Confections by Shara's Paperie

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A Designer Learns the Ropes of the Internet

Posted April 18, 2011

 

I have always been a designer.  Then I became a business owner when I opened my shop in Memphis, Shara’s Paperie.  And the next step was my ecommerce site confectionsbysharaspaperie.com so I became an internet merchant. But when you look at what I love to do the most it always goes back to designing.  I love color, pattern, fonts, elements, swashes, swirls and list goes on and on.  Nothing makes me happier at work then coming up with some fabulous new design for one of our personalized gifts.  Creating an invitation that just pops for some special occasion.  Or even adding a gorgeous new stationery set to the line.

So what do I spend a lot of time doing these days?  SEO-ing, PPC-ing, Link Building, Facebooking, Tweeting, Data Feeding, Blogging and of course Keyword-ing.  Turns out that when you launch an ecommerce site it is not instantly #1 on Google and flooded by millions of orders.  Turns out that there is a whole lot of work that goes into having your website found.  I have never been afraid of work, but this was and is occasionally still daunting.  Maybe because it is a whole new world for me and there is a lot to learn, and it feels sometime that it is not in English, but in geekish.   On the other hand it is rewarding to see the progress.  To see those numbers and graphs on Google Analytics crawl up no matter how slowly.   For orders to increase because of the advertising campaign that is working.  Consider this blog entry “The Internet according to Confections by Shara’s Paperie”.

SEO – the acronym for Search Engine Optimization.  Basically this means using words on your website that the general population will use to search for what you have so the search engines know that you have it.  For example some of our keywords are personalized phone cases, monogrammed phone cases, custom phone cases, unique phone cases.  It goes on and on. So we use those term lots of times on our site so that Google knows to tell Jane who is searching in California that the website based in Memphis has what she is looking for. 

PPC – Pay per Click.  You know those ads that show up on the right hand side of your Google page?  Those ads are Pay per Click.  An account is set up with Google and again you tell them what keywords should trigger Google displaying your ad.  Then you hope that someone will click on it get to your website and fall in love with every product that you have to offer.  The way it works is that you pay when someone clicks, not when they fall in love and buy which makes the whole thing a bit of a gamble. 

Link  Building – Another secret of the internet is that search engines like sites that have lots of other sites linking to them.  This kind of does make sense, basically the internet considers your site more credible the more links that you have.  The more credible that you are the higher you show up in the search engine. Well this is challenging for a new site, so a whole lot of time is spent finding other sites to link to yours.  Who knew!

Data Feeding – This was a completely new one on me.  Products that show up in Google shopping are actually put up there, they don’t magically appear.  So in order for your products to show up in that oh-so-wonderful Google shopping box you have to upload a data feed.  Which essentially is a fancy term for a spreadsheet with all the information that Google wants, in the order that Google wants it.  Figuring out that order was challenging, at least for me.  But I am happy to say it was mastered (with about what seemed like a hundred emails from Google support).

Blogging – I have never really been a writer. My husband is and I am always impressed with the articles, essay and ads that he writes.  Well, again the search engines like sites that have lots and lots of content.  Content comes from blogs, blogs have to be written.  So I am becoming a writer, not necessarily a Pulitzer-prize winning, New York Times worthy writer but a writer none the less.  I have actually starting liking the whole writing process.  What is challenging is making all these blog entries interesting to anyone besides just me.  There is a whole world of how to blog, when to blog and where to post these blogs.  I am trying to learn all that.  Turns out that the other thing that makes search engines like your blog is to put lots of those pesky little links and keywords in there.  Seeing the pattern?

Facebooking – Is that even a word?  I have had a personal Facebook page for awhile and enjoy keeping up to date with friends and family via the page.  Well, now I have a fan page too.  It is also fun keeping up with clients and friends on that as well.  But did you know that according to Social Media experts (and there are a lot of them) you are supposed to post once a day?  Preferably in the morning and only occasionally about your products or business.  The rest of the time you are supposed to post about things related to your industry, things that you think your fan base will find interesting.  Now that is a great idea. But I have to admit that always thinking of these fascinating, scintillating and thought provoking things about the personalized gifts, stationery and invitation world is not always easy.  Sometimes I am just not that clever.

Tweeting – That I am sure is a word.  Twitter can be a lot of fun and I have found some great resources from following industry leaders, other designers, certain magazines and even Trainer Bob.  But did you know that (again according to Social Media experts) that you should tweet 20 – 30 times a day!  How crazy is that?  Honestly who has time to do that?  I am lucky to get one or two up there and only hope that they are as interesting, fascinating and scintillating as my Facebook post.

So what is the point of all this?  Bottom line it is to get people to your site who loves your products as much as you do and are happy to buy them.  My love will always be the designing, but I will conquer the all this other stuff because it seems that if you don’t you can design the most fabulous personalized gift in the world, put it on your fabulous web site but no one will know it is there.