….did I say repurpose?

It truly is great to know that your blog has a shelf life much more than just the original posting… one of my big “take a ways” after listening to a presentation given by Melissa Galt, of  Melissa Galt Inc, at High Point Furniture Market, and happy to give her credit here.

There are many many portals out there to do just that, and I would  like to remind you of the basics, as well as reinforce one which isn’t considered part of “social media” , that being the online newsletter…

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been putting out an online newsletter since 2004…one in which the “meat”, or my business updates,  were couched in personal antidotes…. See some past issues here…thus making my newsletter not just a venue to give company updates, but also give people a chance to get to know who is behind this business and at same time staying close to those who have done business with me. 

When I started dipping my toes into the blogging world, and as stated in my very first blog, I intended to reverse that and couch the “personal” side of my business with the meat of my business, that of selling Chinese antiques online.

And what I’d like to propose here is that the merging of these  two mediums, your newsletter and your blog, is a great way to maximize your output/reach.

OR, if you’re having a hard time engaging as a blogger, and aren’t touching your customer base, prospects and past, by way of an online newsletter, I would encourage you to start with that first…if a choice is to be made….for the following reasons:

1. Knowing your audience knows you, or is at least is familiar with your company, is a much easier writing experience, ie less intimidating, than trying to draw a new audience in.

My logo is very recognizable and is front stage on my newsletter and blog header…and, btw, is my name in Chinese.

2. You can use this online newsletter as a way to warm up to the discipline of blogging, as output for a newsletter is good monthly, whereas to make any impact with blogging you need to put out at absolute minimum once a week.

3.  It simply is good form to touch regularly those who know you, simply to remind them that you’re  there, ….for when they need what you have again…and to give those who haven’t decided to shop with you yet, a place to get to know you. These people need to hear from you and the online newsletter is unobtrusive and inexpensive.

…AND also is a place to show that there is a PERSON behind the business. My face is pretty familiar by now as well 🙂

And, with this online newsletter in place you have a wonderful place to imbed your blogs, sharing with a defined audience/your mailing list, what you are writing to a non defined audience….especially since you can now easily SHARE your newsletters of choice  on Facebook, Linked in and Twitter. LOVE it how these are all so connected for us!

Yes, I consider your newsletter as a primo place to re purpose your blogs. And I’ve taken to this and love merging these two forms….

1. As part of the text…giving a lead in to what is fleshed out in the blog, thus reducing, but at the same time increasing, my information put out in the newsletter…example here in my Thanksgiving missive.  I like to have at least 3 blogs worked into my newsletters like this.

2. By listing  of all blogs posted in 2 month span. This gives my mailing list an introduction to my blogging …example here… particularly as there’s a pretty good chance they wouldn’t otherwise find/read my blog…so nice unobtrusive way to invite them in as readers, follow my output.

3. And/or by pulling  together several blogs that represent a particular topic, to bring attention to…such as blogs which have as part of their content, applications of Chinese Antique Furniture…example here. Matter of doing a sort for them.

I have given precedence  to this specific venue to repurpose as I feel it is not commonly considered and not as obvious as what I am simply going to list below…

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn…

1. When you set up your blog you can have it that your blog will automatically post on Twitter and Facebook. IE, you post your blog and off it goes…

2. By adding  a SHARE button on footer of each posting, others can readily post your blog to their audiences. Also, this is the way I share on my LinkedIn groups.

3. AND, lastly, I often embed past blog postings into current ones….as I did at the beginning of this post.

If you’re already doing an online newsletter, good on you for having  in place this platform to further repurpose your blog. If I’ve incited you to think about  doing an online newsletter, as a preface to doing a blog, great…

I use Constant Contact and love it. Some friends swear by Mail Chimp as well, although I’m not familiar with it.

I so KNOW of the value not of only putting out an online newsletter, but the value of being REAL within that form, that I simply want to encourage others to consider the same, and let this venue of staying  in touch with your customers/prospects work for you, and further to have this platform serve your blogging efforts as well.

Do let me know how you’re doing either in producing a newsletter and/or a blog.

