Advertise. Let Me Say It Again, Advertise.

No pockets no worries put your key and ID in the secret compartment of this water bottle.

Let me say it again, advertising is how you bring money into your business. If you don’t spend money on advertising, you might as well close the doors to your business right now. I am adamant that you need to use a portion of your money for advertising. If you have been following my blogs, you know that my spouse and I have had many of those turn-your-back-to-me nights, and I-don’t-want-to-talk-or-look-at-you because of advertising. It may seem crazy to you but I can be very strong willed when I believe in something. I believe in advertising. She seemed to think that all our money should go into buying more products. I screamed at her one day, saying “Buy more products when we haven’t sold the products we have!” – it was like that, really. We had limited funds, and buying more products was insane to me. Let me tell you right now that advertising by flyers, postcards, ads, or whatever you choose will let people know your business exists. When you have a nice website and you got awesome products, how are you going to get people to go see that nice website and awesome products? Please tell me if you know some other means than advertising. She finally started to advertise by putting the Unique Things website on Groupon, Ebay, and Facebook. I will tell you that there are places that will promote your website for free. You just have to take the time to look for those websites. I will also say that there is no guarantee that you will sell more, what I do guarantee is that people will know you are an option to buy from. We did get some sales from Groupon and Ebay, but no, we didn’t get a lot. Our advertising didn’t stop there. We had UPS send out postcards, which I was excited about. However, there is no way to gauge if it’s successful unless you can ask buyers how did they found out about your business. It didn’t generate any sales for us, but I think I’d like for us to send out postcards again around the holidays. The other thing about advertising with limited funds is timing. You should think of the times when people do a lot of shopping, like Christmas or Easter. When you have limited funds you can’t afford to throw away money so use holidays to spend on advertising. We have started to practice the idea of holiday advertising. I’ll let you know if it works for us. I recently put Unique Things on Instagram and Google Plus as a means to get our name out there. The other thing about advertising besides timing is repetition. You can’t advertise one time and, because you don’t get a sale, you say “That’s it”. It takes time for you to be a familiar brand that people will recognize and trust. Here is my question to you. Is it better to advertise at one place repeatedly, or should you advertise one time at many places? I’m looking for your opinion to see if you are like me, or my spouse who believes that advertising at many places at least once and, if it doesn’t at least generate views, you should move on. Yes, advertising takes away from buying more products, but if you don’t allocate funds for advertising then you will have products sitting around with nowhere to go. I hope you take the time to look at different ways to advertise. Remember, with limited funds timing is very important. You can’t time shoppers no more than you can time the stock market, but you know that your best chances of a sale are big holidays. With the stock market investing in companies with a proven track record, this is your best bet. The point is selling or stock market you have to take a chance but you can limit your loses by going with something you know like Christmas. In the next blog, I will show you some upcoming products for the holidays. I hope you got a little knowledge about advertising from this blog.

Buying a Website Versus Just Doing it Yourself Part 2

Listen to music and look cool

In the last blog, I discussed building a website yourself. This time, I’ll talk to you about paying someone to create your website. Having someone else create the website of your dreams seems like the perfect idea. Here I bring you the “but”… The but is that you must work just as hard, as if you’re creating the website yourself, and you may also lose vital control over making changes or editing the backend of your site. The one thing that you should want, besides a reasonable price, is a detailed list of what they will do. The other thing is knowing whether they are creating the site from a template, or building it from your ideas. A template, to me, is just filling in the blanks with content, and tweaking it as much as possible to your specifications. When this can’t be done to exactly your specifications, then comes a conversation where the web designer tries to gently persuade you that his/her idea is better. I feel that you should pay more for a website being built from the ground up, than when a template is used. It’s like getting a house built from nothing, versus a prefab where they just snap the pieces into place. You’re paying for what you get; so you need to decide what kind of website you want. You need to get estimates, because the prices run from sane to insane amounts. You should get them to show you previous websites that they built, and when possible, contact the person that bought the website. I feel that there should be, not good, but great, communication between you and the web designer, because if there is not, you’ll end up with a website that just pisses you off whenever you look at it. “Money back.” You’ll ask, and the web designer will quickly tell you about, all of the work that was done. The web designer will also point out that you should have said something sooner. Your blood pressure will go through the roof, and you’ll just want to be done with that person.

