Holly loves making cloth dolls, so she made a new business of it. Here’s some Internet marketing & branding language decisions made so far for “Holly’s Dollies”
I can claim very little credit for the ideas and final approval here. Holly has a clear vision for how most of her logos, banners or cover images, watermarks, or other Look & Feel elements should appear. She explains her vision, I work up some versions in a graphics program, she’ll tell me what changes to make, and we eventually get there.
Primary: Google Fonts: Amatic SC
- a condensed sans serif (like Arial Narrow or Archivo Narrow)
- “Learning Curve” by BV Fonts
- Google Fonts: Montserrat
The logo we currently have is temporary, I think. It’s based on a great photograph composition Holly came up with; she took a purple sloth doll and placed it in our lilac bush when it had matching lavender blossoms. If she would’ve waited a few days, that image wouldn’t have worked as the blossoms would be wilted or gone.
I took the photo file, flipped it, rotated it, cropped it square so it will work on social media and other obligatory web registries (as the avatar or logo image). Then in PhotoShop, I magic wanded some copies of the sprigs and leaves to add more depth and interest. I posterized (or some effect–can’t remember) and added text overlay.
The reason it’s temporary is because Holly’s formulating new ideas how she wants it to look, with a different color pallette, a watercolor style, and some other changed elements. And for me, I always like logos to be simple enough that a black and white or 2- or 3-tone version is feasible. We’ll see…
Holly designed the tags she wanted to sew into the seam of each doll.
A tag similar to this hangs from each packaged and shipped doll’s gift box.
Holly found these windowed boxes for bakeries to fill with muffins, but they look great filled with dolls too. She also located cardboard boxes for shipping, large enough to fit the bakery boxes in with padding room.
Web Presence & Marketing
Click the topic titles to open them in the accordion panes:
We had to do some thinking to try to make all social media sites and Etsy have the same url suffix, but as short as possible. Unfortunately, this was driven from the Etsy store name.
This meant we could have this sort of consistency for web properties:
(BTW, it’s tacky how Etsy makes you put a “shop/” subfolder in the URL)
We would’ve opted for a shorter URL, but with Etsy, the store name is the URL suffix. I believe if you even try to put spaces in, it will add them to the URL, and that’s something I avoid (along with special characters, numbers).
The Etsy store (with its URL) is what Holly initially hung her hat on for everything Holly’s Dollies. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that I started thinking we should buy a domain name and start shifting some of the nexus of the online web marketing efforts to it (e.g.; incoming links).
The advantages of owning your own domain vs. having your business’ online identity be a subfolder of a domain you don’t own are:
Domain owned by Holly:
An unsavory policy change at a marketplace site isn’t the end of the world if you don’t have all your business eggs in their basket, and can instead rely on your own website’s traffic for engaging customers. Holly doesn’t own Etsy.com. She does now own hollydolls.com.
A shorter URL (hollydolls.com vs. shop/HollysDolliesShop):
A shorter URL is easier to remember, less susceptible to typos & easier for potential customers to type in a browser, smaller and easier to print on promotional materials.
Cut out the middleman:
You may decide to sell less on a marketplace website and instead set up your own shopping cart, like using WooCommerce in WordPress. If you can get the traffic to your own site instead of just your Etsy page, that becomes an option.
Holly’s pointed out to me several businesses that sell SOME inventory on Etsy, presumably to take some advantage of Etsy’s assumed SEO benefits, but then they sell most inventory on their private website. Probably to reduce fees.
More customized messaging:
A website we own can host whatever messaging we want it to, instead of being constrained by the limitations of a social media “About” paragraph. If we want to add a popup to ask customers to join our drip mailing list for a coupon code of 15% off their next order, we can’t do that on domains we don’t own.
Tumblr Free Hosting
I’m a big WordPress fan, but after purchasing the domain, I just wanted something inexpensive and simple to get a hosting plan for a website. I went with Tumblr. To me they’re like a “WordPress Lite”. Or you can get a low-cost wordpress.com plan to host your site, but it’s not free like Tumblr. And if I’m going to do WordPress, I want the .org version, not the .com version.
I chose a free template by “Stash” that’s responsive (resizes & re-features automatically for different device screen sizes and capabilities–like touch vs. mouse).
The DNS settings to point the domain to Tumblr were pretty easy to update, there were explainers on the web. I purchased the domain from Google Domains, a first for me, and their DNS admin was different than I was used to, but it works well.
As you can see, this is simple and easy. If we want to get more capabilities in the future, we can get a regular hosting plan and install WordPress.
I always forget what a pain in the ass these are until I set up a whole bunch of social media platforms for a business. You can never just reuse the same one across platforms (unless MAYBE it’s a simple image, without text), because:
- Each platform has its own aspect ratios.
