How To Build Your Email List Through Social Media


May 14, 2013

I recently completed B School – an online business training program for modern entrepreneurs taught by Marie Forleo. One of the main points the program focuses on is teaching you how to maximize building your email list through social media.

Before I enrolled on B School, I thought having more followers on social media is what my business needed the most.  Truth is, having more list subscribers translates to direct sales for my business. Email list is where sales happen – where deals are closed. Another big reason to get the likes and followings into leads is that your list is yours – you own it no matter what. If you have been around for a while you are aware of all the changes on the social media platforms. What would happen If people stopped using these social media platforms?  You have no ways to connect and contact these people/fans anymore. You don’t own your followers on Facebook. You don’t even have a way of contacting them outside of it. Facebook and other social media sites are valuable sources to generate leads but you can’t rely on them as the single source for your business. With that said, I wanted to give you a few tips on how to use social media to increase your list subscription.

FACEBOOK

  1. Ask simple questions – This means be specific and to the point every time you post a question on Facebook. Your followers are busy people and you might not have their full attention. A simple question requesting a simple answer will take you far.
  2. Give non-complicated calls to action – This requires for you to ask people to “share”, “like” etc, your post. Give directions to increase engagement as well as understand what your fans want.
  3. Be part of the conversation – When you ask a question/opinion, stick around to answer questions and follow up with updates. Engage in the conversation and respond back to people.
  4. Entertain, inform and inspire for greatness  – You should keep these in mind every time you post something.
  5. Tease your fans – Show sneak peeks of your work to your fans. This will get them engaged and anticipate what you have to offer.
  6. Embrace Facebook marketing – Attract new fans and leads by marketing to the people that matter most to your brand (and this doesn’t mean everyone!)
  7. Use custom apps (previously known as tabs) to build your email list These are the small rectangles right below your cover image (you can have up to 12, but 5-6 is plenty and proven to give great results). Notice how I use Call to Action on naming these apps – such as “SIGN UP NOW!”, “GET INSPIRED”, etc.

 TWITTER

  1. Tweet teasers of content – For example “I just finished writing tomorrow’s newsletter. Want it?  http://bit.ly/100Q8aD”
  2. Post links to your Email Promotions – This will urge fans/followers to sign up for your newsletter and receive promotions. They can even view past month’s newsletters prior to signing up.
  3. Add email opt-ins to your profile -You can now add a link to your email subscription right on your twitter profile along with the link to your website. Here’s how mine looks like.

YOU TUBE

  1. Direct people to follow you on social media – Through your videos you can direct people to follow you on social media as well and subscribe to you channel,  sign up for email list.
  2. Use video overlays – These are mini advertisement in forms of graphics that direct traffic to various platforms. Marie Forleo does a great job with her videos by asking people to share her content on various social media platforms as well as subscribe to her channel.

Here is a great tutorial by James Wedmore on how to create these video overlays: www.socialmediaexaminer.com/3-ways-to-use-youtube-to-drive-traffic-to-your-website

Additional Resources:

If you want more in depth information on building your list via Facebook you must check out Amy Porterfield’s How To Boost Your Business Online With Facebook Advertisement (I recently completed Amy’s course and would highly recommend it!)

The infamous B School will open its doors again this summer. To receive more information and updates click HERE.

As usual I would love to hear from you! Do you have any tips of techniques that have proven to work on your list building? Please share in the comments area below.

Grow Your Business Online with Social Media


March 26, 2013

Source: socialmediatoday.com viaLe Papier Studio on Pinterest

Have you all jumped on the social media bandwagon?

I spend a lot of time researching successful ways to grow your business online and I enjoy sharing what has worked for me here in the good ol’ blog. You all know the importance of building a strong foundation for your business. It consist of 3 important elements:

  1. customer service
  2. brand awareness
  3. sales lead generation

Social media plays a big role in all of the above elements.  Your business’ reputation and performance is rated by your presence in social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube etc. You can now use social media to your advantage to connect and engage directly with your customers. How does each element breaks down?

