Hi folks! Well, this month’s blog is fashionably late as I was busy getting married to a wonderful man. Hence, January’s blog post is actually being posted on the first day of February! Our wedding was on the 24th of January and I have been in slumber-honeymoon mode ever since. Back to normality now, however. Posts will be on the 25th of each month as it was before Christmas, so you can expect the February installment on the 25th.
It is actually part of the process of getting married that inspired this particular blog. I made my own wedding bouquet and a boutonnière (fancy word for a pin) for my now-husband Mark. I have since decided to have a bash at starting a business in this area and have already ordered the materials to make three more bouquets. As a result, I have been interested in how to be present online; how to advertise your product in a way that people will actually see it. I’m multi-tasking here: writing my blog and conducting research for a potential business idea! Here are a few ideas about how to successively promote yourself on-line:
Keyword Research: This is something that you could spend a lot of time researching. Like businesses that are face-to-face, it involves knowing your target audience. Keyword research is a way of finding out what keywords potential customers search for the most. This process can be laborious because you constantly have to update your keywords in order to remain competitive. Not only this, but keyword grouping is another aspect of keyword research. A phrase that is searched for often is stronger than a word, because the more specific your keywords are, the closer to the top of the search results you will be. For example, if you have an online jewellery business selling Pandora charms, it is better to have a keyword phrase embedded in your website/blog like ‘Pandora charm dolphin 2016′ than just Pandora charms because there are thousands of businesses that sell Pandora charms. If you just use ‘Pandora charms’ it is likely you will be on page fifty of Google instead of page two or three.
Search Engine Optimisation: To put it simply, S.E.O is the process where you optimise your website in order to generate more internet traffic. It is the result of the keyword research. Once you’ve found strong words and phrases that have a high search volume, you insert these terms into the meta tags on your site.
Easier Ways: Of course, there are clever ways of advertising for free online without having to do the research above. The points above are a more gradual way of getting customers. It could take months or years for your site to be seen on the front pages of Google. If you want to start advertising immediately and will think above the more difficult elements later, here are a few places you could start:
Ebay: Advertise your product on Ebay. Depending on the kind of business you have, you can choose to place your items on ‘Buy it Now’ or ‘Auction’. If you are a painter wanting to sell your artwork, it is probably better to put your item on auction with a low reserve; unknown artists can’t expect hundreds of pounds for their painting even if it took them days/weeks. The thing I love about Ebay over other similar sites like Amazon is that you can refine the search results to include only those with free shipping. I try my best to get items with free shipping as there is nothing worse than paying more for the shipping than the item itself. Did you know that there are some people who actually make a living from buying cheap items on Ebay then selling them for a slightly higher price? There are also people who go around flea markets picking up cheap items and then flog them on Ebay for a profit. It also caters for high-end items however; you can refine the results from price highest to lowest on a diamond necklace and see what I mean!
Craigslist: Yes, this is an American site, but I’m assuming your business is online so there is no better place to advertise for free! If your business is online, you really should be providing your products internationally. It makes little sense to optimise your online presence if you limit your customer base to a single city, area or even country. The whole point of having an online business is a global market surely? It is your responsibility as a business owner how to deal with the added cost of shipping/packaging while still maintaining a competitively-priced product. Craigslist boasts over ten million visitors a day and they have a ‘Services’ section, an ideal place to tell people about your business for free.
General: Do some research. Start by typing in ‘advertise business online for free’ or something like that. There are plenty of places that advertise for free. The more time you spend researching, the more you will find out. There are even websites whose entire business is to sell you a product that shows you elaborate ways to optimise your website. The internet is a wonderfully cyclic phenomenon. Like anything else in life, promoting yourself online takes time, dedication, patience, self-belief, and sometimes money. Don’t get discouraged when your website doesn’t have a million hits in the first year! The reality is, it will be a slow process, but you will get there. Good luck! Until next…oh wait, until the end of this month
Copyright Gillian Rixey, Company Jobs Direct Ltd.
by Gillian Rixey
(Gillian is a PhD qualified freelance writer and scholar born in Ireland but currently residing in the United States.)