- Or they’ll have an avatar overlay that moves upon resizing to obscure a part of a text box.
- Or one site will zoom in toward the centroid when mobile-sizing, while another site will leave the bottom fixed and zoom in, which cuts off a large part of the top.
- And once you’ve got it all ironed out, the interface designers all change their aspect ratios again…
This needs to be standardized! At least most sites have adopted the square aspect ratio for the avatar images.
This image shows the facebook business page on desktop (left) and mobile (right). At least their cover images change in a predictable manner when going to mobile (crop in from the sides, but not at all top to bottom). That’s a scheme I can work with. And at some point in the last years, they stopped having the avatar overlap the cover, so there’s no unexpected obscura to deal with.
Contrast that with the Etsy cover banner. We thought we were done making the special cover image for Etsy’s size constraints. Then we checked it on a phone and saw text was covered. We ended up deciding to get rid of the Etsy URL text box, as you shouldn’t need that when you’re on the Etsy shop anyway. Then we had room to push the text boxes up, but still leave the font sizing large enough to be legible on small screens.
Then there’s Google My Business, which has really gone downhill over the last couple years.
Someone figured it would be good to fix cover images at the bottom instead of centering them top-to-bottom in their containers. Trying to keep the focus of your cover image at the bottom center doesn’t work–somehow even that part gets obscured at some sizes.
I could go on about several other very odd and unintuitive “features” (bugs) updated or changed in Google My Business (not a fan of the name change either…) but I’ll spare you.
The reason I just put everyone to sleep with a treatise on cover images is because when a web designer & marketer actually does all the work that should be done for a business, little things you wouldn’t consider of consequence can take a lot of time and customization to end up looking professional and “right”.
When a potential customer looks at an element of your web presence, you don’t want them distracted by subconscious nagging, like ‘something doesn’t look right’ because it’s obscured or stretched. You want them to focus and consider the subject of the image, be uninterrupted to think about how they admire it and want to buy it. When you get those precious new eyeballs on your imagery, you don’t want the sentiment to be that something looks amateurish or poorly implemented, because that’s not the concepts you want to be associated with your business.
It’s the countless little considerations that have to be “right” that add up to someone like me charging an amount for my detail-oriented time and experience that gives some people sticker shock. If all you want is a website, it shouldn’t cost much. But if you actually want people to find your business on the web, that’s at least 10 times more work than the minimal 3-page website you were sold for $500. Then there’s the ongoing content creation and drips you should consider… but I’ll leave it at that.
Here’s why this is important: you want images of your products to show up in Google Image searches, or other places that people will see it and want to buy it. Now, if your images have been copied by bots and chopped and cropped and stretched and stripped, you still want those people who see that abused image and are interested in the subject to find your shopping cart. If there’s no watermark with your URL on it, how could that possibly happen?
So we’re starting to watermark images, even if we didn’t at first. Holly takes excellent photos compared to others I’ve seen–they should be associated with her business, no matter where they end up on the Web.
Here’s the program (for PC) or app (for Android) I recommend for watermarking with logos:
Visual Watermark (for PC)
- Visual Watermark has a free version, but leaves a branded text watermark along an edge. Pro version is about $25. Personally, I feel a lot of successful web retail businesses could make that back quickly if a photo with a URL watermark brings a new customer to the shopping cart. But the real payback is having a simple tool that allows you to process work quickly.
Logolicious (for Android)
- Logolicious seems to be free.
If you’re a graphic designer, you probably have this all figured out. If not, like my wife, you’ll want something very simple and a quick way to watermark.
I tried out a total of 5 different watermark phone apps, and 5 PC programs. Most had fatal flaws (e.g., couldn’t even use a custom image as a watermark, couldn’t drag-locate–had to enter pixel coordinates, etc.)
SEO is why I’m writing this post. One more set of incoming links from a reputable domain. Google’s founders Larry and Sergey based their whole Page Rank ideology on incoming links–because they noticed academic papers were ranked higher if more other academic papers cited them. The more citations a paper got, especially from well-regarded writers, the better that paper was ranked.
So far I’ve done all the obligatory basic stuff, like setting up:
- Google My Business account, get the postcard PIN…
- Google Custom Search (or whatever they changed Webmaster Tools to),
- Bing’s Webmaster Tools, get the postcard PIN…
- Verify Facebook Page,
This is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a long time to implement all your SEO marketing ideas, to keep making your site appear more worthy and valid in the eyes of an algorithm and desirable to web spiders.
There’s still a lot more to do to build incoming links, and Holly has a system now for updating multiple social networks with new content frequently, which is supposedly the siren song to the Google ship.
Hopefully something here helps you as you’re setting up the web presence for your small business, let me know if any questions