Ruth

HINT: When  you gather your names/email addresses of your customers, I advise putting them in excel format, as by doing so it is really easy to add them into constant contact mailing list, share your list with others, or use in other formats…. IE, repurpose said list once compiled 🙂

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I JUST posted my most recent newsletter, to my mailing list of just over 5,000. This “mailing list” is comprised of people that fall into two main catagories, although split into many more in my list, of either a past customer or prospective that I’ve met somewhere in my travels….my point being that the people on said list are already familiar with my company, and thus are more inclined to open up my missive no matter the title…and although the text in the subject line of my email does  matter, it matters even more that they simply know the missive is coming from ruth/antiquesbyzaar.

When blogging, you do not have that defined audience, but you are trying to reach that which you would consider your “target audience”, and thus the title of your blog should be such that they are drawn to read what you’ve writing about.

So, what is it you want to write about and who do you want to read it?

For myself, THIS is what I want to write about….

1. My business was nurtured on the direct to the consumer business and I never want to lose sight of what this has, and continues to mean to my business. To boot, these precious customers have provided me with testimonials of photos and words, which they intended for me to share.  How do I impart these “testimonials‘ in a way that will honor the person that chose to share them with me in the first place?

2. Over the years my To The Trade business has grown as the Interior Design Trade has moved to online stores to source for their clients…How can I honor these Designers that have put their confidence in my business and my product, that they readily present their clients photos of pieces they won’t see until install?

3. I have had the gift of publicity over the years that continues to validate who I am to all that may consider doing business with me. It would be silly of me not to find a way to put this out to those that don’t know who ruth/antiquesbyzaar is yet, and why they should feel comfortable doing business with me.

4. Chinese Antique Furniture/Antiques by Zaar:  I LOVE selling Chinese Antiques. I LOVE that I have had this opportunity to capitalize on the 8 years I lived in Asia as an expat wife/mother of 3. I LOVE that I am able sell such a unique item online. I LOVE that my pieces bring joy into the lives and homes of my customers. I LOVE that I’ve been able to contribute to my family by way of the business of selling Chinese Antiques. I LOVE the people I meet as I go about the selling of Chinese Antiques.  How can I share this LOVE for a genre of furniture that gives so much and the business that encompasses that?

5. ” Social Media”. It was made for the likes of me, and in fact I bought into this concept back in 2004  by way of my newsletter….no, not your traditional bullet point newsletter, but one that had the facts couched in personal antidotes. Just when I thought I was too personal, someone would drop a line/call and tell me what it meant to them that I took the time to share my world with them by way of my newsletter…they felt they “knew me”…. I want to share with my world that relationship building isn’t just the current trend, it is THE WAY, and can most definitely be done online, to do business, as that is exactly what took me from  my very first sale back in November 2000, to the next, and the next and the next, with what was the first online only store for Chinese antiques. ie. if I can start and grow a business selling Chinese Antiques online, you can sell what you want to sell as well. How do I share this with others to encourage them forth?

6. And lastly…I like to share resources/promote other peoples product, businesses/organizations. How can I help spread the good word of the good works being done by others???

So, apparantly I have ALOT to say, and you guessed it, the BLOG is the vehicle used to put it all out there.

How do I get people to read it?

Chinese Antiques is what I sell.

Thus, it is imperative, that I use terms that relate to Chinese Antiques, as a way to draw people in…not to say you won’t see posts with otherwise, BUT, as the common thread, that which I hope to lure people in to be interested in me/my product, is by way of words that relate to this genre. AND, WITHIN the body of the blog I can include testimonials/photos from my customers, to support what is put forth in the title as the topic. OR I can promote my Designer Customers by putting their company name in the title and aligning them with the usage of Chinese Antiques.  I can mix in the publicity garnered where it fits as well. You get the gist, and check out past blogs to see if I am succeeding 🙂

And Building Online Relationships ….

…is something I know a thing or two about and am eager to encourage others to just go out and “do it”. To boot I am, like many others, on a huge learning curve with technology and all that comes with just trying to keep up. I can relate and again, if I can do it so can you and I want to help.

BUT, now this missive is beyond too long…you get the point. Know what you want to say. Know who you want to say it to. Think about how you can do that by using a title that will draw them in to read what you want to share….and then post it on all your social media portals….

