Action Plan to Get Your Online Store Noticed - Create - Excite - Engage January 27, 2015 10:00

Michael M. Rogers Fine Art & Share the Beauty

from the Heartland of the Great Smoky Mountains in Franklin, NC. 

For over 41 years I have made my living as an artist and creative content creator.
I freely admit to being a novice when it comes to Search Engine Optimization as well as
Blogging and Social Media. However, these are skills I am improving on and so can you.
One reason for creating this series of blogs is simply to keep myself on track. Through
regular updates, I will post what is working for me. My particular Action Plan may not not 
work for your product line, but I believe you may still benefit from the trials and errors of
this journey I have chosen to pursue. 


I have seen those fancy info graphics all over the internet. Here is one of mine.

 

This is my action plan to get my Shopify Online Store noticed. I am sure elements of this will
change over time. It will be interesting to see what works. It is a bit ambitious, but this is the
future. Creatives should embrace this new form of promotion. I have always felt the internet
should have been about independent content creators. This will work. I have the advantage
because I am determined to make it so.

The internet is brimming with information. I have been researching this process for quite some
time and have decided there are a lot of knowledgeable people out there in cyberspace. I also
think there are some folks giving out bad information. They just may not know it.(or maybe they
do). My goal is to inform you about what I find out in this process and what really works for me.
So here is what I think. I encourage input and would greatly benefit from any experience you
may wish to share with a novice like myself. These are the tools I am using now. I may add
more &  I'm sure some will change. But right now, on February 12, 2015 this is it.

GROW YOUR ONLINE STORE ACTION PLAN

 

CREATE CONTENT

ONLINE STORAGE 

These are the wonderful sites I use to store my embeddable elements. At this time I am using
the free versions. There are various restrictions and limitations that may change with time.  
The free versions are adequate at this point for my purposes. However, I will not hesitate to
upgrade when it becomes necessary.

 

GOOGLE DRIVE

15 GB of free storage for most file types. Easy to use. Embed codes available.
Used for photo backup.

GOOGLE + PHOTOS 

As always, information & conditions are always subject to change.

Your 15 GB of free Google Drive Storage is shared by your Gmail, Drive and
Google+ Photos. However, only photos over 2048 x 2048 pixels & videos longer
than 15 minutes will count towards your storage limit. 

Click this link for more information
GOOGLE SUPPORT ARTICLE

 

Update February 12, 2015
Thank you Google. This is indeed very generous. So for the time being
I plan on uploading all of my optimized photos and website videos to 
GOOGLE + PHOTOS to save my Google Drive Space for large file size photos.

  

YOUTUBE

The grandaddy of video storage sites. On my YouTube channel, my cover photo has a
direct link to my store. Sweet.  If you are a client in good standing, you may be approved for
longer videos.  Easy to share videos and embed codes to put on any web page you manage. 
Check out my YouTube Channel at :

https://www.youtube.com/user/MichaelMRogers

SOUNDCLOUD

3 Hours of online storage for your original music stored as mp3's. I create my own original
music soundtracks for my Nature DVDs. I've also released 2 Audio CDs that have made money.
I'm a recent convert to using Soundcloud. I like the way it looks when you embed a track on
your page. You can have different artwork for each track. Easy to use. Impressive. 
Check out my Soundcloud Channel at:

https://soundcloud.com/sharethebeauty

ISSUU

Free online storage of your PDF magazine or booklet creations. Fairly easy to use. Embed 
your publications on any page you manage. What I like about ISSUU is the cool 3D page turn
effect. Kind of like flipping through a magazine. The free version contains their logo info and
also encourages you to view other publications. But hey, it works great and it's FREE.

I have an ISSUU account that is currently private because of ongoing projects that are not yet 
ready to publish. But you can see a sample pdf here:

http://michaelmrogersfineart.com/pages/issuu

EXCITE YOUR AUDIENCE

Everything you do on the net should have one purpose. To drive traffic to your store.
The destination for my audience is my  Website, Blog & Online Store at Shopify.

