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Old 30th November 2005, 09:12 AM   #1
SpongeBob13
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Default Great project, but is it real?

[ADMIN NOTE: This thread was split from the Zero Cash thread.]


Hey what a wonderful idea!

I've been working on building a Small Business web site for the better part of six months... full time

I've learned some great tricks from your work.

But I do have to ask -

a) Is it real that the common Small Business Person has access to all the Blogs that originally created your Viral Marketing traffic?
b) The event itself generates traffic, how can the average Small Business Person expect to repeat that effect?
c) Is it real that you received Google indexing at day 10? My experience, and maybe others, Google indexing and Google traffic takes months to acquire! Personally I've sent out over 400 emails for recip links. This has resulted in about a dozen responses, of which, Google has tracked only 1!

There is much more to discuss put I think you get the point.

I came into this bright eyed and bushy tailed and am gathering a different feeling. This exercise seems more akin to Martha Stewart saying to the girl scout, watch how I sell brownies. Martha immeadiately goes to her speed dialer and starts making calls

None the less, its a fun read!

PS - I've started a small business web site and have worked it on average 65 hours a week. It's a good unique idea that produces content. Currently I am seeing 40 unique visitors a day and have a Google Page Rank of 1. Sadly I find myself spending 85% of the time wearing a SEO hat, and 15% of my time creating content.

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Old 30th November 2005, 09:39 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum

Couple comments to help you get on track hopefully. You may want to start your own thread so we can discuss your situation specifically.

Quote:
Is it real that you received Google indexing at day 10? My experience, and maybe others, Google indexing and Google traffic takes months to acquire! Personally I've sent out over 400 emails for recip links.
Jen's experiences are tied into CafePress being a preexisting site within google. Much of your issue might be related to a focus on recip links. Notice Jen hasn't gone that route, and I recommend you consider the same. Recip links are not a good approach currently based on my experiences. You need to focus on building links based on promotion of your unique story, not on i'll pat your back if you pat mine. Many/most believe recip links can even be a big negative to search rankings as the algorithms are advanced enough to spot them and they are commonly considered an seo tactic that the engines do not approve of for manipulating rankings.

Quote:
85% of the time wearing a SEO hat, and 15% of my time creating content.
Flip that around immediately. Don't forget about seo, write with seo in mind ... but you need to spend more time on creating high quality unique content. It's hard to have a site be considered an authority on a keyword if you don't have the content to support it.

Quote:
b) The event itself generates traffic, how can the average Small Business Person expect to repeat that effect?
As an outsider, I tend to fall on Jen's side of this. The folks generating traffic from Search Engine Guide are not her audience. It's like me sending folks looking for ice cream to your site. They and I most likely won't be buying a tee that says Milk Jugs

Quote:
a) Is it real that the common Small Business Person has access to all the Blogs that originally created your Viral Marketing traffic?
Nope, most don't have the audience that Jen does. The area I haven't heard Jen address, which I do think is an unnatural advantage, is linking to her site. While the traffic doesn't help sales, the one way links from other authority sites established in Google plays some role and has a positive impact that is not an avenue others can create as easily. This is because of her presence within a community for a long period of time. I'll give you that, but ... on the flip side, don't we all have some contacts and networking established. She's taking advantage of her pre-existing networking within the seo community and breast feeding forums. I have similar networking contacts within my own circles. I think that's my take, none of us live in a vacuum... and just like Jen has networked we all can do the same within our own circles to get initial buzz going.

That's my two cents on some of the comments regarding objectivity. Regarding the expirement, I am a peer of Jens and its been great to follow along. I'm glad she broadened things to include adsense and cafepress in the mix ... i've learned a thing or two myself. Keep at it!!

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Old 30th November 2005, 10:50 AM   #3
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SpongeBob13! Welcome to the forum!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpongeBob13
a) Is it real that the common Small Business Person has access to all the Blogs that originally created your Viral Marketing traffic?
Yes, it is real. As Logan pointed out anyone can network, get involved with forums, blogs, etc.