Customer Service

It’s probably one of the most crucial elements of running a successful business online. When it comes to it, people are impatient (myself included!) and have very little tolerance for delays. Keep an eye on the various social media platforms on daily basis and respond to complains, questions in a professional and timely manner. Do this to keep them happy and coming back for more. Believe me, a personal message goes a long way.

Brand Awareness

Gone are the days where people found you only through a blog or google search. These days people come to discover your brand via the various social media sites. Pay attention to all your social profiles.  Whatever you say or post should be relevant to your business. Sites like Google + can make your content searchable on Google. Make sure to assign a profile picture to your social profiles – this has proved to increase click through rates which means great news for your SEO efforts.

Sales Lead Generation

Facebook and Pinterest  provide the most sale leads for my business. I spend more of my social media efforts throughout the week on these two sites. How can you generate more leads to your website? I bet you already know the answer! Share great content that is relevant to your business. Position yourself as the expert in your industry and people will follow you.

My advise to you is to pick 1-2 social media sites and use them well. Be consistent with your online presence. See what works for your brand and keep doing it.

Leave a comment below with the 1 or 2 social media sites you consider to be the most beneficial to growing you online business and why.

The post Grow Your Business Online with Social Media appeared first on Le Papier Blog.

How Can Your Business Benefit From an Editorial Calendar – Part II


March 05, 2013

EDLast week I blogged about the importance of an editorial calendar for your blog and business and shared some of the tools I use. Today I am going to write about:

1.  The elements and structure of an editorial calendar
2.  The process of creating an ongoing content

The elements and structure of an editorial calendar

An editorial calendar is as good as you make it. Meaning if you don’t spend the time to schedule the content that goes in the calendar, there is no way it will benefit your business. Here are a few key elements in making the most of your editorial calendar:

  • Decide on the number of posts you feel comfortable writing each week
  • Choose the topics/categories you will be posting about
  • Assign fresh content to each category

For each post you should make notes of the following:

  • Title
  • Category
  • Keyword/s
  • Links needed
  • Main points

The process of creating an ongoing content

Next, you need to brainstorm ideas for your content. The following is a short list of things I do to come up with ideas:

  • Decide on 5-8 topics/categories and make a list of 5-10 ideas for each category
  • Make a list of questions you get asked often
  • Start writing ideas down (whatever comes to mind, as fast as you can). Set the timer for 20 minutes. Just keep writing your ideas down and don’t worry if they are any good. You will have a chance to go back and delete the ones that aren’t that great.
  • Use Google Alerts to come up with ideas for your niche.

These ideas make up the valuable content you will be offering to your readers/customers. I like to come up with 3 months worth of content at a time. I tend to post between 1-3 times a week. I like to group my ideas into recurring topics – like today’s post (which is part II or 2 part series). The best part is when you start posting your content. Your readers will notice the different themes and come back for more each week. Your goal is to engage them! Once they do engage you will see a huge growth on your readership. And this all thanks to your editorial calendar.

If you have any questions on creating an editorial calendar, list it in the comments area.

The post How Can Your Business Benefit From an Editorial Calendar – Part II appeared first on Le Papier Blog.

How Can Your Business Benefit From an Editorial Calendar – Part I


February 26, 2013

ED

I started blogging right around the same time I started my online business as a way to document doing creative work while raising a family. In the beginning most of my posts were very personal and some business related.  As time went by and I became more active, I decided to categorize my posts and assign them to a specific day of the week. Without knowing, I had started to use an Editorial Calendar to plan ahead my content.  This ensured that I continued having a variety of posts on my blog and also was able to be consistent with the material I was bringing out.

In this post I will be addressing the following questions:

1. Why keep an editorial calendar?

2. Useful tools in keeping an editorial calendar.

Why keep an editorial calendar?

Editorial calendars allow you to plan ahead of time. It takes a fair amount of time to prepare your content ahead of time but when you do you are guaranteed to reduce the writer’s block and any other issues that might present themselves from having no clue what to write about. Besides blogging editorial calendars are useful in various areas of your online business such as planning out your newsletter content, preparing your PR campaign for the year as well as mapping out your social media activity.

