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Small Business Website on a Shoe String Budget

More people every day are turning to the web for shopping. Sooner or later every small business entrepreneur will hear the question: “Do you have a website?” and a yes answer is becoming a real necessity. This situation has a variety of problems.

  1. Mom and Pop have always done business by word of mouth, have no idea how to get started on the web, and aren’t even sure it’s necessary.
  2. All the jargon is complicated and can be really scary for the novice.
  3. Traditional do-it-yourself websites require computer skills and expensive software.
  4. The alternative of hiring a professional designer is even more expensive.

For Joe’s Shoe Repair, the situation can be overwhelming. He doesn’t want to promote his service on the global market. He doesn’t intend to sell online at all. His only requirement is to extend his word of mouth advertising onto the web for his town. Joe’s Shoe Repair just needs a web presence, so that when people in his local community search online for a place to get a heel repaired, they will find him.

If you fall into Joe’s category, there are solutions to the problems. There are many reasonably priced hosting companies that provide online software for building a website yourself as part of the package. Companies such as GoDaddy have packages starting at less than $5 per month. Most of them also have customer support teams to help with setup.

However, the quickest, most straight forward way to get a website is to register with a blogging service. You don’t have to have any software except your browser. Several organizations provide free space if you are willing to include their name in your web address. There is a slight learning curve to get things operational, but anyone who is capable of running a business can learn to use a blogging dashboard.

Take your time, no one but you has to know it is there until you have it fixed the way you want. The software for most blogs is very user friendly and they all have good help pages. WordPress, the most widely used blogging tool, even lets you set up a static homepage and turn off comments so that you can leave it alone until you need to let your customers know about new developments. Then you simply sign in to access the dashboard and make changes.

<b>Do you have a website? Where do you host it? Who built it?</b>

May 31, 2010   No Comments

Frugal Gardening Tips and Tricks

One of the latest trends that has come to the forefront in the past year is thriftiness. Saving a few bucks here and there adds up over the long haul. Many have taken to home gardening to shave their grocery bills down and that’s a positive step in the right direction. There are a couple of things you can do to maximize the effectiveness of a home garden.

Homemade Fertilizer
Supplies like mulch, fertilizer and other equipment from the garden supply store can be really pricey and negate a lot of the cost saving effects of growing your own vegetables. The big number one tip is composting. Almost every bit of organic scraps and leftovers from your kitchen can go into a compost pile in the backyard. Whether it’s old coffee grounds, peanut shells or grapefruit rinds, all will make for productive and nutrient-rich soil for your personal garden.

DIY Supplies
You can use old cardboard egg containers as seed starting pods for seedlings. For trellising and other structures, lumber yards are a great place to find surplus wood. Many local businesses will gladly let you rummage through their refuse heap and take away old pallets and other unneeded wood that you can use for fencing or supports. If you’d really like to take the whole concept to the next level, some relatively cheap sheet plastic and scrap lumber can be used for a no-frills, do-it-yourself greenhouse so you can get started earlier without the risk of losing plants to frost.

Seeds, Odds and Ends
While Home Depot and other mega-stores will usually have a decent selection of seeds and starter plants in the spring for you to buy, consider shopping for bulk seeds online to save some extra cash. Amazon can ship you seeds for every type of produce imaginable for free, so if you’re a regular customer and order from them frequently you may as well pick up some of your gardening supplies from them. They also ship tools like trowels, spades and the like.

These are just a few ways to start up a great low-cost, organic garden on a budget. For more helpful information, Garden Guides offers plenty of advice on the choice of vegetables and plants you can grow, as well as tips and advice to get the most out of them. Fellow gardeners in your area are also a terrific sounding board for advice and ideas, so make sure to hit up message boards and forums as well as the local farmers’ market. If you plan it out right, you can get a superb home garden going for next to nothing, allowing you to eat better and save on fresh vegetables in the long run. So, what are some other good ideas for the perfect money-saving home garden?

