I've got some badly-written tips that you can take or leave - most have worked for me, but I'm in a different kind of market!
- If you find a decent web host (I use www.pair.com
) at a decent price (I pay $5 a month), it shouldn't cost you much to keep the website running 24/7. Make sure you've coded all of your pages properly, with metatags (i.e. keywords) out the wazoo. I've been running my business kind of in the background for the past few months; while sales have dwindled, they're still happening! People are finding the site and specific shirts based on the keywords they're using to search.
- Get your URL linked and mentioned on as many sites as possible. One of my most web-savvy pals claims this is the real key to attracting customers. For the record, any Craftster member who is willing to post a link to my site will in return be linked on mine! (http://www.whogivesashirt.ca/links.html
- Try linking up with a like-minded business (but preferably not a direct competitor). See if you can figure out a value-added kind of scheme. I hooked up with some independent music labels, who give me free samplers to include in my shirt packages. Maybe a local homemade-craft shop or antiques store would be willing to buy some soaps from you as a bonus for their customers?
- On the flipside, approaching a direct competitor might give you some leverage to consider running a common store - be it online or brick-n'-mortar.
- If I were a soap manufacturer (or a crafter with a similarly unique and decadent product) I'd be approaching other bombonniere-type businesses. For one thing, you'll get to mass-produce your soaps, and for another, you can charge through the nose for them! If you're interested in going this route, ask your local newspaper if they publish a "wedding supplement" at any point of the year. It might be worth taking out an ad, or writing a press release like "10 bombonniere ideas you may not have thought of!" Gift-basketeers (not a real word, but it sounds fun, don't it?
) are always on the lookout for affordably-priced items to test out.
- My concern with your sales slowdown is that you're only making a quarter on each sale. If the soap is hefty enough, and is handmade, there's no reason you can't charge closer to $3 (keep in mind the power of the $X.99 for coming in under a psychological barrier!). If you're not making money (like, MONEY, not change!) on each sale, there's not much point in paying to keep your site afloat.