Informing people of who you are and what your business does is very important but it is one thing many people do wrong. This post has been inspired by a talk I had earlier today regarding a shop that I live very close to.
This shop is situated in a building that is mainly flats; there isn’t a huge shop front just a couple of doors which one is blocked off inside and a window with a display showing off some of the treasures the shop sell.
There is a large courtyard style car park that leads to the shop. They have a couple of chalk board sandwich boards on the pavement saying that the shop is open.
The writing is a scrawl and pretty hard to read, there is no way people passing in cars will be enticed into pulling into the car park to go into the shop. The sign for the shop itself is pretty small and hard to read from the pavement.
The shop front generally is obscured by the 2 cars that belong to the owner and her husband who for some unknown reason come at separate times in two cars which they then decide to park out in front of the premises taking up any space that could be used by customers.
I took this picture standing in the car park and was not on the pavement!
Remember this is a residential area consisting of flats and there are cars parked in the car park that belong to tenants. The red car in the photo belongs to a flat, I know, it is mine. We try and park away from the shop as best as we can but because of the layout of the building and car park we often have no choice but to park where we do.
You can see that the sign on the wall is small, has a dark coloured script style font and incorporates a name that doesn’t tell you what they do or what they sell. I can tell you that the shop is not making any money, they are on a very low reduced rent and the money they are taking isn’t even covering that.
They certainly are not taking home any wages. It is a good job that they have other jobs to go to in the week and that the shop is only open a few days in the week. If they were relying on that wage they would be in trouble.
They do not have a website or an eBay shop, we might live in a small town but there are people here who will buy what they sell and there is a world online to sell to but I personally have to say that if the business does not do well it isn’t down to the townsfolk but the owners themselves ‘playing shop’ instead of running a business.
August 22 Update: We have since been asked to move the car because ‘business isn’t good’, we were blocking the door apparently which was affecting business and then we were told the shop ‘owner can park her car there!!?!?’ Hmmm I would say the ‘bad business’ is due to the hours being constantly changed, the shop being closed early and the fact that once inside it feels like a meeting for the local WI group as the parents and their friends run the shop while the owner goes to work.
As we pay more in rent you could say I am slightly miffed that we are being classed as part of their problem when there are hundreds of reasons they are making their business fail.
The Importance of A Good Sign and Graphics
There is a fine line between form and function, we all want our businesses to have great looking designed signs and logos but if they cannot be seen clearly or tell people what it is that we do then we are wasting good money and harming the businesses future from the start.
An example of another local shop that started during the recession and has grown into bigger premises and they use far better signage than the first shop example above. Notice that they have also included who they are, what they do and have contact information?
They also have an online shop, I once ordered flowers to be delivered to my mother while I was 200 miles away and it was effortless. That was a sale they took without me needing to visit the shop.
John Brown, Mike Williamson… Who?
For years it was common for people to have their business vans covered with their names which is ok if it was followed with their trade for example ‘Williamsons Builders and Plasterers’ or Andi Leeman Carpenter & Joiner’ (Yes that is what I had on my ads and vans when I was in the building trade) at least as you saw the van drive past with a name on it you could also instantly see what they did.
It makes sense to also add a small list of the jobs that you do such as ‘fit new kitchens’, ‘make and fit doors and windows’ to help the fact that some people do not know what a carpenter & joiner is let alone what they do.
More importantly a phone number should always be included, how else can people get hold of you to enquire about work? After all, you set up in business to do work for people to earn money didn’t you? How else will you earn money? So it is vital that you get across to potential new clients what you do and how they can get hold of you quickly.
Sometimes people do use signs and graphics that include phone numbers and tell people what they do but they choose a font or colours that are hard to see and read or simply make people look away. We can all go for fonts and designs we personally like and think looks ‘cool’ but as hard as it is to admit this to ourselves, the logo is not for us it is for the success of the business and nothing else.
Think of the old greasy spoon café down the road, the food might be great but we are now so used to a world of great design and themes that when we enter the café and see pieces of paper plastered over the walls with hand written menus that are unplanned, have grammatical errors and the writing seems to shrink in places you cannot help but feel that the owners do not love their business or their clients enough to take that little bit of extra time and care to create a more welcoming feel. Many people will simply turn and walk out.
