The Struggle to Find that Niche, Part One…

If you have any inclination to market your product or services on the web, you must understand one thing… online marketing is “consumer driven”. Using your favorite search engine, you will find hundreds of articles on the subject of online marketing.  From my readings, one thing is very clear-to be successful, you must find and market to your niche! 

I encourage anyone to market online. It is the most cost effective way to sell your product or service.  It does require effort…lot’s of effort.  I began marketing my services online in 2008.  It was not until this year (2013) that I began to put in serious time to improve my online presence, and the results have been good!    For years I simply used my web presence as nothing more than an online “business card”.  Wrong!!  Once I committed to a couple of concepts, my online service business has picked up dramatically.

First, I stopped trying to compete with every graphic artist and web designer offering services via the web.  I opted instead, to market to those people I most closely identify; people living and working in rural communities around the globe.  I joined several online communities that are visited by rural online consumers.  Just as importantly, I was not hesitant to start a community discussion in some of my favorite forums about rural marketing issues.  All of this has one goal, to connect with people of interest. 

Second, I have developed partnerships with other rural entrepreneurs.  Being a one-stop shop online is for the big guys.  It took me several years to learn that if I stick to what I do best, and partner with another person(s) to handle the rest, I have a greater chance at success.  Example, a few years ago, I took on the task of building, from scratch, a website for a Real Estate Company.  Halfway into the project, I realized that my customer’s expectations were beyond my technical expertise.  Rather than backing out of the project, I continued; but I subcontracted out the portions of the project I could not handle technically.  The result, was a completed project that exceeded the customer’s demands.  More importantly, I developed an online working relationship with another rural entrepreneur.  Now we collaborate on projects.  Collaboration also extends my market reach…

More later…

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Answers for Rural Online Entrepreneurs.

Well, it’s decided. After months of contemplating about what to discuss in this blog, I have come up with the one topic that grabs (and holds) my interest. I am an avid fan of the internet and the “global marketplace”. The problem is that I reside and work in an extremely rural (and remote) part of central West Virginia. So the question becomes, how am I able to survive and grow my own online service business.

The issue: I have been a web and graphics designer for more than 15 years, mostly part-time. I am now engaged in making this a full-time endeavor.

The tools: I am proficient with HTML5, CSS3 and the Adobe creative Suite (Design and Web Premium to be more precise). I am not a hardcore programmer, instead I came at this from the graphics design angle. I worked first with print media (actually running printing presses for a couple of years) evolving to graphic design while working with an ad-specialty company in San Francisco for about 5 years.

The goal: Simple, to thrive… in the competitive world of web and graphics design. Will working from a rural location hinder the process? We will find out…

I know there are others out there that are attempting to accomplish the same goal(s). This blog is about our struggle to succeed.

First thing to do is find tools to help level the playing field. For me, that is the Adobe Creative Suite. It’s a personal choice, and I am not suggesting that others move to the Adobe Suite of products. I have designed websites using tools as simple Notepad. What I am suggesting is that you find your comfort level. I am comfortable with Adobe Dreamweaver, Fireworks and now Muse. With these tools, I am able to more efficiently design custom websites. Remember, the tools are only as good as the person using them. Accordingly, you gotta get that background in HTML and CSS. Also, knowing the basics of JavaScript, jQuery and php/asp will not hurt. More importantly, having a partner, compatriot, mentor and/or friend to cover your weaknesses is oftentimes the difference between success and failure.

Another tool I am becoming proficient with is WordPress. The reasoning is simple, it works and allows me to create content management systems without worrying about becoming a programmer. Look, programming is extremely useful in web design. But if it is not your strong suit (and it is not my strength) it is not a deal breaker in web design. I personally compensate by marketing my strengths (graphic design). Accordingly, my clients get strong graphics and industry standard websites. Just as importantly, on the more sophisticated projects, they get a team! I have no problems reaching out to one of my partners asking for assistance (usually programming).

Next…”The Struggle to Find that Niche”…

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What really works!

Well I have finally found the time to commit to this blog. My goal is to acquire the best info available for small business owners marketing on the internet.  I am especially interesting in information that can help craftspeople.

Hopefully this will be a Blog where information can be freely shared.  The goal is for everyone to prosper from the experience…

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