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biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: the one simple thing to know for your online business

by Stephanie


Today’s Biz Ladies post is by Jordan Moore, an internet marketing consultant and previous Biz Ladies contributor (Email Marketing). She helps empower artists and creative entrepreneurs to grow their businesses online, has authored the best-selling ebook, “The Etsy Kit” and blogs about marketing at Handmade Success. Today she offers some valuable advice on creating a powerful and profitable online business with some simple steps. Thank you, Jordan, for this helpful post! — Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump . . .

As someone who seems to play well with others but considers herself shy and a bit of an introvert, I saw creating an online business as an appealing option. I was sure it was the antidote to the annoyances of the traditional workplace.

I could communicate when I was in the mood and filter out uncomfortable and unwanted interactions when I wasn’t. Add to that the perks of doing business within the confines of my own comfy domain — and in my own comfy attire — and I was sold.

Unfortunately, that was about all that sold in the beginning.

My reality check arrived (or rather, was returned for insufficient funds) after I quietly opened my doors for business and (surprise, surprise) nobody online came looking for me or my services. My first attempt at marketing involved taking some traditional measures — pay-per-click advertising, emailing all of my friends and family, doing giveaways. None of it made a bit of difference (no matter how many times I refreshed the page). Maybe this online gig wasn’t as simple as it seemed.

Forging Genuine Relationships

Something was missing, so I turned to introversion’s kissing cousin: slightly obsessive research. I studied hard, hired consultants, scoured the web for advice, and it all led to the same idea: connecting with other people.

Though not what I’d envisioned, it was simple enough. I could not be an online wallflower, not if I really wanted to enjoy the big dance.

Not only could I not be shy or introverted, I would need to communicate, connect and share even more than I would with an offline business. I had to have a voice, and most importantly, I had to seek out friends and colleagues online.

I got brave and applied these principles to my little business. I started conversations, answered questions and raised my virtual hand. Guess what? It worked quickly. My business gained momentum at a speedy rate, and three years later, it has not let up.

Here is my wonderfully simple formula for finding success online:

[real & meaningful relationships]

+ [valuable & interesting content]

=   [clients & referrals galore]

This formula will work whether you handcraft jewelry, make soap, write novels, build websites or even fix cars. It will work for any type of business because these are the same principles that guide every successful business — online or off.

How to Find Your People

There are many methods of finding and connecting with the people you are looking for online. Here are some of my favorite ways to connect with new friends and clients:

  • Participating in the comments sections on targeted blogs
  • Chatting it up on Twitter (no spamming, please!)
  • Answering questions on listserves or forums
  • Offering mailing list subscribers a free digital file (podcast, recipe, tutorial, ebook, etc.)
  • Engaging in a collaboration with a different type of business that shares a similar customer base
  • Becoming a guest contributor on relevant blogs (ahem)

 

Creating Value

Sharing valuable insights and information with the people you encounter online is the most effective way to gain access to and kick-start relationships in cyberspace. It quickly establishes trust and solidifies your reputation as an expert in your field. Here are some real-world examples of how you can apply this part of the formula:

  • Do you create wedding invitations? Design a free, printable PDF wedding calendar that people receive for subscribing to your mailing list.
  • Are you a CPA or bookkeeper? Put together some helpful tutorials and pitch those to popular small business bloggers for publication.
  • Do you have a children’s clothing store? Find some mommy blogs and contribute a monthly column on children’s fashion trends.

 

The Big Reward

In building my ideal workplace, I’m now energized and fulfilled by what I’d wanted to avoid. Surrounding yourself with people who are excited about what you are doing offers motivation and inspiration. The similarities that bring you together make it likely that you will want to share anecdotes, talk shop and see vacation snapshots. And you can do it all wearing your slippers.

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Comments

  • I agree total I would with my partner on our business which spans all forms of decorating and since joining the online revolution we couldnt be happier. Its lots and lots of hard work and late nights reading and writing but worth it.

  • Thank you so much Jordan, this has been a really great read for me, and I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge – and thanks to Design Sponge for posting it of course!

  • Great article! I’m currently in the thick of this. It’s great to form online relationships for business purposes, but I also think it’s fun to e-meet and collaborate with talented online peeps that share your interests. E-friends are awesome and have occasionally turned into real life friends too!

