While Day four ended up being my most successful one yet, it also served as yet another reminder of what it's like to be a mom, work a job, live your life and still try to setup a business.
(If you're just catching up with this series of articles, be sure to swing into the ongoing discussion thread at the Small Business Ideas forum. You'll be able to link to each day's article and participate in the discussion going along with it.)
Stats, I Need Stats!
Since this is an open ended learning project, I'll be posting details and insight from the stats program in each of the upcoming articles.
The latest stats:
Now that I had stats in place, albeit limited ones, I felt like I could at least do some tracking of which parts of the viral marketing campaign were working. That meant it was time to move on to other things.
Online Reputation Management
My next step was to check Technorati and Google's Blog Search to find any new sites that might have started linking to the project. I found a handful of new links and took the time to drop emails to each of the posters to say thank you for their kind words and to encourage them to visit the forum thread to share their two cents.
I can't stress enough how important it is to do this when you are relying on viral marketing. The people that take the time to blog about your product, or to write reviews or post feedback in forums are "sneezers" for your brand. They play an important role in helping market your product and they do it for free. Treat them well and make sure they know that you appreciate them. Chances are that it will pay you back in spades. Even more importantly, it often sparks interesting conversations and creates new business contacts that you might never have had otherwise.
In my second major mistake, one of our readers wrote to inform me that I had spelled "weaner" wrong. The irony of this was that I'd originally spelled it correctly, but had changed it after reading it spelled "weener" in multiple forums. That meant that I needed to correct every area of the site and every graphic that had the misspelling on it and upload all of that content again.
This is why you should take the time to have someone else review your work, or at least to spell check. (To note, when I used Google to spell check "weener" they asked if I'd actually meant "weenie." Way to go Google!)
Dealing with Distractions
By now, it was getting on late morning and I had my second moment of appreciation for others. This is the area where I need to send a "wow! you amaze me" notice out to every single work at home parent among our readers. The complicated juggling act required to balance everything in life takes a level of skill that I can't even fathom. Here's why I know this...
Around 11am, I was just getting into the swing of things working on The Lactivist. I'd put Elnora down for a nap, had scrubbed the kitchen floor and had baked cakes for a birthday party I was having that evening for Elnora's first birthday and my husband's 33rd. My in-laws (a dozen of them) were arriving around 4pm, so I knew I had a few hours to make frosting, work on the site and still get Search Engine Guide content built.
Or so I thought. A few minutes later, the phone rang. The real estate company wanted to show the house at 12:30. That meant that I needed to go on a frenzied cleaning spree to make sure everything was spotless again. So, the computer got packed up and I went into cleaning mode. The showing was a set-back, but I could still pull everything off. Then the phone rang again. That's right. Another showing, at 5:30. Just when everyone was supposed to arrive. So I packed up the baby, the dog and the laptop, rescheduled the party for a restaurant and headed out the door.
Life as a momtreprenuer.
Because I Needed ANOTHER Blog...
Work on the project picked back up again around 10pm at night. This is when shoe string entrepreneurs work...when the kids are in bed and the in-laws have gone home.
I'd known from the start that I was going to need to build content into the site in one way or another, but at this point, I was still trying to decide if I should write articles and content for the site, or if I should setup a blog instead. I decided that I'd go with Blogger, so I setup a new blog at http://thelactivist.blogspot.com/. I went through the steps to get a basic template driven blog online, made my first post and moved on. (More on blogging coming up in Day 5.)
AdWords, AdSense and a Little Frustration
Back on day 3, I'd put in an application for an AdSense account so that I could start running the ads on The Lactivist store. I figured that even if visitors didn't want to purchase my products, there was a chance that I could earn some side change via contextual ads. Approval came through for AdSense on day 4 and I spent about an hour setting things up.
It's important to note at this point that my reasons for using AdSense were two-fold. Yes, I was hoping that it would help me turn a profit, but I also realized that I could take advantage of AdSense's channel options to track the page views to different sections of my site. One of the limitations of free stats packages is that you have to work with very limited data. eXTReMe Tracking is a handy way to track overall traffic numbers and referrers, but there's no break down of data that lets you see which areas of your store are drawing the most interest. AdSense channels will show page views for each channel, so I set up different AdSense channels for each product line and put them in place.
At the same time, I was dealing with the frustration of the new "all accounts under one login" policy at Google. I had already setup the AdWords account for The Lactivist under one username. A few days later, I put in my request for AdSense under the same name. The next time that I tried to login, it asked me if I was actually trying to log in to my AdSense account. When I told it that I wasn't and tried to get into AdWords, it pushed me into creating a new account. In other words, Google locked me out of my AdWords account. So, I sent an email off to support services and moved on to the next order of business.
Chitika Mini Malls
I'd avoided even looking into the new Chitika Mini Malls for the first few days because I so closely associate them with ads for iPods and computer systems. It just didn't seem targeted for my audience, so I couldn't see the sense in running them.
On day 4, I gave it a bit more thought and decided to go run some searches to see what I could find. After all, people buy breast pumps online, along with maternity clothing and nursing tops. As it turns out, many of these products are actually available through Chitika, so I went ahead and put in an application.
My First Sale!
By this time, it was getting close to midnight and it was time to head off to bed. I'd been a little depressed that I hadn't seen any sales activity yet, despite the activity at the site. I realized that it was likely that most of the current traffic was coming from people more interested in the 30 days project than in the products, but I'd still had some hope.
I decided to make one more check before heading to bed and sure enough, there was my first sale! Someone from California purchased the "Eat at Mom's" Baseball Jersey, which has a $5.00 markup. That means that on day 4 of the project, I'd finally turned a profit. I debated turning around and putting that money into eBay listings, but realized that right now, it would be smarter to leave it in CafePress so that it will cover another month's worth of premium store fees.
Coming up in Day 5
Tomorrow, I'll share some insight on my first full day as a Lactivist blogger, some tips on how I integrated my blog content into the Lactivist store, some further experiences with online reputation management and my second source of income.
Jump to Day five.
(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
November 12, 2005
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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