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Author Topic: Help marketing a small online business
Metasquares
Highlie
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Icon 1 posted March 05, 2006 18:25      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I recently started an online business (the name was inspired by these boards). I spent five months setting everything up (registering the business, bank accounts, accepting payments, writing some 10,000 lines of Perl code, etc.) and now my business is ready to go live... except that I can't reach people; I have no marketing talent whatsoever.

I've tried AdWords, but their system does not pay off well unless you have a large advertising budget, which I do not. I've tried some "guerilla marketing" tactics as well, such as putting links in sigs, but I'm not about to start spamming sites with the link.

I'm planning on printing some flyers up, but I don't know how successful that will be.

Has anyone had this experience? How have you dealt with it?

Thanks for any light that you can shed on this problem.

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Snaggy

Sir Snaggalot!
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Icon 3 posted March 05, 2006 18:53      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Some ideas...

-Put out some press releases, newsworthly things catch eyeballs.

-Offer your service or product as a prize. garlicguy knows that one. [Big Grin]

-Hold a newsworthy contest of your own.

-I'd also try approaching smaller sites and see what they can do for you in terms of advertising. Others like bloggers and Podcasters are hungry to establish ads right now, and depending on your product, they might be good to hook up with. (And I can't resist..., we have great banner rates for smaller businesses and developers, and check out our JoyPixels... 100 bucks for a year's worth of exposure, and forever in the archives!)

Posts: 8111 | From: Canada | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
GrumpySteen

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan
Member # 170

Icon 1 posted March 05, 2006 19:00      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It would be helpful if you at least told us what sort of business it is. I can think of a variety of ways I've been lured into promotions, but many won't apply depending on what you're doing.

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

Posts: 6364 | From: Tennessee | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
dragonman97

SuperFan!
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Icon 1 posted March 05, 2006 19:13      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What can you do in 10,000 lines of Perl that can't be done in 2K LOC. [Wink]

I do hope the extra 8K was spent on documentation. [Wink]

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

Posts: 9332 | From: Westchester County, New York | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ARJ
SuperBlabberMouth!
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Icon 1 posted March 05, 2006 19:20      Profile for ARJ   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Start a business-related blog. Pimp it out to related blogs in comments or contact the owners via email, ping Technorati when you post to it. Be genuine and don't act like a splog or comment spammer. [Smile]

I read the Powell's book blog daily, fr'instance.

--------------------
Katie West: Well done steak? Really?

Warren Ellis: Yes. Because MAN COOK MEAT WITH FIRE UNTIL IT NO CRY ANY MORE THEN EAT IT DEAD

Posts: 1197 | From: Sydney, NSW, AU | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
csk

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Icon 1 posted March 05, 2006 19:32      Profile for csk     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
What can you do in 10,000 lines of Perl that can't be done in 2K LOC. [Wink]

I do hope the extra 8K was spent on documentation. [Wink]

Hmm, but "lines of code" as a metric usually doesn't include comments, does it? Not that I'm suggesting it's a good or useful metric for anything, mind you.

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6 weeks to go!

Posts: 4455 | From: Sydney, Australia | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
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Icon 1 posted March 05, 2006 20:18      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That does include comments (and heredocs), so the actual amount of code is probably a bit less than that. Still a lot of Perl coding [Smile]

The business is kind of like RentACoder, but not simply restricted to programming; it's meant for anything geeky [Smile]

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Jace Raven

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 2444

Icon 1 posted March 06, 2006 09:18      Profile for Jace Raven         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
if ((you=willing to start a blog) | (willing to link /(just link/) back to my page) {
i would be willing to put a banner up on my siteand I have a friend who may be interested to do so as well.
}

Posts: 1791 | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
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Icon 1 posted March 06, 2006 10:28      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I actually do have a business blog, though I'm not really sure what to put on it (a business with no events, culture, or employees yet isn't really all that exciting).
Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted March 06, 2006 21:51      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The best I've come up with so far is to put forth some effort doing some small charitable projects. You can should be able get some good references and possibly some contacts that would be useful. Good-will projects often get free publicity if they're interesting enough. What, exactly, those projects are would depend on what's needed in the area you're working from. Area museums, homeless shelters, civic groups and the like often have work for volunteers. Many will have their own media contacts that they use to announce such things too. Giving a bit of time and labor may pay off with publicity or not, but it would at least pay off in a moral sense.

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

Posts: 6364 | From: Tennessee | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
garlicguy

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Icon 1 posted March 07, 2006 08:07      Profile for garlicguy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
First of all, let me congratulate you on your site . It is very professional-looking, and streamlined without being boring. And the idea is probably sound enough to gain some "legs" in the marketplace.

Obviously you need some geek service providers. Why not PM Snaggy and politely ask if you can post specific needs here? It would not burn much bandwidth and the traffic would't hurt this site since it does not compete. Snaggy's offer to utilize the advertizing at the GeekCulture site has some merit when it comes to getting contractors to sign on. Other than that, you wouldn't get many potential customers from visitors here.

