Saturday, January 14, 2012

Half a Dozen Ways to Market Your Business for FREE by Shabby Lane Shops

So, you started up your online business and are ready for the orders to come flooding in - uh - what?  No orders?  Humm - HELLO out there!  Where are all the buyers???? 

You can have the most gorgeous website template, fabulous products and the best business plan but guess what?  If no one knows you are there what difference does it make?  Opening an online web store is like opening a real brick and mortar store in the downtown area of your city.  Only the people on the same street can see your new store.  You sister, mother and Aunt Martha might be willing to purchase one of your pretties just cause they are so proud of you but unless you have a lot of rich relatives you are going to have to branch out and let everyone outside of that street know you are there and shout  "Come on down!"  While a brick and mortar store only needs to advertise to those in their general area, your online store is capable of getting customers from around the world.  That's a whole lot of people you have to get to your site.  And if marketing statistics are correct - only a small percentage of the people who visit your site actually become a customer, so you have to get lots and lots and LOTS of people to your web store.  So what's your plan?   If you don't have one, then it's a good idea to get one if you intend to stay in business. 

There are various ways to market your web store.  You can purchase ad space online in various places like Google click to pay ads.  You can purchase print ads in popular magazines that feature articles and ads by other similar businesses. Purchasing print ads is always a good idea if you use the right publications but can get pretty costly for those starting out on a tight budget.  The best thing to do is invest your "time" and keep your money.  There are a variety of free ways to market your products as well as some lower cost ways to consider before taking out that second mortgage to advertise your new business.

Let's start with some basics. Did you set up your site to be user friendly?   Are the graphics overwhelming and border on clutter overload?  Or maybe forcing people to listen to your idea of good music might be a feature to rethink.  Some will close out of a website when the music comes on.   Does a buyer have to click a dozen links to finally get to the product they want to look at?  All these things can send your potential customers packing before they have even scrolled down your home page. 

Your web template is your first impression.  It's like meeting someone for the first time.  Would you make a good impression the way you are or does your site scream out every word with huge font type and bright colors as if by assaulting their eyes you are yelling in their ear.  Do your products stand on their own, or are you going to CONVINCE the buyer that they HAVE to buy it by YELLING AT THEM.  Or does trying to find an item on your site become a game of hide and seek because they have to click through a dozen links to get there?  How about the text and pictures on your pages?  Is it direct and to the point with perhaps a few pictures for accent or does the text go on and on and the visitor has to scroll for miles to get to the bottom of the page?  If this describes your site then it's time to clean for clean up.  Your site should be a pleasant experience for your visitors so they will want to come back time and again - willingly.   Is it pleasant to look at and easy to navigate?  Are your products, categories and pages well organized and easy to find?  How about the essentials - an obvious link to view what’s in their cart, to get back to your home page and to contact you if needed?  Your website is your best dress or suit.  PUT IT ON and greet your potential buyers as if they are important to you.  A sloppy website gives the impression of disorganization, unprofessionalism & a sloppy attitude.

Your website is ready, your layout and products are organized and you have your best outfit on - now what?  Let's review some ways to market your site that are free. 

1.  Make sure you have set up your site - every page, product, category, image, to be search engine friendly.   Let's face it - if you are on page 210,423 of the search engine results for widgets - you are never going to sell a widget.  Your aim is to get your site listed within the first five pages of the search engine results - preferably the first three because it's rare that a person will actually stick around much further then the 4th or 5th page of results.  You absolutely must put some time into using good keyword rich text on your site and incorporating meta tags.  If you don't have the foggiest idea how to do search engine optimization on your site then do a little research.  Did you know that search engines cannot read a graphic image unless you code in an alt or title tag?  If you have nothing on your page but graphics then you have nothing on your page for the search engines to pick up and index.  Some hosting companies are set up to make that process super easy but some do not.  It is not necessary to pay someone else to do search engine optimization on your site unless you have more money then time or are unwilling to do a little research and put the time into doing it yourself.   This is a MUST for your website and something everyone can do themselves.  If you do not have the time to put into something this important,  there are reputable businesses that can do that for you, for a reasonable rate.  Do be careful of complete strangers that email you offering those services.  We even have a wonderful shop, DesignHer Brands that specializes in this on our home page.

2.   Set up a newsletter sign up form to build a mailing list.  Unless you want the spam police to break down your door and haul your computer out of your house it's best to do it the right way and use an email program like or  The monthly cost is minimal and they provide you with the form to put on your site.  When you have new product releases or a sale you can log into your email account and compose a newsletter featuring the latest additions to your site or any special announcements.  A newsletter mailing list is a must have for your site so plan on spending some time each month putting together a short newsletter to remind your fans that you are there and just can't wait for them to come see you again - and then give them a reason to.  Give something away - you don't have to give something very expensive - just give your visitors a reason to get excited about something.  A spiffed up bookmark or some small trinket is enticing.  I used to hold a monthly drawing for a prize and the requirement was the customer had to enter each drawing separately.  That meant they had to come back to the site at least once a month to enter the drawing and while they were there they might as well look around a little. 