A small business person has to learn to get out there and get known. And for the shy folks among us (me included), it's not as scary as it may sound. A great way to get known is hanging out in forums and contributing your time and energy to helping others. Even if you are the person that just greets every new visitor and says hi. Lisa Spaulding (divshow) is the perfect example of this. She became a member last year when our forum was brand new. She welcomed every new visitor that arrived. We got used to seeing her name pop up all the time and would check out her site. I ended up buying a bunch of gifts from her store last year for Christmas because I knew about her and she carries neat gifts that I can use for my "hard to buy for" list of gift recipients.

Another example is a lady named Kelly McCausey. She has a site called Work at Home Moms Talk Radio

Kelly's name pops up all over the place in work at home mom blogs and forums. She consistently contributed her time to helping others and built a name for herself. Now she is the wahm talk radio lady.

I could easily provide a dozen more examples of people that built their name by giving their time to others first. Anyone can do this.

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b) The event itself generates traffic, how can the average Small Business Person expect to repeat that effect?
Create your own event. Come up with your own article series. Hold a contest. Etc. Do something that creates buzz.

Quote:
Personally I've sent out over 400 emails for recip links. This has resulted in about a dozen responses, of which, Google has tracked only 1!
Which is why I don't send out recip link requests. I don't think I sent a single one for this site. Spending time creating content is much more productive, as Logan pointed out.

Quote:
This exercise seems more akin to Martha Stewart saying to the girl scout, watch how I sell brownies. Martha immeadiately goes to her speed dialer and starts making calls
No, it's more akin to Martha handing the girl scout her brownies recipe, marketing manual, and list of contacts.

It's up to the girl scout to choose to either be inspired or discouraged because her name isn't Martha.

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I've started a small business web site...
If you'd like, you can add a signature file so your site shows up with each of your posts. You can find instructions on doiing so here:

http://www.smallbusinessbrief.com/fo...hread.php?t=56

By the way, I'm jealous of your avatar.

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Old 30th November 2005, 11:30 AM   #4
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Wow! I was all ready to respond and then read Logan and Robert's posts. I think they said most of it better than I could have.

Welcome to the forums! Glad to have you here and appreciate you taking the time to ask questions. All of the ones you asked are excellent and likely ones that lots of readers were asking themselves but that hadn't yet been brave enough to post in the forums. I'd imagine they are all thanking you silently right now.

Quote:
This exercise seems more akin to Martha Stewart saying to the girl scout, watch how I sell brownies. Martha immediately goes to her speed dialer and starts making calls.
Gotta tell you, this made me crack up. Mostly because I can't even dream of someone comparing me to Martha Stewart. If you'd ever meet me in person you'd know why that was funny. (why just last week I was pulling snot strings out of Elnora's nose with my bare hands because she had such a bad cold...I don't guess Martha does that very often.)

But Robert answered that one very well...there's no denying that I have an advantage over most start-ups, but I'd argue that the real advantage is that my real job is to teach people about marketing. It's my background. To be quite honest with you, the idea of starting this project was sort of terrifying. Can you imagine how embarrassed I would have been if I was sitting here on day 15 without a drop of profit? Who would want to listen to me anymore? It was a pretty big risk to write this series, but thankfully, it's been going very well.

Quote:
I've started a small business web site and have worked it on average 65 hours a week. It's a good unique idea that produces content.
This is where I really feel for you. Believe me. I've spent more than two weeks working almost non-stop to make the amount of money that I'd make from an hour of consulting. If I didn't "get it" before about the struggle of small business owners, I most certain get it now.

Hope you stick around!

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Old 30th November 2005, 02:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for the welcome. I am glad we're all interested in answering the questions rather then complain about the difficulty of the question!

TheJenn - I had another analogy involving Donald Trump... well...

This will be my last post on this thread about my thoughts (and perhaps other Start Up's thoughts?) on the exercise. I don't want to break the GREAT fun of your exercise. However, I still would like to respond to the comments my original post brought. Perhaps we should commence another thread?

Before I begin, again, I think watching Jenn work her magic is fantastic. However, as someone who's living, breathing and NOT eating () working on an Internet Startup, I've got to ask some real relevant questions.