 

SHOPIFY

After months of research I chose Shopify for my CMS. (Content Management System)
I like the fact that Shopify has a Blog, which now seems to be a necessity to generate new
customers. You can excite your customers with rich content. Embed videos right on the 
product page. Embed mp3 sound. Embed PDF's, podcasts. Wow. Shopify ... you are what
I've been waiting for. One big factor in Shopify's favor is that they have a PCI DSS compliant
shopping cart .They have their own Credit Card Payment Gateway called "Shopify
Payments." They accept 6 major credit cards and PayPal. You can set up your store and be
paid directly for your sales by Shopify  just by providing your bank account & routing numbers. 
This means you can cut out the third party credit card processor and save money.
I suggest you review the Shopify website for detailed information about what they offer.
The ease of setting up my store was a big factor for me. They have many apps & some great
ones that are free. Many free templates that are all very adjustable. My website is based on the
MINIMAL template. So far I have modified everything in the template to my satisfaction.

There is a learning curve to take advantage of all the special features, but they have an
excellent online manual that is much too big to print out. I have read a lot of it. And as a novice,
I'm pleased to say, I have not yet had to contact Shopify directly. If I can learn this so can you.
I plan on posting more about Shopify in the future. Various monthly payment plans with 
additional features to fit your budget. And no I am not a paid spokesman. I just believe in the product.

Contact Shopify at:

http://www.shopify.com

 

ENGAGE

SOCIAL MEDIA

Who knew we had this much to say. The face of business has changed forever. I had my
own brick & mortar business for 24 years. The last 8 years saw many changes. The future
of retail is on the net. I don't think that will change anytime soon. 

Social Media is something I struggle with, but am beginning to understand on a new level.
You gain experience by participating. It seems to me that the way to get found on the net is
to create links with other people who are like-minded. This is my theory.

Being an artist my products are mostly visual. The internet is made for what I do. I need to
share the beauty. One way I've chosen to pursue this is through social media. Does anyone
really need to post on all these sites. Probably not. But I am still in the testing stage to see
what works for me and the products I create and sell. So on with the show.

TWITTER

I learned to tweet recently. I did not know what all the fuss was about. I am not a big texting
fan. In fact, I don't text at all. But, I have to tell you, I really  like to tweet.

As I was researching social media options for me, I read some interesting facts about
Twitter. They are here to stay and they may,I said may, become a powerhouse. If what
I have been hearing is true. Of course everything changed when they allowed members to
post photos with links. Now, oh please be true, they are considering video posts. Long videos.
High quality videos. This would be a great way for video creators to get noticed.

Twitter began on March 21, 2006. They now have over 240 million active monthly users.
If they start to allow video, well, this could be huge. We'll just have to wait and see.
Follow Twitter for details. 
Check out my Twitter Channel at:
https://twitter.com/mmrogersfineart 

Update: February 12, 2015
My tweets are helping my online store to show up in search engine results.
 

GOOGLE +

It's very easy to post Blogs directly from Shopify to Google +. with one click.
Ease of use is one reason I use it and I I've noticed more traffic.
More about this later.

UPDATE: February 12, 2015
I have been pleasantly surprised that posting my blog articles and photos on Google +
has increased search engine results for my online store. I will be posting more often.


PINTEREST

What. Are you not hooked yet? What a simple elegant idea. This goes into the category,
how come I didn't think of this first. Apparently, the first version of Pinterest started way back
in early 2010 (way back ha). They now have about 40 million monthly users. The average
time spent  per month by members is 90 minutes. If you already have a personal account, 
it's a piece of cake to turn it into a free business account.  You can post products from your
store with a direct link back to the product page. Wow. For free. What's not to like about that.
You gotta do this. 
Check out my Pinterest Channel at:
http://www.pinterest.com/sharethebeauty

UPDATE: Now you can pin videos. Yeehaa. I have noticed an increase in engagement
using Pinterest and will use the site much more as a link to my store.

LINKEDIN

I've been a member for some time, however, I need to put more time into it.
Primarily to link businesses to other businesses and advertise your unique skillset.

