10 Ways To Improve Your Online Business

You see the question over and over again: “How can I improve business/increase sales/increase traffic on my site?”

If you’re new to selling online, you know that it can seem overwhelming. It can also seem discouraging when people aren’t buying your stuff. After answering the question above a few times now, I’ve decided to make a go-to list. So, here are the things we’ve learned so far that we hope will help our business, and yours too!

1. Be confident in what you sell. Focus on this first before you focus on “being successful.” If you can convince people that they like and need your product, they’ll buy it.

2. Know your target audience. If you could advertise your product in any magazine, what would it be? Got one? Now, who reads that magazine? Is it a teen mag, a decorator’s magazine, Women’s Daily? Think about who you want to buy your product, then market to that group of people.

3. Ask questions. It sounds simple enough, but many people wait to ask questions or to get feedback on their store. Then, several months in, they ask people why they haven’t been getting any sales, and BINGO! They wonder why they didn’t ask sooner.

4. Get a mentor. Find someone who can help guide you through the process of starting your business. Someone who knows the ropes, and who will be there to support you. Someone who will be honest with you, and who will tell other people about you.

5. Take great pictures. Granted, there are exceptions to the rule. There are some sellers out there to do really well without professional looking photos. However, your photos serve as the first impression of your product, and often the first picture a buyer sees is a thumbnail image of it. So, you want to make it stand out. That may mean using a background that doesn’t distract from the item, changing the lighting you use (natural light works wonders), and using closeup shots for your thumbnail images. You don’t have to have a fancy camera, either. Most cameras, with a little adjustment, are cabable of taking excellent photos. Start by reading your manual start to finish (a yawn, yes, but worth it!)

6.  Market yourself inside the box. If you’re selling on a “host” site, like etsy, use all of the tools that site gives you to advertise yourself and your work. For example, use forums to advertise sales, new items, and to get to know other sellers. Use widgets to help keep track of sales, views, etc. Use all of your tags, and utilize freebies like banners and “sale” signs to get yourself started. Use the site’s blog for tricks and tips of the trade.

7. Market outside the box. Many sellers forget this step, then notice that their shop isn’t getting much traffic. Here are ways to advertise outside of your host site:

– Start a blog.

– Start a Facebook business page (and invite everyone you know.)

-Use twitter to tweet new items; create a hash tag by putting the “#” symbol before the link or key words: “#etsy”

-Build a website to sell your items.

-Get involved with local arts and crafts fairs.

-Put a link to your shop in every bio you’ve written on the internet.

-Use widgets, such as etsy minis, to advertise on blogs and other sites.

-Use a site like Vistaprint.com to find inexpensive or free ways to advertise: business cards, signs, t shirts …

If what you sell is wearable, wear it! (Or have you kids, grandkids, dog wear it …) When people ask, and they will ask, tell them what you do and hand them a business card.

8. Creative tithing. Many people do this without realizing it. If you take time out of your day to give creative or business advice, or to buy something from another artisan, if you help someone set up or tear down at a fair, or donate your skills, you’ve committed creative tithing. It’s a wonderful way to give back and to keep yourself grounded.

9. Know your price point. Research other sellers with similar items – what do they charge? Is your product low, middle, or high end? Remember to factor in cost of materials, tools, and the time and effort you put into it.

10. Don’t give up.  Building a business is hard work, but don’t give up if that work doesn’t pay off right away. Sometimes you have to wait a while, years even, for a business to really take off. So, be patient, and always strive for something – a new product, a better product, a new technique, etc. Don’t forget to give yourself a break, too!

Bonus: Listen to yourself. Sometimes, good advice isn’t necessarily the right advice. It’s always good to take constructive criticism into account, but don’t forget to go with your gut.

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