With traditional high street shops closed (at least for now) and everyone doing their non-essential shopping online, there’s never been a better time to set up an online business. Even when shops reopen, many people will stick to online buying for a long time to come.
If you want to make the most of this period of quiet and come out the other side feeling productive and with something material to show for it, this could be a great time to launch your own online business.
So, have you had a great idea that you’re just about ready to get off the ground? If the answer is yes (and if you’re reading this, we think it probably is!), we’ve put together a few savvy digital marketing tips to help you get started. Read on for some business-launching inspiration…
- Set up a great Instagram account
- Invest in your photography
- Make branded social channels
- Find social media groups
- Community groups and forums
- Via a website
- Think about the “voice” of your business
- How much should you charge for your online service?
- More handy business tips and ideas
One of the best ways that you can launch the social channels for your business is by having a striking visual presence immediately – and the best way to do this is on Instagram.
This is a great time for retailers on Instagram, and not just because shops are closed. Brands that sell through the platform were doing a roaring trade before lockdown, and in many cases are doing much better than their more traditional counterparts. This is only going to continue. To succeed you need to be sure about what you want to say, and say it boldly. Make sure your products – or services – are front and centre, and that what you have to offer is immediately clear.
How to make sure you’re doing that? Well, we’ll get to that in our next tip…
This one is tied to the above. If your business is purely online, you’re not going to benefit from potential customers wandering past your shop and maybe having their attention grabbed by your products in the window. You need to make sure that happens when they see your brand online instead.
Make sure your online business turns heads straightaway by ensuring your imagery is top notch. This means hiring a quality photographer with good experience and a proven eye for your product shots. Stock images aren’t going to work in this case!
Of course, it goes without saying that you should set up Twitter and Facebook accounts too. These channels should act as an easy way for people to get in contact with you, and if possible book your services / order your products.
One thing to remember here is that people expect a very quick response on social media. If you know that you’ll only be able to check your channels once a day, make sure that’s clear on your page. People are less likely to expect an instant response if you’ve specified that the inbox will only be checked between 7pm and 9pm. Social media is all about sending a clear message and managing customers’ expectations, so make sure you’re authentic and honest at all times.
Aside from your own social media channels, you should look for local community groups too. Housing estates, villages and towns are very likely to have their own community Facebook pages these days. These platforms allow people to ask questions, discuss local issues, and even buy and sell items locally. Track down your local group, and then make sure you post introducing yourself and letting people know what your business is (but don’t go for the hard sell at this point!) As we all make our way through the coronavirus lockdown, people are happier than ever to support small and local businesses. Make sure you get in whilst interest is high!
As we’ve mentioned above, lots of communities have set up online ways of communicating with each other – and this was happening even before the lockdown. They might not exist on the standard social media channels, but might be a separate forum, or a WhatsApp group. There’s even an app, Nextdoor, that’s designed exactly for this purpose. Do some digging to find out where they are, and make sure you’re active in general conversations within them.
It’s important to know that these platforms are ways of building a community, not getting loads of sales straightaway. Chat to people as you normally would, and make sure they know about your new venture in an organic way. This will make them much more likely to look to your services in the future.
This is an important one – think of your website as your shopfront. If you’re short on time, you might want to hire someone to design and build it and ensure that it’s got all the functionality that you need. This might include a product list, ecommerce platform for ordering, or a contact form – or more likely that not, all of these. If you don’t know where to start, hiring someone to do it for you could save you a lot of time and stress!
Of course, you could build your website yourself too – the process can be quick and fun if you’re tech savvy, and it can be good to be completely in control. Try Wix, WordPress or Squarespace for easy templates that are optomised to certain business types to get you started.
This is something that you should think about right at the start, but is also something that can be adjusted over time. You need to think about your ideal customer here: who are they, what do they like, and how do they communicate? You need to make sure you reflect this in all your imagery, and all the copy that you have on your website and social channels. It can be a difficult thing to grasp if you’re not from a marketing background, so make sure you do your research!
If you aren’t selling a physical product, this is another important thing to think about. You initially need to work out what you would earn per year, or per hour, if you were employed by a larger company doing the same thing. There’s no reason why you should earn less just because it’s your own business!
As an example, an annual salary of £39,000 per year equates to £150 per day, or (for an eight-hour day) £18.75 per hour. Work out what you’d expect to earn in your industry, and set your prices accordingly.
Remember that you will be paying your own holiday and sickness pay, as well as your expenses, marketing and any staff costs, out of what you earn – so don’t be afraid to charge more than you would expect to earn if you were employed.
If you’re feeling inspired to start your own business, check out these other articles, too!
- How to launch your online business from home (with minimum effort)
- Business ideas you can start from home with (almost) no money
- Your guide to starting an online business
- Unique online business ideas you can start with very little capital
- Combining online and offline marketing to boost your business
Have you set up an online business during the lockdown? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Let us know on the MoneyMagpie Messageboard.