JUKI Business Plus Seminar: Creating a Newsletter

In today’s day and age, almost all shops and businesses use some format of email marketing. From sale promotions and company updates to personalized thank you notes for past shoppers, email marketing can help build your business. This practice has showcased time and time again what a great tool it can be for driving sales, creating a connection to the customer, and getting your business out there.

Today’s blog will cover what email marketing is, how you can create your newsletter, and tools and tips that will help you succeed. While an email can be used for many different purposes, it can upgrade your business!

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a tool used by all business types that builds a connection between you and the customer, like informing business updates, abandoned shipping carts, reward systems, thank you emails, and more.

The benefits of this tool are limitless! With email automation, you can help customers have personalized shopping experiences, improve return rates, promote products, and have the ability to reach a larger audience rather than you sending one email at a time.

Creating Your Newsletter

Let’s plan your newsletter! First, start a conversation using a direct connection to your customer, like their email. Seen as one of the more personal options for sales, thanks to the ability of personalization, buyers will appreciate that you’ve made an effort to connect with them.

Focus on newsletters that offer some form of value. For example, a focus on accessories they’ll like, promotions of products they’re interested in, blogs that align with their interests, and the like offer customers the opportunity to trust your business.

Consider your buyer or viewer when creating your newsletter. For example, if you could obtain an email address from someone considering your shop but didn’t complete a purchase, a newsletter can be a great way to bring them back in! In addition, with add-ons like coupons, promotional pricing, or upcoming sale announcements, you can pull in potential customers on the fence and help them find the product they need.

Another positive about newsletter promotions is the ability to speak to the customer without paid promotion. While we can pay to promote our ads on social media and online, there is no promise it will reach your intended audience each time. On the other hand, an email will directly reach your client and inform them of what’s happening in your business today.

Different Newsletter Goals

Before diving into your design, let’s plan the content your newsletter will cover. Of course, we have different goals when sending out these emails, so consider what response you want from the audience.

  • Relationship building: The top reason newsletters have gained popularity is the relationship and trust you begin building with your customer base. If your focus is relationship building, focus on giving them a view of your business and expertise. Add-ons like behind the scene clips or blogs on your projects allow you to build credibility while promoting your shop.
  • Sales and Services: Create curated newsletters for your customers. Based on their past purchases, you can create an email that will go specifically with their interests. For example, if someone purchased a quilt pattern, you can curate a quilting newsletter that promotes a project and other items for sale. This way, they can see you care about their purchase while encouraging a new sale.
  • Education: Does your business focus on selling sewing supplies or finished quilts? Create a how-to newsletter to show customers your abilities and allow them the chance to see how they can use your products. Whether it is how to style your new quilt or sew using a tool you sell, the best promotion for some customers is seeing the product in use and imagining how they can do the same.
  • Customer Feedback and Referrals: Use these newsletters to receive feedback on your business and practices. This way, you can focus on what works and needs to be fixed, allowing customers the chance to place their input, a benefit many appreciate! 

 Besides your content, focus on your design look. We want to create a layout that is easy to read but catches the viewers’ attention and helps them clarify that it’s your business. For example, focus on what color choices, font, and layout you want your letters to follow.

While most programs offer templates to choose from, make sure to personalize the templates to your company’s brand. Consistency is key when setting up your newsletter so that customers can connect it with your business and feel your brand’s touch.

Finding Your Audience

Before you can send these campaigns out, you need to build your audience! By building a strategy, you can decide whom you’re hoping to reach, what segments you might create (breaking down your audience by interest), and when you’ll send out your campaigns.

First, focus on your audience. Whom are you trying to reach? By deciding this first, you can plan how you’ll gather your emails and what groups you’ll create for newsletters, which will help you get a better idea of the content you need to add to your campaigns.

The best way to segment your audience is by asking for their interest when registering their email with your business. For example, if your business is focused on sewing but sells patterns, fabric, and accessories, you can request your audience pick their interest by choosing quilting, new patterns, and more.

While creating segmentation can be simple once you know your audience, the time-consuming project begins when you need to create separate emails for the segments. Therefore, we recommend that those new to email marketing stick to just one or two segments before attempting new ideas.

As for the topics, focus on products or projects that customers are interested in, products you want to promote, and blogs or vlogs that can benefit customers and encourage sales. Some topics can be consistent with forming a connection and building expectancy. For example, if you have a blog you post on often throughout the month, you can include a blog round-up for viewers to check out on your monthly business update newsletters. This way, in case they missed any or haven’t subscribed to your blog, you can bring in readers and offer them new exciting pieces to discover!

Finally, decide on what locations you will request emails from, online or in person. Email capture can come from your website, blog, social media sites, collaborations, and so much more! Be intentional about where you’re placing this sign-up form so you can receive new emails consistently and safely.