Useful tools

An editorial calendar is useless if you didn’t put it to use and by putting in to use I mean write things on it. I have tried different tools over the years but one that I currently use is Google calendars. Here are some reasons I use this service:

  • I can access my calendars from any computer and mobile device (iPhone, iPad) that has Internet connection.
  • I can share my calendar with my assistant
  • I can link it wi other calendars, hide/show different calendars at the same time.
  • I can have multiple calendars for different purposes under the same account (for example, currently I have 4 different calendars for Le Papier Studio, one for my blog, my newsletter content, my PR efforts and one for all social media activity). You can have as many as you like.
  • I can color code my calendars to tell them apart.
  • I can add as little or as much description as I need (I use this to write the main points of my post as well as any links that I need to include or reference for my post)
  • Google calendars are free!

Next Tuesday I will cover the following:
1.  The elements and structure of an editorial calendar
2.  The process of creating an ongoing content

Recommended articles:

Editorial Calendar plugin for WordPress – you can now view when your blog posts are scheduled to go live without having to go into the setting area. The editorial calendar gives you an overview of your blog and when each post will be published. You can drag and drop to move posts, edit posts right in the calendar, and manage your entire blog. This is hands down the best editorial plugin and I love using it.

How to create a Social Media editorial Calendar – research shows that people who write down their goals are 33% more successful that those don’t.

How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing

Do you have any specific questions about editorial calendars? If you do, post them in the comments area and I will address them as best as I can.

Image features a 2013 Laurel Denise Calendar Planner

The post How Can Your Business Benefit From an Editorial Calendar – Part I appeared first on Le Papier Blog.

Running A Successful Online Business | Facebook Marketing


January 30, 2013

If you run an online business chances are you own a Facebook fan page where you do some marketing to promote your online business. You may also set aside some time each day to connect with your fans by asking questions, sharing sneak peeks of your work, etc. If you’re like me, you constantly try to find the best way to engage your fans in discussion.

These few steps/tips will help you optimize your Facebook marketing so it better serves your business.

1. First and foremost understand the components of Facebook marketing

  • We connect with our friends and family on our personal pages. Much of the same is expected we do from our business pages as well.
  • We market our online work from our business pages. We do that by connecting, engaging with our fans and in the meantime provide (hopefully) great content (great content is always free and something our fans find exceptionally useful and will come back for more!)
  • We advertise our posts on Facebook in an attempt to have them be seen by most of our fans and their friends. Gone are the days where your posts could be visible by everyone who likes your page. Now a days, like with any other outlet you must pay for advertising if you like to be seen in the newsfeed. I must confess, I wasn’t a fan or it in the beginning, but quickly learned to adjust to it and embrace it as it benefits my business.
  • We pay attention to insights – also known as feedback received on the content you provide. Pay close attention to insights and you will get a pretty good idea on how your page is doing.

2. Create a stellar profile.

This is the first impression you leave to everyone visiting your page. You wouldn’t want anything short of amazing, right? Here is what you need to focus on:

  • Profile Picture (aka avatar) – Choose a professional picture (200×200 – sized down to 160 square). You should be smiling (people like happy people!). A simple yet recognizable image is best.
  • Cover Photo – This should reflect your brand and business. It should measure 851 x 315 pixels and could be a collage of your best selling products or a snap shot of your studio space. You can add text here but you can’t add links or websites. Every time you update your cover photo you increase your page’s visibility. I tend to update mine every season to reflect any new products I like to spotlight.
  • Username/URL – This should correspond with your business name. You should have something like www.facebook.com/lepapierstudio instead of a bunch of numbers…Read more on this here.
  • Custom Tabs – These little rectangular boxes can help you stay connected with your fans, turn random visitors into fans, fans into leads and potential buyers. They can be as simple as a text box. I recommend spending a bit of time here to come up with something pleasing to the eye – remember people like to click cool images.

3. Show up on newsfeed.

With the recent changes on Facebook only 4% of our fans can see our status updates. Insane right? How can you manage to show up on the newsfeed? First you have to understand how it all works.

Facebook uses an algorithm called “EdgeRank” which determines what people see on their newsfeed. What effects Edge Rank? There are a few things:

  • Attraction. This is measures by how much people like your brand based on their most recent interactions with you. Likes, comments and shares play a major role and increase your visibility on your fans’ newsfeeds.
  • Weight. This is effected by how much people like your updates. The more the better as Facebook used this to measure up whether your updates should be shown to your fans.

