Promoting for PODs
If you are a POD shopkeeper then you know how important it is to advertise your designs and products in order for shoppers, and search engines to find you. This page will go though various options separated into free, low cost and high cost, as well as online and offline ways to promote your stores. All of the information in this page is based on my experience as a POD shopkeeper since 2005. Some types of advertising will work better for one person then they do for others, so it is important for you to read through and try each thing you can afford to try, since you do not know which will be the most effective for you.
These advertising and promotional sites and techniques are going to be useful for anyone with a website but are written geared for those who use PODs such as:
Of course this list is not all inclusive as there are many others out there, and as I said above you can easily use these techniques to promote anything you are selling online.
Submit to search engines to get it seen faster
Normally when you just make a page, it can take a few weeks or months before search engines will find it. There are ways to alert search engines to your new pages, and even new content on your existing pages. There are several different ways to do this, and I recommend you doing as many as possible since they are free!
You can simply google search engine submission and you will find many many ways to submit, and many sites offering to do it for you. any that are free are useful, any that are not free are not. There are some that are easier then others, some that offer fast options like a button you can put on the top of your browser and you can submit with just the click of the button.
Pingler is a pinging service, it allows you to install their extension, addon or ap (depending on your browser) and with the click of a button send your website to roughly 80 different search engine spiders.
If you use wordpress there is even a plugin to auto-ping your new blog posts on wordpress.
Pinging can be important, because with normal spidering it can take 6-8 weeks before a search engine spider finds your page for the first time. pinging your page when changes are made will tell the spider to come sooner, and you will be placed on the list to do, as opposed to simply being found by being stumbled onto.
If this were an offline business, and you owned a hotel, this would be like mailing your hotel's flyer to all the major travel agencies.
Google webmaster tools allows you to submit a sitemap to google, track your website and much more. While you cannot use this on your POD site itself since you cannot place a sitemap on those sites, you can use it for your ancillary sites you are using to promote your POD store such as blogger blogs, in addition to any webpages you host yourself.
If you need to make a sitemap, many web-hosts have software to do this, for blogs and such you can use a free online site such as this one. You can also use this to make a sitemap of your zazzle stores, it will create a list of links on each page of your site or store, which you can then use for promotion.
More/Individual search engine submissions:
Bing & Yahoo - requires sign up (free)
Addme.com - does several search engines
How to effectively use blogs to drive traffic
There are many Blogs sites out there you can use as promotional tools, the key is using them effectively and efficiently. following some simple rules will help you get the most bang for your buck with these types of sites:
- write in a friendly way, people want to enjoy what they are reading
- be informative, write something that will stick with people
- do NOT make your store the subject of your writing
- find something related to your designs and write about that, then link in your store
- do not duplicate your content on multiple blogs
- pick a theme or niche to write about
Blogs that simply feature an item, and a little blurb about it are not very effective to get readers who will come back over and over, they will help only in that they will give more links to your site for search engines to follow, they will not however rank highly with the search engines, since they do not generate a lot of traffic for their content.
To pick a theme consider what you sell, if you sell dog designs, then consider something you know and love about dogs that you can write about over a period of time. do you photograph dogs? maybe a blog that will help people with tips and trick on how to photograph their pets would be good for you. maybe you love going to dog shows, then a blog about preparing for a dog show, the history or dog shows and types of dogs that show well would be good for you.
Once you have a theme that relates in a general or lose way to your products you are selling, it is time to pick a blogger site. There are many to choose from and each works slightly differently, some are more user friendly and work better for those who are technically challenged, while others give you more advanced options, and even the ability to email in submissions.
The 2 most popular blogging sites are wordpress and blogger. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Both also have options to allow you to host the blog on your own website, since that requires the purchase of your own website and hosting, this will only detail the free services when hosted by the blog site.
