Friday, July 17, 2020

In the home stretch

The thought that came to me as I reflected upon this past week (as well as the entire course) was "drinking from a fire hose." So. Much. Information!

The focus this week on Google Analytics was eye-opening and I was impressed with the extent of information available for deciphering the who, what, where, when, and how of visitors to a website. I can certainly see how this type of information would be valuable to a company looking to ensure they market to the right demographic and provide the right product. 

For me, with my little niche product, I'm not sure all this information would be as least not in the beginning. I was excited that anyone would visit my site just from my ads. I wasn't as concerned with who they are or where they live. Going forward, this type of analysis will pay off as my husband and I fine-tune what exactly we want to offer and who we are trying to target. 

I was also grateful for the continued outreach of Google Analytics to provide multiple lessons sent directly to my email. I haven't had time to review them yet, but I'll be glad for the resource once I do have the time. Knowing how many articles and videos and other resources are out there to help understand the functionality and benefit of analyzing this data will prove useful in the weeks and months to come.

I'm certainly grateful for the opportunity to see this type of information in action. Although it's a little intimidating to see how much of my online shopping is visible to the companies I patronize.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Homestead Woodworks meets Social Media Marketing

Gone are the days when we could only reach people within our physical circle of life. With the onslaught of social media, we can talk to millions of people virtually. As scary as that sometimes seems, it is a perfect way for businesses, especially online businesses, to find customers. The ripple effect is alive and well in the world of social networking. 

Finding the right social media platform can be tricky. It is important to understand the demographics of the various platforms. Twitter is indeed a popular platform, but for my business, it doesn't make as much sense as Facebook, which is used by more older individuals. Based on the visitor demographics of my website, Facebook is the way to go for Homestead Woodworks. My plan is to create the account and then a Page that can be followed by multiple users without my "approval." As a marketing tool, that works well so anyone who "likes" my page can see when I post updates.

I like the idea that Facebook does a couple of things: providing access to a bigger market for a nominal cost and the ability to post images, videos, and text. That will allow me to attract people who relate in various ways to their own social media patterns. I can create flyers and coupons in Word and post them on Facebook. I can use images from my website to create brand recognition as I reach out to more people. 

In addition to Facebook, because my products can be considered art, I plan to work Pinterest into my marketing strategy down the road. As with most things, I feel better starting small and working my way up to adding more on my plate. Becoming more expert at one thing will give me the capability to expand my marketing plans and learn more. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Working to make it better

Complacency is the destroyer of success. Well, it may not be quite as black and white as that, but this week I was reminded over and over again that every time I sent my manuscripts to my editor, I did it because I wanted my book to be the best it could be. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, advertising is a similar situation. Only in advertising, you try something, see if it works, and if it doesn't you try something else. Thankfully, Google is there to help me see what is working and what isn't. The tricky part now is where to go from here and how much effort I want to put into it. 

Time is not on my side. My old life of having so much time on my hands has gone by the wayside and with time now vying between work, school, and my own projects, putting together a new business that is essentially for my husband means something doesn't get done. And, yes, I'm that kind of person who will put my own things on hold until everything else is done. How did I manage to write six books and start several others? I had everything else done. 

But every time my husband gets up in agony and hobbles to bed at night, I am more convinced than ever that he needs to do a job that is easier on his body. The hard part is the complacency. I didn't realize that I couldn't go back to other things once this was set up. It certainly isn't a "one and done" type of thing. I'll need to make time to review the ads that are working and those that aren't and why. I'll need to make decisions about how to optimize my ads and my website so my husband actually has customers and this business can grow. Perhaps eventually, the ads won't matter as much as he develops a clientele and we can see what limited ads work. 

In the meantime, I'm back at it and trying to find enough mental capacity to make it happen. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

So Many Hats!

Fortunately, for those of us who don’t intuitively understand how to analyze the amazing amount of data that can be collected from a website, there is Google Analytics. Delving into not only the information Google Analytics supplies, but also the recommendations it makes helps me to feel as though I have a marketing partner, holding my hand through this learning process.

Once I overcame the surprise of seeing the number of clicks and impressions on my site, and determining to issue a newsletter soon for those who have signed up, I found the information from Google Ads and Google Analytics valuable as I adjust my ads for the future.

My biggest hiccup in this process is figuring out what Wix (my hosting site) does and what information I need to provide. In some senses, it’s as though Wix and Google Analytics are providing the same information and I ask myself whether I need them both. For the purposes of this class, I will, of course, do both. But as I look to the weeks ahead when I don’t have assignment deadlines and more information to learn, I can take a more careful approach to the type of information each site offers. I may stay with them both, but I may find that one is enough.

