Sales goal: At least 3-5 $50 orders per week within the next month, steadily increasing...
Long term goal is: To be THE wedding bookmark authority above all others (tall order, I know, but I think it's feasible eventually LOL)
Concept "hatched" last year in August; domain registered, site built Jan. '10. Current traffic ~ 50-70 uniques per day
Current sales - two orders in January and nothing since.
Current online marketing tactics: Contest at www.startupnation.com/leading-moms-in-business/contestant/7715/index.php; Content, article marketing, Facebook page, Twitter, inbound link building, link to this site from every page of my wedding content site; offlline locally - flyers, business cards, brochures and catalogs circulating around in the wedding industry, word of mouth.
So what can I do to really build this idea into a super profitable business? I mean, people are spending THOUSANDS on wedding favors consistently while at the same time looking for ways to save money. Am I missing something?
#1. "RE: I'd like some honest feedback on my site and ideas..." In response to Reply # 0
It takes time and effort for you to be found online. You will want to submit your website link to as many free directories online as you can. The more websites out there linking to your website, the more "important" the search engines think your website is. So just do a search for "free online directories", or anything similar to that and submit away!
#2. "RE: I'd like some honest feedback on my site and ideas..." In response to Reply # 1
Yup - I've pretty much exhausted the wedding niche directories for now and I've been concentrating more heavily on one-way inbound links (article marketing, blog posts, etc.) or reciprocal in-context deep linking with other industry related sites. I'm a member of a couple of programs that do link exchange "matching" based on selected keywords and that's done really well.
The problem with some of the free directories (or "link farms") is that you're mushed in with so many other non-related sites that the links are virtually worthless. Or the links are buried deep on a tier 4 page so far from the site's home page that no one will ever find you.
So I do searches periodically to see if any new wedding-related (DJs, reception venues, catering, bakeries, bridal shops, etc.) sites or directories have popped up recently and offer link exchanges with them. Helps them and helps me!
#3. "RE: I'd like some honest feedback on my site and ideas..." In response to Reply # 2
>Hi Mindy! > >Yup - I've pretty much exhausted the wedding niche directories >for now and I've been concentrating more heavily on one-way >inbound links (article marketing, blog posts, etc.) or >reciprocal in-context deep linking with other industry related >sites. I'm a member of a couple of programs that do link >exchange "matching" based on selected keywords and >that's done really well. > >The problem with some of the free directories (or "link >farms") is that you're mushed in with so many other >non-related sites that the links are virtually worthless. Or >the links are buried deep on a tier 4 page so far from the >site's home page that no one will ever find you. > >So I do searches periodically to see if any new >wedding-related (DJs, reception venues, catering, bakeries, >bridal shops, etc.) sites or directories have popped up >recently and offer link exchanges with them. Helps them and >helps me! > > >Karen S Musselman >www.Low-Budget-Fairy-Tale-Weddings.com >www.Wedding-Favor-Bookmarks.com >(Powered by SiteBuildIt!)
Glad to have you on the site. I've noticed some of your other posts... very helpful.
For yours, some suggestions that you may find useful.
The idea of "if you build it, they will come" doesn't exist anymore. You have to absolutely drive traffic to your site. The article marketing, etc. is great.
You'll want to be careful about link exchanges. With Google's new logorithms, if you are not connected viably in some way with the link you've exchanged with, you will bump yourself down the list.
You should be outlinking to articles that you've written and ensure your article links back to your site. One way links are great, but if you can drive your visitors to your articles, even better.
Two things that I noticed on your website is that it screams of "I do this part time because I don't make enough money to have a dedicated to only my business website". The way this happens is through the Google Ads and the Site Build it ads. Most people will not take you seriously as a business if you have these on your site. It's just not very professional. It's quite one thing to link to your host on your website or to your designer, but when you're driving traffic to someone other than your site, your site is being counterproductive. You'll want to get off of there and onto your own domain as soon as is reasonably possible.
The other thing that I noticed is a distinct lack of a call to action on the page that describes the bookmarks. Whereas there is a link to the bookmark catalog, it is not obvious that you are actually selling them, as opposed to just suggesting they'd make a wonderful wedding favour.
Finally, I distinctly noticed the new Graduation Bookmarks. That's a really cool idea, but what about: It's a boy!, It's a girl!, Sweet Sixteen, 50th wedding anniversary, etc.
