02 March 2010

to market, to market

when starting up any blog or business, you have to get serious about your online atmosphere. you can't get bogged down with the details or overwhelmed with the options. here is my official basic basics list. listed below are five basics you will need to utilize (in my humble opinion) to create an online life (in blogging or business). if you are hoping to start up a successful online shop, then think of this as your grocery list before you head to market.

01. maintain your own email. fall in love with your email inbox. you will be spending a lot of time together. it does not necessarily have to be hosted by a website of your own (such as marta{at}martacards.com), it can be through any number of hosts (my #1 pick is gmail, hands down). tidy it out, delete old emails, print important ones and keep it clear of clutter. make it your virtual file cabinet. this will be your right hand man. star emails that need thoughtful responses, create handy files to keep organized, be one with your email. i, for one, love the search box within gmail and happen to use it daily. if running an online business, your email will become your personal Shinjuku station (the busiest train station in the world. the very same station i found myself running through in tokyo, holding onto dan for dear life and then being smushed into a train so tight that i didn't need to hold onto any handles or straps; i stayed upright the entire train ride without a single lurch forwards or backwards because of the density of riders. it was awesome.) read a great post about the art of email over here.

02. add your signature to your emails. no, not your fancy cursive, just your online information. set it up so that one or two of your url links (website, blog, twitter or shop) will show up at the bottom of each email. i find this so so helpful when i am communicating back and forth with someone and want to refer to their site often. if all the information is in one spot, it makes all the difference. this is great when you are communicating with clients, bloggers or sponsors. this quickly helps those you are emailing put two and two together. oh, you are the marta of martawrites!! creating your brand and linking it with a friendly face is so important in the online business world. it is a subtle marketing tool to drive new visitors (customers) straight to your site, like auntie mae in virginia who had no idea you had a blog! be prepared, she might call you and want a tutorial on setting up her own after seeing how neat yours is.

03. utilize bookmarks and tabs within your website browser. they are lifesavers and allow you to look at a bunch of things without forgetting about them. whenever i read blogs, i click the interesting links and open them in a new tab so i can continue reading the current post and visit what they linked to afterwards. also, i use tabs while i read blogs in my google reader (another basic basic), if i loved a certain post and feel moved to comment (which i'm trying to do more often, comments matter!), then i click it open in another tab and continue on with google feeds and then comment afterwards. this way i can speed read my faves without forgetting that i wanted to comment or enter a giveaway.

04. carve out time to be online. this means you cannot just steal moments, you have to set up a schedule and take an hour or two to be online. make a list of things you need to accomplish while at the computer: answer emails, create posts, set up your shop, tend to paypal, etc. this is your new job, so take it seriously. if you carve out a time slot for managing your business, you'll give it your full attention and have a better chance at succeeding. (more tips on time management this thursday.)

05. be prepared. stocking the shelves of an online shop takes time and effort. do not attempt to create your product, take quality photographs, upload them, edit them, write product descriptions, plan out prices and list your products all in one sitting. do not, i repeat, do not do this. you will burn out. break up the pieces instead, they will be easier to chew. sign up for an online shop, get familiar with its layout, rules, regulations, etc. then make a game plan. take notes for your business goals in a binder. decide when you want to launch your shop. if you look ahead and realize mother's day is coming, start now to create product and package them for selling. on a sunny day, take quality photographs and upload them to your computer. choose your favorite photos. know what size they need to be and edit them accordingly. let them sit until you have time to list your products in your online shop. write descriptions, upload edited photos, list a price and voilá, your shelves are stocked! (with plenty of time for promoting before mother's day arrives. hooray.)

more small business talk with the panel after lunch break.
click over to toolulu to read 5 quick tips for business blogging
and tips on making the balancing act as a business owner.

p.s. yes, i did in fact get myself to the gym this morning. hooray. seeing the sunrise over the treadmills was pretty much totally worth it. thanks for the encouragement.

32 comments:

Sara said...

holy cow, what did we do before tabs? i open tabs like crazy! these are great tips...thanks for putting all this info together :)

Mom and Camera said...

Thanks for all these wonderful posts! Your ideas are SO helpful.

kelsey said...

Thank you so much , reading your blogs really help! I just have one quick question: how do you get people to follow your blog? Im not quiet sure how to get my blog out there yet, i just started it but maybe a giveaway through someone well establihed would help? please feel free to email me at kmkarr11@live.com

Sarah said...

great ideas. I struggle with the "sit down with scheduled time" to blog. I would love to, but often I only find 30 minutes here and there.