Don’t forget Privacy Regulations and Best practices!

When you begin sending email newsletters and collecting new ones, keep in mind marketing laws. In addition, privacy legislation and anti-spam guides are important to keep in mind when it’s time to start scheduling and sending.

  • General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR): Implemented in 2018, this European Union (EU) privacy law applies to anyone processing and/or storing the data of people in the EU. Many platforms comply with these laws and help users remain compliant with them.
  • Know your anti-spam legislation: CAN-SPAM (US) and CASL (Canada) are examples of anti-spam legislation intended to protect consumers from spam and electronic threats.
  • Subscribers must be obtained honestly: Sending email communication to people who have not opted-in is not GDPR compliant and is widely considered spam. Even customers who provide their email for purchase must choose to opt-in for receiving emails unrelated to their purchase.
  • Emails must contain an unsubscribe link: Subscribers must be able to opt-out from receiving email communication from you.
  • Include your business contact information: Make sure to place your business contact information in the footer of your emails to comply with anti-spam legislation.

Finding Your Platform

Each email platform has features and plans curated for different business types and needs. When choosing your package, focus on what you need right now, and remember what features you might like to use in the future once you’re more comfortable.

Below are features any beginner can use and place in their campaigns.

  • Built-in templates with customization: easily set up beautiful newsletters and customize them to your needs as you learn how to arrange your campaigns.
  • Personalization: with the ability to include subscriber information, you can choose an option to personalize each email with a user’s first name! This little touch will help customers feel like this email was curated for them.
  • Segmentation: Keep your audience organized by their interests! This way, quilters, sewists, pattern creators, and more get emails that correlate with their interests and help your email openings stay consistent.
  • Scheduling: schedule emails to be sent out at the best times for your audience. Whether that be morning before work or weekends for project time, study your subscribers’ habits and change your schedules every once in a while until you find what fits.
  • Automation: connect your email program to your shop and have emails sent after certain actions! For example, if someone just purchased an item from your shop, they can receive a confirmation email promoting similar products, a space for review, and a space for tracking.
  • Analytics: Whichever program you choose should have a form of analytics. This way, you can study what campaigns are successful and what you can fix to have consistent openings.

Keep in mind the budget before choosing a program! Focus on programs that are straightforward for beginners and offer packages for small businesses.

Below are three recommendations that beginners can check out!

MailChimp
Mailer Lite
Active Campaign
  • MailerLite: The easiest program to use, MailerLite offers easy drag-and-drop interfacing that makes it quick and fun to create. With a simple style, anyone can create their first newsletter on this program! The best part is that this program offers a free subscription option for up to 1000 subscribers. After this, the plans begin at $9 per month. This program can also be connected to your online e-shop, like Shopify.
  • ActiveCampaign: Easy to use and edit, the Active Campaign program integrates into Shopify and vouches for over 500 pre-built automation for your campaigns, allowing you to send welcome notes, sale confirmations, and more. It also offers an SMS option for those who volunteer their number to your business. The best part is you can test this program for 14 days before committing, and its beginning package begins at $9 per month.
  • MailChimp: Popular and easy for beginners, MailChimp stands out from other programs thanks to its ease of use and clean interface. With the ability to have 500 contacts before purchasing a plan, you can access hundreds of free templates, SMS Marketing, email automation, and quick editing tools. Furthermore, if you purchase a plan, their beginning plan starts at $11, upgrading your audience limit from 500 to 50,000!

Finally, once you’ve finalized your theme, planned content, chosen your platform, and finished planning a schedule, it’s time to send out your first newsletter! Again, stay true to your brand and goals and focus on writing eye-catching subject lines to bring viewers in. Confirm which email you use for responses, and allow subscribers to contact you directly, which will help build that communication line with your customers!

After you’ve sent your first few emails, you can begin learning your analytics and tweaking your strategy. Don’t forget, these newsletters are a window into your business, expertise, and personality, so have fun and create pieces that you and your customers will love!

Stay in the loop with JUKI! Join our newsletter list by visiting us here and scrolling down today!

JUKI Small Business Seminar: Tips and Tricks to In-Person Sales

With in-person sales making a comeback to our communities, in-person sales have seen a rise in popularity. A big reason for this is that it’s easier to build trust with customers. In addition, in-person sales help you handle their objections and see their emotions, allowing you to make sales you might have missed otherwise. 

In-person sales is another opportunity to get your business out there and bring in those sales you want. Today, we’ll dive into in-person sales and what tools and resources you need to know about before starting. 

Benefits of Selling in Person

When you first start your business, a large percentage of your sales will come from in-person sales because customers are more likely to trust a company they can physically build rapport with than an online one they would have to research and read reviews. 

