Saturday, August 22, 2009

Advertising, Anyone?

This is probably one of the biggest expenses of owning any online or brick and mortar store. However, there are a few ways you can advertise inexpensively.

While some website owners have great luck with pay per click, I reaped very little in using this form of advertising - no matter how big of a budget I set. Affiliate programs can be very lucrative, as long as you are are careful of the types of ads you allow on your website. And while SEO companies promise a lot, there is only so much they can do for you - and it can be VERY costly.

Here are some thoughts on inexpensive ways to advertise within your own community:

Send flyers to the local schools. Check with the administration first - sometimes they will send home advertisements with the students if you include a discount coupon. I know that the schools around me will place flyers on the table in the teacher's lounge. Do this around the holiday season!

Offer to help the schools out with a fund raiser!

Contact the Chamber of Commerce. They allow guest speakers on different subjects - make yourself know to the community.

Offering items for newborns? Contact some of the local OB/GYN offices. Some send sample products, etc., home with their new mothers. Add something small and inexpensive that advertises your products!

Having your website optimized is actually one of the best things you can do - make sure that all of the elements of your site are set up correctly - check out the WAHM websites offering these services. I am a huge proponent of hiring others working from their homes - they have the same skills as some of the larger companies offering the same services - for a much more reasonable fee, since they have less overhead. Check references and look at their client's websites to see how well things are "working".

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Starting an Online Children's Boutique

Preparing to open an online children's boutique? Want to jump in with both feet?


Learn from my experiences over the last two years.

I, too, LOVE baby and children's clothing. I love buying it, designing it, sewing it . . . and jumped in with both feet. Unfortunately, I did not do a great deal of research before buying merchandise and opening my online store. PLEASE - before you start - before you fill out that Sales and Use Permit application, buy merchandise, etc. - research, research, research! You will soon find out that what you THOUGHT everyone was looking for was a figment of your imagination - trust me on this one.

Especially in a challenging economy, people's needs change. What was popular this time last year is old news. Talk to anyone you can find related to your field - reps, merchants (okay, so they won't ALL want to talk to you - after all you are the competition), wholesalers - get a good feel of what is actually selling - not what you think is cute. One of the hardest lessons I've learned is that not everyone likes what I like. Some people had bad taste and will ALWAYS have bad taste. Even though they think I'm the one with bad taste - LOL.

Check into dropshipping - it will save you from having to carry as much inventory - which will save you at tax time. Coming from Cindy, who had you-wouldn't-believe-how-much inventory at the end of the first year.

When buying wholesale, don't be afraid to buy only limited amounts. Just make sure you can reorder when and if you should run out of a style. You never know what is going to be the hot item in your store.

And, make sure you have a wide range of items. Don't just carry the high dollar items - carry lower dollar accessories and coordinates to fill out your store.

That's it for now. I will be back with more information! Hang in there! I still love owning an online boutique!