Enjoy and look forward to your posts.

Ruth

Last week, on Twitter,  I came across a link to a blog by Liz Strauss, yes, which I re-tweeted as I felt it valuable to share, that so succinctly put out there, how important it is to know WHY you blog.

I really only became aware of the blogging world and my need to participate back in late 2008, and although I sensed that blogging was made for me, I liked to write and I had no problem being “real”  but I first had to work through just a few things….

…which was surprising to me, as, since 2004,  I  had been putting out a monthly newsletter to a list that has grown to over 5,000, and which I was very comfortable with my informal and personable presentation, clear on who my audience was,(this a big difference that set me “off”) and KNEW  it to be a successful tool to keep my business in front of my customers…. NOTE: If you can’t see yourself blogging, at very minimum touch your mailing list by way of an online newsletter…you won’t regret it….good way to “dip your toes in”…

But this blog thing….  Sure, I have plenty to write about, see below,  but, but, but….

Of course I was going to blog  for my business, which IS ME, but what format would my presentation take and more so  how would I get people to read it???? More on that in a later post on blog titles. VERY IMPORTANT!

Share more of my personal “stuff” which I do enjoy doing,?, promote how great I am by way of posting customer testimonials?, give credence to the level of clientele I have by showcasing the talented designers that shop with me?, publicize the publicity I have garnered and continue to garner for my business? , use the wonderful treasure trove of photos I have from my customers to show off how they have positioned their Chinese Antiques purchased from yours truly? promote the organizations with which I have affiliation with? share my love for my online business? YES to ALL of the above….and more.

PASSION for what you intend to blog about is mandatory to attract an audience, and a few other things like relevance etc, but  Passion is that which fuels the engine…and I am so very passionate about all I’ve listed, and want to share with my growing online world.

As I’ve placed in the header of my upcoming roundtable on Blogging, at the WITHIT Leadership Conference in August, blogging is a Gift, to you and your business….

….But the premise on being able to successfully promote your business via said blog, is that you are passionate about it…as that passion will attract people to you and to your business.

And the premise that you would like to share your business/your passion with the world, so it can continue to be such by increased exposure, which draws increased revenue…and adds to the bottom line so you can continue to fuel this passion, simply precludes that you have this GIFT, in this FREE platform of reaching an untapped audience by way of putting out a blog, which is YOURS for the taking.

Are you passionate about your business?

Are you blogging about it? If not, why not?

How can I help you to “dip your toes in?”

Ruth

P.S. And if you simply have a passion that isn’t your business, blogging again is the perfect venue to do just that….

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m honored to have been asked to moderate a round table on Blogging, as part of the WITHIT Conference which is themed “Wisdom, Work and Wealth”….and which I KNOW will be an event that I will come away from highly infused/invigorated.

I hope to do my part to infuse others by way of leading a discussion regarding the value in blogging, as moderator of said round table.

I  feel very passionately about the value in blogging  and what it can mean for your business.  My experience running an online business, since 2000, /building relationships via email/phone and fostering through an online newsletter, started in 2004,  where I couched the “meat” of the business in warm fuzzy tidbits garnered from living on a farm in Maine, with 3 teenagers and breeding golden retrievers, and yes, I sold puppies to abyzaar customers because of this,  drawing on past lives as an expatriate in Asia/volunteer in Haiti….you get the gist….has shown me time and again that people do care when you take the time to be “real”….

…and now “blogging” has become a trend and serves as a  venue to those that care to “put themselves out there”, to do just that.  I invite all those that are interested, to dip your toes in, and see what it can do for you, or those that are already doing so, what you would like to share with the rest of us….have been dying to use this photo which I took to use  just for this very quip 🙂

As part of prep for this round table I’d like to simply ask what particular topics you may like addressed.

Shoot me questions/comments,  either by email, at ruth@antiquesbyzaar.com , or leave a comment/question on this blog, bloggers love that, and good for you too!, or leave a comment on facebook, linkedin, or twitter….wherever you may see this post.

...with Tobi, after her WITHIT sponsored breakfast/presentation on Social Media @ High Point Furniture Market.