With in-person sales, you can truly pitch and sell your product. Unlike online sales, where you can’t catch those moments when a customer is frustrated, disinterested, or bored with your product, an in-person sale allows you to capture their emotions and verbal cues to bring the customer back in. It’s also easier to keep their attention once you have it than online, where the customer can switch between tabs and lose interest.

Keep in mind that this form of sales is more time-consuming and takes extra effort. So, with a limited amount of time and resources at your disposal, you need to set aside the hours to attend farmers’ markets, shops, and booths, while allocating your stock and ensuring you’re ready for a low or high volume of sales.

Selling in person also brings in the possibility of other team members dealing with rude or upset customers face to face. If you’re hiring sales representatives to assist with your in-person sales, you’ll need to consider finding, hiring, training, and even possibly firing sales representatives. You’ll also experience good and bad moments with possible customers, where some can be rude when turning down your product. However, don’t let these small things hold you back, as selling in person can be one of the best ways to get yourself out there.

Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s markets can be seen as a step towards setting your booth in conventions and tradeshows. A smaller-scale setup, farmer’s markets are perfect for getting in touch with your local communities and building up your skill for in-person sales. Follow along as we go over some tips to keep in mind before attending or registering for your first farmers market.

  1. Research!

Like anything you do for your business, you’ll want to research before applying to attend a farmers’ market. First, look into what farmers’ markets best fit your niche and see what kind of crowds they bring in. The best way to do this is to attend the local markets as a customer and see what vendors are present and who’s shopping.

Chat with the vendors already attending to learn more about the market’s atmosphere and what kind of shoppers like to attend. In addition, speak with the organizers while you’re there to understand better how to attend, what rules they have for sellers, and more.

Be on the lookout for fees as well. Depending on your local farmers market, booths might be rented out every week or may require a longer commitment, in which case you would be placed in a deal for up to 6 months. Booth fees are generally charged per day and range anywhere from $20 to $50 or more. Remember to look into your state ordinances and any necessary licenses or certifications required for selling in farmer’s markets.

2. Preparing Your Booth

Farmer’s markets tend to offer small booths and areas. Keep this in mind when planning your booth and take the time to complete a dry test run, create a detailed checklist for what you’ll need, and don’t forget the personal essentials.

A dry test run is completed by setting up your booth at home and placing everything as if it was the day of the Market. By doing this, you’ll get an idea of how you want your layout. What products can come with and which ones should stay, and what inventory you’ll need to bring along.

Your checklist should consist of your products, services if needed, customer essentials like receipts and credit card readers, and essentials to keep you and your team going. Remember to pack things like food, drinks, and items like sunscreen so that you’re prepared for the hours ahead.

3. Products and pricing

When shoppers attend farmer’s markets, they want to know the pricing and available products. Make sure to correctly display your products in unique ways like flyers or brochures, so customers have a clear idea of what you’re selling. When it comes to pricing, use clearly labeled stickers. 

Having a consistent system when it’s time to complete a purchase is also important. Ensure you have a clear area for handling purchases and the right tools on hand if you’re accepting cards or cash. If you offer bags for customers, make sure to have those nearby and ready

4. Booth Extras

Farmers’ markets can be busy, which means you may not reach every customer as they walk by. For these occasions, it’s great to keep things in your booth that customers can reference when you can’t get to them. Think of setting up an FAQ poster, have a video or photos playing somewhere to showcase making your products or doing your services, and create a flow to your booth if you’re selling products that can complement one another. Your booth setup can help you upsell when done right, so take the time to figure out what extras you can integrate into your design.

Trade show & conventions

One of the best ways to get your business out there and to the right niche is by attending trade shows and conventions that correlate with your product or niche market. By attending these shows and spreading the word about your business, you can bring in new customers that attend these events. You can also take these events as an opportunity to network with other companies in your niche and introduce yourself to competitors or possible collaborations. Below are five things to keep in mind when you start looking into attending your first trade show or convention.

  1. Research!

A tradeshow is like a window into your small business, what you offer, and who you are. Make sure to research the tradeshow you want to attend to get an idea of how many are commonly in attendance, how many vendors will be attending, if there will be events held during the convention, and so much more like possible vendor product giveaways.

Keep in mind the competitors visiting the same convention you’re interested in. Then, when customers come up to your shop, you can compare your product to others, explain the differences and benefits of yours, and build that trust and credit with your knowledge.

2. This is a Sales Pitch

Keep in mind that attending these shows is a 24/7 sales pitch. You have to be “on” at these events like other shops, and customers come up to your booth with questions, inquiries, and more. A convention is like being in a constant sales pitch, so if you’re still getting comfortable with this aspect of public speaking for your small business, take some time to attend community events before attending a tradeshow or convention.