- Easy to use
- allows you to adjust the size, color, bold, italics & fonts with the click of a button
- Simple layout tools
- Easy add gadgets for the sidebar
- no html knowledge needed
- easy email to posts to the blog
- bookmarklet available to click a button on your browser and popup a new post window (also on addthis plugin)
- multiple blogs in the same account with the same sign in
- allows for limited static pages in addition to posts
- easy to monitor comments, and delete them
- More advanced then blogger but still easy to use
- allows you to adjust color, bold & italics only
- layout tools require some html knowledge
- has limited widgets for use on the sidebar
- posting by email is available, however I have never been able to accomplish this as it is quite difficult
- available in the addthis plugin for browsers
- allows unlimited static pages in addition to posts
- easy to monitor comments and delete them
If you are a beginner and not very internet and html proficient I recommend you begin with blogger, it is much easier in that you just point and click.
Site like Zujava & Squidoo which allow you to quickly build pages
Like with blogs you want to make your pages about a topic, and use your products as a secondary tool on the page. There are several ways to do this:
- Make a page about a theme such as how to dress up your dog for Halloween
- you can then use your own products as some of the examples of how to accomplish the different costumes
- mix in an amazon or ebay module with doggy costumes
- Make a page about a subject such as Halloween themed weddings
- use your own black and orange invitations as an example of RVSP cards, Save the Dates & Invitations
- mix in some amazon or ebay modules with decorations, or costumes
- Make a page about how to grill your favorite foods to perfection
- use some of your favorite food BBQ aprons as an example ot how to protect your clothes while grilling
- mix in some amazon or ebay modules with some of the tools of the trade needed to grill to perfection
- Make a page about something totally unrelated to your store
- add a row of products or a shop banner to the bottom of text to break up sections like a little commercial
See some of the featured leaves below for examples of how I have done this
You never know what will work until you try
While there are actually several microblogging services out there, the one we all commonly know is Twitter and I will focus on that site specifically. Twitter allows you to send a short message up to 140 characters, and it is quickly searched by search engine spiders.
The problem with these verses traditional blogs are that the posts are only available for a short time, as of right now tweets are only indexed for 7 days, so what you tweeted 8 days ago is virtually gone, and will not be seen or found o the web.
Here is some more info on how to use twitter effectively
- Twitter is a site that allows you to post short messages with links which are spidered quickly and found easily.
- in order to be found you need to add #hashtags to your tweets
- a #hashtag is like a keyword, it becomes a clickable linking linking to all other recent tweets that have the exact same #hashtag.
- to make a #hashtag place a # attached tot he front of the keyword or string of keywords with no spaces like this:
- #dog #dogtrainer
- make sure they relate to your tweet
- be sure to include a link, shortened links work best
- you can use bit.ly to shorten links, or twitter will shorten automatically in many instances
- if you want to direct your tweet to another person place a @attached to their twitter id
- example: @amymariedesigns i love that last design you linked
- retweet other peoples tweets if you like them, it is sharing their tweet with your followers
- get more followers
- follow others suggested
- follow those who follow you
- tweet #ff #fff #followfriday on friday
- click each of those #hashtag links and follow 5 people on the list there
- tweet #teamfollowback #followback
- click the hyper link created by the #hashtag and follow the first 10 people you see there
- then follow those who follow you
These are some sites that help you organize and schedule your tweets - which is beneficial if going out of town or wanting tweets to appear at certain days and times, some also allow rss feeds to auto tweet new products or blog posts
- allows you to schedule individual tweets
- allows you to organize your tweets
- allows you to schedule individual tweets
- allows you to manage multiple twitter accounts
- allows you to track tweets
- allows you to schedule individual tweets
- allows you to schedule recurring tweets - make your tweet reappear every X of days, weeks or months
- this is beneficial in that you are not just making 1 tweet on a date and time you are making unlimited tweets of that tweet over days weeks or months, it will be the same tweet but at a random date and time you set
- allows you access to multiple twitter accounts
- allows you to create rss feeds to your twitter accounts
- this will auto tweet when you add new products or blog posts
- there is a limit to the number it will send so not everything will get tweeted
- only new items can be fed this way not existing ones
It may take a combination of these sites to accomplish everything you are trying to do, but the automations really are helpful.
Personally I recommend using twitterfeed, you set it up once and it is good to go forever.
