I published my first book in 2006 with a very small publisher who did not take care of my product or me. It took years to overcome the disappointment that all authors feel when they are not selling copies of their books. This feeling would go for any entrepreneur trying to pedal their wares. You feel like tearing your hair out after a while. However, I have learned a lot in the last six years, read countless books on being successful, and agonized over the amount of work it would take to virtually start over once again. Here are some tips I learned the hard way:
- Find your brand. In the whole scheme of things, what are you all about? There is a challenge in the author’s world to try to write one sentence that will sum up your book and prompt someone to pick it up (or download it). So, how would you sum up your business in one hooking sentence? That sentence should coincide with your brand.
- What is your logo? If people look at your logo, whether in color or black and white, will that image correlate in their minds any of the following? Who you are, what you do, how you are valuable to them, when they might need you, or where they can find you. If customers cannot make any connection to you and your logo, you need to rethink what you have representing you. Think Nike or McDonald’s. The moment you see their simple and profound logos, you know exactly what they do and so forth. Hire a designer, brainstorm your ideas, and get your hands on something that will make you stand out to the world.
- Where are you located? I used to have a URL, for a long time too, that was www.blahblahblah/yadayada.com (This is not a real link!). It was brought to my attention that I looked very unprofessional, amateurish. I thought I was doing a great job, but I couldn’t figure out why I was not getting much business. That was one thing that hit home and I went right over and bought my domain name. Strangely enough, I still see many sites with no “real” domain and I hate to dismiss them, but as someone in my life said to me, “If you don’t respect your business enough to mark your territory, others won’t respect it either”. How do you name your URL? It should make a quick statement of what you do. They should be able to tell what you do in that small space of characters. Even if you are a business where you drive to work and unlock the doors every day, you should still have an online presence. You will increase your reach by a million times if you give this Millennial generation a place to connect with you. There are plenty of places on the web that will enable you to create your own site. I was with one company and just redesigned this year with WordPress. I love how easy it can be to use. If you don’t know how, find someone who does.
- Is social media an ingredient of your business recipe? If not, get there. Sites like the ever popular Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter can really take you far. You know, I hated Twitter for a long time. I had an account and closed it because I couldn’t figure out how to use it right. Well, I learned by reading books, getting educated. Twitter is one of the greatest tools out there for reaching an audience! You should have two kinds of buttons on your website that help you with building that social media stance. One should take your customer to your page to “follow” or “like” you. The other set should be at the end of each post to “share” your posts or your products on their pages. Social media can be confusing and scary. Beat down the beast. One of the best pieces of advice is to interact with others. Search out a base of followers. Like them, follow them, retweet them! In a short time, you will get people who regularly share you with their friends. Only a small percent of these people will ever be good customers of yours, but that is okay. You are spreading your message to people you would never otherwise meet in your lifetime! I went from about 14 followers on Twitter to 912 in about six weeks. But you need to care enough to be involved.
- Blogs are one of the best tools of an online business. If you don’t want to actively write for your blog, utilize the rest of the world and accept guest posts. Be aware of Google’s rules where content and links are concerned, but allow them to write the content for free, allow them an opportunity to link back to what they do, encourage them to promote you on their outlets as well, and all you have to do is copy and paste. It is a win-win and builds authority on your page.
- Recently, I started a small publishing house. I hated how I was treated by my publisher and vowed to make the author’s world a better place to exist. It is all online. I take submissions, edit and format them, cover them, and send them off for printing or downloading. Why do I tell you this? Because being strictly online, there is a small amount of doubt that lurks in a client’s mind if they never see you. I am looking into the very unavoidable journey to trade shows in order to meet authors and clients and also to look for new ideas! There is a need to be seen face to face. This will increase your popularity and will ease the minds of potential customers when they see your set up, even if it is as photos on your blog.
- Interaction is key. Like I mentioned above, talking to people or commenting on their goings on is vital. But being interactive away from the computer is important also. One little thing I fell in love with is a QR code. Don’t know what those are? I’m sure you do…They are those little bar codes on packages of food or signs at the table while you eat and you use your smartphone to scan them. When they do, it takes them to a specific landing page. Perhaps it is the main page of your site or a promotional page. In my case, it led people to the page where they could download a copy of one of my books for free. These little curiosity generators are amazing on paraphernalia like business cards, mailings, trade show graphics, car magnets and brochures. No one ever knows what is on the other end of that mess of black and white. That is what makes them so fun and people will scan them. Just make sure you provide them with something useful when they take the time to scan yours.
I have struggled for years not knowing what I was doing wrong. Once I figured it out, I felt it should be voiced and if I can help even one person, I have succeeded. I wish you all many blessings in your business ventures!
Maddy Olson blogs on a variety of subjects that are deep topics and can change lives. Writing about custom printed wallpaper expert Megaprint.com is a very rewarding way to express her creativity and she enjoys it very much. Her own mission to run successful businesses has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but worth it. She appreciates being able to share that with you.