There are 7.9 million online retailers in the US. You may have not felt like you had a reason to establish an online presence for your business when you first launched it, but it’s never too late to get your start. Let’s face it, the internet is not going anywhere and if anything, it’s just going to become more and more and more prevalent in our lives.
Through the lock-down period of the pandemic, the businesses that were heavily present online made huge strides. The businesses with an online presence were not nearly as financially affected as those with just a brick and mortar presence, and truthfully, the online game is the key to being able to thrive in the midst of a pandemic or anything else that can dramatically affect your business locally. Having an online presence that spans a large area and array of people will allow your business to thrive, despite any local hardships that could possibly hinder a solely brick and mortar business.
Here’s how to establish your business online:
1. Create a social media community online
Getting started is as easy as picking a handle and creating accounts on your favorite social media platforms. Make sure you choose platforms that work well with your business. For instance, my DIY blog is extremely visual and my boutique features clothing and accessories so Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have worked well for my community.
So, how do you grow your following once you’ve established your accounts? At this point, it’s going to be all about engagement. The good news? Once you get things set up online, and you start to establish that online presence. While you do have to be present online, it’s all digital, which means you can do it on the go. You can go live from your phone while you're in the supermarket checkout line,or send an email in the school pickup line. Everything can be easily done from a smartphone.
2. Create an online store
You will certainly need an online place for people to go and purchase your products. Not only does it create another stream of revenue, but it creates security in your business, knowing that if your customers can't come into your store, they still have a way to shop with you. Your online store is open 24 hours a day, so no matter what time frame works best for your customer, you are available. With an online store presence, your business can still thrive through any physical obstacle or setback.
3. Start a blog
Now while this isn’t as necessary as steps one and two, creating a blog can be a huge asset to the success of your business. A blog will give you an avenue to share news about new products, sales and specials coming up, further establish your thought leadership in a related area of expertise, and even provide an additional revenue stream. A blog is like a home base to your business. It is your own section of the internet that you own. You have control over the content and can push people there to learn more about your business through your social media accounts that you have set up.
As you are starting in your blog, make sure you have a specific target audience in mind and that you know your niche. It’s far better to appeal to a smaller engaged audience than a large audience who doesn’t care what you do. You’ll have to post quality content consistently. There are no shortcuts there. Once you’ve established a loyal following, you can monetize your blog through a paid membership, selling ads, writing sponsored content or even creating an online course.
There really are so many advantages to having an online presence, even in addition to having a storefront. Obviously, there will also be some logistics to work through. You’ll have to set up shipping, understanding inventory management and all of the other ins and outs of running an online business, but once you've established your brand and your sales tactics, you can get everything moving in the right direction and hire the necessary people to help you keep things running smoothly. The additional revenue that the online space provides will create more security and freedom in your business.
Brooke Riley is the CEO and Founder of Re-Fabbed, a hybrid DIY decorating, travel and lifestyle blog. She also owns the Re-Fabbed online boutique and offers business coaching to help other entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners grow and maximize their presence in the online space. Re-Fabbed has been featured online in Success, Forbes Next1000, Country Living, Huffington Post, House Beautiful, Pioneer Woman, and Good Housekeeping. Connect with Brooke on Facebook @refabbedbybrooke