1) Attention! Do not start online”…”Nor: Everyone wants to sell on the internet as it opens up your business to the whole world. Many people immediately try to sell online through a website only to find that they are making very few sales. Why? Nobody finds their website. Selling online is great, but it can take time to set up sites or get traffic to your site. Simply put, launching a website won’t get you anywhere if you don’t get traffic to view it. There are many variables in getting your site noticed by Google, but we’ll save that for a later article. An easier way to start selling online is to list your bows on eBay or Etsy. Both sides allow a beginner to showcase their products with ease. If your product is competitively priced and you can present good images, you should be able to start selling through these sites right away.
2) Local Business Marketing: We recommend this as one of the best ways to start selling your hair bows and bow products. That’s why we listed it as the first “do” item. Many people try to start selling online right away through a website. Selling online is great, but it can take time to set up sites or get traffic to your site. For a quick start, focus on your local market first. Find local boutiques and children’s stores and stop by with samples of your products. Make sure you have an idea of how you will both benefit from working together. They can sell your bows at a wholesale price or work out a commission for the business if they agree to sell your hair bows. Connect with local school cheerleading and dance teams. Consider organizing fundraisers for schools and hosting “hair bow parties.” Hair salons are also great ways to sell your bows. Finally, do what we did when we started and sell at some nearby community craft fairs or public events where a booth can be bought.
3) Social Networks: Facebook and Twitter and similar networking sites are all the rage these days. Don’t forget to use these sites to market your business. Learn the options of each type of website and focus your efforts on gaining followers by publishing great relevant posts. Use these pages to show your followers pictures of your creations and post bow ideas. Announcing promotions and special offers is a must on social networks.
4) Blogging: There are many blogging sites that you can use. Blogger and Word Press are two popular options that you can use to easily create a blog for your business. Post pictures and write about your products. Come up with creative designs that will catch the attention of your readers. Make sure to link your blog to your website to increase sales
5) eBay and Etsy: Don’t start with a website, generate business online with eBay or Etsy. These sites already have a large number of buyers and you can list your bows here for a small fee. Both sides allow a beginner to present their products easily and effectively. Key points for selling through these websites: Price your hair bows competitively and use good pictures and descriptions. Once you’ve gotten a good number of sales through these websites, it might be time to start your own branded website.
6) Start your own website: We launched our first website at WahmShoppes. For $8 a month you can start your own ecommerce store. Customize the look of your store using one of the various templates. It takes time to get organic web traffic. If your budget allows, Google Adwords is an instant way to drive traffic to your website. With Adwords, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Be careful as it can be quite expensive, especially when people just click and don’t buy. Gaining traffic organically is a topic in itself, but make sure you submit your website to the search engines and some online directories to get started. To accept online payments, we recommend using PayPal and/or Google Checkout to save on monthly merchant account fees until your volume potentially pays for a merchant account.
7) Tape Suppliers: If you want to sell hair bows, you need a lot of ribbons. Of course, you can go to Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby, but generally the selection is less and the prices higher than when you look for a niche online store that caters to the hair bow industry. Look for a company that offers a wide selection, quality products, great prices, excellent customer service and fast deliveries. You want to build a long-term relationship with your supplier, and these points are key to your sanity and success. Make sure you get color charts from your suppliers so you can accurately match multiple colors on the sheets you create to real samples. Do not rely on images on a computer monitor for color matching. Let your customers use the cards to choose their colors for a custom bow to their specifications. Do a web search with a search engine for “hair bow accessories” to get a list of good suppliers.
8) Hair Bow Templates: Save yourself a lot of time and frustration. Use hair bow templates! Create a consistent bow size every time and eliminate your grosgrain waste by using a template. If you search for “hair bow templates” online, you will find several retailers that offer templates that you can buy online.
9) Hair Bow Instructions: There are so many different types of hair bows that you will never learn them all. Many websites sell how-to guides, others offer them for free. Search Google and even EzineArticles to find a plethora of free how-to guides. If you prefer video tutorials, head to YouTube to watch some excellent videos.
10) Shipping: The goal of every business is to get to the point where it has so much business that it can’t keep up. When we got to this point, we bought a shipping tool called Ship Rush. This program connects your computer and electronic scale and allows you to click and copy the customer information directly from the email or customer receipt. It then quickly prints a custom US Postal or UPS shipping label without requiring you to enter any address information. Trust me, shipping lots of packages becomes a huge time and money saver as your business grows.
11) Financial software: The number one reason companies fail is that they don’t understand and manage their finances properly. Your business finances need to stay organized and your cash flow needs to be carefully managed. With money coming and going all the time, this can quickly become a real challenge. Using accounting software like Quicken or QuickBooks can organize your finances. Talk to your CPA to see what they recommend.