3. Don’t forget to Market!

Attending these events is the perfect chance to test your marketing skills. Jump on your social media, newsletters, and podcast to promote your business and attend these events so that current customers and possible buyers can attend! Promote your booth with a photo so shoppers know what to look for when attending.

4. Be Prepared

Remember to bring along marketing giveaways when attending these events. While this is the perfect opportunity to sell your products, this is also a chance to bring in returning customers or enjoy the power of word of mouth. By offering items like business cards, flyers, mini freebies, and more, you’re giving customers a way to contact you in the future for sales or the opportunity to share your business card with their friends and family. Make sure to include your contact information, website or storefront information, and any other information you think is essential.

Don’t forget to bring in branded items to decorate your booth so shoppers can know your brand and business name while browsing. This can go beyond having a tablecloth with your logo and include ideas like banners, flags, signage, and more. You want customers to know your company name and what you sell when they see your booth.

5. Prepare Your Booth

Beyond your marketing pieces and giveaway items, you’ll need to prepare your booth if you’re using them. Think of creative ways to sell your products by setting up demos, showcasing videos of you creating your product, or completing a service if that’s what your business offers. Look into ways of including the customer by providing product testing on-site so they can see your product in action. Think of your booth like a storefront, and make sure you’re prepared for when window shoppers walk by!

Star Small and Aim Big!

When you decide to start selling in-person, remember to start at a small scale like your local farmers’ and artisan’s markets before working your way up to conventions and tradeshows. Getting experience in in-person sales is important! You want to be able to handle questions, create demos, handle sales, and move comfortably so that you can build trust in your product and business when selling directly to your customers. Selling in person can be a whole new ball game for those uncomfortable with public speaking, so make sure to practice putting yourself out there and connecting with those in the community.

If you’ve sold your product in person before, what tips would you give to those just starting? Let us know in the comments below!

JUKI Small Business Seminar: 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Small Business

Mistakes have a bad reputation in society, and we always try to avoid them, but mistakes can be seen as a lesson. Most people are afraid of opening their own business because they don’t want to make mistakes. However, those who own a business know that mistakes happen, and what you do after that matters. 

Business mistakes don’t stop your company from succeeding, but what they can do is help you figure out where you went wrong and help you create a better plan for the next time. Of course, you can’t avoid mistakes, but you can turn them into a learning experience and build a better company from them. 

The good thing is that we can prepare for some mistakes and hopefully prevent them from happening! So today, we will go through some of the top mistakes new business owners make and how to avoid doing it yourself. 

5 Common Mistakes New Businesses Make

Mistakes happen, and that’s okay! The key to avoiding them is having prevention plans in place. Here are the common mistakes we’re going to cover today and how you can avoid them:

  1. Don’t Forget Your Business Plan
  2. Know Your Finances
  3. Don’t Spread Yourself too Thin
  4. Know Your Target Audience 
  5. Don’t Forget Your Marketing Plan

Business Plan

Before you begin your business, one of the first things you should create is your business plan. This plan alone can help you succeed and stand out from competitors. What a plan can do for you is help you build momentum by creating a clear and researched idea that you can now put into play. 

Many people who want to start their own business tend to bite the bullet and do so without constructing a plan. Unfortunately, when you don’t know your niche, finances, business model, and logistics, you’re setting yourself up for future problems. These mistakes will cost you money, time, and effort. 

To avoid these mistakes, you need to create your business plan first and identify any unknown aspects before starting. For example, how are you going to ship your products? Where are you going to buy inventory from? How will you get your product out there?

Whenever you create or do something in your business, read back on your business plan to ensure your logistics, finances, and marketing can handle it. By creating your plan and having something to reference when making changes, you can fully comprehend what is happening in your company and improve.

Know Your Finances

When you don’t know your financial health, your company could be in trouble. 

When you start your business based on a hobby, we often skip the part where we get our ducks for finances. However, ask any business owner, and they’ll tell you that knowing your finances is one of the most important things to stay on top of. 

The good thing about business math is it’s pretty simple seeing how profitable your business can be:

Profit = Demand x (Revenue – Expenses)

The thing is, these expenses are everywhere and can pile up quickly if you don’t stay on top of them. Here are some of the costs you can accumulate in your business:

  1. Operating 
  2. Marketing
  3. Product
  4. Shipping
  5. Team

Here’s an example of the profit formula in play:

Assume 10,000 people are searching for handbags online per month. If half of this audience finds your e-shop, that is 5,000 potential buyers. 

Now let’s convert these viewers at an average of between 1% and 2%; that’s 50-100 sales. So if your average order value is $100 and you have a net profit margin of 30%, your profit will be anything between $1,500 and $3,000 per month. 

