…OR, validating yourself in this upside down world. 

Once upon a time you needed a brick and mortar to validate your online presence. Now brick and mortars need an online presence to be validated. Go figure.

It was 1999, just after our move to the states, after an 8 year stint in Asia, when my husband and I determined to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAestablish our online business, selling, of all things, Chinese Antiques. Business model was to NOT have a brick and mortar, but to set up shop on the world wide web and take it from there.

What did we know going into this? Won’t go into what we didn’t know, which was plenty 

We  knew that…

zaarlogo small we had a source for a product that we had an affinity to…. building on relationships made during our 8 years living/working in Asia

zaarlogo smallwe were breaking new ground….being the first online only sellers of Chinese Antiques.

we felt we could offer competitive pricing/create a niche….because of our business model and running it very lean/doing ALL the work in house…yes, learning ALOT along the way.

zaarlogo smallcombined we had the skills required to make this come to fruition….not to mention the determination.

The website went live August 2000 and it wouldn’t be until Thanksgiving weekend, yes, of that year,but it felt like FOREVER,  that I would make my first online sale.  Will never forget the euphoric feeling of being “found” online AND then to have someone take the plunge and make that online purchase from ME!? With that I was officially in business, and away we went.

As husband continued to work the Search Engine Optimization side of the biz more people found us and had an interest in shopping with us and would call. As such the question would inevitably come up as to how we ever got into this business, and so I would ramble on with “my story“….

zaar_family_sm….and  this had me rethink the advise given to us by our web designer that the “about us” section on our website was insignificant and that although it needed to be there, that people didn’t tend to read it, therefore just give it lip service.  Didn’t take long for me to determine that it would indeed be  a relevant part of my site and that people would read it, per the conversations I’d been having…and so I edited what I had thrown up there to give the whole enchilada.  You can read that full version here/ shorter version here, as is on the website.  In fact it was where they first started to get to know WHO Antiques by Zaar was….WHO was the driving force, the heart and soul of this particular business….where they first started to gain confidence in us as sellers.

Yes, people want to do business with people, and telling them who we were straight out did us well as a foundation to move on.  We furthered this by starting an online newsletter in 2004. And, as was my way, I would tend to include constant contact logopersonal  tidbits in the preamble, click here to visit past newsletters,….  I had plenty of fodder with having lived in several countries,  the start of this of my 2nd biz,  3 kids underfoot/raising golden retrievers, on a farm in Maine…you get the drift/ways to connect with people/letting them into my world...leading to the “meat” of the missive which would be announcing a new container, show dates and the such.

My newsletter remains to be a vital connecting point to my past customers as well as prospective s,  that have given me permission to put their name on my newsletter list…. a list which has grown to be  a  qualified list of over 5,000 strong…. proudly sharing that my “open” and “click through” rates consistently remain above the industry standard.

twitter fb and linkWith the onset of Social Media the venues to connect in the virtual world, in addition to my audience of 5,000,  have grown at such a rate that it is sometimes hard to keep up with. The good news is that there is this plethora of opportunities for businesses of any size to put their word out there and let their customers get to know them prior to making any kind of purchase.  That is “the way” now isn’t it????  What is expected of businesses…to become transparent. The bad news is that you are competing with such a massive body of businesses doing the same.  The good news is, there is only one YOU and it is up to you to make your Unique Voice heard.

Considering my tendency to be upfront and personal in a simple newsletter, it should be no surprise that I felt I’d been granted a true Gift with the introduction of the blog. THE perfect platform to do more of the same, reaching more people.blog image with peeps However, I have found the blogging road a bumpy one, as is evidenced by the frequency of my posts. Love hate relationship really.  But as I continue to figure out a blogging rhythm that works for me, I can’t afford not be seen/heard, and over the course of time I  have come to a place where I feel I can stay present in the virtual world in a relevant way, that is indeed manageable.

I am validating my, now 2 businesses,  daily where it counts….  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Houzz, and via my blogs.

Welcome to the long winding road of learning and growing, giving and sharing.

Ready, set, go!

Ruth

 

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