The battle for originality and individuality…

Services & Pricing

The battle for originality and individuality in blogging, business and media.

Creativity and innovation are not easy to come by.  Some are naturally gifted, unique ideas flow without much effort, or so it seems.  But with the the world wide web, can you be truly unique and/or original and is it possible to set yourself apart from the rest, even if it is just for a brief moment in time?  What exactly is originality?

orig·i·nal·i·ty
noun \?-?ri-j?-?na-l?-t?\

Definition of ORIGINALITY (according to Merriam-Webster)

  • the quality or state of being original
  • freshness of aspect, design, or style
  • the power of independent thought or constructive imagination

From my experience having been an online retailer I realized quick that your “admirers” a.k.a. competitors keep a close eye on everything you do, and you may do the same, in fact if you’re smart you WILL do the same.  For the most part they do it in private, they can read your pages, follow your blog, twitter, facebook, etc. and keep tabs on your every move.  They can even copy your every move if they really want to.  So after pouring over your new package deal or promotion or other new concept, they can essentially rewrite your idea and pretty much instantly begin competing against you using it.  Sad but true.

Aside from watermarking your photos, what can you do?  If you suspect someone of copying your content a little too closely then you can try and contact them, but do you really have time to look over everyone else’s sites and try to determine if they may or may no have copied you?  What good is that going to do you?

So what can you do?  In my opinion all you can do is keep moving, keep innovating and continue trying to outdo yourself.  While the feeling your being copied is discouraging, it’s not the end of the world.  I like to think that internet karma will prevail.

Essentially, to succeed in business, blogging and marketing online, whether you feel you’re being watched or not, you should live and work like you are.  Remain passionate about what you do, continue to challenge yourself, strive to be inventive and unique and although keeping an eye on the competition is important, don’t let it paralyze you.  Think you may have a copy cat?  Feel flattered.  No one wants to copy someone who they don’t think highly of.  If someone considers you their competition, their rival, then let it inspire you to keep moving in the direction you’re headed.

This is just my two cents.  What are your thoughts?  Ever felt like you’re being watched?

 

Is it better to act like a big fish or a little fish?

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This is a really interesting topic that I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time.  When you’re a small business there are many types of customers whom you’d like to attract, and some you end up wishing you hadn’t…None the less, you need customers in order to succeed, unless you’re independently wealthy and your business is more of a hobby.

Since there are different types of customers you need to decide whether you want to specifically target one group and risk turning away another, or if you can figure out a common denominator that will allow you to attract them all.  Here’s my breakdown on the different types of customers out there.

Customer A: These are customers who take pride in supporting small businesses and actually seek them out.  They don’t mind spending an extra couple of bucks and usually they can afford to.  Once they find a business they like then you can expect them to become repeat customers.

Customer B: Customers who fall into this group also like to support small businesses but only really when they feel it works out, the price is right, etc.  The majority of the time they end up shopping elsewhere because for them it’s all about the end price, no matter how small the savings.

Customer C: Hmmm… Customer C is more of a hybrid customer, or maybe I should say they’re a High-Maintenance customer! lol  They want to support small businesses and they prefer to, but they also want you to act like you’re a big business and uphold the same sorts of policies and practices as the big businesses.

If Customer C were to shop online at big box retailer’s website for example, they’d just pay the advertised price, shipping, research the product themselves before they checkout and voila!

However, if Customer C were to shop at a small business for the same product they’d likely compare your price to the big box retailer’s price, check out your shipping prices and policies, and then email you with all their questions.  I think they might like to do this to ensure that you’re really there and because they like to make you work for their money.

Customer C isn’t really a problem customer and personally I prefer them over Customer B’s but they really make you work for your sale.  At least they give you an opportunity to earn their sale, that’s how I always looked at it.

Now I wonder, if you were to act like a big retailer or business, put up a facade implying that you’re a little bigger than you really are, would they question you as much?  This is the question to be examined.  How do you attract customers A, B and C while not turning one or the other away?

Well, if you’re still reading this then I hope I have you intrigued enough to look for my follow up post in the next couple of days.  For now it appears my inspiration has led me to end this question with another question!