May 27, 2010   No Comments

Maintain Your Car and Save

Tackling your own auto maintenance may sound like a daunting prospect, but with a little research, some basic tools and determination, you can save a lot of cash. The average consumer has no idea how tremendous the markup is on easy-to-perform automotive services. By investing some time in learning basic car maintenance, you can gain both savings and the personal satisfaction of knowing that you did the job yourself. Three money-saving services that you can perform yourself are changing your oil, monitoring your tire pressure and detailing your car.

Change Your Oil Yourself
Keeping your car’s oil changed protects its engine life. The owner’s manual contains the recommended service schedule. Most auto manufacturers recommend oil changes every 3,000 miles, but check the owner’s manual to be sure. According to Edmunds, car owners save around $100 yearly by changing their oil themselves. Combined with other frugal living tips, this really adds up. Edmunds lists on its site step-by-step instructions for changing your car’s oil.

Maintain the Correct Tire Pressure
Maintaining your car’s tire pressure is key to fuel efficiency and savings. Under-inflated tires are not only dangerous but cause your car to use more gas. The owner’s manual lists the optimum tire pressure for safety and fuel efficiency. An inexpensive tire pressure gauge helps you determine whether the tires need inflating. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that gas mileage improves 3.3% with properly inflated tires. If gas is $3 per gallon, that translates to savings of ten cents per gallon. This saves $78 yearly for a car with a 15-gallon tank filled once weekly.

Detail Your Car Yourself
Contrary to what many believe, car detailing is a frugal do-it-yourself project. Keeping your car looking good maintains the car’s value. If you decide later to sell it or trade it in, you receive more money for it. According to Cost Helper, the average cost for car detailing in the United States is $58 for a basic detail job. In some areas, the cost is as high as $300 for a premium detail job. Invest in a few basic supplies and reap the savings. Popular Mechanics describes the detailing process on its site.

Do you have tried and true money-saving auto maintenance tips? Share them.

May 20, 2010   No Comments

10 Tips for Buying Business Cards Cost Effectively

  • Stick to simple business card designs – they usually cost less than premium designs.
  • Use a smaller format, plain rectangular card if you can. Often a card that is smaller will remain in a wallet for longer anyway, so are less likely to be discarded.
  • Consider using recycled card stock. It can have triple benefits! It can often save business owners money, help save the planet, and customers may get an improved perception of one’s business, as it shows care and attention to the environment. Some businesses have won new business or received sales leads, simply because they made an ecologically friendly choice.
  • Don’t buy into “bundled” solutions – these are often top-heavy, in both price and unwanted extras. If one has the type of business that does not led well to being openly promoted by the consumer (such as a sanitary product), those extra refrigerator door business card holders will likely end up in the trash can!
  • Order embossed print on plain cardstock. This is just as eye-catching as a gloss finish card, which is, in fact, harder to read. Embossed print against plain white or colored cardstock lends a classy look, and can save considerable printing costs.
  • Make sure that any information one intends to print on the card is going to stay valid for an extended period of time. Changing a cell phone number the month after cards have been printed is going to be either require a costly re-print, or the business owner will suffer the indignity of correcting them all by hand!
  • Choose a business card supplier carefully. High volume printers charge a lot for small runs. Match the printing batch size to a mid-range card supplier/printer.
  • Order in sensible batches. Having 1000 unused business cards in a desk drawer is the same as putting un-spendable dollar bills there. Figure out roughly what might be used in a six to twelve month period and order accordingly.
  • Shop around on the internet – as usual, a little time spent studying the market can pay dividends in real savings!
  • Check out promotional freebies at sites such as Vistaprint.com. They offer 250 free cards and a host of ready-made designs. Other, similar competitors can easily be found through Google by typing in the following search phrase, “cheap business cards”. The ad sponsors found at the top and the right of the search results page should provide numerous leads for low-priced business cards.

Where do you get your business cards? And if you’ve got a picture of what they look like, post a link.