Moving forward this week, I updated my ad for heritage products and turned off a couple keywords that weren’t working. I’m look forward to seeing whether these changes have any positive result.

Now, to create my first newsletter, because there are eight people out there in the world who are waiting on me!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Google Analytics

Many years ago, there was a commercial on TV showing four or five people surrounding a lonely laptop computer sitting on a folding table in the middle of an empty warehouse-type room. Someone clicked “Start” and they were thrilled when the order box turned from zero to one. Within minutes another several orders popped up and the group became excited, laughing and cheering each other on. It quickly got out of hand, though, when several became many and many became an overwhelming number in the thousands; sort of an oh-my-gosh-what-have-we-got-ourselves-into moment. (The ad was for UPS).

As I signed up for Google Analytics this week, I opened my Google Ads Campaign and quickly discovered that my ad was running. I had over 85 hits and 2.53k impressions! When I went to my store page, I also realized I didn’t have the right kind of hosting set up to actually make sales online. This learning process is a bit of a “J” curve.

I can see that the different pieces of information Google shows me in relation to my ad campaign will help me make decisions going forward; things like the timing of my ads and the demographics of who is clicking on my site. I hope to understand better the data on each of the charts as time goes by and I generate sales. It will be exciting to see monetary results of my efforts.

With the limited amount of traffic already to my site, I can tell that people are actually reading my ads and responding to them. That’s a pretty heady feeling. And on top of all that, four people signed up for my newsletter! A newsletter that doesn’t exist yet!

I’ll be working on that in the coming days…

Friday, June 12, 2020


One of my favorite movies, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse, includes a quote with an interesting slant on advertising:

Jim Blandings, the father and an advertising executive, is sitting with his wife and two daughters at the breakfast table. His daughter, Joan, is sharing her teacher's opinion...

Joan Blandings: Miss Stellwagon says advertising is a basically parasitic profession.Jim Blandings: You don't say?Joan Blandings: Miss Stellwagon says advertising makes people who can't afford it, buy things they don't want, with money they haven't got.Jim Blandings: Oh she does, does she? Well perhaps your Miss Stellwagon is right. Perhaps I should quit this basically parasitic profession, which at the very moment is paying for your fancy tuition and those extra French lessons and that progressive summer camp - to say nothing of the very braces on your back teeth.

I would love to have a profession where people desparately needed my [advice, skills, talents] and I didn't need to advertise at all. My husband has been a general contractor for his entire career and he hasn't advertised once. We haven't always known what he was going to be doing six months down the road, but he has never been out of work. 

That being said, creating ads for my new website is a chance for me to exercise my creativity in a way that is so completely different from my normal writing that it becomes an exciting challenge. Google Ads is a fairly easy to use tool to work with. 

In addition, the focus of our website is to reincarnate old wood into something new and useful, while maintaining a sentimental legacy. When I think of the joy and happiness someone can derive from turning a piece of junk into something new and beautiful, I believe we are doing something worthwhile, all while helping people remember their heritage or ancestry.

Advertising is a necessary function of letting potential customers know we're here in the middle of the country willing and able to share what we know with the world. The Internet has made it possible for us to reach others on a global level, but good advertising separates us from the competition. We have something special. We just need to get the word out and do it well.

I don't want to influence people to buy from me who can't afford it. I want to share beautiful things with people who will appreciate the skill and talent required to create it. At the same time, most of the things I plan to sell have some kind of practical use. 

Perhaps it isn't so parasitical after all.

Friday, June 5, 2020

The power of words

For the last several years, words have been my life. After publishing six novels, I believe in the importance of word choice. In a story, the difference between choosing a passive phrase or an active phrase influences how connected your reader feels to your character (and whether or not they finish your book). As a writer, I have had to learn to write differently from how I talk. And although I’m getting better with my first drafts, there are still multiple revisions that fine tune my use of words.

Keywords share a similar power. The right keyword will bring the buyer you are hoping for. The wrong keyword will bring someone who might surf through your website, but won’t be interested in what you’re selling. My target market isn’t as big as others may be and I want to make sure the people who come to my website are looking for high quality, hand-crafted turned wood sculpture and dishes. Even those looking for wood wall art will not be happy with my product line. Therefore, it is essential to choose keywords effectively.

Google is that vast ethereal cyber-something that honestly overwhelms me most of the time. Thank goodness for a class that holds my hand through a system so big it could handle any size of company; from a mom-and-pop operation to the largest corporation. Being able to get computerized help with advertising and keywords gives me a confidence I truly need to succeed. As I slowly navigate my way through creating my first ad campaign, I can see the value of taking advantage of the Internet benefits as much as simply being able to launch my website.

I’m looking forward to seeing the results of my journey through GoogleAds.