We now live in the digital media world and some brands use viral marketing and guerrilla marketing methods that require getting a branded name or word out in front of as many people as possible. They use the old ‘curiosity’ factor to get people to do a search online to find out more about the company and product. This can work well but you have to be seen and getting your name out everywhere can cost a lot of money.
You cannot rely on curiosity alone these days, we live in a small world and trying to evoke curiosity in people isn’t easy when we are just a click away from something else. Attention spans are getting shorter, we have access to so many new forms of media from around the world if you are trying to play the curiosity game then you could seriously lose out.
Time is precious and people know that, why would they waste their time trying to find out what you are offering when they know they can go to so many other places? Also if they saw your name or advert offline and were not in a position to do a search there and then, by the time they get home they could easily have forgotten or choose not to bother doing a search.
Curiosity brand building is best left to big businesses and TV companies who use it a lot for promoting future coming TV shows. They have the budget and have an existing client fan base they can ‘play’ with and tease as well as get the image across to people as they relax at home near to a computer or smart phone.
When starting a new business you really need to spend some time thinking about your business name, logo design and signage. This is the first thing people will see, it is how many people will judge you and your services on. Get this wrong and it could spell disaster.
If you do not come across clearly and leave people confused, scared to approach you or even leave people thinking that they should avoid you then you are going to be fighting one seriously uphill battle to get work and earn that important money.
If however people can see who you are and know exactly what you do and can comfortably contact you then you have the best chance of becoming a very successful business indeed. Of course once they come through the door, ring you on the phone or come to your website your professionalism and customer service is the next important thing you need to work on and that is for another post another day 🙂
If you are just starting out in the big wide world of blogging, then THE most important decision you will have to make is what you want to blog about, especially if your plan is to create a profitable site. This is where niche blogging comes in and why I thought it would be good to talk over a few things to help you.
It may sound straight forward to pick a subject to write about, but you’d be surprised how many people struggle with this decision. It takes time to build up a site, which can be demoralizing if 6 months down the line you decide that you want to switch topics and effectively start again. That is why it is so important to plan out your site and decide on your niche from day 1. Believe me, it will save you a lot of hassle in the long run!
Normally, when people start their first blog, it’s usually a personal blog where they write about themselves and their everyday experiences. This could include talking about their favourite hobbies, movies, books, university life, etc. usually a bit of everything. I started in a similar way with my first site and I know some of the other Bizzebee writers did as well.
Whilst this is a good way to get into blogging, it’s not a very effective way of building a profitable one. Whilst you may build up a bit of an audience, you won’t likely build up a significant one as you are writing about a whole host of different subjects. People won’t know if you are a movie critic, food writer, book reviewer, etc. Worse still, advertisers won’t know what you are about.
Niche blogging is where you select a single subject and stick to it. That way, when people come to visit your site, they know what they are getting. Advertisers will be much more likely to approach you to advertise their products/services that are related to your site and better yet, you will be able to build a bigger audience.
Picking Your Niche
So, now that you know that a specific subject is much better than lots of different ones, you can go and select yours, right? Well, there is a bit more to it than that!
Is Your Niche Popular Enough?
In order for your site to be a success, you are going to need to pick a subject that has an audience. After all, you could create the world’s greatest site on, let’s say, ‘Amazonian Blue Spotted Frogs’, but if only 7 people are interested in it, then is it worth it? Well not if you want to make any money from it!
The more people who are interested in your subject from day 1, the more people there are to market your blog to. They are the ones who will be your potential readers/customers, so make sure that you have a potential audience BEFORE you start.
Is Your Niche Too Popular?
You don’t want to pick an unpopular niche, but similarly, you don’t want to pick a subject that is too broad. There are billions of people interested in sport, but that doesn’t mean you should create a site on all sports. You’d be much better picking an individual sport (e.g. Football), or better yet an individual team. At least then, you will have narrowed down your niche to be more specific, which will in turn attract more interested people.
It’s good to pick a popular subject, but the more you can narrow down your niche within that subject, the better. People will see you as the go-to place to read about that subject.
