Many small businesses are started out of a passion. I started selling my handmade items online because I loved sewing them but could only give so many to my family and friends! These days it is relatively easy to start an online business but there is a lot to learn. Your potential customers are not meeting you face to face. They don’t see and feel your product before they order it. So it is extra important to make a positive first impression. You need to look professional from the start. Here’s a few tips I wish I knew when I started:
- Dedicated Email – When you set up your web site on a dot.com, you will probably be able to set up an email that is associated with that web address: You @ YourWebAddress.com. This makes it easy for people to remember your name and your website. If you don’t want another email program to check each day: Create that email address, then go into the Settings and forward all the email to your current email address.
- Social Media Profiles – These days social media are considered normal, especially for online businesses. You don’t have to be online all the time but you should try to grab the social media names that match your business. I would recommend at least Facebook, Twitter and Google+, but there are others like Instagram, Flickr and LinkedIn that might also fit your business. Once you have secured the accounts, make sure you add a profile picture or logo, contact details and a link to your website so that if you’re not actually hanging out there, your potential customers can find where you are. Also set up the notifications to email you if people ask you questions on those sites – you don’t want to miss those potential clients.
- Be Consistent – Use the same avatar photo or logo and colours across all your social media, website, store and business paperwork. I got a good friend, Angela from Belle Images, to take a profile photo and recently designed a logo through LogoGarden.com. These are the two images that I use across all my social media accounts.
- Blog or Website – If your business is not online, you still need an online base. People need to find something if they search for you online. It doesn’t have to be more than a page but have a page with contact details, and info about you and your business. A dot.com or dot.com.au looks more professional than a Blogger “blogspot” site. What’s the difference? A website is static, while a blog can be updated regularly with new stories or news.
- Business Cards – Include at least your name, email and web site/ blog. I don’t have a phone number on my card because all my business is online but most businesses would consider having a phone contact on their card. You should use your logo, and you could add your social media profiles if you use them regularly.