Unique Things Web Builder

Now that I’ve gone over a few things to look out for when getting your website created, this is what happened to us. My spouse was getting frustrated that we weren’t getting any customers, and thought that hiring a web designer was the answer. She never believed in what she did. I told her over and over that it was good, and what we needed was advertising. It did no good. She checked online, and got some recommendations from Facebook. She decided to use a web designer she found online for $1000. What they offered was that you could get your money back within 30 days if you didn’t like what they did. There was to be a working website within 7 days, and they would also drive traffic to the new website. She paid the initial fee of $500, with the remainder due when the website was done. My spouse did look at other websites the company had done, and thought they were okay before she paid the initial money. The problems started as soon as the initial money was paid.

There was poor communication between the two of them immediately, but at that point she was hoping things would get better. The beginning issue was about creating a website from the ground up, which is what my spouse wanted, not a prefab website. There were days when the web designer was supposed to call and never did. They had to take down the website she created, which meant no business. The web designer created a new website, but it had a new name. But, what my spouse really hated, was that she could not make any tweaks to the newly-created website. I knew then that she didn’t want to give up the hard work she had done. The more she tried to explain what she wanted done, the more they tried to tell her what they felt was best. The next time they missed a telephone call that was it for her. She didn’t care about the $500. She wanted her website back and to be in charge. They didn’t care that they made money on a nonexistent website. I was happy that she got rid of that web designer. I felt that they were more frustrating than creating the website she wanted herself.

I hope you got a little knowledge from this blog about your business website. I’m not going to say that all web designers are bad, but just be careful. In the next blog we’ll look at some more products and advertising. Be safe out there.

Buying A Website Versus Just Doing It Yourself. Part 1

Sound Hero – coming to for Christmas

A website is an integral part of your business, since online buying is such a boom. You have to have a website to grow your business and reach customers. There’s no way around it. The question is: should you pay someone to build you a website or should you roll up your sleeves and attempt it yourself? There are pluses and minuses to both. We tried, or attempted, to do both. Let me explain:

My spouse has no computer experience, but she would stay up late (I mean until 2 and 3am) working on building our website. There was frustration, and I just stayed far away. In other words, that was not my lane and I wasn’t getting involved. I said very little except, “You need to rest.” It went on for days, and I could tell that it was catching up with her. Again, everyone had an opinion, and she chased every one of them. I want to say this right now: listen, but don’t feel that you have to try each and every suggestion that someone shares. This, in itself, will drive you crazy. I understand that people want to be of help, but I feel that, if their idea was so good, why aren’t they using it? That may sound harsh, but watching her go from one thing to another and not saying anything was rough. I will say that you should make your own decisions and stick to them. See your ideas out, because we sometimes dump an idea before it’s had time to mature. Give your gut feelings a chance. It’s not that what she was doing was bad, but she just wasn’t satisfied. We weren’t getting any customers, and she’d change it the next night. This was involved. Even though there are templates that you use, there is still size, style, format, descriptions and it goes on and on… She was taking classes and then using what she’d learned that same night. She would ask my opinion, and most times, I’d say it was good. I was always honest in my reply, because it was my business too, and I wanted it to do well.

My spouse is someone whose attention span is very short. I don’t mean that in a bad way, because it’s not in some things in our lives. When I saw how much time she spent on this, I knew how much this meant to her. It’s not just the money that was spent, but also she felt, and still feels, that we were building something to pass down to the younger members of our family; a legacy. I couldn’t be mad that the website was taking up a lot of her waking hours. I just couldn’t. When you do a website yourself, there are still expenses for domain name, hosting, and support and each company has their own add-ons that you can spend money on. It is cheaper than having someone else do it, but don’t put the checkbook away! You can still go deep in the pocket doing it yourself. She really didn’t ask for any help with the cost of the website, but if she did, I would have given it to her, because I saw a commitment from her that is now always there.

My next blog will be about paying for someone to build you a website. I want to close by saying, if you are thinking about building a website yourself, you should prepare for a lot of patience and time. You should not have any distractions around you, so clear the calendar. You should have a very understanding family, because there won’t be any family time. You should trust yourself, and see your ideas through, before giving up. That’s all I have for this blog. Be safe out there.

