Craft Business Articles
Sales and marketing information and advice. Innovative techniques and thought provoking strategies for your craft business.
~*~WEB SITES FOR NOTHING AND YOUR ADS FOR FREE~*~
What does it take to succeed on a big scale? A tremendous God-given talent? Inherited wealth? A decade of postgraduate education? Connections with the top people in your field? Fortunately for most of us, what it takes is something very simple and accessible: clear, written goals. A study of Harvard graduates found that after 20 years, the 3% of them who had written goals achieved more financially than the other 97% combined! An average person with average talent, ambition and education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals. -- Brian Tracy
Everyday thousands more people access the Internet. They will discover web sites that cater to their interests, and then return to those sites repeatedly. Many, if not most of those sites will have items available for purchase. Even if visitors do not make purchases at these sites, the advertising opportunities available to the site owners are unprecedented. The Internet has leveled the playing field for large and small business in ways that were unthinkable in the past.
There are many free offers available online. Information, advertising, web site hosting, malls, downloads, patterns, printables, recipes, chat, e-mail, articles, blogs, contests, ... the list is long. In no time at all you may find yourself wasting alot of time and getting bogged down by "information overload"... Focus, harness the power of the Internet and direct it where it will do your business the most good, or you may find yourself scattering your energies in order to take advantage of every tempting free offer that comes along.
**What Do You Want Your Business to Achieve Online?**
Are you looking for online sales, brick and mortar sales, or both? Advertising? Subscribers? Readership? Clients? Do you have a hobby web site and want to turn it into a commercial site? Decide what your goals are, then you will have a direction to target. Many businesspeople find that putting it all down on paper in the form of a business plan is a good place to start.
**Roadmap to Success**
A business plan, simply put, is a roadmap. An overhead look at your destination and the route you will take to get there. When planning a vacation you have a clear idea of how long it will take to get there, which way you will go, costs, what to pack, and obstacles you may face along the way. A business plan is not all that much different. It can be short and simple or infinitely detailed. You can change direction at any time - You are in the driver's seat.
**Your New Home**
Now that you have your route planned, a web site *home* may be *down the road*. If the cost of a web designer and paid hosting are out of the budget there are free options. Most free hosting sites offer web site space, templates, DIY online web page editors and more in exchange for advertising on the pages within your web site, x10Hosting is ad-free but you are required to log into their forums monthly or your site will be removed.
Bizhosting (To find the free hosting click FAQ, then click "learn more" at the top of the page)
**Meet The Neighbors**
Surf around and take a look at sites that are similar to what you have in mind for your web business, NOT in order to copy but rather to see what is being offered and get some ideas. What do you like and dislike ? It might seem easiest to follow the crowd and go for an established "look" for your web site. Be aware that if you turn down that *street* you will be in effect purchasing property in a housing tract where every home looks the same. If you want online customers to purchase from you instead of others who offer similar items, strive to create a unique niche. If not you may find yourself leaving sales to chance or lowering prices in order to compete.
**Open For Business**
Now it's time to let the world know what you have to offer. If your advertising budget is running low, with some work and imagination there are ways to advertise for free online.
Signature: At the bottom of each e-mail or online posting you write is valuable *real estate*, your signature. It should be no longer than 4-6 lines, include your url (web site address/link) business name, and whatever else you deem most important.
Banner Exchange: Design a banner ad for your web site and trade it with others. Set up a page at your site exclusively for banners, or scatter them throughout your pages.
Link Exchange: Exchange links (urls) with other web site owners.
Search Engines: Submit your site to the search engines.
Free classifieds, free advertising groups, swaps, contests, top 100 rankings, and webrings.
Create your own newsletter.
Trade ads with other newsletters.
Form an opt-in mailing list for news and anouncements.
Participate in forums and discussion groups.
**On the Road Again**
Now that you have settled in and become accustomed to your new location, don't get too comfortable. Update your web site consistently and continue to try new things, keep striving for success. Consult your roadmap and don't hesitate to ask for directions. There may be bumps in the road, but remember you can always change direction.
© "Carol Gunkel / Professional Crafters.com The Craft Business Information Network all rights reserved.This article may not be reprinted, all or in part, without the author's express permission.