Similarly, if you have some favorite blogs you follow…shoot me a note with a link and let me know what it is that you like particularly about said blog. Will compile a list to pass out at the conference ….and would start with blogs by Tobi Fairley, and Jane Pollak…both women inspired me to “dip my toes in” and I enjoy following their blogs….and constantly learn from them.

A Round table is meant to be a platform for discussion, and I’d like to see what we can do about starting the discussion leading up to the actual event.

So, join me, and yes, even if you aren’t able to attend the conference and would like to participate in this, please join in…..all bloggers, wanna be’s especially…drop on by.

Looking forward to a learning and growing experience for all of us…and meeting some new friends along the way.

Ruth

Arianna, in Singapore...China Town specifically.

No, I’m not changing the name of my blog. Rather, I am pleased to introduce you to my daughter’s first posting of her blog, which she has titled Life on the Ladder.

Arianna, my middle child, and I had the pleasure of spending some great one on one time together this past month when I went to visit her in Singapore, where she is doing a semester abroad with her University. I did write a blog on the Singapore visit  (click here) and a 2nd one on our time at the beach in Langkawi Malaysia (click here).

What I didn’t mention in the latter blog was the spark that was ignited with my daughter as I discussed my “vision” for where I’d like to take Antiques by Zaar, the family business, in its 2nd decade. I was pleased for her enthusiastic support of how I would like to broaden my scope in years to come.

An "inspiring" view in Langkawi...

Well, one thing has led to another and said business student has jumped right on in, with both feet, and excitedly is putting the pedal to the metal, joining with me to keep the Antiques by Zaar name out there…as it continues to serve as a great source for Chinese Antiques, as well as offer a platform to show the value in collaborating, communicating, and connecting.

Yes, the economy has been a challenge, but as you’re sure to hear me say…”the economy serves as a great equalizer”…as we have ALL have had to adjust as to how we’ve done business if we remain interested in staying in business. We’ve all had to implement cost effective strategies and have had to exercise creativity more than ever before.

Whether you like it or not (and I LOVE IT!)  “social media’ and the trend to “build relationships” before doing the “sell”  is THE way to go and not to be ignored. Trend it may be, but truly how I have made my online business work, one sale at a time…starting from nothing but a thought that I could do this. 10 years later I’m here  to stay!

the family businessAside from the fact that my company is named after my kids (ZAAR = Zach, Ari, Avery, and Ruth. Can read About Us on our site.) their past participation has been more of a latent nature….although I must credit Zachary for doing all of my graphic work for advertising, mailings and mangaing the editing of photos for my product. Avery is on board for data base and inventory management and Arianna is taking on managing my marketing. All of this is done remotely, with Ari still in Singapore for 3 more months and Zach and Avery in Montreal (McGill students)

So, welcome to Arianna’s blog. Click here for her first posting of my young lady  who is on her Ladder of Life.  You shall be hearing more from the both of us going forward.

Ruth

www.antiquesbyzaar.com

ruth@antiquesbyzaar.com

-think-dream-expand-aspire-live-

Spread your Wings and Fly!

The other day I was invited on Face book to join a group called “Spread your Wings and Fly”. It was a new group and since Tuesday evening it has grown to close to 100 members. With the mantra as noted above, and in tag line it is noted that the common thread to be serve as platform for this group would be none other than the Law of Attraction. No matter what your thoughts may be on the “Secret” where this was first put out there, you can’t deny the effect of putting out all those positive vibes AND expecting positive results. I’m all there.

Do I need to join yet another group? Heck no. But I went ahead and signed up anyways, and as such I am getting postings from the group manager, Marie Tucker. So, she puts out to each of us the challenge of sitting down and for a solid 5 minutes writing down all that you are thankful for. I bite. I do it and I have no problem scribbling away for the entire 5 minutes (put myself on a timer so as to not “cheat”) Below my list of what I am thankful for. It is by no means complete (which is really cool) but it is what is closest to my heart and put down to paper.