Logan -

a) CafeExpress linkage is an asset. This asset isn't readily available to some Start Ups (service industries, portals, etc.). I will gladly hang off a visible site to improve my visibility and I am sure others would to.

b) To say links aren't mandatory to climbing search engine flies in the face of even the search engine's recommendations. Yes, relevancy is very important. However, I am confused - I see that 'thelactivist' site is back-linked from sites in the Netherlands (higherlevel.nl, marketingfacts.nl, mediafact.nl, etc.). Is the data wrong? If not, how does a Media Fact site in the Netherlands relate to Breastfeeding T-Shirts? Some of those lil quips are fantastic - but I am not so sure they will translate well in Dutch.

In addition, are you suggesting not seeking relevent/quality links?

c) Spend 15% of my time on SEO work? This too is confusing since Jenn created 1000 uniques in 8 days, demonstrating her SEO skill. My data point is 1000 uniques per month, after 6 months work. I sent you an email with the specifics, and will gladly provide further info on another thread. Summarily speaking, I will put my content up against any of the top 10 Subject Keyword, Google Ranked sites. As mentioned before I am not ranked on Google.

d) Yes the traffic from peepers to the exercise will not result in sales. But buzz is buzz and it does make it difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. Conduct the exercise, and then post the diary?

e) Re - Linking the 'thelactivist' to 'smallbus....'. It would be very nice if we all had GPR 3 + contacts. No, my network or my community does not include GPR + contacts but I am spending a lot of time attempting to fix this problem. But again, are we attempting to get back links or not? Are we trying to get relevant links or not?


Robert - Care to share how Patrick got in that jam??? 2 x 4 nailed to the forehead?

a) I concur with your comments about building name or brand as the case may be. However this formula isn’t a fit all. Giving it a quick thought, seems like a great formula for the cottage or niche business out there. Do you think Tirerack.com got started this way? In my industry, it’s not too applicable.

b) CafeExpress + Quality Pre existing BLOG Contacts + Small Biz/High GPR Rank Backlinks + etc. are ingredients that are key to the recipe!

Final Thoughts –

Confusion Area #1 - I ran Jenn’s web page through WEBCeo . There were no meta keywords, or keywords period. Is this a strategy?

Confusion Area #2 – What is the link strategy being advocated, no links, quality links? If links, how does the Small Biz link help the Breast Feeding site? To say nothing about the .NL sites, if the data from WEBCeo is good.

Not to get to far ahead, but I have extreme confidence in Jenn and her magic Given success, it will be interesting to assess the success factors? Who wins the biggest wedge in the pie chart?

The Industry Folk would like to believe it looks like this…

Content - 90%
SEO Tuning - 10%

Current Reality is -

Content - 10%
SEO Tuning - 90%

Isn't Jenn demonstrating that SEO Tuning is key? The greater the success of the exercise the more this is demonstrated!

Thanks for the ton of fun and ton of learnings

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Old 30th November 2005, 04:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpongeBob13
This will be my last post on this thread about my thoughts (and perhaps other Start Up's thoughts?) on the exercise.
Don't stop. I know I for one appreciate your input.

Quote:
Robert - Care to share how Patrick got in that jam??? 2 x 4 nailed to the forehead?
LOL. I think it's from the episode where he helps rebuild SpongeBob's house.

Quote:
I concur with your comments about building name or brand as the case may be. However this formula isn’t a fit all. Giving it a quick thought, seems like a great formula for the cottage or niche business out there.
True. It's not a fit all.

Quote:
Do you think Tirerack.com got started this way? In my industry, it’s not too applicable.
I'm not familiar with Tirerack.com so I checked their site and it looks like they are a huge company that sells parts and upgrades for cars. There are a ton of car enthusiast sites, forums, and blogs out there. If I was in that industry with no starting budget competing against a giant, consistently hitting those forums, blogs, etc. is exactly where I would start.

Just using this forum as an example, if you were regularly here and I needed a special light or something for my car, I'd feel more comfortable purchasing from you than tirerack.com. This is because I'd be more familiar with you.

Keep in mind, I'm not a car guy and I'm not certain that is the industry you are in so I'm kind of shooting in the dark here.

Quote:
CafeExpress + Quality Pre existing BLOG Contacts + Small Biz/High GPR Rank Backlinks + etc. are ingredients that are key to the recipe!
And all of the key ingredients are free.

