1) Caution! Don’t Start Online”…”Yet: Everyone wants to sell on the internet as it opens your business up to the entire world. Many people try to immediately start selling online via a website only to find out they make very few sales. Why? No one is finding their site. Selling online is great, but it can take time to get sites set up or traffic to your site. Simply put, starting a website will get you nowhere if you don’t get traffic to see it. There are lots of variables in getting your website noticed by Google but we will save that for a later article. Easier ways to begin selling online are by listing your bows on eBay or Etsy. Both of these sites allow a beginner to showcase their products with ease. If your product is priced competitively and you have good pictures to display, you should be able to start selling right away via these sites.
2) Local Business Marketing: We recommend this as one of the best ways to start selling your hair bows and ribbon products. This is why we listed it as the first “do” item. Many people try to immediately start selling online via a website. Selling online is great, but it can take time to get sites set up or traffic to your site. To get off to a quick start, focus your efforts initially on your local market. Find local boutiques and children’s stores and drop by with examples of your products. Be sure to have an idea of how you both will benefit from working together. You can sell your bows at a wholesale price or work out a commission for the store if they agree to sell your hair bows. Get in touch with the local schools cheer leading and dance teams. Consider creating school fundraisers and doing “hair bow parties”. Hair Salons are also great avenues to sell your bows. Finally, do what we did starting out and sell at some nearby community craft shows or public events where a booth can be purchased.
3) Social Networks: Facebook and Twitter and similar networking sites are the rage these days. Don’t forget to use these sites to market your business. Learn the options of each type of site and focus your efforts on getting followers by posting great relevant posts. Use these sites to show pictures of your creations and post bow ideas to your followers. Announcing promotions and sales are a must on social networks.
4) Blogs: There are lots of Blogging sites you can use. Blogger and Word Press are two popular options where you can easily create a blog for your business. Post pictures and write about your products. Come up with creative designs that will catch the eyes of your readers. Make sure you link your blog to your website which can help drive sales
5) eBay and Etsy: Rather than starting with a website, start generating business online with eBay or Etsy. These sites already have huge amounts of shoppers and you can list your bows here for a small fee. Both of these sites allow a beginner to showcase their products easily and effectively. Key points to selling via these sites: price your hair bows competitively and use good pictures and descriptions. Once you have developed a good number of sales through these sites, it may be time to consider starting your own branded website.
6) Starting Your Own Website: We started our first website at WahmShoppes. For $8 per month, you can open your very own e-commerce store. Customize the look of your store by using any of their various templates. It takes time to start getting web traffic organically. If your budget permits, Google Ad words is an immediate way to start driving traffic to your website. With Ad words, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Be careful as it can be quite expensive, especially if people are just clicking and not buying. Gaining traffic organically is a whole subject to itself but make sure you submit your site to the search engines and to some online directories to start. To take online payments, we suggest using PayPal and/or Google Checkout to save on monthly merchant account fees until your volume may dictate a merchant account will pay for itself.
7) Ribbon Suppliers: If you are going to sell hair bows, you are going to need lots of ribbon. Sure you can go to Wal-mart or Hobby Lobby but generally the selection will be less and the prices will be higher versus finding a niche online store that serves the hair bow industry. Look for a company carrying abundant variety, quality products, great pricing, excellent customer service and ships promptly. You want to build a long-term relationship with your supplier and these points mentioned are key to your sanity and success. Be sure you can get color cards from your suppliers so you can accurately match multiple colors on the bows you create with real samples. Don’t rely on images on a computer monitor for color matching. Let your customers use the cards to pick out their colors for a custom bow made to their specifications. Do a web search on a search engine for “hair bow supplies” to come up with a list of good suppliers.
8) Hair bow Templates: Save yourself lots of time and frustration. Use hair bow templates! Create a consistent bow size every time and eliminate your grosgrain ribbon waste by using a template. By doing a search online for “hair bow templates” you will find several retailers offering templates you can purchase online.
9) Hair bow Instructions: There are so many different types of hair bows you will never learn them all. Many sites sell instructions but others offer them for free. Search around on Google and even EzineArticles to find an abundance of free instructions. If you prefer video tutorials, check out YouTube for some excellent videos to view.
10) Shipping: The goal of every business is to get to the point where they have so much business they can’t keep up. When we got to this point we purchased a shipping tool called Ship Rush. This program ties your computer and electronic scale together and allows you to click and copy the customer information right off the email or customer receipt. It then quickly prints out a custom shipping label for the US Post Office or UPS without you having to type in any address information. Trust me, it will become a huge time and money saver as your business grows if you ship out a lot of packages.
11) Financial Software: The number one reason businesses fail is by failing to understand and manage their finances correctly. Your business finances must stay organized and your cash flow needs to be handled carefully. With money coming in and out constantly, this can quickly become a real challenge. Using accounting software such as Quicken or QuickBooks can keep your finances organized. Talk to your CPA to see what they recommend.