While these are rough estimates, if you’ve done the math on your product or service, you know what to expect once sales begin. Avoid common financial mistakes by keeping track of your potential profits and cash flow using the above formula.

Need help creating your business finance budget? Check out our article here on how to make your budget and calculate profit today. 

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

While it can be exciting to open up your shop, one of the common mistakes many make is selling too many products. We know that when one item doesn’t sell well, our first response could be to add new and exciting products, but this isn’t always the best solution.

Remember to focus on your brand, not the products, when it comes to deciding what merchandise you’re going to sell in your shop. For example, if your brand focuses on a niche for handbags, you shouldn’t post products that aren’t related, like pet accessories or gadgets. Knowing your brand and audience is how you’ll obtain sales. 

A better example of adding a product is if you create handbags, you can add new products like wallets. It keeps within your niche and stays true to your brand. Spreading yourself thin with by-products can often be due to not knowing your brand or audience well, so it’s best to plan out what products you’d want to create first, then make and add them.

Know Your Target Audience 

When you’re planning your business, take into account who your target audience is. The best research for this will lead you in the right direction for what products to create and where you can reach your audience. It’s easier to create a product for an established niche than to create a place for a product. 

When it comes to researching your niche, keep in mind to review their numbers and analytics and how to interact with them. Keeping up with your niche can assist you in making sales, updating or creating new products, and building that connection between your business and the consumer. 

Remember, even niches have niches, and finding your ideal customer can take time and research. 

Have trouble finding your niche? Check out our article here for some tips to start today.

Don’t Forget Your Marketing Plan

You could have the best product in the world, but without proper marketing, no one will know about it. So if you’re setting up your online shop, that should mean you have a business plan ready. Within this should be your target audience. Creating your marketing plan should be easy once you know who your customers are! 

Keep in mind that if you don’t know who your customers are or where to find them, you will have a difficult time creating a marketing plan. 

Try and focus on a well-rounded marketing plan that hits all corners of your niche. Of course, some channels will have more traffic than others, which is okay! However, whatever channels you decide to market on, make sure that they receive the focus needed to get your brand and product out there. Whether organic (non-paid) or non-organic (paid advertising), ensure your plan is in place before opening your shop.

Have trouble creating a marketing plan? Check out our article here on how to write your marketing plan today. 

Mistakes Happen, Be Prepared! 

Don’t let mistakes be taboo for you and your company. No one can predict when things will go sideways, but we can be prepared and ready to bring it right back on track. Keep in mind these tasks below when it’s time to start your small business:

  1. Make sure to create a business plan
  2. Keep up with finances and have a budget ready. 
  3. Focus on what products are essential, and stay away from stretching yourself too thin. 
  4. Know who your niche is and how to reach them
  5. Create your marketing plan before setting up a shop

These tasks may take some hard work, but you’ll be happier with the success rate of your company and the comfort of having something to follow along with or fall back on when those mistakes happen.

Are you ready to start planning your business? Join us here to learn more about how JUKI can help you become your own boss today!

Starting Your Sewing or Quilting Blog

Have you wanted to start your own blog? In today’s post, we’ll teach you steps you can follow for creating your own blog today. Businesses, creators, influencers, and more can all benefit from having a blog. With this channel being a great way to back up your expertise, share your story, and inspire others, having a blog is the perfect addition to any business. Follow along as we go over what a blog is, where you can start yours, and tips for designing and writing your post.

What is a blog?

A blog can be many things. For some, a blog is a journal documenting their journey. For others, it’s a great way to promote their business plans and products. Focused on a specific topic, a blog is more personal than a news outlet and pushes toward creators having a deeper connection with their audiences. Whether we’re sharing our passions, teaching others, hoping to make money, or a combination of all of them, blogging can be a fun and rewarding venture.

Anyone can start a blog! Readers enjoy blogs because of the different personal perspectives they gain. With an informal and conversational style at the forefront, you can write about various topics without needing to be an expert, just a new view. In addition, readers want to know about your experience with techniques, projects, products, and more.

Now that you know what a blog is let’s start planning yours!

Blogging is also a commitment. You can choose the regularity for your posting; some will do it weekly, some monthly, depending on your preference and audience. The aim should be consistent and create content that people want to see. Bloggers rarely see results when they first begin, but those who stick to the idea find themselves in a new community.

Step 1: Naming Your Blog

Your blog name is a small preview of what readers can expect to find on your page. First, think about what you want to call your blog. Yourname.com? Yourbussinessname.com? Maybe you want to title the blog something creative and different and use a wordplay name like “That’s Sew Susy.” Get fun and creative when creating a name so it can stand out! Once you’ve written down a few ideas, the next step is confirming the domain name is free.