Do you all wonder these same things?  Do you feel pressure to act larger than you are?  Do you ever feel like it’s better to appear smaller?  What are your thoughts?

Don’t let the fact that you’re self-taught dictate your self-worth.

This is something I struggle with daily in my new field.  Over the last 4-5 years I have learned a lot and taught myself a lot whether through watching tutorials, googling solutions to problems, a few college courses, trial and error and a TON of hands on experience.  However, with no paper to prove my qualifications I struggle with finding the confidence to stand behind my services and prices.   I am forever doubting myself.

What if I say I can do something and then it turns out I can’t?  What if they don’t like what I do? What if…Seriously the list of “what ifs” I can come up with are seriously crazy.

Do you struggle with confidence in your line of work?  Whether your a blogger unsure of your writing skills, a crafter who’s taught herself how to sew, a consultant or something else completely.  I’d love to know I’m not the only one feeling this way.

I’ve heard that the best way to act is like you can take on the world, surely that’s easier said than done.  Confident people get noticed, I’ve definitely seen them.  They command your attention, come across as knowledgeable and reliable, and are downright admirable.  And I’m not talking about overly confident a.k.a. cocky people.  I’m referring to those who you just know that they know what they’re talking about!

It’s getting a little late for new years resolutions but I’m going to give this a shot regardless.  I’ll consider, whether anyone is actually reading this or not, to be my own little personal pep-talk to myself.

I am confident, I am knowledgeable, my work has value!  Roarrr!

Make Connections!

In my experience I have learned that you must treat your online business like you would treat a local business. You have to promote yourself. If you were a local business you might hand out business cards, solicit local businesses that might be willing to hand out flyers, drive around with a sign/magnet on your car, etc.

In the virtual world you must converse with others in chat rooms and on message boards, make a name for yourself. Be helpful, honest, and friendly. You have to represent your business at all times. This has unfortunately put a damper on my posting about personal problems, etc. Keep in mind that what you say online can be found pretty easily with the click of a few buttons.

Instead of a sign on your car, put your business advertisement in your email signature, message board signatures, avatars, sign guestbooks with your name, comments, and link to your store. Look for opportunities to post helpful information and get your links out there.

When I get lazy about going out and promoting myself online, I see a drastic decline in the number of visitors to my site.

Look for opportunites to send in business cards and/or samples to other businesses that might be willing to include them in their outgoing orders. Join Yahoo Groups that allow business announcements, sales, and other spam.

More to come…

Content is the key to success!

Well I have been in business for myself now for approximately 8 months. My first site was built and hosted through High Power Sites. I didn’t have a lot of start up cash and really needed a site that I could design myself and not have to hire someone. Well you get what you pay for! I must say $19.99 per month and no sign up or design fees did seem like a really good deal and I would recommend them to anyone who needs an all-in-one deal with no more in their budget than $20 bucks.

The drawbacks….They didn’t play very nice with Google, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 8 months it’s that Google is Golden. I would check my StatCounter daily and I was getting no love from any search engines, and when I did it was because someone actually Googled my site’s name. I tried creating a Google Site Map through my web provider and it just wouldn’t work properly, technical support would just tell me it was an issue they were working on.

So long story short, I have a new site that is professionally designed. Keywords, MetaTags, SiteMaps and all and I saw a great improvement in the amount of visitors to my site. But by far, the most improvement on my search engine referrals has come after I built up my sites content. I improved my Frequently Asked Questions page and actually pasted all my information rather than just linking to it. I also added a page where I talked about the different brands I carry and I posted the content from the Newspaper Article that had been written about me. After these few boosts to my sites content, I began to see hits on my site from tons of search querys. Queries that didn’t always apply to me or my business but either way you look at it, showing up on the first page of a Google search is a great accomplishment for me.

So, my advice is that you go to your site now and type, type, type. Create detailed informational descriptions of your products or services, frequently asked questions, how-to guides, policies, post tips and articles, treat it like a blog if you have to. The more content you have, the more keyword combinations you’ll have for showing up on Google searches.

Good Luck!