What can you do?

The best thing you can do is to create engaging and fresh content and share it with your fans daily and sometimes a couple of times a day. The best way to do this is through photos. We all love visual things and can’t help it to click, like, comment on what is cool! Another way to engage is by asking questions that require a short answer. Remember short is the keyword here. Fans are busy people just like us!

4. Create an event and share it with your fans.

This could be an actual physical event, an online event or even an imaginary one:) (Good luck with this one. I still can’t figure out how to wrap my head around it!) Increase the visibility via advertizing or by asking your friends to share it on their wall. Last year, I put out an announcement for my local fans to come out at the Michigan Avenue Apple store and listen to me speak about the use of technology in my business. A few locals showed up and we connected after the event. I even made a few new friends!

5. Use Facebook App on your mobile phone.

If you’re running an online business, you already know how important is to stay on top of social media. You must be reachable and always available to answer questions and connect with your fans/customers. My iPhone Facebook app helps me do just that. It can be addicting though. So to limit myself from constantly checking it, each day I set a timer for 20-30 minutes for all my social media activity. I rarely check Facebook on weekends.

What if you’ve done all of the above and still need some help moving forward? Glad you asked the questions. I have an answer for you…

6. Advertise!

Businesses (mine included!) don’t get the same interaction they used to on Facebook. We all need to spend some money to reach out to a wider audience. Facebook does a good job with the options they offer for advertizing. You get in front of your ideal customers and only pay when they click on your ad. Here is a good article on advertizing cheaply and ethically and all the available types of Facebook advertizing and how to use them.

8. Integrate Facebook to all your online presence.

If you have a Facebook page for your business you must link all your other online platforms to it. You can achieve this by doing the following:

  • Add a Facebook button on your blog/blog post, as well as a like box on your website.
  • Link your blog to your Facebook so that each time a new post goes live, a link to it appears on your Facebook page. White you’re at it make it easier for people to comment on your post directly from Facebook by installing this Facebook Plugin.
  • For behind the scenes and sneak peeks I link my Instagram page to Facebook. Do this where applicable and keep it business like. A few personal pictures are fine though.

Last but certainly not least, remember that Facebook like any social media won’t be around forever. What we all need to do is drive fans/potential customers to an email capture page. You don’t want to lose any of your fans. After all, you’ve worked hard to gain them!

I hope you found this post useful. If you have any tips or advise on Facebook marketing please share comment below. I would love to hear how you used Facebook to benefit your online business.

The post Running A Successful Online Business | Facebook Marketing appeared first on Le Papier Blog.

Running A Successful Online Business | What Defines Growth


January 08, 2013

One of my goals this year is to understand and make smarter decisions in growing my business. These past four and a half years of running LPS I’ve done an immense amount of work researching, designing, developing new products that I love and my customers find useful, networking with like minded small business owners, pitching my work to magazine editors. My goal each year has been to grow, grow, grow! Each year my business grew more than the year before. I reached my yearly goals and some years even exceeded them. Everything went according to plan up until last year…

During the first part of last year my sales were slow. I hadn’t done anything different from the years before if not put more work to it. Etsy sales were down (a third of what they were the first year of doing business). My website sales were pretty steady but still didn’t come near those from the year before. I tried different tactics to make up for my lost revenue the first half of 2012 (like working on my etsy listings, tags, descriptions, photography ) – some of it worked and some didn’t. I began feeling frustrated. Than I realized there was little I could do to control etsy sales, but I could and did control how much time I was putting into my business. Up until last April I was working in my business not on it! I had began feeling exhausted! I was hustling over the same things. I felt like I was running in circles (familiar feeling, right?). I had to re-invent the way I thought growing a business works.

I’ve always been a big fan of to-do lists. I get the biggest satisfaction checking items off my to-do list so much that some weeks I felt pretty obsessed with it. Checking things off your list daily will help you stay organized but it sure isn’t a long term strategy in growing your business. Growth requires using smart strategies to make your business more personal, more service driven. It requires discovering the path to greater success by actually doing less of the hard work. Growth comes when you step way back.