You can check with multiple ways to confirm if the blog idea is free. Depending on what platform you use to create the blog, they’ll have a check system that will inform you whether or not the idea is available. Some tips to keep in mind if your idea is being used, try different extensions (like .org or .net), or add small fluff words like “my,” “a,” or “best” (SewSusy.com vs. ThatsSewSusy.com).

Remember, most blog sites will offer a free domain with their site on front; (wordpress.thatssewsusy.com.) If you’d like to have a domain with only the blog name, this will cost a monthly or yearly fee; depending on the platform’s options.

Step 2: Finding Your Niche and Topic

Let’s go through those blog ideas now! While there are a wide array of blogs out there, there are always readers looking for new perspectives. So when it comes to choosing the topic for your blog, pick a topic that allows you to consistently create content without burning out the idea. The more breathing space you allow yourself, the more content you’ll be able to create posts that readers are interested in.

For example, if we’re creating a quilting blog, we don’t focus on only sharing patterns. Instead, by covering cover quilting as a whole and including pieces like projects, behind-the-scenes, how-to’s, personal messages, and more, readers get personal while learning new ways to approach their interests.

Keep in mind that blogs can often lead to opportunities for monetization. Whether through advertisements or connecting the blog to an e-shop, you want the message to align with your future goals. Just like creating videos for YouTube, or content for social media, look for what solutions and perspectives your blog can offer that differ from others out there.

Step 3: Hosting Your Blog

Once you’ve settled on the blog’s name and general topic, it’s time to research host sites. To fully create a blog online, you’ll need a hosting program and blogging program; luckily, these two programs usually come in a package deal.

The host is the website that readers will access. All your blogs will be stored and organized according to tags and design. On the other hand, the blog software is where you’ll write up and design the content for readers.

Below are 3 recommendations for hosting and building your blog. Each offers package deals that allow you to host and create your blog in one location.

WordPress.com: Designed to let you build your blog quickly, WordPress allows users to upload and manage media, text, blog posts, and eCommerce products online. Completely free and open to anyone who wishes to download the program, WordPress is both popular and influential.

Completely hosted by Automattic, bloggers only need to choose a free or paid plan and the domain. All other aspects of hosting are handled by Automattic and WordPress directly. Easy to use and set up, WordPress offers creators a variety of template designs that can be edited to fit their theme and topic. You can also include plug-ins for an eCommerce store, blogs, social media channels, and more.

There are multiple payment plan options, ranging from freelance bloggers to businesses requiring more storage and freedom in design and coding. Powerful, WordPress is known for being one of the top blog sites for creators.

Wix.com: Wix offers accessible design features and free or paid subscriptions for your site. In addition, you can easily add in media content like videos, photos, and PDFs, as well as a variety of applications that can interwork into the blog. In this case, you can easily add applications for e-shops, reservations, and so much more.

Like WordPress, Wix offers blog creators an opportunity to host and build their blog on one site. In addition, their site will offer full technical support, even on free accounts, and has a beautiful SEO system to help you get your blog up on search platforms.

Squarespace.com: Stylish and easy to edit, Squarespace is comparable to WordPress for its power and popularity. Offering over 140 template designs for your blog, Squarespace focuses on keeping a clean design for their sites, adapting the screen size for tablet and phone users on its own. Like the two programs stated above, users can host and create their blogs on one site.

The only cons of working with Wix is that larger websites exceeding 50 individual pages experience slow loading or difficulty. You’ll need to look for alternatives like WordPress for a more prominent website host.

Squarespace offers bloggers the opportunity to create teams with multi-author functionalities, engage readers with their comment features, and allows you to easily organize and schedule your blog posts. Thanks to their Squarespace application for bloggers, you can also blog on the go! With a larger page limit than Wix, hosting up to 400 pages while containing excellent resolution and speed, Squarespace can be a great alternative to WordPress for your website needs.

The cons of working with Squarespace are that you can’t create a large assortment of menu items, as this will slow to load down, and all save when editing automatically publishes onto the website in real-time.

Once you’ve decided on your host and blog site, you can begin designing! Look for designs that relate to your topic and theme while offering easy navigation for readers and a clean look. All programs we’ve recommended above come with built-in templates that can be edited and improved according to your needs.

Step 4: Writing a Blog and Publishing

Let’s begin with setting the site up and creating the content readers should view when they first find your blog. Some basics to set up on your blog are the about page, contact page, and any other page readers should browse with your focus.

Other items you can add to the site include a photo of yourself, a logo, images, a comment section, your social media channels, and other applications to which you’d like readers to have direct links. Your blog represents yourself and the topic you’ve chosen, so make sure to have fun designing and personalizing the site!