  • Love this motivation!! Thanks so much for sharing! I’m currently just getting my etsy shop up and running, and I’m excited that there are so many good tips out there for newbies like me! :)

  • I am moving into a new condo and want to know how to do the black and white thick striped look on walls without wallpaper. A good example of what I am talking about is Kourtney Kardashian’s new house on Keeping up with the Kardashians. Her living room is black and white striped and I want to know the cheapest and easiest way to get that look. I would really appreciate it!

  • that totally makes sense, thanks for sharing! i have noticed a few visitors to my blog coming through my d*s comments, so i can definitely see that what you suggest is a viable strategy. looks like i need to sit down and really plan out and create some content that will be valuable to the community and figure out which blogs to start spending more time on. thanks for the tip!!!

  • thank you very much for this post. it is just what I needed to hear. I am more than happy to settle in against the back wall and observe. Or…. enjoy a beautiful blog post, read thru the comments and let my own thoughts bounce around in my brain. it may take me awhile- but I have a new found determination to take some of your prescribed action steps. I do have something to contribute and I will. thank you for your inspiration.

  • Thanks for this healthy reminder that ‘if you build it, they might not come’ unless you get out and talk about it even if it’s outside of your (my) comfort zone.

  • Thank you for posting this. I think one of the hardest thing we have to do as solo entrepreneurs is promote ourselves.

  • You took the words off of my keyboard, Kate! I’m also more of an observer, but I’m getting better about chiming in, adding my opinion or suggestion, and introducing myself. I’ve noticed it’s been making the whole internet thing so much more fun. Who would have guessed?!
    Thanks for the helpful and inspirational article – I will definitely be keeping it in mind.

  • Thanks for the great feedback everyone! @Liz – love your store. A few ideas off the top of my head – how about a tutorial, a trend report, a look-book, some ideas for creating a complete look to go with your jewelry. Hope that helps!

  • So great to hear… From one biz lady to the others, making connections is what it’s all about! Love Kara’s comment: “Real~lationships!”

  • As a small business owner, these types of things can get overwhelming and then easily put on the back burner. You put them in a very clear, concise format and I’m looking forward to getting started. Thank you!

  • I love the part about “… introversion’s kissing cousin : slightly obsessive research”
    This is so true!
    For us shy gals, it’s tough to just jump into the conversation head first — much easier to read (and read and read) about the best way to do it. I definitely find myself avoiding action by “researching” — and have to consciously remind myself that no results are going to occur by just thinking — you have to ACT.
    To this end, your lists of actions to take to find a community and create value are really helpful — thanks!

  • Wonderful read! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. As a relative newbie to blogland, I’m still working to build relationships. Last week, I was amazed that someone assosciated my blog name (The Old Block House) with my real name (gertie). I considered that an accomplishment.

  • This week I saw my cheerful exterior slip a little as I’ve felt a little out on a limb …. so your advice to reach out has come at quite the perfect time. A little sunshine on a dreary British summer’s day! Thank you! I’ll be raising my virtual hand ….. x

  • Thanks for another great Biz Ladies post! This topic is something I’ve been thinking about lately and know that I need to improve on in order to grow my blog. I’ve done a little in the way of guest posts, but could do better at reaching out to others. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Goodnight Nurse! I’ve been diagnosed, “slightly obsessive research”. That is me to a tee..
    I am changing my “researching” ways, not today, but right now! Thanks…

  • wow! You are so right. And we can’t say that is easy… staying on the computer for so many hours! The only thing that does make it real are the people that you meet and truely form a friendship and a connection with. We are all in a big trasition period, that’s for sure!

  • Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve recently hit a bit of a wall, realizing I need to do something differently but not sure what or how. This post came at the perfect time :)

  • Thanks so much for this post. It’s great to get some motivation and ideas from someone who has been successful. I’m in the process of branching out into an on-line store so this couldn’t have come at a better time!

  • Bravo!

    I think that this post is just fabulous. I’m just getting into facebook for my shop, and it’s been a really great way to build networks and connections, too. Plus it’s kinda fun… ;)

    Oh! And one of my best online pals and I connected through the comments of a biz lady post. AWESOME reminder.