It also helps to narrow down your subject when you are first starting your site. If you are too general, you won’t get a look in as you will be competing against much larger, well established sites.
Is Your Niche Shrinking Or Growing?
Everything is changing all the time. What was once popular a year ago may not be that popular anymore. Likewise, there are some subjects that are only just starting to become popular. You need to think about your niche and judge whether it is growing or shrinking.
For example, a site about board games would be a lot less popular than a site about video games. That’s because board games are much less popular (shrinking niche) than video games (growing niche).
You want to try and pick a growing niche if you can, as you don’t want to find a couple of years down the line that your audience has all moved onto something new.
It’s not always clear to tell how popular a subject is, so it’s good to do some research before-hand. This is where Google Trends comes in. This great tool lets you look at what people have been searching for online over the last few years. This can help you to see whether a niche is growing, shrinking or remaining stable.
Let’s look at the board game / video game example from earlier.
It’s pretty clear to see that we were right about these two industries. Board games (blue) are clearly a shrinking niche, as year on year their popularity has fallen, only spiking at Christmas time. Video games (red) one the other hand have remained reasonably stable over the years, again spiking at Christmas time.
Hopefully this just shows that you can use Google Trends to see how popular a subject has been over time.
THE Most Important Part About Niche Blogging!!!
Lastly, THE most important aspect of choosing the right niche for your site is YOU!!! You are the one that is going to be doing all the work, so you need to be passionate about the subject. Like I say, it takes time to build up a site from scratch, so if you love what you are writing about it makes it a lot easier.
What influences you when picking a niche? What tools do you use to do research (if any)? Please let us know below in the comments section.
If you are planning on blogging and building up an online business one of the first things you need to do is build up an email list. Many of the big internet marketers say that the ‘gold is in the list’ this is true but not just for those trying to push dodgy Clickbank products.
Big companies like Pizza Hut use email to send out vouchers for offers like ‘two for one pizzas’ They may not be trying to do the hard sell or recommended related products but they can help increase revenue by tempting people into their restaurants. People who probably were not thinking of going but suddenly faced with a great offer they go and spend money at Pizza Hut that wasn’t originally destined for their tills.
Building an email list and having a newsletter is great for all types of businesses and not just the internet marketer. There are several great reasons why any business should build an email list and one seriously good one is that you can keep reminding people of who you are, what new products or services you have to offer and generally say ‘Hi how are you? Doing ok I hope, just a little reminder to say we are still here with plenty of great offers and advice so why not pop over to our website today!’
Now I am sure you have seen bloggers and internet marketers tell you that you can start a blog and an online business for a year for as little as $70 and this is true, the cost of a domain and hosting can be that for the whole year but not many of them go on to tell you the other costs that are involved in being successful.
If you are serious about starting a successfully online business then building an email list is going to pump up that cost. Compared to investing in many off line businesses building an email list is still fantastic value for money but you still need to know that there are costs involved.
Now there are many services that you can use to build your email list and send out email newsletters properly, MailChimp, Infusionsoft and Aweber. These companies vary in prices and also in what you can do. MailChimp for example used to dislike their system being used for internet marketing and affiliate promotions which is a shame as they are free for the first 2000 subscribers on your list allowing you to send 12,000 emails per month. To send unlimited emails you will need to start paying and it starts from $10 a month for 0-500 subscribers.
They prefer more business types of emails so if you are creating a business that isn’t internet marketing then it could be an excellent set up for you. I personally have not used MailChimp before; I have used Infusionsoft and Aweber. I personally do not like Infusionsoft, they are costly and the system is hard to use but they are more than just an email autoresponder service. They are a complete marketing system that you can run an affiliate system through and also take payments with.
The industry standard for many is Aweber; it is our preferred system and one of the best. They do a special ‘try it out’ offer for one month at $1 then after that it is $19 per month for up to 500 people on your lists. Once you go over 500 the price will increase.
Now I want to make this clear, this is something many people will fail to tell you at the beginning… the price is for 500 people on your lists and not subscribers… yes read that again. If you have 300 active subscribers but have had 250 in the past who had subscribed and then unsubscribed you will be charged the higher rate unless you clean up your lists and delete those names.