This is what I learned.

To me, growing my business means working less hours and spending more time with my family. It means being able to take a family vacation. It also means more freedom by giving myself permission to step away from it all every once in a while. Last year was not my most profitable year (on paper) but sure was my most fulfilling year to date. I was blessed with a baby. My second book got published. I did actually take a family vacation. All these things are priceless and can’t be measured against business revenue.

This year, I won’t be drawing up a list of big goals. Instead I will focus on finding the path to true success which I believe is the ability to make great impact and influence others.  I will be sure to share with you all my thoughts and process here. I am interested to find out how you define growth in your own business? Is it by hiring a little extra help to lighten your load? Is it by attending that conference you’ve always wanted to? Or simply by shortening your working hours so that you can spend more time doing what gets you excited? If you care to share, please leave a comment below.

Here are some great post/resources that are helping me with my 2013 goals:

Goal Setting + Making Things Happen Series – by Lara Casey
The Art of Growth – by Tara Gentile

The post Running A Successful Online Business | What Defines Growth appeared first on Le Papier Blog.

Running a Successful Online Business | How Can Collaborations Help Your Business Grow


October 09, 2012

Growing your business is an exciting and a big step but it certainly doesn’t come without its challenges. Back in 2009 I did a lot of thinking and soul searching about what was next for Le Papier Studio. Up to that point, my business had been very successful and naturally I wanted to grow it to the point of a recognizable brand – of which I am so proud of today!

And to do that, what better way than pairing up with artists whose work I admired! I knew the collaborations I had in mind were going to make my brand bigger and better.

The very first company I reached out to was Laurel Denise. We clicked from our very first phone conversation. It was like we had known each other for years. We feel the same way almost 3 years later. Laurel has been a pleasure to work with and in the process we’ve become great friends. We email each other often with business and life related questions. Laurel recently became a mama, so we have than in common now as well.

A new jewelry line, the ever – so – popular Laser Cut collection was born and quickly became our bestseller. You can imagine how we both feel about our collaboration!

Around that same time I joined forces with Paloma’s Nest to come up with another great product – our Silhouette Ornaments. Paloma’s Nest creates the blanks for our ornaments out of the finest materials which we than grace with our silhouettes. What a perfect combination!

I started collaborating with Elephannie – the leading Etsy shop on wall decals also in 2009. Back than, Elephannie was one of the few shops on Etsy that offered custom cut decals. We launched a collection of Silhouette Decals which continues to be one of our bestselling home decor products. Coren is the sweetest gal on earth not to mention a super business woman and a mother!

Last, but certainly not least, we paired up with My Perennial – a Chicago based company that offers one of a kind gifts and accessories for the modern home.   Jen (the heart and soul behind My Perennial) and I met over lunch on a Saturday and ended up chatting for a few hours. We talked about business, life and family and it felt so good to connect with a fellow local small business owner. We collaborated in creating these lovely Canvas Silhouette Pillows – which have been so well received.

These collaborations have been a two-fold – they have  helped grow my brand while maintaining and staying true to my story and they have been mutually beneficial for both sides. How can you benefit from collaborations? There are a few essential steps that make for great collaborations:

1. Approach a company/artist whose work you love

Collaborating with someone whose work you admire, is beneficial as it allows both companies to build off of each others’ expertise and talents. But first and foremost, you must find the right company/individual to collaborate with. This means you should research and write down exactly what you’re looking to achieve from this collaboration. What do you like best from the company you want to collaborate with? Is it their design esthetics, their sense of style, the way they market their business?

2. Communicate and listen to what they have to say

Communication is key when you start out and throughout your collaboration. Be open to new ideas and suggestions. The best of products are born from brainstorming amongst companies. A true collaboration is the best way to illustrate each companies’ strengths. When I approached Laurel Denise, I had an idea of what the product would be – but I was open to her suggestions which we ended up going with. I trusted (still do) Laurel’s expertise and years later they haven’t let me down.

