I like list’s

now panic and freak out

You know, I keep a list. Well many lists actually, but I have this one list in my “things” application. This list has 20, yes 20 blog post ideas. TWENTY. And yet as you can see I have not really blogged much at all recently. In fact I have not done alot of blogging over at my new blog yet either. I have been busy, which is good, but not busy enough to be such a neglectful blog mother.

So here it is, I have started a blog post. Today I am going to write about things people might want to know about your business. So that you (and I) can get over that writers block and blog more. Or for some of my clients, write it up as “news”. Why you may ask, do we want to blog? Well I say (thinking to myself I am awfully good at talking the talk) showing publishing little bits of news shows:

1. your business is ticking along nicely and looks solid and reliable.
2. you share stories about your business that personalises what you are about therefore embedding your business into future customers minds
3. providing an online presence people can relate to.
4. you get to show off your knowledge of important subjects (like blogging, or not in my case).

There are of course many more, one is, once you are on a roll its actually quite fun. So some tricks on finding topics to write about. Keep a way to note down ideas close by so that you can squiggle them down when a moment of genius flashes through your brain. Use your bookmark function on your browser to catalogue ideas online aswell.

Here is a quick list of things that you might consider – I believe every  type of customer group you have, will relate to certain things, so you wrack your brains to see what you could come up with that people may like to read about that relates in some way to your business.

-Book reviews
-Event reviews
-Movie reviews
-Industry news (news like what the fashion shows in Paris are up to, or whats happening to the building codes now that we have had a major earthquake)
-Business news and events (eg, new staff member or a new product range)
-Whats inspiring you at the moment (if your in that sort of industry!)

Ok so there is a plethora of things to write about out there, how on earth do you find the time to write?!

Habits I have seen that might help you.

– Choose a time each day that you can clear some time to write!
– Start your posts in the morning and finish them off throughout the day in snippets you get available or when need a break
– When you get a chunk of time and inspiration hits you write several posts at once and use WordPress’s excellent timed publication feature that lets you pick the time the new post goes live…. So that you can effectively have an active looking blog but only have worked a chunk on it the week before.

Of course I assume you blog because you have already established its a great way to reach your customer base. However not everyone’s business suits a blog. Its incredible how amazing facebook has been for so many business to reach their client base. But of course thats something else to write about next time….

I am scared but determined. I will make a promise to blog everyday for the next two weeks (not on weekend though!) I have lots going on and have alot to share. I intend to write up a post here every other day and another on the the opposing days over on my personal blog. If i fail – then no cake. If I succeed, then I get to make cake – and I will share the recipe on my other little blog. The idea of this is get back into the habit of blogging – I used to enjoy it rather alot!

Get your website ready for Christmas!

Christmas website promotion hints and tipsAvoiding all the cliches on how fast time is flying by I will jump right into it today. Its Christmas people! That means alot of different things to different people, to me it means avoiding town, malls and Christmas music. I have yet to get sick of decorating for Christmas though – I love decorating for the sake of it – it must be the designer in me.

Some of you may not know but I grew up in retail. Because of that I know how big Christmas is – how it can make the rest of year possible and how it is definitely not a holiday. If the conversations on facebook are anything to go by online shops these days are really coming into their own. People will buy the all their presents online to avoid traffic (the vehicle kind) and the Christmas shopping madness – and the awful Christmas music that comes out EVERY year (scroooge). For this reason if you have an online shop you need to be looking at what your customers may be wanting out of it – and how you can introduce products to them that suit their needs, making the money you need to get through the rest of the year.

Here is a list of things you can do right now:

*Go through your products and segment them into groups – example groups could be: Budgets, sports, hobby, father, daughter ect. Create a page that recommends a list of products for each segment, link to it from your home page, your newsletter, facebook page, twitter account ect.

*Use your “related products” the part of the site. When your in the backend of your site within the product details page and you can often choose what other products people may like – that then appear on the product details page on the front-end of your site. Start relating them by your segments – be it price, sport, craft type and the like. Keep the ideas flowing for your customers, they will appreciate it.

* There is a little less money being splashed around these days. People becoming more careful with what they spend.  They still want to buy gifts but now its more important to get something the recipient will actually want – not a gift that will go straight to the Salvation army in the New Year or be used to be given back to you the following year! Vouchers are getting pretty popular for this very reason. So promote them on the homepage and throughout the site.

* Email Newsletters – Nothing annoys me more than newsletters that offer me no value whatsoever – its just news about the company when really right now I have shopping to do, work to finish and BBQ’s to go to. In this busy time Newsletters can be useful or a hindrance. Giving away information and special offers make a difference in how many people will open and actually read your newsletter without hitting delete.  Its here you can help by giving ideas on what to get people – offer them rewards, list gift ideas give them the odd discount code, let them know your Christmas opening hours and wish them a Merry Christmas. To coin a phrase think “outside in”. Make the time they took aside to read your newsletter count!

* On the blog. Use your blog to create not only news about your company, new products or product reviews but news about the season and whats going on over Christmas. Even create gift idea lists for “the father in law”, “the sister who lives far away” not only linking to your products but even other sites that have products that compliment yours, this is not only good to your reader and the other company – but will create goodwill that may end up in links back to your site – which is all good for google! The point is to create a buzzing festive atmosphere on your sites with great content.

