There are challenges that come with running any business, but when it comes to a business that is solely based online, a unique set of challenges arise that have the potential to make or break a business.
I’ve ran my fashion business online for over 4 years now and have recently set up my author website linked to my WordPress blog. Over the years I’ve learnt so much about how to navigate the internet world to showcase my work, however there have been some stressful moments along the way. These are 3 main challenges that come with running an e-commerce business, and solutions on how to avoid them.
1. Website Maintenance
Yes, maintaining your own website can be tedious but it’s the face of your business. It can be difficult to stay on top of all your content depending on what you’re offering and this can be a big hindrance when it comes to representing your business online.
Think about what you like to see when you go on a website. It’s about structure, branding and most importantly, no grammatical errors. Would you want to buy from a company that has multiple errors on their front page? Would you continue to navigate that website after that first impression? As tedious as it may be, making sure your website has a clean personality and presentable finish is how business comes to you.
The best way to ensure that your website is up to scratch is to take your time. There is so much that goes into creating and maintaining a website, even if you’re using website builders such as Shopify, Go Daddy or Wix. Pacing yourself by working on one thing at a time will help you to focus on making sure that particular area is up to scratch before moving on to the next.
There has been times where I’ve let my followers know that my website will be down for maintenance for a few days. This allows me to work on the website with no distractions, and gives me the time to go over it a few times before re-launching back to the public.
Think of your website as the face of your business at all times. Make sure that it’s something that you would like to see if you visited. Be objective and focus on your audience, not how you want your website to look for you.
2. Product Images
Essential! Your product images have to be clear in regards to what you are selling. There are product images that just showcase the product on a clean background and product images that are more captivating and conceptual. Whichever approach you take will need investment.
Many people take short cuts with their product images to avoid spending money on studios, photographers and all the other expenses that come with doing a photoshoot, but this isn’t the way. You need to invest money to make money, and showcasing your products in a professional way will help you make sales.
There are so many freelance photographers out there looking to build their portfolios and would be willing to collaborate for reduced fees or no fees at all. Freelancer platforms such as People Per Hour and social media are the perfect places to source these services.
Marketing an online business may seem like an easy task since everyone pretty much has access to the internet in one way or another, but this isn’t the case. When it comes to online marketing, targeting your audience is crucial. You want to connect with those that are interested in what your business has to offer, not everyone online.
Social media marketing is a great way to reach many people, but not necessarily the people that are interested in your product. Running a social media ad on Instagram or Facebook for example allows you to target your audiences directly by focusing on age, gender and geographical areas. Not only does this get your ads in front of the right people, but it also builds up your social media profile with potential customers.
For those that want a more affordable approach to marketing, then running giveaways related to your products is another great way to build a buzz. People love free things, and will often promote a giveaway post to be in with a chance to win. Be sure to not offer too much for a giveaway if you’re using your own products. The aim is to build a buzz around your business, not to give away all your goods!
Moving away from social marketing completely; I would suggest trying PR marketing. Now this doesn’t mean contacting influencers you may know and sending out your products for some content. For small businesses, there is a agency that caters to us and they’re called Journolink. You can subscribe and pay monthly to have access to their contacts and press release tools. Sending out samples of your products through an agency such as this not only gives you a professional look, but can also get your product in the right hands where you can actually benefit from the work that you put in.
Running any type of business isn’t easy, and I respect everyone that has taken that step to setting one up and putting their vision out to the world. This is why I write these posts. I want to help all those that are thriving and those that feel like they want to give up because they’ve exhausted every avenue. I know how you feel and I’ve been there at times, but what we need to remember as business owners is that we are critical thinkers. We will always find a way to to make what we’re passionate about work, and even if we can’t, we will change the course of our lives in some way.
Never forget your greatness. Never forget the drive that made you start your business. No one can do what you do like you can, so capitalise on your talents and never give up!
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T K Williams-Nelson