Raejean said...

Like everyone else who has commented, I appreciate your time sharing your knowledge! I just added a signature to my email :)

Rachel said...

Thanks so much for all of the great tips! I feel like I've learned so much already and I can't believe it's only Tuesday morning still!!!

(and a big yay! to you for hitting up the gym this morning...keep it up! :-)

simplyfreshottawa said...

These are great ideas! I know that if I take the time to sit down and blog it will make my site so much better than if I just try to squeeze it in every now and again.

Thanks!

Jane said...

Thanks! Your advice is right on! You are such a giver.

Kaylalala said...

Thanks for all the advice. I am writing them down, and going to keep them somewhere safe! (:

PS. Tabs are the greatest things ever. I don't know what I would do without them.

Courtney said...

I am a huge fan of tabs. Really, I think I'd miss out on so many links without them. But my email is a disaster. I need to take your organizational advice to heart and become one with my inbox.

Leslie and Melissa said...

wow the last two days of reading your post has motivated me to continue blogging and hopefully open my own etsy shop one day. this is such good information. thank you thank you thank you!

Chelsea said...

These posts have been super helpful!

Lee said...

Great links, thanks. Much appreciate the caution in #5 as that tends to be my greatest flaw - I'm a great starter :) Glad you had a great workout, good for you!

Ashley @ Bride on a Budget said...

Great tips!

fairlytypical said...

Marta, I continue to love your advice. I am inspired by your workshop to start seriously planning that online store I want to open.

Krista Eitsert said...

I like the idea of scheduling time to be online. Doing this would help me focus and maybe in the end spend less time online.

Travelin'Oma said...

I just search through my old email randomly, and then trash it when it gets too overwhelming. That guarantees that I'll need an address I just trashed. I'm going to look into this new sphere of organization!!

I bookmark posts and forget to go back to them. I can tell need to learn more about tabs.

Thanks for all this new knowledge!

Tiffany said...

Such great advice. Keep it coming!

Kylie said...

Great tips! I do the tabs thing while reading google reader too :o)

MiniMak said...

This is amazing! THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the advice and tips!
I am trying to start an online business and just happen to stumble across your site. This is really motivating!

Megilon said...

I am loving this! And it is so timely because I'm trying to figure out the best way to start my business.

Katie said...

Great Tips!
I'm currently working on improving my blog(s) and this workshop is definitely giving me the motivation to keep it up! Thanks!

joy said...

love it all marta! i've been feeling like the little engine that could since last summer...i think i can, i think i can make and offer handmade goods for sale. thanks for the thoughtful advice and encouragement. also--sunrise at the gym-i'm impressed. good job to you!

Jamie said...

I have no plans to open a shop or make money on my blog and I'm still finding these posts helpful! Thank you so much.

Amy said...

I will for sure add a signature to my email, a simple yet very important step that I had not thought of!

I may just put all my running stuff out tonight and I may just get my butt out of bed in the morning, and I may just remember you as the one who motivated a great running habit that stuck for a lifetime. How great would that be??

AmberLee said...

i love tabs. i am a tab-opening fool.

love the story of how mini diaries came into being.

you have me making new resolutions--three so far and the week is still young. thanks.

Cabinessa said...

I'm so overwhelmed! So inspired! So READY!

Thank you for this generous workshop. It comes at just the right time.

Krystin said...

Thank you for doing this workshop. I just jumped off the cliff....quit my job, moved to a different city to move in with my boyfriend, and now.. starting my own business recreating furniture. Its so scary but very invigorating. Thank you for answering so many of the questions I hadn't even thought to ask yet. I'm anxiously awaiting more advice.

Micayla said...

Some sound advise here. I have my goals in sight now and getting ready to get the ball rolling. I am determined to make a go of this.
Thank you so much.
Micayla x

Christine said...

i do the same thing with google reader and tabs... i see too many great posts that i want to comment on/read more of/bookmark that by the time i'm finished scrolling through all my subscriptions, i usually have about 10 tabs to check on!

great tips :)

Eden said...

Wonderful tips! They all make such good sense. I especially like the way you tell us to take our time, break down the tasks. Then do them one at a time.

Off to check out your links :D

Alex said...

Thank you! I'm sooo in need of the time management tips so if I wasn't already excited for tomorrow I am now! ;-) x

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