  • how about those of us who have commented on this post reach out to one another? seems like a safe place to start building relationships! :)

  • This came at a great time for me– I’m about to close my “brick and mortar” store and focus on my online shop exclusively. It’s good to be reminded that you can still reach out to customers and fellow shop owners just by participating in conversations and sharing :)

  • Thanks for the great post…I wanted it to keep going. You have a great energy and I love learning about how to make more connections online. I am the opposite of you…outgoing in everyway offline, but shy online about how to start relationships with someone I have never met. I recently started a new blog and hope I can use some of your tips to build strong connections and grow my readership. Thanks!!

  • Great post Jordan! I bought your Etsy Kit about a month ago, you’ve given me some very helpful advice that I’m implementing to promote my new Etsy shop. It is hard as a shy gal to step out there but I’m doing it and starting to create relationships. It’s fun and hopefully I’ll see some results soon. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

  • I’m SO happy to have read this – I feel so much more energized. Only a moment ago I was in the “reality check” stage. Full steam ahead. Thank you for sharing your wisdom Jordan.

  • Thanks Jordan for your tips! I think the hardest part for me is that since I am a shy person, I feel like I am intruding in on the friendships already made. If that makes any sense! So it is harder just to jump in and get started. Thanks for the motivation though! I agree with Anna, biz ladies book please!

  • Amazingly spot on at this exact point in my life! Albeit at the slightly obsessive research stage…
    Thank you Jordan for putting in an inspiring nutshell! Tomorrow will be a whole new day of constructive communication.

  • Yet another fantastic Biz Ladies post PACKED full of solid, practical advice. Very timely now that I’m about to set off on my own online business adventure. Thank you!

  • That’s great advice. I started my blog earlier in the year and over the last month have had more hits and comments than ever. The reason? Because I started interacting on other blogs that were in someway similar to my own. It’s been a world of discovery and a boost for my confidence. I am now looking to promote and sell a few of my handmade crafts on my blog and feel that my continuing my blog / twitter relationship activity and paying attention to the advice above, I will stand a better chance of being noticed and known. Thanks for a excellent post.

  • Thank you so much for this post. It’s very relevant for me right now as I’m looking to expand my business (mostly off-line business, but I know that people often find out about me online). I love your clients & referrals galore “equation”. It crystallizes everything.

  • I’ve had a very similar experience. I think forming a sense of community or shared life can only help, because people are built for relationship. It makes it more like getting to share a treasure than just make a sale.

  • You are so right. And we can’t say that is easy… staying on the computer for so many hours! The only thing that does make it real are the people that you meet and truely form a friendship and a connection with. We are all in a big trasition period, that’s for sure!

  • I absolutely agree. As a fellow introvert it can be so easy to think that since the business is online the people element is reduced. I’ve found, as it sounds like you have as well, that these relationships end up being rich and enjoyable. Thanks for the encouraging word!

  • This is a great post! I am a musician so I don’t run quite the same business as the ladies in the design/handmade/etc.. community, but so many of the Biz Ladies posts are still helpful to me! I also subscribed to Jordan’s email list after checking out her blog, thanks for featuring her on D*S. As a side note, I find that the communities we build via our business networking sometimes keep us from feeling isolated as it can get a little lonely working outside a traditional environment!

  • I think this post confirms what I’ve come to learn in marketing my artwork. I’ve seen great results in interest since I started networking and participating in Twitter forums and especially through Linkedin (that’s a really great, underused resource!). I also have a stack of my Moo business cards with me at all times and find ways to mention my art and my passion and distribute my Moo cards as fun trading cards.

    Great post!

  • What a motivational and valuable post! Like many others, I am working on my presence in the design world, but tend to be a online fall flower. This was just the kick-in-the-butt that I needed. I truly believe some of the most talented and creative people in the business can be found here. I am anxious to become part of the community!

  • This was a great post, and really described me to a T. Just as Karin noted also, sometimes it’s easy to just keep researching without taking action and committing–this was very inspiring!

  • It’s easy to forget this advice, but it’s so similar to what we naturally do in ‘off-line’ life, connect with others, which always comes so naturally to us but somehow we need to learn it when we put ourselves out there in online world. This is a great advice and the one that makes our online ventures so much more fulfilling regardless of whether we’re just blogging for fun or whether we’re trying to run an online business.

