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I Forge Iron

Does Your Website Make You Money?????


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Well for you it seems to work.
 
This is not a rhetorical question.  I have had several names registered for a while but never published a website.  In these economical times, I am trying to decide to publish or not.
 
I have also had an Etsy account with little or not return.  Have any of you had success there?

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most my sales come from my web site its all in how its written.. The fast "what you see is what you get" site builders are junk.  They make pages that look pretty to you but the search engings dont read through all the garbage code that is thrown in there for the editors to work, Also there are SEO (search engine optomisation) W3 (world wide web conformity) testors to check what is useless code, and lost links and such.   Learning SEO is not an afternoon job, its an ongoing project in itself,. I was lucky and worked hard and got good placement in the search engines. But you need to learn this if you want to write a web site that will get ranked high or else it may never be found unless they already are looking for you by name. thats why many companies pay big $$ to have then writing for them.

 

having said that even a self made simple one is not going to hurt you.  I pay $50 a year for my sites hosting.

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Web sites are but one tool in promoting your business. There are poor web designs, good web designs, and great web designs. The better the design the better the results. Web designs can not be static, never to be updated or changed. It is a full time job to keep them current and interesting. You must invest the time, or pay to have it done on a regular basis.

 

As Steve said, you want to spend some time (read as in a full time job with trial and error) to learn web design, or pay someone that already knows what to do. Much like blacksmithing, yes I can build THAT item, better and it will save money.  A year later ther wife buys one cause you are still working on building yours.  

 

Web sites are like forges, build your first one and use it while you learn how to improve the design and build a second one.

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I used a website years ago . . . I treated it as an electronic "business card". It was a place for folk to be told to go not one I ever expected others to find (for the reasons Steve mentions above). I don't have one anymore, it's not a good fit for the time and money to manage it.

 

I've always used mailing lists and direct contact to build the business one customer at a time. Now I keep all of my clients updated through regular email updates and the word of mouth business that approach generates has done pretty well for me.

 

I haven't tried Etsy yet. The wife and I created an account last year but we haven't gotten around to dipping our toe in the water. If we do, I'll treat it the same way as I mentioned above; It's a place to direct folks to, not a place I expect people to find.

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Since I moved to KY, almost all my orders come from my website or facebook, I am not making a fortune but got enough Christmas orders to more than cover my time, materials, website expenses, business cards, etc. for the year.

As Steve mentioned there is more to getting traffic to your website than just putting a couple of pretty pictures up. I have a site designer and manager, neither my wife or I are computer wizards and frankly we don't care to mess with it.

Point being is a professional designer can get you traffic. If you google horseshoe art, my site is the first one that comes up. I am sure that I am not the biggest seller, nor the most well known, nor the one who who has been doing it the longest, nor is my site the coolest (hasn't been updated since we put it up, badly needs updating). BUT it is the first one that comes up. How-Don't have a clue, but the site designer does her thing and it is so. We also have a link to facebook with the latest stuff. FB is a good and free place to show your stuff off and sell it. 

 

Good luck

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Yes, mine does, I have attracted some nice commission work with my website, and also some smaller stuff, absolutely enough to warrant it as necessary. I treat it as an online portfolio, or brochure, where people can look up to see the variety and scope of work that I do. I know here most people instead of looking at the yellow pages will look online for a phone number etc, so I think it's necessary to have a presence on the web, for me it is anyway. I have an acquaintance who has a server so I pay him to host which is £80 a year, and I made my own website on apple's iweb, so I am in control of it and update it myself. I also do facebook but haven't got any work that way, it's more of a networking tool with other smiths, that it has worked that way for me anyway. I also recently made an Etsy shop just before Christmas and got a few sales through that, with Etsy I think you need to work at it updating it regularly etc and do a lot of self promotion, etsy can work as an online sales platform but that is all it is, like the others have said you can't expect stuff to just sell on it's own there., Ironwork though, doesn't lend itself that well to online sales, it costs a lot to ship etc. 

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Mine paid for itself in the first month it was up and running. I am constantly getting contacts from the site and refere potential clients there to view work. I do not sell anything on the site itself. I think this is why it works well for me.  If people remember or see my company name, because it is catchey and easy to remember, then they google the name it pops right up. It is 99% local work. I currently advertise in the local yellow pages but now I am getting more hits on my web site.

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My website has not made any money but it has given me a place to send prospective clients to view my work. In that sense, it is valuable. I made the mistake of having it made as a trade for work. It has been a very slow process and the biggest mistake from doing it as a trade is don't have total control. I can't update as often as I would like to or make changes on an ongoing basis. I am in the process of putting together another website that is specific to tools and other smithing products. I hoping this one will make me some money! 

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Electronic media is, by far, the cheapest form of 'advertising'. But like any form of advertising, it's only effective if done well. A badly done site does about as much for a business as poorly written print ads featuring cheesy clip-art.

One advantage of having your own domain name that some people don't think about, is a more formal, 'corporate' type of email address. Businesses that use free email accounts (hotmail, yahoo, and the like) scream out 'unprofessional' in this day an age.

You can register a top level domain name (.com, etc) for $10 a year, and basic hosting can be had very inexpensively. Often if you have a 'business' Internet service (rather than residential), larer service provider will give you a reasonable amount if free server space. If running a business, $100 - $200 a year on advertising is a very minimal investment.

There was a time when designing websites involved writing code ... But the current crop of content management systems make it dead easy. Professionally designed templates for these CMS platforms can be had from $20 on up. But even the top-end ones are under $100.

