Why I started a blog (with hints and tips on starting your own business)

Its early days for me in the grand scheme of starting a business.  

It all began in February this year (2018), when I had had a really rough time in my current job, I was desperate to leave and the opportunity arose for me to do so.

I have contemplated and even tried to begin working for myself for over 10 years.

I am 37, so I decided it was now or never.

It’s hard, I’m not going to lie. There is so much that goes into setting up a business and what you should and shouldn’t do, that I felt slightly overwhelmed and believe me if you don’t do your research and just throw yourself into it you will stumble and probably even fail!

I read numerous blogs and advice pages on what to do and how to get started that I had pages and pages of notes that started to contradict each other.

I think one thing I learnt from all of this was that I can’t do everything, I had to really think about what I want to achieve and what my own personal goals were, but the two main things that kept reoccurring in my research was knowing your product and knowing your audience.

My business is just me. Down to the designing and making of the product, to marketing, sales and even accounting (and now it seems blogging too.)

So where do you start? I still can’t answer that question but I shall tell you how I have got to the point I am now where I was told… “You need to start a blog”  

What a scary prospect that is, I know I can write but can I write well enough to engage people and create something that they really want to read?

I hope so!

It all started with what I knew I could do. I was pretty sure that family and friends weren’t just being nice when they said that I was talented and that I could sell the things that I created.

I paint murals, so far mainly for children’s bedrooms and playrooms but I have also painted a conservatory and some logos and quotes around a school, but just to add an extra string to my bow, I make wire wrap jewellery, they are bespoke, unique and (I think) rather unusual. (that's me wearing one of my pieces in the photo - Hi!!)

I spent months before I started my business pinning ideas to Pinterest, I spent more time pinning than doing! I then read and read and read, until February hit and I was no longer in a job where I felt totally unappreciated. So it was time to put those ideas into action.

So, firstly I looked at this website…

https://www.startuploans.co.uk/business-advice/how-to-start-a-business/

The information that they have on this site really is invaluable in terms of the main things you need to do to start your business, even if you don’t want or need a loan, you can still use all the information and it is FREE (what a lovely word)

I thought I needed a loan but as I worked my way through the files, started to write a business plan and even spoke to a business mentor, I realised that I didn’t, I also realised that I probably didn’t actually need a business plan either.

This does not apply to everyone, I will repeat, this does not apply to everyone!! I am not here to tell you not to write a business plan, if you want a bank loan or have employees or business partners you absolutely need one, it is a very good place to start (and I have half of one) but for me, I came to the realisation that as long as I had a short, mid and long term goal, because I am just me, alone, by myself, a business plan wasn’t necessary.

What is essential though (which I found out a few months later) is writing a marketing plan... and most importantly the section on “who your customers are?”

This is so hard. I mean really hard. I still haven’t quite got there. I am still researching and writing it now but it really is so important as it shapes your whole marketing plan, in terms of where to advertise and what platforms to use.

Which brings me to now and why I am writing this Blog.

It is apparently an essential piece of the puzzle, how I will get my website noticed, how I will potentially convert readers into buyers. 

I learnt this by visiting the Google Digital Garage in Birmingham where I live. Amazing place. So unbelievably helpful and I highly recommend them to anyone who is trying to launch their own business.

Follow this link to check them out - https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage

I have currently gone to 3 workshops and had my first 1:1 coaching session and one of the points that has come up repeatedly here is this…

Who is your target audience?

Advertising to everybody is like advertising to nobody!

You need to know your audience.

Now… I have tried to research. I have tried to write a blurb about who my audience would be. For example: Joanna who is 48 and blah blah blah, but I am stuck. I don’t get it. This could be why I am not getting many sales because I am simply coming to a complete block when it comes to finding my target audience.

It’s not the best position to be in and I really need to answer these questions:

  1. How do my target market find things? E.g. Newspapers- real or online, social media – if so which platforms.
  2. Where do my target market hang out?
  3. What are their interests?
  4. How old are they?

By doing this I should then be able to advertise on certain websites that promote certain topics, pick the correct social media platforms to showcase my work and ultimately attract the audience necessary to create sales. Sounds easy doesn't it?

I think I get stuck because I have 2 different ideas that I am selling, but also because both of these ideas could be bought by multiple different characters.

Jewellery wise it could be a husband buying for a wife, a lady who wants to treat herself, a son or daughter buying for their mum.

Murals wise, it could be a business wanting to create a focal point, a young couple expecting a baby, an older couple wanting a unique focal point in their lounge.

Who knows? And how do you figure out where to advertise if you have so many different potential customers?

I’ll have to let you know once I figure that out myself. But hopefully my point here is coming across. Know your audience, advertise in the right place and you will start to sell your product.

I’m getting there. Slowly but surely.

My main issue is that no one really knows I exist. No one is really checking out my website and only a few people are buying my products.

Advice given to me by the google digital garage team is…

Start a blog.

So here I am. Writing a blog. How am I doing?

A few tips that I learnt from the Google Digital Garage that may help you with your SEO (search engine optimisation) and making yourself Googleable…

  • Go on to Google my Business and get yourself verified (it’s free)
  • Add Google Analytics to your webpage (it’s also free)
  • Use Google Trends to find out what is trending right now and whether your idea is worth blogging about (again it’s free)
  • Create a content calendar- knowing where to post and when to post is essential. Look for specific events that may be coming up e.g. Easter, Christmas. Do you have any products to launch around that time?
  • Create a blog calendar- to keep yourself on track and again know when you should be posting
  • Repeat your keywords at least 4-8 times on the homepage of your website
  • The more pages the better (I thought this was strange as I didn’t want to overwhelm my audience but apparently the less pages you have the less likely you are to be found.)
  • Start a Blog (I know scary thought)

I also found The Balance https://www.thebalance.com/ a very helpful website full of interesting articles about starting a business and marketing etc. 

I am not even close to being noticed yet. 4 people visited my website in the last 2 weeks, one of them was me, one was my Mum and one was a guy at the google digital garage, so I am by no means an expert, but I hope that passing on a few tips that I have learnt so far will help other people who are in the same situation.

It is hard. Really hard. Will it work out? Only time will tell I guess…