  • Great post and so helpful and motivating as I’m in the midst of planning the launch of my own decorating business and blog this fall! Thank you!!

  • Thanks so much for the article, it certainly rings true today. I’m the exact same introvert you describe and have that same mentality you started out with. In reality I KNOW what I should be doing but too scared to put myself out there. Your article is the first one that has put the steps into bite sized chunks that I feel I could actually do. Right… time to venture into the online playground and make friends! Cupcake anyone? ! Sx

  • Great tips! I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing–trying to build a website/blog with no experience. Like some of you above, I’m normally very extroverted, but going public with a fledgling website terrifies me. I’m not selling anything at this point and feel insecure about having something to say. I really like Jamie’s comment above about building online relationships starting with some folks here.

  • Darn it!! I was hoping you’d say that networking was NOT the secret!! As you can tell, it is what I struggle with, but understand more everyday how essential it is!!
    I will print this article and pin it up where I can see it!!
    Thank you.

  • Thanks for the great ideas Jordan! Definitely need them right now as I’m just finding my feet on Etsy and figuring out what to do with my blog. Facebook and Twitter have been great ‘tools’ so far but I’m keen to know how best to present my process and things I make. I often don’t feel qualified to offer an opinion on other blogs and forums but I will try to support what other creative people are doing around the web. I love the community you get around every imaginable blogging subject.

  • What an awesome post! This is exactly where I’m at in my business…you pour your heart out into your creativity, post it online, and then…crickets. Thanks for the answer to “where do i go from here?” Much appreciated.

  • I always enjoy the Biz Ladies, so when it comes around I jump into the article and this one has sure lit my fire again. Although I have started to apply some of the things you have recommended, I still have a way to go. But I must say that the more I get into this online relationship with other bloggers, the more it just feels so right.

  • As a new blogger (and one who just left her big-fat paycheck job to do this new gig full time) this resonates hugely with me!!!!! Thank you! I’m in the process of forging authentic relationships online and can already tell the difference!

  • Just what I needed to hear! I really appreciate my ‘online colleagues’. I think that cultivating relationships further is key to getting out of ruts and staying motivated, especially for us in the creative field – we need that bit of back up from our peers – whether it’s spurring us on to make better work, offering praise and advice, or because they’re directly buying into our services. Thanks for another great post biz ladies!

  • This is wonderful advice, especially for us since we only started 5 months ago with our online shop. I especially like the tips for how to “find your people”. That seems to me to be the hardest first step. Thank you for your great post!

  • I don’t have an online business, but this post was a really valuable read for me. I’m a fairly introverted person myself, so when I get busy reaching out to others always gets put on the back burner. Thanks for the reminder!

  • I just launched my new online biz of furniture and home furnishings out of Mexico, so this is all so helpful! It´s one thing to get people to your site, and another to gain trust to buy online, especially Mexico! Slowly but surely….thanks for the advice, so valuable.

  • Thanks for the advice! I was actually apprehensive about starting my online business thinking that it would be more isolating than offline…. guess not!

  • All I have at this point is my website, a blog (which is woefully neglected and I VOW to do better on it!) and some of my graphic art up at such sites as Cafepress, Red Bubble, Zazzle, etc. You can’t earn a living taking that route, so I’m intent on getting my own business going around my writing and art/graphics. I am, sadly, one of those introverts, so this is a valuable and exciting slap in the old face-make the eyes blink and find the reality articles! Thanks so much…

  • I am just starting out and as I began reading this post I clicked on The Etsy Kit link and immediately made a purchase. Trying to start up a shop/blog at the same time as still working at an often stressful day job and doing photography on the side is HARD and I gain so much from having all of this information in one place. Thanks, thanks and many thanks!

  • Thank you so much! I am inspired to start doing more to build online relationships as a first step to someday launching my creative business. (I’m 22, broke as a joke.)

  • thanks for this post! it’s definitely timely as i prepare to open my second etsy shop- and *really* make a proper go of it this time! :) when you wrote about how you thought it would go when you first opened your online venture, you could have been writing about me!

  • Great post! I have a brick and morter store and I am slowly stepping into the ecommerce world. I am very hesitant and want to make sure my efforts are worth it. This kind of information is exactly what I am looking for, thank you!

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