Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!
Back in April, I blogged about a pet project we had just launched: a little website selling a downloadable instruction booklet for making a Mexican folk dress that I had designed. I love sewing and crafting, and though I did put a lot of effort into the creation both of the dress and of the website, the Internet has made it so easy for individuals to act as publishers.
Compare your basic FTP program with the elbow grease technology of Johann Gutenberg’s printing press of 1440, and you are looking at a difference of night and day. A few lines of code and a few clicks of the mouse, and you are able to present yourself and your good ideas to the whole world.
My daily life revolves around publishing my own work and the work of my clients. It’s so routine, I hardly ever think about it. But this week, the thrill of seeing my Mexican Dress instruction booklet featured in the high quality quarterly magazine, Craft, has made me revisit the value and excitement of the printed word.
Taking a holistic approach to publishing
The basic formula for a small business owner is that you have a great idea, you amass the funds necessary for hiring a web designer, you publish your idea, you hire an SEO/marketer to begin bringing the attention of humans and search engines to your published idea. Some small business owners may skip the hiring-a-pro element, and tough it out themselves, learning as they go.
Since I launched this site in April, I’ve achieved top rankings for my major keyword phrases, as well as long tail ones. My site has been visited by thousands and thousands of people. I’ve won something over 100 backlinks, purely on the interest my idea created. I’ve been featured on numerous crafting blogs and sites. And, I’ve sold about 200 dress patterns.
Most small businesses do not expect to turn a profit in the first year of business. Luckily for me, being able to do this whole thing myself means that my time plus the cost of a domain and hosting were the only real investments in this project. So, it’s unusual to see it turning such a profit so early on. However, the small success I’ve detailed above can give almost any small business owner a good idea of the efforts and goals involved in publishing an idea on the web. The competitiveness of the industry, consumer demand, and budget determine how quickly a business sees results.
And now, I’m experiencing the huge adrenaline rush of having been noticed by the editor of a print magazine, and being asked if they might feature my idea. I believe that smart small business owners will set their sights on a holistic approach to marketing themselves that includes offline media. Why?
1) It can certainly bring in new traffic and new customers. I’m seeing a bit of a spike in direct traffic to my URL, which is likely coming from people reading the magazine feature. It’s early days to tell yet, but this is my guess.
2) Print gives authority. Showing your Internet visitors that offline publications have recognized you sends an excellent signal of trust and credibility. Think about the difference you would feel going to a website totally lacking in print citations compared to what your impression would be of a website author whose work had been featured in the New England Journal of Medicine and the New York Times. As long as people put trust in print, print is going to be a good place to be.
3) As most small business owners discover, SEO and Internet Marketing have got to be a part of any serious plan for a company website. These are the forms and tools of the world of search engines, and without them, most businesses will fail. Offline marketing is optional. And yet, in the ever-increasing need to secure defensible traffic from a variety of sources, the magazines, newspapers, and journals in your industry broaden and extend your reach.
Print Advertising Can Be Costly
I have spoken to numerous small business owners who have taken out advertisements in offline industry publications, only to be hugely disappointed by the lack of interest and revenue their investment created. A full page ad in the yellow pages of a phone book costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending upon where you live in the United States. The same applies to most forms of print media. If budget is an issue (and isn’t it always for we small business owners?), let me tell you exactly how I ended up getting featured in Craft Magazine.
When I published themexicandress.com, I spent several evenings figuring out on which websites it would be the most valuable for me to be mentioned. One of these was an online craft magazine that publishes blog-style craft projects. I wrote to the owner and told her about my small business. I was delighted to receive an enthusiastic reply that led to a blog post on that website.
In addition to running this craft blog, it turns out that the publisher also publishes their print magazine. They liked my business enough to request, several months after the initial blog post, to include it in their print magazine. So, basically what started out as an email conversation snowballed into a blog post and then a magazine feature. All this cost me was my time, and I had a good idea and luck on my side. This can happen for you, too, with time, effort, and a great business idea.
It really feels like an achievement to see my efforts in print. Daily work has made me take the ‘magic’ of online publication for granted at this point, but seeing my work laid out on a shiny magazine page speaks to me of a goal well met and the potential for exciting new things in the future.