May 17, 2010   2 Comments

Budgeting

Many people feel like there is never enough money. After paying bills and necessary expenses, there is often times no money for education, savings or an emergency fund. A budget is a way of tracking what you spend, deciding what needs to be paid and figuring out where you can cut back. As soon as you begin your budget, you will soon be able to find out if your money is being spent on things you truly need or just on things that you want. There are many areas included within a budget that you can but back.

Housing If you are living in a home that is beyond your means, it is time for a change. Options may include refinancing, finding a less expensive place, or finding a roommate.

Utilities Utilities such as gas, electric and water are all necessary, but can be better managed. Other utilities that are elective such as cable, internet and phone can either be disconnected to switched to a less expensive service.

Transportation Make sure you are driving a vehicle you can afford, including the payment, insurance and gas. If the car is too expensive trade it in or sell it for something you can afford. Carpooling is even an often for many people

Food Eating out is not a necessity, but nice sometimes. Eating out less will cut a budget drastically. If you work, take your lunch. Shop grocery stores that offer specials and cut coupons to save money.

Clothing Everyone needs clothing but this does not mean you need the most expensive. There are many second-hand and thrift stores that provide clothing at marked down prices. Clothing can also be passed on from one child to the next.

Healthcare Costs of healthcare continue to rise, but can also be managed. When you are filling prescriptions, ask for generic drugs. Ask a doctor for a discount when you are paying in cash. Always review doctor and hospital bills for accuracy.

Insurance Whether buying car or health insurance, it is important to shop around to get the best possible rates. Ask the agent for all the discounts that you qualify for, including low mileage, multiple car and good driver.

Saving money can be achieved by creating and sticking to a budget. You are able to decide what money needs to be spent and where you can cut back.

May 13, 2010   No Comments

DollarDays now Ships to Canada Eh!

DollarDays is proud to announce that as of today, our friends to the North can now take part in the enormous savings that American wholesalers are able to get when purchasing from DollarDays.

We’re excited about expanding our reach to Canada, and believe this represents an amazing business opportunity for both DollarDays and Canadian businesses alike.

May 11, 2010   No Comments

School is ending, but not forever

School may be nearly out, but why not start thinking about the impending month of August when back-to-school is back-in-style?

Today and tomorrow only, DollarDays is offering $3 wholesale backpacks. So rush on over and make sure to stock up before the summer starts, so that you have the product when the summer ends.



May 11, 2010   No Comments

Charity and Press

Owning a small business and trying to grow and maintain your business can often be a daunting task. You have just a certain amount of dollars each month that you are able to spend on marketing and advertising. The key to successful small business ownership is keeping your business in the forefront of everyone’s minds.

There are several easy win-win suggestions to help you maintain profitability and contribute to the welfare of your community in the interim.

What are the not-for-profits in your area of influence could use a helping hand? Is there a food pantry that serves your local community? Contact them and offer to be a collection point for a particular month. Oftentimes, the local community newspapers will write editorials for the non-profit organizations, even full-length features, and this translates into free media exposure for your small business. This is an endeavor that could save you hundreds of dollars in advertising fees in exchange for your time and talents to benefit the needy in your midst.

This works extremely well for almost any small business type in just about any community. Whether you act on behalf of the local ASPCA to collect blankets, food, toys or dollars for the rescued animals or just collect clothing for the local chapter of the American Red Cross – most of these organizations will even recognize your small business on their own websites as well as the local media attention you will receive.

You can even sponsor a teddy bear drive for the local police force. Collect teddy bears from your customers to give to police officers to place in the trunk of their vehicles. The bears can be given to children who are involved in motor vehicle accidents to help lift their spirits during a traumatic event in their young lives until the situation is resolved. The police will be forever grateful for your contribution and again, another media event as you present the police force with your loving gifts.

Another small business consideration would be to adopt a local school team event or sport. For the investment of a small donation to purchase uniforms or t-shirts, your small business will benefit from the team’s exposure at school events and your business name will be reflected in the school’s programs. A very worthy and smart business investment with a return on investment that is priceless.