Moving on to the blogs themselves, focus on being informative and engaging! Our top recommendation for bloggers is to create a supply of idea topics and plan ahead to ensure you’re always on track for posting. Remember, consistency is what builds your blog following. Using a calendar or spreadsheet is perfect for keeping those ideas organized and will help the creative process go smoother.

When you write your blog, there are key aspects you should focus on like post titles, engaging and lengthy information, original content, and editing. No matter what topic you focus on, having an intriguing article title will bring a reader’s attention. Likewise, having engaging and informative information in your article while keeping it personal and including your perspectives will keep readers coming back.

Need ideas for your blog post? View below for posts you can include in your schedule.

  • Curated content: Focusing on your niche, these blog posts gather valuable pieces of information that readers are interested in learning about.
  • Topical content: stay in touch with current events and topics in your niche! Readers will enjoy seeing your perspective on current happenings in your community.
  • Visual content: Incorporate photos, videos, sound clips, and more to engage readers beyond reading.
  • Feature pieces: Interview popular creators and businesses in your niche! Networking and spotlighting others in your community is a great way to meet new friends and bring new readers to your site that are in the interviewee’s community. 
  • Evergreen content: answer your blog posts’ questions and educate readers on your niche topics.
  • Interactive content: Countdowns, quizzes, word finds, giveaways, and so much more will encourage audiences to interact with your site and blog. In doing so, they’ll help your SEO and give you a better insight into who your readers are.

Step 5: Getting Your Blog Out There

Now that your blog is running let’s get some readers! The first step is creating a plan to promote your blog. Then, follow along as we go over strategies you can implement to start getting your blog out there.

  • Word of Mouth: Contact your friends, family members, and colleagues to tell them about your new blog! By asking them to visit, read and follow, you’ll begin getting your site out there and raising awareness. Encourage them to share your blog posts, and don’t forget to thank them!
  • Social Media: Whether you use your personal page, or create a business solely for the blog, getting your blog link onto top social sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest is the place to start. Post relevant photos, videos, and announcements for your blog on these sites to bring attention to your brand and writing. Asking friends and family members to share your profile and links will multiply your reach and help you gain that following you’re looking for.

Another significant aspect of social media is networking and using their search systems to your advantage! Reach out to other members of your niche, and use notions like hashtags and profile tags, to raise your posts on the algorithms.

  • Interacting with other creators: One way to create a name for yourself in a community is by interacting with other creators’ content. Leave comments, like their posts, re-share and more to begin building those connections within the community.

When you build these connections, you have a higher chance of broadening your audience and the opportunity to speak with others in your niche. In addition, this is an opportunity to create bonds leading to future collaborations and new projects.

  • Interacting with your readers: Let them know you care and interact with them! Whether liking their posts, replying to comments, or discussing your blog topics, readers like to know the author cares about their community.
  • Post regularly and keep in contact: Consistency is vital when building your blog. So create that calendar we mentioned and follow a routine for posting. This will keep readers engaged and waiting for a new post each time. Also, don’t forget to create an email list! This way, you can keep in direct contact with your readers and keep them updated when new posts or news about your brand are happening.

Step 6: Enjoy Your Blog!

Whether you created this blog for your small business, or your hobbies and passions, remember to enjoy the creative process! While building your audience at first can be difficult, remember these projects take time. So post regularly, engage with your community, plan ahead, and you’ll begin seeing your audience and opportunities grow.

Focus on creating content you’re proud of; remember, this project can be a stepping stone to new opportunities!

JUKI Small Business Seminar: Alternatives Marketing Ideas

Marketing and promotion can build or break your business. The good thing is that there are countless ways to promote your business! From paid advertising to alternative tactics, you can increase your business and product awareness in different ways to get your brand out there.

While many might recommend looking into paid advertisements on your favorite sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube, you shouldn’t place all your marketing eggs in one basket. Creating different marketing channels is the key to success when it comes to getting your business out there.

Follow along as we stray away from those paid advertisements and offer other options for your brand and how to implement them in your marketing plan today.  

Guest Post on Relevant blogs

Opening a new website can be challenging to get traffic to without advertising. One of the ways you can link back to your site and drive up traffic is guest posting on blogs relevant to your niche and product. It can take time to see progress on this end, but it can boost your audience size.

You would also be applying backlinks in these posts that go back to your website, assisting you in raising your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and increasing your chances of being discovered on search engines.

Connect with bloggers in your industry to create a guest blog post with a relevant post to your business and theirs. Creating relevant content for your business will drive readers to your site and eventually become new leads and sales for you.

Request Product Reviews 

Product reviews are one of the best ways to push sales in your business. Many shoppers will check shop and product ratings on eCommerce sites like Etsy before checking out the items in their cart. Customers check reviews because we trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family.

