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)
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.