my FAMILY, GOOD HEALTH, my BUSINESS, the people I meet through my business, my HOME, OPPORTUNTIES, being able to see the silver lining on clouds/being a half full kind of person, my FRIENDS, with a special note to all my girlfriends/ANGELS, my CHOIR and enjoyment of singing/getting/giving  joy through this gift,my ability to express myself on paper, the INTERNET,the platform it has given for me to work my business, and furthermore, SOCIAL MEDIA as a means to  further “put myself out there”…esp blogging, my NEWSLETTER and how I can connect with my customers/prospects that way, my ability to learn a bunch of stuff I didn’t think I could (like formatting my writing to send out to you/online photosharing /making videos, etc), the suggestion of this exercise and the fact that I did it, all the SOULS out there that are coming into my life and how we can all be there to lift each other up and yes, my dear dear CUSTOMERS come FRIENDS  that keep me and my business/my life alive and full. And most importantly for the SERENITY I feel, when I acknowledge that I am indeed intent on doing everything I can to Live my Best Life and that, although it may not Happen the Way I might anticipate, that I have FAITH that being on the right track counts for alot.

Thank you Marie…for the invite, for the challenge and for bringing us all together to SHINE, SHINE, SHINE.

Ruth

www.antiquesbyzaar.com

ruth@antiquesbyzaar.com

 

Ruth Olbrych/Antiques by Zaar, one and the same.

Ruth Olbrych/Antiques by Zaar, one and the same.

Wanted to do a small series on various social media venues as so much is taken for granted, by way of definition, and not understood, by way of value. Why not start with blogs?

Yes, there is plenty of information out there on this already, possibly too much, so why should you read what I’m writing? Well, I feel I have a perspective as someone relatively new to this scene, that may be able to help other “newbie’s” along the way. I present this as a business owner, engaging in social media as a venue to promote my business. It is my hope that I can, by example, and by sharing my experiences, further you along in this quest, should such be of interest to you.

It is indeed a whole new world out there and can be daunting at best, and wasn’t so long ago that I was pondering this very same question. What is a blog? And furthermore why should I engage in this thing called “blogging”, less that I am hearing over and over again that I must? It was in an Entrepreneurial magazine that I read almost 2 years ago that I first even heard of the term, suggesting the value of such for one’s business. It would be a year later, at a conference listening to a presentation by Jane Pollak, where I’d be prodded further to engage, and finally November 25, 2008, I bit the bullet and posted my first blog…which viewing  now I see is missing just a few things. 🙂   Hearing Tobi Fairley speak in  Feb 09 further spurred me on and I’ve never looked back (And yes, I did blog about this.  Read here  if you like.) I feel I have come a long ways since my early monthly (ouch, not enough) postings, in that I understand such enough that I feel I have something to offer fellow “wonderers” about this blogging thing. It is indeed a process. So, here goes.

A common term used in describing a blog (contraction for term “weblog”) is “online diary”.  It is considered to be a website, that serves as a place for the contributor (blogger) to post information, photos, videos, links and such, regarding, well, just about anything they want. It is an interactive place where readers are encouraged to leave comments.

A blog is not a newsletter but both have their place in your communications, should you be considering a blog for your business, as opposed as it being purely personal. (If it’s for personal use only, knock yourself out and get that online diary going, like does of Content in a Cottage. A must follow! She’s inspirational.)  A  newsletter is the venue where one does more direct “selling” to ones’ customer base, whereas in a blog, the “selling” part is expected to be more subtle.  It is more to be a place of offering information, making yourself known and available. Also, although it is appropriate to post a newsletter no more than twice/month, a blog should be posted more frequently. Once/week is a minimum, three times/week ideal….at least for myself.

 Over the months I have truly come to see that it is all up to you as to what you want to blog/write about. My personal interest in reading others blogs  is in following folks like myself that are working small businesses, folks that are supporting said small business owners (yes, including media and social marketing folks), and those that would include a  target audience of mine, namely being Interior Designers/Decorators. By reading these blogs I am determining what appeals to me in other blogs and helps me to fine tune my own presentation. For one, I like them to be not a long read (generally one page of text max), and so in keeping with such a standard (although a tad too long here)  I will close this post with next in this series to delve into why blogging is perfect for me.

Look forward to your comments/questions.

Ruth

www.antiquesbyzaar.com

ruth@antiquesbyzaar.com