3. Develop a working plan and goals together

Keep in mind that a collaboration is for the benefit of both companies. In today’s economy, collaboration is an evolving business model in that each party receives value from one another rather than exist on its own. Take for example marketing. A company that is focusing their attention in marketing itself is missing a huge opportunity to market. When two companies are working together in marketing a new product, their efforts are rewarded many times more.

4. Work as a team and be respective of each other

Treat others the way you wish to be treated! This goes without saying. Collaborating offers amazing opportunities for companies but none of it would be possible without the basic understanding of respect. When you enter into an agreement to collaborate with a fellow artist/company make it your top priority to be respectful towards their time and talents.

I am constantly researching of other companies/artists I can collaborate with in bringing my customers new products and services they’d appreciate. Currently I am working with a few more artists and hope our collaborations will be making their debut soon.

On a personal side, it’s nice to work with like-minded artists whose work you adore. On the business side of things, you have an opportunity to create a product you’ve been dreaming about and in the process take your business to the next level.

Have you collaborated with other companies/artists? If so, please your thoughts on this subject in the comments area below. If you have any questions, please free to leave them below as well.

 

 

 

The post Running a Successful Online Business | How Can Collaborations Help Your Business Grow appeared first on Le Papier Blog.

Running a Successful Online Business | Balancing Work and Motherhood


June 27, 2012

Although balancing motherhood and running a business has been something I’ve dealt with since I started my own business, going through it again with a newborn is a new ball game.  I may give the impression I have it all down but that is far from the truth.

When I started my own business my first born Nikolas, was 3 years old. Like any active 3 year old he wanted my constant attention which made getting work done a challenge. I felt a lot of guilt – when I worked I thought I should be spending time with him, yet when I was playing with him, I thought of all the work piling up. Being a mother and running a business is tough especially when both are full time jobs. There’s no recipe for the perfect balance (at least on my book that is!) but there are tips and steps one can take to get priorities in place and get work done. Going through it for a second time with a newborn, has taught me a few things:

  • Get organized and stay that way

Unlike in a traditional work environment, working from home while taking care of your kids is challenging. Having a daily routing can be a life saver. Your time is precious and you can’t afford to waste any of it. Get organized! I don’t mean just organizing your computer files, or prioritizing your to-do list. Although very important, I find putting some sort of order in your own life and family daily routine also is a life saver.

  • Create a family routine

The first month after we brought home John was the hardest. I constantly felt tired – the lack of sleep nearly killed me.  My time was spent by nursing, bathing and comforting baby (he was very colicky for almost 2 1/2 months). Things got easier with time – as they should! We now have a daily routine and somehow worked baby’s schedule to fit ours just perfectly. Our family’s routine is simple but works for us. Aaron takes care of John in the wee hours of the morning – for an hour or so before he heads out to work, which gives me just enough time to catch up on my sleep and start my day rested.

  • Share the load

Most of women I know have a hard time delegating work – or sharing the load so to speak. This is a hard one for me. I struggle dealing with imperfection and saying “no” to potential clients but deep down I know my business will be better with it and might even possibly grow through ways I hadn’t thought it would before. For example, instead of having my hands in all aspects of running my business, I ask Aaron to help out with a few things, such as bookkeeping (a task I dread doing). This allows me to spend some time in doing what I love best, developing new products. I also have a wonderful assistant who lands a hand whenever I need her to – she is also a mom so working part time helps her as well as gives her a little freedom outside the home. During the months of summer, when Nikolas is home from school I hire a babysitter to come over and do some fun activities with him. During this time I tend to run errands or catch up on work.

  • Take time for yourself

Whenever a girlfriend of mine would tell me this, I would laugh. I didn’t think I needed to take time away from my family, my babies. After all they are my fuel – well, for the most part. Like any WFHM you can’t be at the top of your game if you lack sleep and are overwhelmed with all the things needed to be accomplished in a day. Instead, cut yourself some slack and remember, you’ll serve your family better when you are collected and in control. I force myself to have a downtime for half an hour or so during the day – when baby’s napping. The world will be just fine when I return. I am also learning to not feel guilty if Nikolas watches a whole hour of TV. I know it will do good to all of us if mama comes back refreshed and full of energy.

  • One task at a time, please!

