TIP 8. Be Social: Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy

Posted by Mongo Monday, November 30, 2009

Besides having no business degree or experience, I also do not hold any marketing degrees, either. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this as it does nothing for my credibility. Take it as a bit of advice from someone who used to be in the same boat as you. When I first started selling POD products I had no clue what I was doing. Over time I have searched and read up on various techniques and tips on how to be successful.

Of course, every single tip I’m giving you is probably found elsewhere in sites offering tips for success. The 9000 paragraphs I use to explain each one was not. It’s practical knowledge that uses those tips. While I freely admit that I am winging it in terms of experience, I do, however, have a marketing model that possesses a truly dizzying intellect.

While I rely on CP and Zazzle to host all of my designs and drive a majority of sales, I don’t stop there. You are of course reading my blog…I hope. I use this blog to advertise my products from my store, tell semi-humorous stories surrounding the themes or show you tips on how to achieve certain effects. Everything here links back to my stores. It’s a small piece of that overall puzzle but it is a much needed cog in the marketing machine. The trick is, getting people to read it. As a great de-motivational poster reads, “BLOGGERS: Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.” It’s true. Blogging is like talking out loud at a bus stop. People are all around to hear you but only pay attention if you sound crazy. Guilty. I often joke that I write the least read blog in the world. My original blog has had just over 8600 hits in almost two years. That’s pretty sad. Even worse when you consider how many times it ticks up because I’m on it, just checking the stats. However, if you can apply the SEO development and HTML skills, I referred to in the previous steps, and can generate good quality content, you can get your blog heard among the noisy voices of the Internet. Besides, for the most part, blog sites offer free accounts and you can’t beat what doesn’t affect your bottom line. If you don’t operate or own a domain, a free blog can be useful as a way to get your message out. Granted, you get what you pay for but that all depends on how you use the tools you are given. A hammer and chisel can carve out a simple bench or Michelangelo’s David.

So, as I hammer away at blog posts other applications pick up the message and run. Post your link on websites that index blogs, like Technorati, Ping-o-Matic!, or Pingoat, to name a few. Make sure you add it to Google’s Blog Search Ping Service. That way you can start driving Internet traffic outside of your main store and link directly into it. Another way I get traffic is by using social networks. Once I publish a post, my fan page on Facebook imports my post into my Notes. Then all of my fans who don’t already read my blog, which is about all of them, gets an update from my fan page with the same links back to my store. When my fan page gets updated, so does my twitter feed. This is all done automatically after one post is published.

That’s not to say I just set it and forget it. I regularly go into my Facebook page and update profile pics, change status updates, and upload design images to my photo albums with direct links to them in my store. You can also comment on other blogs and websites. Join other groups devoted to shop owners or graphic design. You may learn more tips on how to be more successful there.

If you’re really serious about driving traffic and gaining visibility, spend $25 on a Facebook ad. My fan base jumped considerably in one week from one ad. You can customize it to only charge you when someone clicks on your ad regardless of how many times it appears on the right hand side someone’s page. Do realize that just because you gain fans, you may not see a lot of sales. It’s all about the visibility and content. Don’t be a pest and over saturate your work with a lot of “crummy commercials.” Do remember to drink your Ovaltine, though.

Once you gain a following keep them updated on your work. Hold contests, offer freebies just for being part of your world. Ok, I admit, I have not done the previous two sentences yet, but for Christmas I will be holding a contest and I will give out something to someone, somewhere, somehow. Why? It builds a rapport. If you’ve already established sales on your sites you could have a little bit of extra money floating around in your account that hasn’t cleared the 30 day period before it converts to cash. You can usually use that as credit towards self purchases. $10 here or there isn’t going to kill you. It might get you more sales in the long run.

Also, besides being visible to your customers, be visible to your fellow designers. Usually, the tips you get on being successful come from shopkeepers at no expense. Meaning, they have given you advice out of the kindness of their own heart. They gain no monetary payment for helping you out and are happy to pass on their success to other designers looking to get in the game. Join their ranks and become a social member of the design community. Share and trade tips with others. No one has all the answers and you may help someone with something that they’ve had trouble with which you figured out in one day. If you use Zazzle, congratulate someone on a “Today’s Best Award” by writing on their wall. Become fan and they might reciprocate. You cannot do business in a bubble. You rely on sales from customers. In most cases, if they don’t come to you for a shirt, someone out there will have something that will do just as well.

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