3.  Social Networking Sites

Blogging - yep I know - you are already so busy how are you ever going to find the time to blog???  But blogging is FREE ADVERTISING for your site and important for ranking well at Google.  Search engines index individual pages in their results - use your blog post as an opportunity to rank high in the search engine results for an important search term relevant to your business.  It doesn't bring results overnight but the links last forever. 

Facebook - set up a facebook account and set up a landing page - even set it up to look like your site template.  This allows people to "like" your business on Facebook thus spreading the word about your business.  Give them a reason to like you on Facebook by explaining to them why they should and what benefits they may receive - like discounts, daily tips, DIY articles or notifications of contests and drawings.  There are over 750 million Facebook users and it's growing everyday - can you afford to miss this free opportunity to advertise your site?

Twitter - ahhh - to twitter or not to twitter - everyone twitters these days.  Twitter is a great tool to help promote your business.  Promote your blog post by asking a question about the subject in your blog or explain what is coming next on your site.  Ask people to look at your site and give you feedback.  Give advice on a subject relative to your business.  Don't bore people to death always pushing your products - promote other people's products too and talk about current events - the point is people are listening to you and YOU have a website.  

4.  Link Exchanges with Other Sites

Ok - more than likely you have a Web Links page on your site - are you using it?  Linking with other sites who have similar interests as your site is free advertising.  The more links that lead to your site the better the chances you have of climbing up in the search engine results.  Spend ten minutes a day or ten minutes a week exchanging link banners with other sites but for sure spend time doing it.  You cannot have too many links exchanged with other sites. If you exchanged links with a dozen or so other sites and then stopped - you ain't done yet. 

5.  YouTube - how about a video?  Can you make a video with your web cam that addresses a question a prospective customer has or shows how to use your products or a DIY (do it yourself) tutorial?  These days DIY trash to treasure videos are hot, or you might take a drab fireplace mantle and dress it up with your products to turn it into a focal part of the room.  Sell children's boutique clothing or hair pieces?  Put on a cute fashion show.  Use your imagination.  If you are too camera shy then grab a friend or relative that likes to ham it up in front of the camera and put them to work.  Be sure to invite the viewer to come over to your site and look around and maybe even do an incentive like "enter the coupon code "saw you on you tube" and get 10% off your first order".  Upload your video to YouTube and then give it a title that is rich in keywords, a good keyword rich description and be sure to tag it with good keywords.  Then put them on your blog and Facebook page and promote them through Twitter.  

6.  Word of Mouth - how about offering your current customer some incentive for referring a new customer?  Set up a referral program and advertise it in your newsletter, on your blog, Facebook and twitter accounts.  Something simple like, a percentage off  of their next purchase when they refer a customer who purchases from you and enters their name in the cart.  When someone they referred purchases then make a big deal out of it - send the referrer a big thank you with their discount gift voucher and maybe even a little something extra. 

These are just a few ways you can help get your business noticed without investing much more than your time.  Of course, purchasing advertising in magazines and other venues is faster and if you can budget for advertising then by all means do.  The Shabby Lane Shops online mall site pools the money from all of it's members to provide huge advertising exposure - your own personalized storefront link on a well established site with thousands of visitors every day for online advertising, exposure in our newsletter to our vast mailing list, full page ads in popular magazines, our own newsstand magazine carried in over 500 locations including Barnes & Noble, Bookworld and Hancock Fabrics, television exposure, and participation in holiday and women's shows, a members only auction site, a networking forum, and many more benefits including discounted hosting services and discounted web design and printing services for your marketing materials.  Definitely a "get a lot of bang for your buck" advertising venue for those looking to save some money on all their small business needs while benefiting from the extensive business exposure opportunities offered at Shabby Lane Shops. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shabby Lane Shops has a new look! Free Shipping Fridays

Stop by to see our new look!   We have made the site fresh & new!  
Easier to navigate and visit all of our fabulous shops! 
Stay tuned for an exciting announcement next week for shop owners!

Shop owner? click here to see all of our exciting membership benefits! 

Shabby Lane Shops loves FREE!   
Now we are devoting a day to FREE Shipping!


newsstand issue has arrived!
You will find it on the newsstands of Barnes & Noble, Bookworld & Hancock Fabrics on  
January 5th 2012  
Back issue bundles available for $3!  

Special thanks to our Vintage Romance 2012 sponsors,  

Please click above to visit them!   

Many new items added to our auction site!  