Aside from the free media exposure, your small business will be making a huge impact on the community and the community will respond to your business. This is called “Good Will” and it is invaluable to any business to continually provide good will through community efforts. The value-add to your business can never be measured in terms of building relationships and driving the integrity and values of your small business name.

Think outside the box, but give within the community and you will see your business benefit from it.

May 10, 2010   No Comments

Wholesale Week in Review – 1st Week of May

Need Help Meeting Exotic Needs? — April 27, 2010
stingray leather iphone coverEcommerce sites must do one thing well if they are to survive: set themselves apart from the multitude of sellers trying to market more or less the same stuff. Offering exclusive or exotic items in a targeted niche is one effective method of attracting customers and keep them coming back for more. The online wholesaler, YourNeedsCompany.com, is offering a new line of sting ray leather accessories including iPod cases. As sting ray leather was used historically in ancient Japanese armor, this exotic and durable leather might appeal especially to the men’s accessories demographic, though they do have sting ray leather wallets for men and women in their product line.

eBay Sellers: Is it Time to Start Your Own Website? — May 03, 2010
EBay has raised its seller fees, again. Some sellers have left eBay in favor of other venues or their own websites. It may be time to consider eBay as an avenue to attract new customers to a website or for the collection of email addresses to be used for newsletters and email marketing. One way is to direct buyers to your “About Me” by offering them a greater selection of items similar to the listed item. You can also include fliers with shipments advertising your website. It may not be possible to eliminate eBay from your selling activities yet; however, it may be time to pull back on your listing and consider those high fees as advertising expenses for your own website.

Social Media Marketing Accountability — May 3rd, 2010
According to WholesaleMatch.com, 48% of Americans older than 12 are part of some social media group; the addition of social media to your marketing plan is increasingly important. Social media campaigns can be a complex and time consuming endeavor. One solution for business owners is to hire a marketing firm to manage social media campaigns. This article highlights the steps you should take to measure the success of the marketing firm you hire.

Wholesale Inventories Sales in U.S. Rose in February — April 9 (Bloomberg)
Inventories of US Wholesalers rose in February 2010 for the 11th consecutive month. Companies are increasing their orders as sales increase to the highest level in a year – a sign that the economy continues to gain strength. The 0.06 gain in inventory values in February came as a surprise to analysts who expected a more modest gain. Inventories of non durable specifically goods rose .08% while sales of non-durable goods rose 1.4%. Inventories of durable goods increased .5%. Reports indicate that there will be an increase in production in the coming months to replenish depleted inventory stockpiles.

May 7, 2010   No Comments

DollarDays Banner Ads Featured on Retargeter

A few days ago DollarDays was featured on Retargeter blog for our stellar banner ads. Maybe you’ve seen them. They liked our ads’ clean look and use of white space, our concise messaging, and clear call to action.
Banner ad
For big and small businesses alike, these banner ads can be hugely effective. So, we thought it would be a good idea to hand off a few tips on how to put together a successful ad campaign.

  1. Clear, short messaging Writing ad copy is a bit like writing headlines. For the intelligent, creative writer, there is oftentimes the desire to put way more information in an ad than they should. For whatever reason, it might be better to say “Wholesale Pricing” than it is to say “Wholesale Pricing on more than 20,000 items”. But it also might not be. Which brings me to my second point…
  2. Test…test…test… Sometimes you’d be surprised what works and what doesn’t. Pretty banners can sometimes reduce clicks. Sometimes pretty banners increase clicks. Either way, you won’t know until you test your creative.
  3. Include a Call to Action For savvy marketers, this is obvious. But most of us are not savvy marketers. You might be surprised how much better an ad performs when you write the words “Save Today” or “Start Saving” or “Call xxx-xxxx for more information”. Make sure to include some sort of descriptive action in your ads.

May 5, 2010   No Comments