Attracting customers is another matter; in fact, at this stage of your project you are really marketing on two fronts: service providers and service users. The simplest free promotion is to use PRWeb.com (and others) and follow their guidelines. Don't sweat it that you're not yet glamorous and successful. A few news services will pick it up on a slow day and, Viola, you get free press. Other promotions include AdWords (which you've mentioned) - just keep your per click rate and daily rate low. Using AdWords has the collateral benefit of helping your Google Page Ranking (despite Google's claims to the contrary) and you will climb in their search returns more rapidly if you sustain a simple ad campaign with them for several months. Links would also help promote the site...

It'll take time for this to build and generate some positive income for you. Be patient. eLance.com didn't grow up overnight. The fact that you are offering a competing service to theirs will actually help you if you play it right.

Best of luck, Metasquares! [Wink]

[Edit: Oops! I forgot to mention: I looked at your metatag keywords and description. You might consider adding "contract employment" and "contract employee(s)" and "cost effective" along with some similar pairings and single words to the keywords. In the description you might want to replace the "Users" in the first position with "contract service providers" or other similar term(s) as this will clarify your meaning and help your search engine returns. FWIW gg]

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I don't know what I was thinking... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Posts: 3752 | From: Pluto, no matter what you call it, is still my home. | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Snaggy

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Icon 3 posted March 07, 2006 10:19      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Snaggy's offer to utilize the advertizing at the GeekCulture site has some merit when it comes to getting contractors to sign on. Other than that, you wouldn't get many potential customers from visitors here.

Actually, we get thousands of non-geeks a day here.

Posts: 8111 | From: Canada | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
garlicguy

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Icon 1 posted March 07, 2006 10:52      Profile for garlicguy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Snaggy:
Snaggy's offer to utilize the advertizing at the GeekCulture site has some merit when it comes to getting contractors to sign on. Other than that, you wouldn't get many potential customers from visitors here.

Actually, we get thousands of non-geeks a day here.

Sorry, my mistake. I should know better than to speculate...

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I don't know what I was thinking... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Posts: 3752 | From: Pluto, no matter what you call it, is still my home. | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
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Icon 1 posted March 07, 2006 12:34      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the advice.

With regards to the pixel-based advertising model, it never appealed much to me because it required a lot of money for very small exposure. A 100x100 image would cost $10000 at $1/pixel, whereas I can run a larger Google ad for a few cents (granted, the Google ads don't have much permanence). I am going to try doing some site-targeted AdWords ads on Geekculture, though, if you don't mind.

It might be a good thing to put in my sig, too, but I'll wait for permission on that.

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
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Icon 1 posted March 07, 2006 17:07      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wow. 5,000 impressions in two hours from AdSense on this site alone [Smile]

That only led to one click, but that is a very impressive number of impressions for such a short period of time.

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
ARJ
SuperBlabberMouth!
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Icon 1 posted March 08, 2006 16:21      Profile for ARJ   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Metasquares:
I actually do have a business blog, though I'm not really sure what to put on it (a business with no events, culture, or employees yet isn't really all that exciting).

The most hits I get on my personal blog are for some stupid CSS tricks I did and some python hacks I've scrabbled together.

I'm not saying give away all your secrets, but if it's a dev-based business, you can probably get some google traffic by writing informative code-related articles. Sounds like you're getting some pretty good AdSense mojo there though. [Smile]

--------------------
Katie West: Well done steak? Really?

Warren Ellis: Yes. Because MAN COOK MEAT WITH FIRE UNTIL IT NO CRY ANY MORE THEN EAT IT DEAD

Posts: 1197 | From: Sydney, NSW, AU | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
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Icon 1 posted March 08, 2006 19:08      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Heh. The problem is that AdSense charges for site-specific ads by impression, and they don't always lead to lots of clicks - and of those clicks, probably only about 1/10 of them will lead to signups. So I may end up with lots of impressions, which is good because it creates brand recognition, but bad because it costs lots of money, but not many clicks.

I did get two geek signups today on my site, though, so things are progressing. I need buyers, though, or they're all going to leave sooner or later.

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Chesty
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Icon 1 posted March 08, 2006 20:17      Profile for Chesty         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I would start by adding that link to your sig tag - that's not spam if you post relevant messages - it's just telling us who you are.

How are you to make money from the site? do you charge geeks to bid on jobs? do you charge buyers to connect to geeks? are you hoping to gain freelance work as a geek?

I notice that you have adense on your site - this is great if you want a site that redirects people to google (away from your site).

If you want to drive people to your site try adwords.com or overture.com.

At overture.com you could be the only listed page for the search terms "hire a geek" "geek for hire" "find a geek" you would pay 10cents for each click to your site.

Sometimes I pay over a dollar for clicks but with every hundred clicks I would make $5000 in sales.

You might put some posters locally in grocery store entrances and libraries, and have all the geeks who register do the same - this is where geezers look and they always need help with computers, VCRs, teeth....

Many breakfast restaurants have menus that you can advertise on and the cyberchallenged might find you there (again, the elderly are a great source of folks who want to be on the internet, have the cash but not the learning curve)

I make side money off geezers who amble in to use my web connection and then start telling me their woes....

Posts: 416 | From: The Beach | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged


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