We are obviously not in the same business, but some of the products my company sells target this same market that you are going after, rightly named the "ad specialty" market and this is our fastest growing segment, interestingly enough. So, you've got something going on as long as you are unique and fit what people are looking for... to be memorable. You might want to also look into ASI (Ad Specialty Institute) to see if your product fits for them. This can boost your quantity pricing in an interesting way.
Good luck with it. You seem to be doing a lot of things right and I look forward to seeing more of your input on these boards.
#4. "RE: I'd like some honest feedback on my site and ideas..." In response to Reply # 3
Thanks so much for your input!! I've actually been thinking the same thing of my site, that it doesn't quite have the feel of a professional site. I do, however own the domain "wedding-favor-bookmarks.com" so that's not a problem.
I guess I got conflicting input as far as the Google ads, but in reading your suggestions and how you felt about the site, I may have to reconsider those for the bookmarks site and leave those just to the information site since that's the main monetization for that site.
I've been extremely particular with link exchanges, yes, and am only linking to high quality sites that are in the wedding industry: DJs, reception venues, event planners, etc. with a PR of at least 3 and an Alexa rank that's at least close to my own sites. That's for both of my wedding site.
So, what I want to do then for the bookmarks site is rid the site of the Google ads and SiteBuildIt ads (leave them on the wedding information site only) and replace them maybe with new announcements or something, if I understand correctly; look for a new layout and give visitors a solid sense that this is an eCommerce site.
Okay - I like your ideas!! I'll get to work on that quickly because I just did an email blast to some wedding planners today. LOL
#6. "RE: I'd like some honest feedback on my site and ideas..." In response to Reply # 5
WOW! Karen! Well done, girl!
It's like night and day!
What I see today is a professional site!
I didn't look at your SEO, tags and whatnot, because I outsource my own, so any advice I could give you would be lacking. You might want to track all of your incoming links and see where and how you are making the money you do make on the site and if you find you're getting abandoment it will make it easier to figure out why and adjust your marketing accordingly. (Easy to say, it's a hit and miss practice.)
Your next step, should you find yourself able to accept it is to add a "Create your own bookmark" template, so your custom orders can be done for you, online -- save you some work. That might be interesting in and of itself. If you do it right, you might find people coming to play with your bookmarks. If it goes viral, you've got a hit and people will cruise the rest of your site.
It's really refreshing to watch people join Idea Cafe and actually follow the suggestions people here make for them.
#7. "RE: I'd like some honest feedback on my site and ideas..." In response to Reply # 6
Thanks so much Tina!!
I also had some feedback about removing some the "crowdedness" of the pages; i.e., I'm selling bookmarks, not information, so the excessive descriptiveness of the pages could be moved into separate articles and put under the Articles category instead of using up real estate on the pages themselves.
As far as SEO, I have a tool that I'm using to "spy" on my competitors; see where they're getting their back links from so I can model after them; "chase them down" so to speak. LOL I have 294 or so inbound links to the site so far and probably half of those are coming from my other fairytale wedding site pages, so I really need to concentrate on my link building.
Sales - designs are subjective. You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. So I think what I have to do is concentrate on getting as many of my pages as possible in the top 10 of Google and drive traffic. If I can get thousands of visitors a month, I'll be ecstatic to have 50 sales a month!
And I really, REALLY like your idea of a design-your-own model! That is SO VERY COOL!! People can upload their own photos, select their fonts, etc. I will absolutely have to look into that option!! I think that will be something that no one else has, well, except for maybe iPrint, so I'll have to check out their system.
Thanks again so very much! This is really a cool place!
#8. "RE: I'd like some honest feedback on my site and ideas..." In response to Reply # 7
Karen, I just thought of an idea for you. What about offering FREE Wedding Favor Bookmarks??? Instead of selling the bookmarks to the end user, bride or groom, sell them to the event planners, DJ, Florists and etc. Have a place on the back that you can add "Free Gift compliments of Suzie's Flower Shop". As a business owner myself, I'm always looking for cheap, good ways to get my name out there.
#9. "RE: I'd like some honest feedback on my site and ideas..." In response to Reply # 8
Well, I've been marketing to wedding planners, consultants and other vendors via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and blog posts. I had one consultant send me an email requesting a catalog, brochures and business cards to give to her clients also. And I do give free samples.
I also have 3-ring binder catalogs made up that I've been leaving at different establishments, one of which resulted in a sale last week.
I guess I just need to keep plugging away at this consistently and religiously and maybe someday it'll all just snowball.