Anyone can set up a CafeExpress shop, post comments on quality blogs, and submit articles (including your byline and link to your site) to high quality sites.

So, now you have the recipe and the ingredients. For free.

And that's just one recipe. There are plenty of other approaches.

I'll let the others answer the questions addressed to them, with the exception of....

Quote:
The Industry Folk would like to believe it looks like this…

Content - 90%
SEO Tuning - 10%

Current Reality is -

Content - 10%
SEO Tuning - 90%
No, the reality is content is more important than the SEO tuning. Don't get me wrong, SEO is important, but not 90% of your time important. (Ironic that the SEO/SEM people are the ones saying "throttle back your SEO time" )

Quote:
Isn't Jenn demonstrating that SEO Tuning is key? The greater the success of the exercise the more this is demonstrated!
No. She's showing that a multi-pronged, bootstrapped marketing approach is working. This isn't all about SEO. It's SEO, PPC, Viral Marketing, Networking, etc, etc.

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Old 1st December 2005, 12:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Before I begin, again, I think watching Jenn work her magic is fantastic.
Thanks!

Quote:
CafeExpress linkage is an asset. This asset isn't readily available to some Start Ups (service industries, portals, etc.). I will gladly hang off a visible site to improve my visibility and I am sure others would to.
There are a million different ways that I could have gone about starting a business. The fact that the business that I chose to start doesn’t directly match up with the type you run doesn’t make the experiment unrealistic, it simply makes it different. I’m not saying this to be defensive, simply to point out that this was simply the route I chose to go. In fact, I’ll even point out that I chose CafePress for that very reason…because they were already established. It’s the same reason why I might have selected eBay or Yahoo! stores as an option…built in traffic.

Quote:
To say links aren't mandatory to climbing search engine flies in the face of even the search engine's recommendations. Yes, relevancy is very important. However, I am confused - I see that 'thelactivist' site is back-linked from sites in the Netherlands (higherlevel.nl, marketingfacts.nl, mediafact.nl, etc.). Is the data wrong? If not, how does a Media Fact site in the Netherlands relate to Breastfeeding T-Shirts? Some of those lil quips are fantastic - but I am not so sure they will translate well in Dutch.
That data is not wrong and the site does have links coming in from those countries. Those links are coming in because the people running those sites are interested. If you think about it, it also makes sense that a marketing site would talk about this project. Do you think that I would have gotten the links and blog discussion about the project that I have if I was selling ink toner? It’s doubtful. Part of the reason that this series has taken off and that these links have come in is because I’ve picked a topic that can spark some real conversation and presented it in a way that is entertaining. I wrote in the early days of the series about the need to pick a very niche market if you want to have any shot at all of starting a business on a shoe-string.

Quote:
In addition, are you suggesting not seeking relevant/quality links?
I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. I think what’s being said is that sending out zillions of requests for reciprocal links is unlikely to do you any good. Throughout this entire project I’ve asked for a total of two links. The first was the link from Jason Dowdell at Marketing Shift. The second was from a friend that used to run a blog about funny t-shirts. He’d shut that blog down, so I didn’t get that link. Every other link to the site is unsolicited.

That shows the power of creating content that is interesting enough to attract links on its own. Search Engine Guide has like 75,000 backlinks showing in Yahoo!. Do you know how many of those are reciprocal links that we requested? Pretty much none. People link to our site because they like what we have to offer. This is what you want to focus on when building links for your own site…building one that is worthwhile enough that you don’t have to “trade” links. I covered this pretty in-depth in an article at Search Engine Guide.

http://www.searchengineguide.com/laycock/003482.html

Quote:
Spend 15% of my time on SEO work? This too is confusing since Jenn created 1000 uniques in 8 days, demonstrating her SEO skill.
This is where your assumptions are off. I created 1000 uniques in 8 days without a drop of Search Engine Traffic. Search Traffic didn’t start coming in until the second week and even then, only 8% of my total traffic has come from search engine referrals. It’s the viral marketing efforts that have really launched this project. It’s the half dozen parenting forums where someone that’s visited to the site made a post about it, or the parenting blogs that have started adding The Lactivist to their blogrolls… Those are the links that are generating the success for this product. I’d argue that my SEO skills have had almost nothing to do with it so far. (though that will obviously not be the case over time as I expect search traffic will start to make up at least a third of my referrals…)

I’d say that Logan’s estimate of 15-20% of time on SEM is about right for what I’ve done so far. Content creation has sucked up the majority of my time. From t-shirt ideas to blog posts to actually setting up the store and web sites…that’s likely more than 50% of what I’ve spent time on.

