Day eight was all about progress. Viral marketing finally started to spread into the non-business world, two PR opportunities started to move forward, I got a complete site design put together for the new domain, selected a host, added several new products and had my first day of multiple sales. Overall, it turned out to be the best day of the project thus far.
(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.)
Disclaimer: I feel like I need to own up to skipping a day in the project. I spent the entire day in Cleveland for the Search Engine Marketing Made Simple seminar and didn't make it online at all the entire day. Since this was a pre-planned event, I felt like it was fair to not count that day in the experiment.
Settling on a Host
In the day seven article I talked about what a difficult time I had selecting a host. I'd narrowed it down to three great companies, but I was still a few dollars shy of being able to afford either of the two that I liked best. Finally by day eight I'd made enough off of my AdSense ads to be able to pay the $10 fee for hosting from The Karcher Group or Mor Designs.
After quite a bit of debate I decided to go with Mor Designs. Mostly because we were already using them to host Small Business Brief, which meant that I could pester Robert for free advice if I couldn't figure something out about the system, but also because he finally offered me my first month free. To that end I need to note that The Karcher Group offered to barter with me on the first month of hosting in exchange for product. This just goes to show that if you've got something interesting to offer, it never hurts to ask if someone will deal with you a little bit. The barter system is still alive and well in the world of small businesses.
I spent a bit of time that evening setting up FTP access to the site, changing my name servers and setting up an email account. I expect it will be the weekend before the DNS changes have propagated, but hopefully by Monday morning I'll be able to start directing people to www.thelactivist.com.
Putting Together a Site Design
Now that I had a hosting provider selected, I needed to get a web site ready to go online. While I've got passable skills in programs like Photoshop, I'm not a trained designer. That meant that for something quick that looked professional, I was going to need to find a template to work from. I started off my search at the aptly named Free Site Templates because it's run by the folks at Search Engine Forums, a forum that I used to call home. I didn't find anything there that worked for me, so I headed over to Templates Box which had quite a few designs worth downloading.
I spent some time in Photoshop playing around with a few different options and ended up creating my own hybrid by pulling graphics and design elements from a few different templates. The design that I ended up with was based off of this template.
Since the template was old-style code built with nested table upon nested table, I needed to have the site coded from scratch. While I could have done it myself, I'm not a very speedy coder. That meant that the barter system needed to come into play. Thankfully I've been blessed with a husband that's incredibly skilled in CSS and table-less design. So in this instance, the barter system meant asking my husband very nicely to stay up late to get the code built for my template. You'll be able to see the results of his hard work in a future article.
Moving Forward with Public Relations Pitches
I'd also heard back from both the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio and the Public Relations manager at CafePress about the PR angles that we'd been working. The CafePress team was ready to move forward with a pitch of the 30-day business story to some reporters that they know, and Grant Hospital had agreed to partner up with me for a fundraising event for the Milk Bank. I decided to let the CafePress team move forward with their pitch first while I worked with the Milk Bank staff to figure out what types of shirts and products we wanted to put together for them. Once we had some products put together and ordered, we decided that we'd pitch the local news, hoping to use any national coverage that CafePress might score as leverage.
The director of the local milk bank also said that she would get in touch with friends that run the other half dozen milk banks in North America to see if they would be interested in similar fund raising projects of their own. So far, things are moving along nicely on the public relations front and it has yet to cost a dime.
Viral Marketing Takes Off
On a similar note, the viral marketing online was really starting to take off. I not only found new blog discussions pointing to the project at Bill Harris' blog and Daniel Bergstr m's Blog, but I also noticed that the posting by the Search View team had been picked up by Moreover. That was all good, but what I was really looking for was for word to spread among people that would actually be interested in buying my product. That's why I was excited to see that I'd gotten a mention in Craigslist that sent nearly 50 visitors and another mention on a discussion forum for Charlotte Mothers that sent about 40 visitors. I was finally starting to see the buzz get picked up on its own within the breastfeeding community.
My blessed rankings on MSN continued as well as I scored two visitors from MSN on a search for "breastfeeding men." I'm not exactly sure what they were looking for, but I did find it interesting that two people in one day not only searched for this phrase, but found my listing all the way down at spot number nine.
New Products Sales Start to Pick Up
I also spent an hour or two working on some new slogans for the site. You can now find shirts designed to help non-donor moms support milk banks along with two more humorous breastfeeding shirts that read "got cookies?" and "fresh milk served here."
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came just before I headed to bed. I checked in on my store account for one last time and saw that I'd had not just one, but three new sales come in. One of those orders included three shirts and another included two, which brought my total profit on the shirts to $20. It's interesting to note that of the four people that have ordered so far, three have ordered the Eat at Mom's shirt, making it my most popular product line.
AdSense was still plugging along as well, earning me almost $14 in just a few days time.
Coming Up on Day Nine
Day nine sees me working on building out the content for the new web site while I try to figure out how to pull content into the site from CafePress and Blogger. I'll also be setting up my Chitika MiniMalls ads, figuring out a new way to promote the site and getting yet another barter offer.
Jump to Day nine.
(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
November 17, 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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