Reach out to bloggers or influencers in your niche and industry and offer to ship them a free sample of your product in exchange for an honest review. If you have a great product, they’ll love it and rave while encouraging others to purchase from your shop.

You can also have an automated message that requests product reviews after delivery, encouraging shoppers to post on your website or shop page.

Research Affiliate Marketing 

Have you ever tried affiliate marketing? Think of it as product reviews but one step farther.

By creating an affiliate program, you’re incentivizing other people to drive traffic to your business by offering a commission on every sale, similar to referral programs.

Finding and choosing an affiliate might not be easy at first if you’re still establishing your business, so we recommend researching outreach campaigns and creating one to recruit your first affiliate members. Keep in mind to choose those who have an engaged audience and are also in your niche or industry group.

Look for Press Coverage

You don’t need a PR team to get PR coverage! If your brand has created something exciting or a product that you think people would love to know about, take the PR work into your own hands and start contacting bloggers and news outlets in your area or industry.

Getting placed in news outlets can bring you forward to a whole different audience off the internet and social media. For example, look into promoting your business in a newspaper. Journalists are always looking for a new and exciting story.

Focus on your industry and what outlets and sites you can contact. Stay away from contacting outlets that aren’t in your niche. For example, don’t contact a tech blogger about your fashion products.

Opening a new business is exciting, and your community and others would love to know about it! So whether you’re creating a new product, opening up a shop, or even a few months in, keep this in mind when you think it’s time to upgrade your marketing game.

Learn about Social Media tactics

There are many tactics you can bring into your marketing plan for your company. From the content you’re posting to the comments you’re writing, all this can be used to your advantage when it’s time to market your business. When creating your marketing schedule, let’s go over some marketing tactics you should keep in mind.

Consistent posting

One of the things so many will lack when opening their marketing pages is the scheduling of their posting. Keep in mind the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” when you’re creating your marketing schedule.

It’s recommended to post often, and this doesn’t have to be the same form of content. Create pieces like photos, videos, reels, TikTok’s, blogs, and more. Audiences will react differently to posting schedules, so take the time to study your audience and figure out the best times and days to post to get that traffic you want to see.

Know Your Hashtags

Knowing your hashtags and what’s trending in your industry will get you in the right spots when people start discussing your niche. Hashtags have become one of the easiest ways to organize social media platforms, allowing us to find relevant posts to our interest with just one sign, the ‘#.’

Study similar posts from others in your niche and industry and see what garners the most attention. Also, keep in mind what kind of posts are being created with these hashtags. By following along with trending hashtags, you can have a higher chance of your post landing in front of the right audience and increasing your sales or traffic.

It’s recommended to have 15 to 30 well-curated hashtags per post to reach your max audience. We recommend using applications like ‘Hashtag Expert’ if you can’t decide what hashtags to place on your post.

Market Locally 

With the recent changes in our society, small and local businesses are coming back into their communities. More people prefer to support those in their community when it comes to shopping, and if you’re a small business, you should be taking advantage of this opportunity!

Here are a couple of ways you can promote yourself locally and get your name out there:

Google – My Business 

An easy-to-use program, you can get your business out there on Google’s search and maps. A free way to promote yourself on the search engine, this offers you a chance to market your business on Google with a simple description of your shop and who you are.

With Google’s popularity, many will go here first when learning about your company to see if it’s legitimate. Take the time to create your profile, add products or location photos if you’re able to, and include relevant links. Using Google’s business is a great way to introduce your business and can lead to more trust from the customer.

Research Your Local Events

Does your community host events? Research what Artisan markets, craft shows, trade shows, and festivals are happening around you that you could attend to showcase your shop and market your business.

While online e-shops and sales have seen a rise in popularity, in-person events are coming back, and it’s a good idea not to overlook them. As people step out of their homes, they want to attend these community events and see what’s new. Use this as an opportunity to make real connections with buyers in your niche, and enjoy the chance to meet with them one-on-one.

Keep in mind what you can do for others as well! Being skilled at creating something can be a teachable moment. Take into consideration what classes and workshops you can offer to your community to raise awareness for your brand, build credibility and create new leads and sales.

Market

Whether you choose to go organic or non-organic, and whatever channels you choose, don’t forget the importance of marketing for your business’s success. We know that paying for advertising can take a toll on a business’s budget, which is why alternative marketing is a great idea! Look into what you can accomplish with low to no cost through these marketing tactics and more.

Start with one tactic and keep going as you find comfort in what you can handle and what channels work best for your industry and niche. We hope this helps you plan your marketing budget and find new ways to bring attention to your business. What would you recommend for someone looking to get attention to their business?