Quote:
Yes the traffic from peepers to the exercise will not result in sales. But buzz is buzz and it does make it difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. Conduct the exercise, and then post the diary?
Possibly, but why not take advantage of whatever buzz you can generate? I had an incoming link show up the other day from an Architecture firm that is doing almost the exact same thing that I am… http://www.alanebyday.com What’s wrong with wrapping your business launch in an information project as a way to generate buzz. Some might say that the very fact that I’m doing this article series is nothing more than a brilliant marketing ploy for launching a business.

Quote:
Re - Linking the 'thelactivist' to 'smallbus....'. It would be very nice if we all had GPR 3 + contacts.
That’s true…and it would be nice if I knew anything about running a business, or could spell for a darn or could write CSS code.  I don’t do any of those things well…so I’ve had to find help where I can find it, or learn it as I go. Isn’t that part of running a business? Couldn’t we all come up with areas that we “lack in” and claim those as a reason for our failures? Or…is part of being an entrepreneur figuring out a solution to the problem at hand and making lemonade out of your lemons?

Quote:
I concur with your comments about building name or brand as the case may be. However this formula isn’t a fit all. Giving it a quick thought, seems like a great formula for the cottage or niche business out there.
Of course, and that’s my whole point! You’ll note that in the very first article I said that I knew if I wanted to start a business with zero dollars it had to be a business that was very focused on a specific niche. It had to be something with a built-in, un-tapped audience. In other words, if you want to launch a business on a budget, then cottage industries are the way to go. Why does that make this series any less valid?

Quote:
Confusion Area #1 - I ran Jenn’s web page through WEBCeo . There were no meta keywords, or keywords period. Is this a strategy?
LOL! You caught me! I never dreamed that Google or the others would start indexing www.thelactivist.com so quickly, so I simply hadn’t gotten around to throwing any tags in there yet. Heck, the title tag of every page was still showing as “the lactivist” up until this afternoon. Is that proof enough that SEO really has been a secondary part of this process? And to note…while I’ll throw meta tags up just to have them there, they are far from the secret to search engine marketing success. I’ve never had a problem getting great rankings without them. (note…I mean keyword tags, not the title tag…title tag = moocho important!)

Quote:
Confusion Area #2 – What is the link strategy being advocated, no links, quality links? If links, how does the Small Biz link help the Breast Feeding site? To say nothing about the .NL sites, if the data from WEBCeo is good.
Quality links. Quality incoming, non-solicited links from authority sites. What’s wrong with a marketing site linking to a business? Wouldn’t it make sense that sites that discuss business and marketing might point to the sites that are doing a decent job of it? Why would Google find that irrelevant? At the same time, consider all those links coming in from the parenting forums and the blogs written by moms. How could you get any more relevant than that? 

Quote:
Not to get to far ahead, but I have extreme confidence in Jenn and her magic Given success, it will be interesting to assess the success factors? Who wins the biggest wedge in the pie chart?
Links from other web sites…hands down. My guess is that by the end of this game, if I discount the Search Engine Guide links, discussion forums and blogs will still be driving more traffic than search engines…

Quote:
Current Reality is -
Content - 10%
SEO Tuning - 90%

Isn't Jenn demonstrating that SEO Tuning is key? The greater the success of the exercise the more this is demonstrated!
Not at all…but I’ve already covered that above. Also, toss aside Web CEO. You don't need it...no computer program can replace the human brain when it comes to thinks like search marketing. They make it to easy to get caught up in formulas rather than guidelines.

Loving this conversation. I hope you stick around.