Then I recommend you take 10 minutes per day and add 5 new tweets to gremln everyday, make them start at random times that day and repeat anywhere from 25-45 days in the future each at a different day span. do this every day and in a few weeks you will have at least 3-10 tweets every day even if you are unable to tweet that day...
Free or near free
There are plenty of ways to promote offline, some are free some are cheap, some are an annual small investment...
- The first being tell people! every chance you get say what you do and tell them your website url!
- If you can afford it buy business cards - you can often get them thru vista print for under $5 for a pack of 100 (designs are limited, but if you buy them all white you can draw on them with markers to make them fancier)....or buy a box of cardstock from staples - and print your own.
- If you cannot afford the $5 thats ok, we were all there when we started. What you can do is take a sheet of paper...and print your url on it in a table form, you can do this in any word processor. Or just set it to double space and put your url twice o the line with a big gap in the middle - repeat thise down the page so you get about 50-60 on the page. then cute them out to be little strips of paper, you can put them in your wallet and give them out to anyone you tell about your business! these re not as good as business cards but they will be a start.
- Pizza places often have a business card bulletin board also, but be sure to purchase something when you go in and tack it up while waiting.
- Leave a business card with the tip when dining out.
- Leave one in the door of the cab, or seat of the cab when travelling by cab (I do this every time I go to NYC)
- put a card in all of your Christmas/holiday cards with a note introducing your new business, and mail your cards out early like before thanksgiving so people may check it out and buy gifts from you for the holidays
- leave them tucked into library books, if you have a best seller and there is a list to get it again, tuck it into the pages so when they do their quick shake it doesn't fall out...many people use business cards as bookmarks...
- Print flyers with tear tabs at the bottom. type of a flyer about what you do with a few images on it - and then at the bottom add tear off tabs with your url on them. you can usually hang these on bulletin boards in libraries, grocery stores by the exit, and other public buildings with bulletin boards.
- Join a postcard exchange group, and make sure your url is on the postcards you send.
- buy or make a bumper sticker with your url
- give your items as gifts with your url added, and a business card in the gift.
- if you have kids, consider buying a few sheets of your small sized stickers, in a cute design the teacher can use on kids papers, if you can incorporate the name of the site on the edge do so, if not just include a card when giving them as a gift for Christmas/Hanukkah or end of year
- baby tshirts and onesies are great for baby showers
- if someone you know is getting married and having an engagement party offer to make the invites for them as their engagement gift
- if someone is having a shower (baby or wedding) contact the person planning and let them know you would like to make the invites as a gift
- give as a gift for a baby shower thank you cards for the mommy to be to send out, with a onesie for the baby
- make a special tshirt for a birthday present
- use for your kid's parties as invites if you have kids
remember if you buy paper, ink, or business cards specifically for your business you can save those receipts to write them off for your taxes!!
Personally I have my own domain i have purchased in order to give people that link, it is easier to say "my store is Shopaholic Chick dot com" then to say "my store is XYZPOD dot com slash shopaholicchick" - another good reason to pick a name that when said is spelled just how it sounds!!!
Facebook, Linkedin, google+, myspace
Joining social networks can be very beneficial IF you follow a few basic rules:
- make friends who are not other shopkeepers - they are your peers, not your target shoppers
- do not spam - posting products occasionally, meaning a few days a week is good, a few times a day is bad
- be interesting
- comment on what others say and do
- be real
- join multiple networks, but only if you have the time to keep up with them
- do not fall into the game traps, playing once in a while is good, but only if they are free, and only if they take no more then 15 minutes per day total
- remember these are personal social networks, NOT commercial business advertising profiles.
- if you wish to advertise on the social network you must pay for ads, personally I tried and did not have valuable results.
social networks are free, but they can be time consuming and addicting. I recommend you stick with the most popular, facebook & google+. Personally myspace is out of date I don't know anyone who has used it in the last several years....I have a page there it has links but i never sign in and never use it.
These sites allow you to "pin" an image from your shop or site to their site to share with others. Wanelo is geared specifically for products for sale, pinterest is for anything you find neat.
As with other sites do not spam, it is easy to get in a groove and pin 100 items in an hour but that will lose you followers...
- 5 at a time is good
- 10-15 per day max