It’s not that Aweber are evil robbing bandits, it is just that not many people realise that that is their system and not many people will tell you that so list management is a must. Keep on top of your lists!
Ok so once you have started your online business and started to build your email list with Aweber you now add an extra yearly cost of $210 to your start-up costs ($1 +11 months @$19= $210)
A Well Managed Email List Is Always Worth The Money
As you can see this isn’t earth shattering, $19 a month is what… the price of a few coffees? We prefer you to know upfront though as many people will not tell you all of this. But that $210 is an incredible investment when you think about it.
Imagine that you were a small local Pizza shop and you decided to follow the lead of the bigger boys Pizza Hut and start to collect email details of people in your area.
If you had a list of around 500 people and you sent out an email each week with special offer that resulted in just ten people coming in and spending roughly $20 each that they probably wasn’t going to spend with you before the email offer, you would have paid all but $10 of your years costs.
Now do that every month and you have generate extra money for your business which you wouldn’t have had without the email list. People use Facebook and Twitter to send out promotions and you should too, they are free and there to be used but email is still the better converter for sales.
You see Facebook and Twitter use newsfeeds that are crammed with anything and everyone, there are offers and promotions from all kinds of people and many users on Facebook dislike them with a passion. You see anyone can create a Facebook page or post a promotion and many have been scams so people are still pretty wary of promotions on these networks. Things are getting better though.
But with email, where does the email come from? The company or company owner themselves. Email is more personal and people still to this day believe that emails come from the companies that look to have sent them even if they didn’t. This is the reason why email scams worked so well and are still very popular these days. People generally trust email over all other networks.
Email is the first and original social media network and it still converts better than the rest so if you are taking your business online or planning to build an online business then you really should be setting up your newsletter and building your email list from the start.
Changing perspective can always make you see things differently, if I said that people should invest in a blog and spend a few years working on it most people would say that it wasn’t worth it. I however disagree, I believe starting a blog can be one of the wisest investments anyone can do. It can help you grow a business using the blog effectively, also getting a enterprise investment scheme can help you organizing an investment to grow a new business.
When you consider the cost of starting a traditional offline business on the high street of your town, you are usually in big debt before you have started your first day of trading. This is pretty common and is one of the main reasons why people file bankruptcy when just started a new business. In many cases it can take years to make your money back and turn a profit. Many restaurants go bust within the first six months of starting and other businesses can go bust within the first two years. The odds are not good for offline business surviving especially during this global recession.
Starting an online business can be far better than an offline business for many reasons; this great article will tell you more.
When you start an online business, and for this example I am going to talk about a simple blog, the start-up cost can be as little as $70 for the year. For that you will register your domain name and then get hosting. Hosting is your online rent; the cheapest package with Hostgator is $47.52. Unless you decide to outsource your content creation all of the work would be done by yourself.
So the cost for the year is around $70, you can start to build an email list if you like and often people suggest that you start at the beginning but there is a cost associated with building an email list and the truth be told, for the first 3 – 6 months you will probably get very few sign ups from organic traffic while you are growing your site. You could employ some paid methods to generate traffic to your site and start to build your email list faster if you wish.
Starting a blog and working on it can require some work and commitment on your part however I will give you a big, BIG secret here, the success of a blog is not always down to the commitment and work you put in but the quality of your plan. Every business needs a solid business plan and building a blog is no different.
Ok so you are probably wondering about the bank account part to this post, well I am writing this in the U.K. where we are currently in the 3rd year of recession or is it the 4th? Maybe more, it seems like the news has been going on about it forever! The banks which are the traditional way of saving your money pays an interest on the money you have stored with them, people put money into banks hoping to make some extra via the interest they pay. For large sums of money it can be useful.
Originally this interest was paid as a thank you for lending the bank the money that they could then lend to other people with help from their Johnson City Savings Accounts, the bank would charge a higher interest rate as part of the repayment and they would pay you back from that money as a way to say thank you. Everyone was a winner, the person wanting to start a business was given some start-up capital which he repaid back over time, the bank made a profit from the interest paid on the loan and you made a small profit for having your money in that bank.