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Old 1st December 2005, 11:02 AM   #8
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So glad to see these questions come up! Jenn is doing a serious business experiment with an in your face product and fun approach. This is PR of the new generation at its finest. I straddle this generation, since I'm just over 40 and though a marketer of the old school, who "thought" she was current, I'm learning how out of it I am. Let the learning begin.

Quote:
In fact, I’ll even point out that I chose CafePress for that very reason…because they were already established. It’s the same reason why I might have selected eBay or Yahoo! stores as an option…built in traffic.
I didn't even know CafePress existed b4 this b/c I'm not in retail, but I certainly knew about eBay and Craigslist. The point is that we can work harder or smarter. The advantage Jenn brings that she doesn't fully realize is that she knows about these forums, blogs, and established places when many of us spend months trying to find them (my case). Her experiment shows up that there are quick ways to get going.

Quote:
Do you think that I would have gotten the links and blog discussion about the project that I have if I was selling ink toner?
But Jenn, many of us do sell or are trying to sell the equivalent of ink toner. Your lessons are still valid though. No one said it would be easy.


Quote:
Every other link to the site is unsolicited.
Which mean she has quality content. In her blog! Not the web site, YET. The marketing world has change and Jenn knew how to take advantage of that from the get go.

Quote:
It’s the viral marketing efforts that have really launched this project. It’s the half dozen parenting forums where someone that’s visited to the site made a post about it, or the parenting blogs that have started adding The Lactivist to their blogrolls… Those are the links that are generating the success for this product. I’d argue that my SEO skills have had almost nothing to do with it so far. (though that will obviously not be the case over time as I expect search traffic will start to make up at least a third of my referrals…)
Jenn, this all seems so natural to you. I'd never heard of viral marketing (that's what happens when you are a SAHM for 8 years and a WAHM for 3), though I certainly knew of the concept. I lumped this technique in with SEM/SEO b/c I already have a web site and am trying to drive traffic to it to drive business. So in a way, your SEM knowledge is a huge advantage, but like you said, someone elses business knowledge, CSS, or contacts file, can also be advantages. Hopefully anyone starting or running a business has something unique they bring to the table, and they either learn or hire out the things they don't know. I personally find the challenge of shoestring budget and time business is that I can't afford to hire, so everything takes a bit longer b/c I have to learn it myself (SEO, SEM, CSS, WebDesign, Photo Editing). It's also what keeps a former geek/marketing gal's brain alive on mundane SAHM tasks like laundry.

Quote:
Possibly, but why not take advantage of whatever buzz you can generate?
Old marketing quips still rule "no publicity is bad publicity"

Quote:
Some might say that the very fact that I’m doing this article series is nothing more than a brilliant marketing ploy for launching a business.
Go get em girl!

BTW - I'm thrilled you are using a couple of my ideas on the t-shirts. I may end up getting one of those shirts for when I'm out exercising - my preteen kids would be mortified if they saw me in it! But I love to mortify them...

Jenn,
I want you to go to Ask Dr. Sears he's our pediatrician, and a renowned breastfeeding and attachment parenting activist. If you need me to hook you up with his tel# & such, I will. I can picture the whole office wearing your shirts.

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Old 1st December 2005, 11:32 AM   #9
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Melinda, are you serious? Dr. Sears is your ped? That is fantastic! I feel like I now know someone that knows a rock star! Dr Sears' birth book is fantastic (I'm a natural birth proponant as well...) and the quality of information that he has on breastfeeding is top notch. (I've also got his Discipline book)

(For those who aren't familiar with Dr. Sears...he's is to Pediatrics and Parenting as Danny Sullivan is to SEM.)

I would LOVE to get in touch with Dr. Sears. My dream is to get someone like him helping spread the word about the milk bank shirts. I was just talking to the milk bank director yesterday and they are still at the point where even a $20 donation is a God-send. If I can get The Lactivist built up to the point where it can generate some actual dollars for them, we can really go a long way toward helping spread awareness of this.

Please drop me an email about this... jennifer at search engine guide dot com

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Old 1st December 2005, 11:35 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Vacation Mamma
...I may end up getting one of those shirts for when I'm out exercising - my preteen kids would be mortified if they saw me in it! But I love to mortify them...


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