Yes, you can get some mileage from Facebook and other social media. However, if you don't have a proper website to direct people to, you will lack a certain amount of credibility (at least with the more tech-savvy generations).

I know that to some of the luddites and old curmudgeons out there - it's just an expense. But so much of the population are 'connected' these days, with their iPhones & BlackBerries hanging of them 24/7; why separate yourself from that segment part of the market?

If I'm looking for a 'whatever' (mechanic, plumber, etc.), my first stop is Google. If you're not online, I won't find you.

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I have an etsy shop and am beginning to understand how to run it.  It is like any other business... it takes some experience to learn how to operate successfully.  Etsy was pretty dead for  while after the big economic turndown.  Not too strange as most everything on the site could be considered a luxury.  It has recently been picking up and especially for me!  I attribute this to some additional effort on my part and a slow dawning of what kind of management strategies work for me.  It is a long process to build a nice looking shop and to learn how to promote it successfully.  I am far from "THERE" but seem to be opening the door a bit.  One thing I like about etsy is that the costs are very low, so I can work hard at it in spurts as I get time.  Unlike a brick and mortar store where the overhead is relentless and quick success is an imperative.  I am getting an education in online marketing while I develop my etsy shop, and I expect this to be useful if I decide to expand my online marketing efforts.  I do NOT have a dedicated website and am unlikely to as I now use my etsy shop for most of the purposes that such a web site would otherwise serve.  The etsy site is cheaper and offers easy access to tools like online payment acceptance and search engine submissions.  I am considering opening another type of online shop but recent activity in my etsy shop combined with my local work has kept me about as busy as I want to be!  I like being busy but I find that I need to be free enough to do a lot of management work in the running of our family and finances so that I cannot overload with projects that may make money but are mostly FUN for me!  

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For certain kinds of businesses, covering a wide geographic area with mail order for instance, a website is a prerequisite. Hardly anybody sends inquiries by post anymore. The phone is not often used for inquiries. E-mail appears to be the route most people take. It's another ball game if you provide regional and/or local products.

 

Glenn's offer of auto-listing with your signature is generous, q.v.

 

Post Script. The teaching of cursive writing is being taken out of schools, little by little.

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Most definitely - it's the only contact point I have with the outside world (no separate phone listing or any other type of advertisement).  I don't even carry business cards anymore - I just ask people to browse my site and we go from there with regard to projects.

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I would get rid of my telephone before my website.

That said...I push hard in other areas which circle back to the web in some ways.

In my business I have two things to sell...ME and my WORK...nothing else.

 

The simple fact of having a web presence means nothing if you have no way to get folk to view the site AND items to sell. Its like a stack of business cards at a rest stop...not very useful.

 

I put a business card in every hand that stands still long enough to hold one.

Branding is important as well.

 

If you have not contacted your local newspaper or internet news then you are not pushing you brand.

The trick is not reaching the ten people who need your services and know you exist...the point is to contact the 7 billion people who do not know you exist and did not realize they need one of what you make.

 

Side Tangent:

To me it is silly to mark your work with a stamp that can not be traced. Who can trace a horseshoe or anvil with a letter near it? Or a creative use of your three initials?

If you are Coca-Cola then a swooping "C" is OK cause folk know the brand, but if your name is "Carl" a "C" means nothing to others.

Nike has the swoosh, but it is a Billion dollar swoosh.....if you mark your work then mark it in a way that can be traced via a simple web search or at least via a few phone calls.

 

I see old knives with a name and city/state...good marketing if you ask me.

I have a Cyril Colnik bit of iron...the only way I know it is his was because of its provenance..no mark can be seen....poor marketing.

 

Ric

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Found one of your cards at work the other day Ric ! guess I must have stood still to long :)

 

Seems a bit odd in this day and age not to have, as a minimum, a page with your contact details, and a few pics of your work to direct potential customers to.

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We just got our site up and running and it was definitely a challenge for me since I'm not up on my web page design skills, but I've muscled through it and I'm relatively happy with how it's turned out so far.  I've been working on the SEO side of it now and also leveraging Facebook to increase traffic to our site.

 

Since it hasn't been up and running for very long, we've only had a few sales through the website, but it's already been really helpful when talking to local shops about possibly carrying our products and also when applying to attend the larger arts & crafts shows, they seem to like being able to go to our site and view what we do.

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After being in business for a good long time I finally got a website. For a couple of years I went back and forth. I worried about the cost and would it make me too busy. Everybody had someone who could set it up for me, Don't you want to try my friend, son, daughter, football coach, etc.

 

Finally I contracted with a local company with national ties to the Hearst Corp. Great idea! The expensive part of their service is the search engine optimazation but they have me #1 in my area for my 3 search phrases, Blacksmith Portland ME, Ironwork Portland ME, Art Fabrication Portland ME

The site has paid for itself, at what it currently costs me, for the next 2 years and counting. It has increased my business and I have learned a new word, NO.

There are only so many hours in a day and I have been able to cherry pick the fun jobs. I have referred jobs to other professional Smiths because even though I am saying no I don't want to dissapoint a customer.

I am currently booking work 8 months down the road. Probably 1/2 of it from the website.

The cheapest advertizing dollars I have spent over the past few years for results given Is the lettering job on the Truck. This is now followed by the website.

I will continue to pay for the web service.

Bob Menard www.ballandchainforge.com

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