* Buying local. For all sorts of reasons people are doing this more and more. If you have local products, organic products, free range – anything thats a buzz word being used and people care about – make sure you more that just mention it in the small print. Its a BIG selling point.

* Social Networks – If you have a Facebook page or Twitter thing going on. Use them! A few ideas: Post one day only specials, facebook competitions, ideas for gifts, cool links to anything online your customers might like… the point is to get them seeing your logo on their feed so they remember you when its time to shop. Its a fine line, but be careful not to overdo it so they don’t hide your updates! Outside in, outside in!

* Seasonal changes to the site. Every site does something different to promote the season. Banners, specials, Merry Christmas’s at the end of auto emails. Anything like this is awesome and gets people in the mood to shop. Just make sure you write yourself up a list of exactly whats been changed and when its all over take it down – remind your web designer to take it down, make sure that stuff is not up halfway through January…. even worse November the following year!

Alright I have bombarded you with enough tasks to do! Have a great Christmas. If there is anything I can help with let me know!

Win a Handbag with Floozy!

harveys seatbelt handbagHello! Just briefly dropping to let you know that one of my favorite clients, Floozy are running a competition to win a Harvey’s seatbelt handbag. I have one and love it! Its a good size, its indestructible and O so sexy. All you have to do is drop by the blog and comment on why you would like one… mmmm thats not the hard huh? I would comment.. but i have one already and think other people deserve it more.. so comment! Let me know if you win!

Marketing books and business stratagems

Seth godin books

There has been alot of thought and research going into my business and where it is going lately. How I want it to grow and change, and what other things I may want to throw into the mix. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I am excited by the possibilities I am stewing over.

I discovered an author in my research called Seth Godin. He is hugely popular (does “purple cow” sound familiar?) but I hadn’t really read any of his books until now. My favorite by a long shot is Meatball Sunday.  The main message I got from him is this stuff here:

  • -Be authentic and tell your story,
  • -Be passionate about what you do,
  • -Take advantage of the changing world of technology and create new products and services inspired by those changes.

So what does this mean? Well I have managed to add my much missed and preferred wire framing step into my design process. Which has been fun and not to mention it works. I forget less of what should be in the design and problems we might face usually pops up in the drawing stage and gets sorted in the drawing stage rather than once the site is all made up. Loving it! I am also hard out learning about the new moves in google analytics, online marketing and best practice Wordpress template construction. The SEO world is also fast morphing, keeping up with that too.

Check out my slightly neglected but now slowly getting refreshed Amazon bookshop for the Seth Godin books I have read and highly recommend. I am chewing through the rest in our local library and will add them if I think them the biz!

Owners of Online Shops : Writing great content

What I loved about Trader Joes, not only could you feel and look at the products, but they also offered extra info to help you care for your product.

Today I have a ‘bee in my bonnet’. After browsing a shop with some awesome designs in it. I would maybe buy, but I’m not sure. Its a fashion accessory item and I just can’t tell by the beautiful photo what size it is. Is it big and bold? Light and delicate? Perhaps a Medium? I can happily wear medium or light but I know my fingers look odd with a huge ring. I like them on others though, just not me.

Inspired by this I have decided to write down the list usually given to clients if they are struggling with writing content for their online shops.

What you absolutely must have in your shops content:

  1. Individual  Product Content: Make sure your product descriptions have the facts; whats its made out of, how big it is, what it smells like, what it can be combo’d with… whatever suits. Answer every question you think they may have about it (think about yr own online shopping experience, what questions have you had in the past?). This is your sales pitch baby. But don’t over do it! You don’t want people to feel they have to read an epic to get the info they want. When formatting bullet pointing the never goes a-miss, information like:
    • -colour
    • -size
    • -materials the product is made out of
  2. Clear Photos of your product. On a background that is enhancing your product, not detracting from it. If you can give a visual idea of scale this is a good thing.
  3. Content tone gives your shop “atmosphere”, if its fun and funky, you can try injecting personality into your content.
  4. Country of origin: Being in NZ we may try to not make this quite so obvious due to post delays. However what happens when someone halfway across the world expects their product in the post within the week. A whole world of pain baby. Emails, upset complaints, worries… all of that reflects on your shop and how you run it.
  5. Shipping countries and costs where possible. Returns policy, your terms and conditions, no-one may ever read them, but they assure people you are legit by their existence.
  6. Payment Information: How people can pay for your product, is it paypal? Credit card? Bank Transfer, all of the above? Have this obvious on the site somewhere thats not just the checkout.
  7. Info about you! People love a story, give it to them! Make them love the fact your not a major corporation or multi national brand but a great small biz or independent seller.
  8. Language/Lingo: Use your customers language, avoid industry terms and stay clear of ‘jargon’. Unless that is your target customer.
  9. Menus and Categorisation: Section your goods out in a nice obvious manner. Look at how successful people do it and if not replicate, let it guide you.

So the facts are over I have a link to give you for further reading. Etsy – Don’t be put off by all the crafting, thinking it does not apply to you (if your not a crafter) there is a wealth of knowledge here.

An article on writing item descriptions.

-Their sellers handbook

I also have a lot to say on the marketing front – stay tuned!