Fantastic News!! You can find our beautiful magazine at every Hancock Fabric Store, many Barnes & Noble stores & Bookworld 



Shop Owner?   
spend 2 weeks getting to know us better  

Premium front page shops available    
We publish our members for free in our very own newsstand magazine!
Join us today just in time for the holidays!  All membership levels include FREE ads in National Magazines.  Your product in a National Magazine 2-4 times a year FREE!  


Take a peek at our phone order catalog!


We had a great show!
 We had so many stop by the show to  
tell us they saw us on TV



 Great for scrapbooking project, note cards  or even framing!

FREE Ecard or freshen up your blog with our FREE blog backgrounds! 

Have you seen our NEW web designs?   New web designs just added!  
Starting your own online boutique is very easy & affordable!   


Thank you for spending time with us today!  Have a great weekend! 

Catherine Monceaux
Shabby Lane Shops

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Year Buy 1 get 2 Free Sale on select items from SBS Teas

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Happy New Year from SBS Teas

Dear Catherine,

Wishing you every happiness this New Year. Thank you for being our customer. We look forward to continuing to help you in the coming year.

Warehouse Sale
 We are cleaning out the warehouse to get ready for all the new products coming.  You can grab the savings!!!  We have packaged up some of our discontinued and holiday teas, coffees and iced teasBuy One Get Two Free.    No code necessary!!Buy One Get one Free Grab Bags

moneyThe winner of our $25 gift certificate for December is Michael P from Las Vegas.  Happy shopping, Michael!!!
We will offer another  $25  gift certificate for one of our lucky shoppers in January.  If you won't be sending in an order you can send your name to  to be entered in the drawing.
January is Hot Tea Month.
Tea is the world's 2nd most popular beverage behind water.  Drinking tea is more than just sipping a beverage.  It is about slowing down and relaxing.  Wonderful things can happen when we slow down to sip some tea and share time with family and fiends or simply choose to take a moment to ourselves.  Drink what you love and drink it often.

Happy New Year!!
From the SBS Teas Ladies
Barb & Sharon 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pamper yourself in the New Year!

Moments In Thyme
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 Shabby Lane ShopsFree Shipping FridaysTuesdays Treasures
Shabby Lane Magazine
Vintage Romance 2012

 Soft powder puff duster with coordinating ribbon hand grip. Simple elegance with vintage charm. Powder puffs add a touch of pampered luxury to your vanity area. Pink, Blue and Cream, White and Lavender.  . Even if you don't use body powder, these feminine puffs look so pretty as a decorative accent in your boudoir. Makes for a wonderful, unique gift. Mothers and Grandmothers will greatly appreciate the nostalgia.

Blue Powder Puff
Blue Powder Puff
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Cotton Candy Pink

 Hand made in the USA Soft powder puff duster. Cotton Candy Pink with coordinating ribbon hand grip. Simple elegance with vintage charm. Powder puffs add a touch of pampered luxury to your vanity area. . Gift Boxed in one of our handmade boxes with 3 oz of Lavender or Vanilla Lace and Pearls Powder. Assorted Boxes. Glass Powder Bowl is Sold Separately and includes 3 oz of Powder, 1 2 oz. Guest Soap and Handmade Powder Puff.  Questions?
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Cigar Box Purses, Soap, Take Out Box Gifts, Cigar Box Gifts with Soap, Hand Lotion, Powder, Powder Containers, Powder Puffs, Market Basket Gift Sets. There are two parts to this collection. Romance Collection with Lavender Romance soaps, hand lotions, powders, etc and the Postale Collection with Vanilla Lace products.
Spa Gift Basket arrives with one 3 oz. Powder, one 5oz. Hand Cream, one 3" tin with one our our hat soaps, one Guest Soap and one 4oz. Soap. Lavender Romance . Shrink wrapped with Tulle Bow.    Diana and Beth  Spa Gift Basket arrives with one 3 oz. Powder, one 5oz. Hand Cream, one 3" tin with one our our hat soaps, one Guest Soap and one 4oz. Soap Vanilla Lace and Pearls or Lavender Fragrance. Call Lynn 845-692-4833 for a complete list of our Harrison Fisher Victorian Ladies.
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Shabby Lane Shops

Shabby Lane Shops is a wonderful online shopping mall and source to find romantic cottage, victorian, feminine, paris and french style, upscale boutique decor and accessories. Whether you are looking for uniquely beautiful and romantic furniture, handpainted decor, exquisite chandeliers, lamps and lighting, custom cottage pillows, linens, bags and totes, or boutique clothing using vintage chenille and treasured fabrics, Shabby Lane Shops can direct you to the right website. You'll also find one-of-a-kind artist made jewelry, inspirational gifts, incredible art pieces and exquisite rose painted furnishings, antiques, and vintage collectibles here offered by the most talented artists and boutique owners. Shabby Lane Shops will save you from having to spend countless hours searching the web for all your favorite shops and boutiques so be sure to save this site as one of your favorites and join our mailing list to receive the latest news on the best shops, special announcements and latest events.