I used to think multitasking was crucial in being a mom and running a business. Over the years it has proved to be untrue. When I focus on one task at a time I swear I get so much more done. I’ve also learned to make lists and prioritize them. Scratching items off the list makes me feel accomplished. When I feel distracted by checking my facebook page, email, twitter and other social media sites, I simply try to switch all that off and focus on giving my family my full attention. It’s amazing how much I can get done if I limit my time in those sites.

  • Know your limits

I am always doodling ideas for my next project in hopes that one day I will see it finalized (oh, the thought of it!!) That day could be soon or it might never come. I am learning to make peace with such thoughts. The thought of my babies growing up so fast is a bitter sweet feeling in that it comforts me to know I will be able to work more in the future but at the same time makes me sad to see my time with them as babies is passing by so quickly.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share on being a working mom? I’d love to hear what works for you.

image source – here.

Running a Successful Online Business | Be Your Own PR Agent


March 18, 2012

Last week I wrote about the power of great photography as a key element in communicating your brand. Today I’d like to cover another (equally important) component in growing your online business – PR.

PR can do wonders for your online business but is also quite pricey – that is if were to hire a traditional PR firm. We all know that isn’t possible for many small online businesses. But how can you give your business the attention it deserves without having to spend an arm and a leg doing so? The answer is simple – Be Your Own PR Agent. Possible? Definitely!

In order to understand how to be your own PR agent, you should first understand what PR means and how to go about performing it. PR is about forming relationships with media people (editors, reporters etc and keeping these relationships alive). If you already have an online store, the second most important thing besides keeping a blog is having a Facebook and Twitter fan page. Why do you need them? Glad you asked!

Reasons why social media should be on top of your list:

  • You will get a better understanding of your target market up close
  • Your competition is already using Facebook and Twitter
  • It will help you build online brand awareness – people will recognize you and your business when they consistently see it
  • It will bring you more sales – you will be able to listen to your customers’ needs and address them quickly
  • New customers will find you through friends’ referrals
  • Social Media will identify you as the expert in your market
  • Your brand will be a click away to interested editors

Now that you understand the importance of social media in a successful PR, let’s briefly cover a few tips on what kind of voice you should put out there when pitching your brand.

Believe it or not, you will be pitching your brand every single time you put something out on any of the social media platforms. So make sure you choose your voice correctly. Be true to your story – this is key! You may choose to be more involved in one social media site – say Facebook. How many times should you post? There aren’t really any strict rules about this. Keep in mind the reason you’re using Facebook. Is it to keep in touch, connect with your fans and customers? Help them solve a problem, make a decision, inform them? All of the above? That is great! Keep doing what you do and be consistent at it.

Besides “pitching” to your fans and customers, you will also be reaching out to magazine and blog editors. These are the people who will hopefully help grow your online business by shouting about it to their readers – which is HUGE! Here are a few tips to keep in mind when reaching our to them.

1. Keep it short, sweet and personal

We’re all busy people, especially editors. When pitching a product, keep it short and to the point. Send an email describing your product and the story behind it in one paragraph or less. They will get in touch with you if they are interested to hear more. Always link to your shop in a few sections of your email. Always title your email (for example: New Product/Mother’s Day Gift Guide) and don’t forget to address the editor by their first name.

2. Include 1-2 great pictures

Being short and submitting great pictures are key in achieving press. You can attach 1-2 pictures of the product. Editors are visual people so give them what they need to make a decision in the spot. According to Jena Coray, author of Tip Top Pitch Shop Kit (an e-book on all your questions on how to gain more exposure for your online shop) – many blog editors will decide quickly whether or not to feature your product based on the photographs of your work. Give them nothing short of perfect!

3. Build relationships

Make sure to thank the source/person who covered your product by sending a nice follow up email. Keep in touch with them. This will ensure they remember you when time comes for a new story and you might just get that email or call you’ve been wishing for.

4. Keep a press list at hand

This list should cover all the press contacts you’ve been working with in the past and new ones you wish to pitch your work to. Make sure to have all their information (publication, email, phone number, name) at hand.

