
What’s a good website? Just make sure it expresses your company at its best. Some general rules:
* Pick a good domain name. Are people more likely to remember www.sally&scrapbooks2343.com or www.sallyscrapbooks.com?
*Clarity is key. Take a good look at your site. Can you read everything without squinting? Does it look disorganized or jumbled? Are there too many fonts? Look at the first thing that jumps out at you. Is that the first thing you want a viewer to notice? Have at least three people take a look and give you some feedback.
*Got style? You want your site to be clear- but you don’t want it to be boring. After all, you’re not boring! Play around with the layout. Put in some pictures. Some color. Think about the your favorite websites and why they are your favorite.
*Stand out. Think about your business- why is it special? Maybe you’ve got a great story as to why you started it. Maybe you’ve got a unique perspective on scrap booking. Maybe you are just great at what you do. Show it! Express yourself, and your company, through your website.
2. Spread the Word.
Here’s where networking meets self promotion. Check the web for scrap booking groups and forums (scrap booking.com and scrapjazz.com both have message boards). Log into these sites and check out the message boards. There are usually many messages asking for advice in scrap booking, tips, etc. Here’s where you come in. Give your advice; give tips, feedback, conversation, just get out there! And at the bottom of every message, provide a link to your website.
A site that might be very useful to you is MySpace.com. It’s not a specialized site- instead it’s a huge site with many different people and groups. There are several scrap booking groups. This is a great site to network and promote your business. Sign up and make a profile of your company, with a link to your website, of course. Join groups, start groups. Leave messages on topics in your groups- be friendly and helpful, and always link to your website. You make “friends” on MySpace- they either ask to add you or you ask to add them. Make as many friends as you can through groups and networking. You can then send out “bulletins” with specials, advice, or events that get sent to all of your fiends. Networking online is really a win-win situation: you get to meet and talk to great people with similar interests, and you gain more exposure.
A blog is a great way to show people what you are all about, and promote your company. What is a blog? Well the definition is ever-changing, but you can pretty much think of it as your own newsletter/ journal. You can write anything in your blog- advice on scrap booking, what it’s like to be the owner of a scrap booking company, etc. There are many different sites that host blogs, including blogger.com and blogspot.com. A great new blog site is writingup.com. Here you can start a free blog, and you can even put google ads on it and make a bit of money off of that. A good method to blogging for business is to spend just as much time promoting as you do blogging. Example: Spend 15 minutes every day writing a blog related to scrap booking or to your business. At the bottom of every one of your blogs, include a link to your website. Then spend 15 minutes “commenting” (responding with advice or feedback) on other people’s scrap booking blogs. And at the bottom of every comment? Your website address or a link to your blog.
4. You’ve got mail.
It’s important to have a n e-mail address that any customer looking at your website can find out, and reach you. Maybe they have a question, or they want to know if you can do a special project for them. You don’t want to lose a customer because they didn’t know how to reach you. So, make sure your e-mail address is easily located on your website, and check it daily.
Promoting your company online can be fun and very rewarding. It’s important to remember, though, that it’s still work. Which means you have to do it. If you start networking online and expect to see results immediately, you’ll probably be disappointed. But if you put effort in, say an hour every other day, after a month you will surely have gained great exposure for your company. It’s important to stay visible- stay current with message boards and posts. Take time to connect with people. Stay creative and find what works for you.