When my wife asked me to help broaden the scope of her sideline sewing hobby into an actual business by creating a presence online, I didn't think it would be easy. But I must admit, I did think that by simply leveraging some online tools to build a website and sprinkling some key search words within the pages, I would be able to sit back and watch the visitors come and the orders flow in. Once I finished with that initial effort, I could get back to other pressing priorities like the never-ending Honey-Do list and late night binge watching of the Andy Griffith show on Netflix - 8 seasons in all.
Well, the reality was that after the initial launch and blog post #1 (promoted on Facebook), we did see a steady stream of visitors to the site. But I liken that initial flow of visitors to the friends and neighbors that come to your open-house when you're trying to sell your home. They've got no intentions of buying -- since you are not actually there, they just want to satisfy their curiosity by peeking in your closets and the rooms they never have a chance to see during social visits.
Although we continue to see sales, the challenge for me has been generating the "organic" visits not tied to friends and family but rather from site shares, Google searches or social media links.
A Gardening Analogy
My wife and I like to garden and I've always wanted to start seeds inside to get a head start on the Minnesota growing season, but until this year, I've never really given it a try. About a month ago, I purchased the starter pots and seeds I would need and followed directions on the packages. I even constructed a grow light to help coax the seeds along since our house unfortunately has no good south-facing windows.
And although I purchased a greenhouse kit at the end of last season, we haven't had a lot of sunny days to use it. Unfortunately, after 3 plus weeks of faithfully watering my soil, I saw no results.
My father-in-law has had great success in starting seeds inside and he told me my problem was likely that I didn't keep my soil warm enough. Sunlight (or lack thereof) isn't an issue for seedlings until they've actually popped through the soil. Although my operation was set up in a heated shed, the temperature on the floor where I kept them wasn't warm enough to maintain the temperature necessary for the seeds to germinate.
So, I've started again with that in mind. I've moved my operation into a warmer room in my house and I've planted new seeds to give it another try. I'm moving them into my unheated greenhouse only when the sun is shining. And I'm finally starting to see results.
Carrying this analogy forward to the online business, I'll continue to seek advice from others on how to increase our organic site visits (and converting those to more sales, of course). There are countless resources online from those who have found success with their own ventures. There's even a self-proclaimed web-marketing guru who goes by the name of "LazyAss Stoner" who seems to be making a successful go at it (I kid you not).
So Andy Griffith will need be put on hold for a bit longer. That's ok though - I was just getting to season 6 when they started filming in color. Opie has lost his cuteness and Barney has moved on to the big city, so the allure isn't quite there for me anymore.
Oh yeah, Rebecca continues to add more to the inventory (a beautiful hand knit blanket and some totes), so please feel free to stop in and peek through the closets - you may just find something you like. And please don't forget to share!
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!