5. Keep them up to date with the latest and greatest

If they featured you in the past, chances are they want to hear from you again. Keep them posted with the freshest products. Notify them of a new product launching soon. Always be catchy when pitching your newest idea. This will reassure them their readers would love your idea/product.

6. Be prepared

There’s nothing worst than getting a feature and having your website crash or run out of that product. Make sure you have the right photographs and information they’re looking for upon request.  You don’t want to miss out on a press opportunity because you didn’t answer fast enough.

I hope some of these tips were helpful to you. If you have questions, or to share some of your own tips, please leave a comment below and I will try to address them to the best of my knowledge.

You might want to check out the following books on Press and PR:

Tip Top Pitch Shop Kit – by Jena Coray

Recipe for Press – by Amy Flurry

The New Rules of Marketing and PR – by David Meerman Scott

Also check out our videos on Running a Successful Online Business

 

 

The post Running a Successful Online Business | Be Your Own PR Agent appeared first on Le Papier Blog.

Running a Successful Online Business | The Power of Great Photography


March 07, 2012

Great product photography makes heads turn and will open many doors for your small business. It is probably the single most important element in communicating your brand so make sure you spend a lot of time perfecting it. A great picture not only will make your product shine but will also give you an edge over a competitor. Think about it! If pitching to a magazine editor, rest assure he/she will pick products with gorgeous/print ready photographs. Great photography will take you far…

Silhouette Lettepress Cards by Le Papier Studio | Photos: Edyta Szyszlo

But what makes great photographs?

Product photography goes beyond just having/using a nice SLR camera. You must spend time and money to learn not only how to take great pictures but how to develop a style for your photographs. Many photographers will tell you “practice makes perfect“. Don’t assume you will learn everything in a week – keep working at it and eventually you will get there.

If product photography isn’t your forte, do not despair (although I am a firm believer you can do it if you really work hard at it)! There are many talented photographers out there eager to work with you. Research for one with experience in product photography and a style that meets your needs. Photography students are a great option as they will work for less to build their portfolio.  An absolute must is to ask for references before you start to work with anyone.

Here are a few tips on achieving great photography:

1. Do not over – style!

Stationery by Rifle Paper Co. for Anthropology

Think less is more – remember that! For all my stationery friends,  a white background is great for photographing your various paper products and makes photo editing easy. Keep in mind that magazines love simple and plain backgrounds.

2. A good camera does matter but it’s not all you need!

With everyone using SLR cameras nowadays, great photography is a must for your presence online. Post nothing less than perfect on your blog, facebook (although you can certainly use your smart phone to snap those sneak peek photos). Pictures help you tell your story and communicate your brand better, so make them shine!

3. Use your photographs to tell a story

Two different ways to showcase a product : as part of a collection (here the framed silhouette art is shown in a wall gallery) as well as by itself. Each serves a different purpose | Photographs by Vana Chupp

If you were to explain to someone what is it that you do – it might take you some time and still you might not be able to clearly describe (been there, done that!). A great photograph can do the work for you.  Use it to tell the story of a product or a collection you’re about to launch. When I try to display a collection of products, I use life style photographs. This type of photography appeals to many people as it helps them better understand the story it portrays. For line sheets (wholesale catalogs) I try to photograph all products against a white background. This is great for photographs that will go on press kits. Magazine editors love white background images – makes working with them easier. One last (but certainly not least) type of photography I take is inspirational photography. I use it to connect with my customers – they love to see what inspires me and what goes behind the products/designs I produce.

4. Take lots of them

You can never have enough pictures when it comes to product photography. Use different scenarios and shoot in different ways. Don’t forget to take behind the scenes photos – people love to see how things go together – feel they’re part of your creative process and not just there to be sold products.

Here I show a sneak peek of a product launching soon. Not only does this build anticipation but allows me to get feedback | Photographs by Vana Chupp

I hope you found some of these tips useful for your own business. If you have questions, or would like to share what has worked for you, please do so in the comments area below. I look forward to reading them.

xo

Vana

Hello!

I am Vana Chupp, a wife, mother of two sweet boys and the heart and soul behind Le Papier Studio. This blog chronicles my thoughts on running a small business and capturing life's special moments. Read more...

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