Baby Bird Productions interview
Today we are talking to Barbara about her online store.
Her site is called Children's Clothing, Stories and Family Gifts from Baby Bird Productions, and can be seen here: http://babybirdproductions.com?pid=4370506
1. What drew you to opening an online store? Were you in a related field?
Over the years I've been an art teacher, children's librarian, free-lance professional storyteller and puppeteer. I've always created artwork, stories and such and I was thrilled to finally see a way that I could share them with others anywhere in the world.
2. When did you open your store?
I opened our shop in January 2005.
3. What is harder about doing this then you thought it would be?
Optimizing the site to the point where it could be found in Google for my search terms. It's been a very slow, uphill battle, as I'm competing with some sites that have held top spots since Internet's infancy - everyone did and still does automatically link to them making them more and more entrenched. Waiting for income while persevering through Google sandboxes and other hurdles has been tough at times.
4. What do you like best about being an online shopkeeper?
The fun lies in creating things, whether it's inventing stories and artwork that are the products of my own imagination, or creating and developing the shop itself, or the satisfaction of building my own business from the ground up. I began by knowing NOTHING about home computers or Internet.
There's never enough time to do everything that I want to do, but there's also a great sense of satisfaction in doing it all - as my knowledge and self-confidence have grown.
5. During the very first month, what do you wish you had known then that you do now?
I wish that I had gotten in on Internet when it first began - when it was faster and easier to get a site noticed. Newer sites face swelling numbers of sites to compete with, sandboxes, well-entrenched older sites with thousands of incoming links and other difficulties. Also, if you are going it alone, you really need to do your homework about search engine optimization, how to use html code, how to get backlinks, how not to get penalized by Google for doing the wrong things, etc. A good product idea alone is not enough.
6. Could you share some of the marketing you¹ve tried so far (on or offline) and what has worked and what hasn¹t?
I've tried posting on: related forums - hits but no sales; writing articles - hits but no sales that I know of; Google Adwords - a complete waste of time; Craigslist - some sales; a couple of ads on other related sites - another waste of time; a few press releases - none have gotten picked up by the media; T-shirt countdown and other sites like it - hits but no sales, which is not a surprise as my shop is for children and babies and not for the usual T-shirt crowd.
7. What other sites, blogs, etc. do you have if any?
I have a blog at http://babybirdproductions.com/blog
Nancy’s comments – I feel the same as Barbara about what seems to work and what doesn’t in marketing, although I’m not quite ready to give a few of them up yet. I think the CafePress forums should be treated as sharing information or getting affiliate interest only, we shouldn’t expect a sale from posting there, I too get a lot of hits from Craiglist, but so far none have converted into sales. It is fun to watch the statcounter after putting an ad on Craigslist though! Only one person who’s tried Adwords thought it was good (for people who sell things with not much markup) I think you would have to have a high priced item to have that be beneficial. I write a fair amount of press releases and mine have gotten picked up and I plan on trying the article route. SEO seems to be the biggest thing you have to get right and then have your site set up to entice people to buy.