Thanks to the banks getting greedy and making a big mess of everything they have had to claw back as much money as possible to prevent them going under and this has meant that many interest rates on savings accounts have been slashed.
While I write this I did a quick search and found on Google U.K. that if I had £3000 in an account and deposited £1000 each month for 12 months without an overdraft limited I could earn between £5 and £10 a month in interest.
What is interesting is that one account would cost me £10 a month in fees and only generate £5.92 in interest. I know that if I do not touch the money then compound interest comes into play.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” – Albert Einstein
But what I want to get across is this, I would need to have £3000 in the account and deposit £1000 a month to earn roughly £72. Now I ask, is it worth it?
I know you need to store your money someone where but it is wrong now to think of most banks and their accounts as a good way to generate money via interest. The example above would have £15000 in the account after the first year and earn less than £100 in interest and you might notice that some of the rates drop down to 1% after the first year.
Back to the online business, a blog that can cost $70 to run for 1 year can in fact generate far more money back in return. While growing your blog, writing posts and sharing them on your growing social media networks (every blogger should build a network of fans and followers on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus) you could record a series of short videos or write an eBook complimenting the niche of your blog and then sell it to your site visitors.
Imagine that you created a series of 10 short videos and charged your site visitors only $10 to access them. You only need 7 of your site readers to pay for access and you now have $70, that is your money made back, increase that to 14 customers then you have doubled your initial investment. How hard can it be to sell 14 places to your online video course over 12 months?
Video and eBooks can be created very easily at home with the tools at hand. Videos can be made using free software like Screencast-O-Matic.com and eBooks can be produced using a range of free software like Libra Office and Paint.net for the images.
I know of one guy who was making around $300 a month from selling a blogging video course from a box standard WordPress site, he was charging more than $10 for access and it was his first project. His website cost was as little as $70 and he was using the very basic WordPress standard TwentyTen theme.
There is also the possibility of generating advertising revenue by using networks like Google AdWords or maybe even private advertising. Imagine selling an advert spot to a local business at $10 per month, at the end of the year you will have $120 which is $50 profit after your $70 cost is accounted for. Now imagine selling advertising space to several businesses!
When you get a lot of site visitors and customers you may require to pay more each month for hosting as your bandwidth and disk space will need to be increased.
Patt Flynn the legendary blogger makes over $40,000 a month from his blogs, his monthly costs are not $70 anymore, I am sure he would like it if they were however as his business grew so did the costs.
This April 2013 his outgoings were $8,650.93 and his gross incomings were $58,412.33 leaving him with a profit of $49,761.40. Now you will not get that, Pat is well established and has several sites and products that generate income including iPhone apps and a bestselling book on Amazon but what is interesting here is the ratio of what he puts in and what he gets out.He started out as a simple blogger!
Also after a couple of years you decide you have had enough and if you have worked on your blog and grown it to something generating a profit or at least has a potential to grow into a profitable blog you could sell it, some blogs have sold for several thousand dollars with some reaching the hundreds of thousands, after two years and a cost of around $140 you were able to sell your site for a nice respectable $500 you have still more than doubled your money.
There are running costs to websites and they do increase over time however as I am sure you are beginning to see, the investment is not only well worth it, it outstrips any return you get from relying on your bank account to swell your savings.
Gather round people, I would like to say a big hello and offer you a warm welcome to our new site bizzebee.com which is dedicated to businesses and entrepreneurs wanting and needing to build their business and brand online.
I have been given the pleasure to introduce to you the people behind this new site, all of which have real experience working online in many different areas from WordPress and web design to Social Media, running affiliate marketing campaigns and SEO.
Everything you need to know to get your business online, we know it and we intend to share with you that knowledge and help you to become a success online because our motto is,
‘Your success is our success’
Cheesy? Maybe, True? Definitely. We want you to succeed. It is as simple as that.
Ok so let’s get this show on the road! We are a collective of people who work online daily making money either through affiliate marketing, product creation or offering services to clients such as SEO, web design, marketing and social media consultancy. The team consists of
**(Due to a difference in future long term plans we have lost one of our valuable members Sam Mottram and we are now down to a team of 5 and we wish Sam well on his journey.)** – March 2014
Now would be a good time for me to tell you what our aims are for this site and what we intend to offer you but first I feel that I want to tell you about the things we WON’T do and who we are NOT. I know the rest of the team agree with me here.