March 6 - I'm posting more to LinkedIn. It's getting easier.

TSU

New kid on the block. I recently joined for another place to share my blogs.
Interesting ideas. Certainly worthy, right now, of being researched. It is another social media
start-up which is unique in the fact that they will pay you money if you get a lot of people following
your posts. Check them out. Are they legit? Seems to be. Right now I am in the testing phase.
You need to know a member to join. You need a short code to apply.

Here is my TSU shortcode link you may use to become a member.

https://www.tsu.co/sharethebeauty

Just copy & paste on www.tsu.co.

Remember I'm not making any promises about this site, but I still feel it's worth checking out.

TUMBLR

January 31 joined Tumblr.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  Another free social
media platform. Micro blog style of site is appealing. Also reported in 2014 to have over 400
million users. They allow links to your website, posts that can advertise what you do, audio
& video posts. Because I plan on using more video in future posts and need another place
to post my blogs caused me to consider Tumblr. Now I just need to take advantage of it. 


YOUTUBE

UPDATE: I have also included Youtube as a place to regularly share information to promote
my blogs. Potential customers love video. Soon I will post short weekly video blogs of my
current project schedule to help promote my online store.

 

 

FACEBOOK

Well.. what can I say. Great idea gone awry by almost weekly changes. Gray areas not clearly 
defined. I have always found Facebook difficult to use. It keeps changing. At one time, as a
freebie, it was great exposure for my business. Now, not so much. That is unless you pay for
ads. Of many posts I have read, there does not seem to be an accurate return on investment
formula (ROI) that makes any sense to me. Everything says your ad has a potential reach.
What does that mean? You cannot tell me how many people will actually see my paid ad. Get real.
I love Facebook, but it is experiencing growing pains. I use it and will continue to do so. 
But I gotta tell you, it's not nearly as much fun as it was. Somebody please comment on this.
I feel like I'm missing something here.

And now January 2015 one of the biggest changes as I understand it. 
If my business page posts look too much like an ad, it won't show up in the newsfeed,
which is nothing but ads, by companies with large budgets to create ads to run on the Facebook
newsfeed, while my posts on my business page are surrounded by (gulp) what looks like ads.

Sorry, I'm confused. Yes, I can post a pretty picture with a link to what I really wanted
to say and share but I just don't get it. Maybe it's my age showing. Anyone out there willing
to clarify this for me. My gut feeling tells me that  Facebook wants to make some money.
Don't we all want a little prosperity? 

(UPDATE: Well, I have been posting pretty pictures, that when clicked, link directly
to a product or blog page inside my online store. It is making a difference.}

Verdict. Facebook is frustrating but necessary. They are simply too big to ignore.

May be more useful if you can afford to pay for ads, which I plan on testing when my store
inventory is built back up. Please forgive me. This concludes the rant.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MOST RECENT FACEBOOK CHANGES

I must say the following changes have improved my attitude about Facebook.
Maybe they are concerned about their users.

 

June 2015

Started using hashtags at the end of all of my posts on my personal and business
Facebook accounts. Easy, simple, free. What's not to like.

From research, it seems that posting 1 or 2 hashtags return the best results.

1. Only use 1 or 2 hashtags per post.

2. Write it as one word: #waterfalls or a phrase with no spaces like this:
    #sharethebeauty

3. Put at the end of a post

4. Make sure the hashtag is relative to your post 

I have even been editing some older Facebook posts and adding hashtags.

 

March 3 Update

Make your photo posts link directly to your blog/website page.

A. Create the blog page or website page on your website with a photo at or 
    near the top of the page. Copy >paste the https:// address link of that page.
    (I'm using an optimized image that is 600 pixels wide x 300 pixels high, because
    I can use the same image in Twitter, Tumblr, TSU, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest.)
B. Go to your Facebook account where you normally post
     and paste the link you just copied.
     If all is well, you will see the text of your link & the photo you created for the
     page on your website.

C. When the photograph from your webpage is displayed a small dialog box
     will appear in the bottom middle of the image which says  +Upload Image.
    You can change the image to another image which you have pre -prepared.