My Secret is Out

There’s this concept online called crowdfunding. In basic language, crowdfunding is a group of people that buy into another individual’s/company’s idea. I mean buy as in money and buy as in you like what they are selling. I actually can’t tell you how I got involved, but believe me, it had to be something I saw online that made me say, “Wow!” I was working then, though money was tight, but what I saw made me say, “I’ve got to have this!” The problem was my spouse, who wasn’t my spouse at the time, but we were dating and living together. I knew that spending money on a watch was not going to fly. Yes, the first geeky item I pledged to was a watch. This watch connected to your phone and you got notifications. This was before smart watches were the rage. What I did was to first talk up the watch by saying how it could keep me from missing messages on my commute from New York to New Jersey. Well, that didn’t work, so I did what I knew was fail proof: it was an early birthday present to myself. While I was wheeling and dealing with my spouse on this watch, I went to a newfound website of geek items and saw another watch. This time, not only could I get notifications but I could talk into it. Dick Tracy here I come! Now, I’m talking about two watches. Well, I only have one birthday, so how could I get her to see things from my point of view? Nope, it wasn’t going to happen, so I did the unthinkable and just kept my big mouth shut. The website that had grabbed my attention that I was not mentioning was Kickstarter. 

was started in April 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler. The Kickstarter headquarters is located in New York City. Kickstarter is a very user friendly site for project owners and backers. Kickstarter responds to questions and problems about their site very quickly and you can communicate with the project owner by clicking on the comments section or emailing him/her through the website. The comments area is also a place to interact, not only with the project owner, but with other backers, during the course of the project.
Kickstarter has a global community of people from more than 220 countries and territories. Roughly 35% of successfully funded projects now come from outside the United States, as do 45% of backers. Together, these backers and creators use Kickstarter to reach across borders and shape culture into what they want it to be, rather than accepting it for what it is. And as ideas from different cultures collide with one another, they inspire new conversations, creative approaches, and cross-cultural connections.

Kickstarter Project Manager 
I will discuss the technology area of Kickstarter; however, there are many types of projects that you can back, such as films, music, and books. The Kickstarter site enables people to discover and back as many projects as they believe will become a reality. When a person, or groups of people, decide to start a project on Kickstarter they must first build a project page, which includes a video with a description explaining their project. The next step for the project owner is to provide information about their budget and a timeline from beginning to end of the project. The project owner must then decide what kind of rewards they will offer backers, such as a choice of item color or engraving the item with the project name and year. These rewards are given when the project funding reaches certain milestones. Project owners have to keep in mind that they pay for all of the rewards offered to backers. When project owners think about the funds necessary to bring their project to fruition, they must consider everything because Kickstarter will not let their project become a reality if the funding goal is not met. A very important part of the project is promotion. A project needs active promotion because a project no one knows about will never get funded. Kickstarter’s fee is 5%, with an additional 3 to 5% for processing payments. If the project owner doesn’t meet their funding goal, they owe nothing.

Kickstarter Backers
There are different tier amounts that a backer can pledge. When a backer pledges early there is usually a perk from the project owner as a way of thanking a backer for coming aboard early. The different pledge tiers not only tell you the item, but an estimated month and year that you will receive the item. The shipping information will also be listed in each tier box, along with any accessories that might be given. Once he/she has met the project funding level, the project owner will give their backers updates as the project develops through each stage. Backers like to know they’ve made a wise decision in backing a project and hate it when shipping has to be pushed back time after time. My experience with Kickstarter is that projects are always pushed back for different reasons. The project owners try to give realistic shipping estimates, but often a project of this magnitude is new to many of them and they are not prepared for the problems that arise. You, the backer, have to be aware that there are also scam artist that will go through the motions of creating a project, but once funding is met and they receive their money, you never hear from them again. There is really no recourse for backers when a project owner takes the money and doesn’t fulfill his/her part of the deal. Kickstarter backing is partially about being first to get an item that no one might know about or have even envisioned. As I stated, not all projects make it to the backers. An example of this was a watch that I pledged for my daughter. It was supposed to be the thinnest watch out in 2013. The company wasn’t able to make the watch because they encountered too many hurdles that they weren’t prepared for. I recently received a letter informing us that after liquidating all of their assets, there was no money to give to backers.

Some might think this is throwing money away because these projects aren’t cheap, and if a project fails you can’t get your money back. I think of it like this: It’s no riskier than the lottery or going to the casino. You never know when you’ll hit the jackpot. There is a certain rush you get as the months go by waiting for your reward to make it from the project owner’s vision to you.