We are NOT new to this and have just thrown together a dodgy ‘How To Make Millions Blogging While Swinging in A Hammock On The Beach In Just Your Undercrackers’ and trying to sell it on the Warrior Forum. You know the people and their products. We will not sell you the dream and run away with your money.
Should we ever come close to creating that kind of sales page please send us an email via the contacts page and we will arrange for the one who wrote it to visit your home so you can slap them long and hard with a wet fish. I can safely say that that will never happen.
We differ from those kinds of people because we choose to. It is all about real businesses and real world stuff here on bizzebee.com. We will tell you…
· what works
· what doesn’t work
· how to do it
· when to stop doing it
· and plenty of new potential ideas
Being successful online is not just about the affiliate marketers or internet marketers selling ‘Get Rich Quick’ products, No there are millions of small local businesses like bakeries, garages, taxi services, clothing shops and trades like plumbers & bricklayers who can benefit greatly from having a good online presence. Every business can be and should be online.
It is 2013 now, more and more people are looking online for restaurants, hotels and local tradespeople. More and more of those people are doing their searches on smart phones and tablets. The old ways of advertising in papers or local business directories are slowly dying and with the economies of the world being in poor health businesses need all the exposure and branding they can get.
There has never been a better time or a need to get online than today. There are plenty of great free tools and networks that small businesses can use as well as paid services and tools that can be used to increase visitors to your site.
The difference is unlike other networks who will tell you to ‘do this and do that’ all the time we will tell you whether it is right for your business. Getting traffic to YOUR site is one thing but a small bakery in Leeds does not need to be spending hundreds of pounds placing ads on ‘buysellads.com’ or running solo ad promotions.
We all have a great sense of humour but even we cannot bring ourselves to create an Empower Network style business where we promise to teach you online marketing for any kind of business but actually only focus on the promoting of the network.
We would never offer you commissions to bring more people into the network so you become trapped paying into the system working hard to bring more people into the network hoping and expecting big bucks.
Those guys are having a laugh at your expense; we do not find that funny and have no interest in doing that so please we beg of you to not think that we are in anyway like that network because it is not true we despise them.
All of us as individuals at one time or another have owned, worked for and run small local businesses and we understand that what suits one industry does not suit another.
I for example ran a small T-Shirt and art business selling paintings and T-shirts to people both online and offline around the world as well as being a self employed carpenter.
Clair comes from a family that owns and runs several printing companies supplying business flyers and brochures etc which she has moved online.
John regularly supplies promotional videos to offline businesses like restaurants and Matt and Sam have done various web design consultancy work with local companies.
Mizanur runs his own SEO, website maintenance and content creation service over in Chittagong Bangladesh and he has many fingers in many pies.
We know that each and every business requires different kinds of traffic and different traffic often needs different methods to attract it. There is not always a one fits all solution.
That is the reason all seven of us have come together to offer all the knowledge we have from soooooo many different angles of business both online and offline. What we don’t know is probably not worth knowing and if there is something we don’t yet know we are in a great place of finding out.
We are watching and learning what is new in the online world and we want to pass that over to you. So if you are a small local business, a multinational business or a blogger and online marketer wanting to learn more and grow your online presence and business then you have come to the right place.
Join the bizzebee community (should that be colony?) sign up for our excellent weekly newsletters and let us help you grow and improve your business online.
Albert Einstein once said about the humble bee
“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
The bee is very important and a busy bee keeps society and life going as nature intended. The same is said for business; to grow and evolve you need to become a bizzebee. And what is one of the secrets to the bees success? They work together as a community. Need I say more?
I think it is time to bring this first bizzebee post to a close and I would like to say these final words.
1. Welcome to bizzebee.com
2. Come and join us, sign up for the newsletter and become a bizzebee
3. A big thank you to the other bizzebee’s Sam, Matt, John, Clair, and Mizanur for allowing me to join them in this excellent and exciting new venture and giving me the opportunity to write the first ever post on the site. Thank you guys 🙂