D. Now delete the text copy of your link. 
     Now your photograph is the clickable link to the page you set up.

E. You can add text or just leave the photo as it is.

     The key to making this work is you must first create the blog page
     or website page and then copy the link of that page to Facebook.

 F. I'm excited about this. I just found it today. Now when you click to post
     you have the option to schedule when it will seen from 10 minutes until
     6 months in the future. WOW. Thanks Facebook. 

Note: You may need to turn off any browser ad blocking software (Chrome AdBlock)
to get it to work properly. After your post is working and your photo links to your 
page, you can turn AdBlock back on.

This is wonderful. I am constantly working on several blogs at once.
I don't want to post them until they are ready. Sometimes when I finish 
a blog the time to post is just not right. Believe me this is a welcome
feature.

January 28 - Facebook just added a call to action button at the bottom right of the 
cover photo. Button title options include: Shop Now, Sign Up & Contact Us & more, 
which provide a direct link to your website. 
I appreciate this positive change for my business page.

Check out my modified Facebook Business Page at
Share the Beauty - Michael M. Rogers Facebook Business Page

MAILCHIMP

Email client with direct integration to Shopify through a free app. Combine all your emails
that are captured, customers or subscribers to send newsletters to up to 2000 email
address, several times a month for free. Integrated email capture form for sign-up for 
newsletters or create an account on your Shopify store. Must have App for Shopify.
My plan is to send a newsletter once a month for now. This will increase when I have special
offers or discounts.

Create an account at:

http://mailchimp.com/

TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING

BUSINESS CARDS

Boring but necessary. Looks professional. Saves breathe. Hand out a card.
You would not believe how many clients I work with skip this step. They just 
don't want to pay a penny for a card. Come on. Advertise your website.

 

POSTCARDS 

This still works and always has for me. Direct mail postcards to your previous
customers. Hand them out at art shows or gatherings. The rate of return varies
depending on the product you are advertising. Great way to create interest.
At the very least, it is a reminder that you are still around and breathing.

UPDATE: February 11, 2015
New promotional 4" x 6" postcards have been ordered and should arrive soon.
My plan is to send 50 postcards per week to my customer mailing list. It will take
until September to send them all. This will give me time to build up
my inventory and to introduce several new products including new artwork.

 

OVERNIGHT PRINTS  (online printing service for business cards)

To produce my business and postcards I use Overnight Prints. An online
printing service. You post your designs on their site and in a few days
what you created turns up in your mail. The quality is outstanding. You get
discounts if you use the service often. Shipping is prompt. They can print
many other items including brochures, rack cards etc. I think they are the best
at what they do. Good price for the quality. Recommended without hesitation.

Check out Overnight Prints at:

http://www.overnightprints.com

 

NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES, TOURIST PUBLICATIONS 

I plan to do more of this kind of advertising, but mainly in towns that are close by
my hometown, hoping that those who have heard of me and my work may decide to
check out my website prominently featured in the ads. I hope to use classified ads
as an experiment to see what happens. Expensive, but could generate
potential sales leads for my online store. We'll see.

RADIO ADS

Local & regional radio ads have been semi-successful for me especially when releasing
a brand new product, such as a new Waterfall Nature DVD. Also when making a 
personal appearance or being at an art & craft show. I hope to do more of this since
my domain name is easy to remember. michaelmrogersfineart.com
 

CONCLUSION

There it is. The list of what I'm using today. Who knows what will change.
It will be interesting to track what social media works. Come along for the ride.
There are many possibilities. There will always be something new. What works
for me may not work for you. As I am fond of saying when I post hiking videos:
"Your experience may vary." Marketing your product using my method may 
not be effective for you. But who knows stranger things have happened.


I know it seems like a lot of work and it is. However, I am getting better at producing a 
new blog in Shopify and sharing it to all the other social media sites in a timely manner.
Comments are welcome. I have much to learn, but I'm willing to listen to other opinions.
Thanks, Michael M. Rogers

michaelmrogersfineart.com