Category Archives: Small Business

How to Make PayPal Buy Now Buttons

Buy Now
Buy Now Button

Guest Post By: Celeste Stewart


If you’ve been thinking about selling items on your website but aren’t quite ready for a full-blown e-commerce shopping cart system, you can take advantage of PayPal’s “Buy Now” buttons. These buttons allow you to sell items on your website, blog, or evene-mail(I’ve used them for that and was very successful)without much effort on your part. Once set up, all the buyer needs to do is click the button and pay you!

The PayPal Buy Now button automatically takes the buyer to PayPal with all of the information pre-filled out. Even if the buyer isn’t a PayPal member, he or she can pay you securely with any major credit or debit card such as Visa or MasterCard. Once the person completes the transaction, you’ll get a notification of the sale, so that you can ship the product. The funds are instantly added to your account, unless you are paid with an eCheck which takes a few days to clear.

Unlike commercial shopping cart systems, these buttons don’t cost you anything other than the regular PayPal transaction charges. Making Buy Now buttons isn’t difficult if you only have a few items to sell however, if you have dozens of items, it becomes tedious. If this is the case, you may be better using the free PayPal shopping cart or using a more comprehensive shopping cart system.

How to Add a PayPal Buy Now Button

First, you must have a PayPal Business account. Once you’re signed into PayPal, go to the Merchant Services tab where you’ll see a row of tools including the Buy Now button, Add to Cart button, Send Invoice option, and Virtual Terminal option. Click on the link for the Buy Now button.

A simple form appears. Fill in the following fields: Item name or service, optional ID number, price, currency, buyer’s default country, and item’s weight (if applicable). Next, choose the type of button encryption you need. If you need to add links, such as email links or links for downloads, you’ll need to choose the non-encrypted button. Otherwise, choose encrypted.

Enter shipping method options and sales tax options. Either of these can be based on the information that’s stored in your profile or a flat rate. Once you’ve filled in all of the fields, you can either create the button right now or add more options by clicking the Add More Options button.

The additional options include generic text boxes where you can describe the item, customize the look of the Payment page, specify a URL for successful payment, specify a cancellation URL, quantity and shipping preferences, an option to allow customers to enter a note to you during the transactions, and an optional email address for receiving payments.

Once all of the details are filled in, click Create Button Now. Next, you’ll see a screen with HTML code. Hit the Select All button to select all of the code. Now, use your “control” and “c” keys on your keyboard to copy the selected text. Go into the HTML portion of your website and paste the code in by hitting “control” and “v” simultaneously. Many WYSIWYG editors have HTML modules that you must first access before copying the code. Click the appropriate HTML module button for your website editor and then copy the code into it. Enter descriptive text above the button letting buyers know what’s for sale and a picture if available. Save the webpage and publish.

You should now have a working PayPal Buy Now button on your website.

5 Tips for Crushing Your Competition on Online Marketplaces

Selling on Online Marketplaces
Crush Your Competition

Online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon are a boon for small business owners. Whether you are a startup with one room doubling as your office and your warehouse, or a physical store trying to reach new customers, online marketplaces are the place to be. Even niche product creators have platforms like Etsy to sell their goods online.

As businesses hop on to the online marketplace bandwagon, the competition continues to rise. If you want to find an audience in the competitive online marketplace arena, you need to stand out from the rest. Let us look at a few things you can do to overcome your competitors.

  1. Make sure your photos are of the highest quality.

This is probably the single most important thing you can do to immediately improve the quality of your listings. Taking great photos is absolutely crucial for impressing your customers. If you’ve visited Apple’s website, for example, you can see the impact that fantastic photography can have on brand image.

Products usually look better when they are photographed with white backgrounds. This isn’t a thumb rule though. If you find that a lot of your competitors are using similar photo styles, feel free to do something creative. Make sure your images look professional and share-worthy. Hire a professional to get your photo shoot done.

  1. Create an interesting story around your brand and the product you are selling.

Everyone loves a good story. Instead of beginning your product listing with a list of specifications, draw your viewers in by narrating the story of how the product came to be. Talk about why the product is better than the competition. Use emotive language.

Most e-commerce platforms allow businesses to have an “About Us” page. This is where you should talk about your own story and how your company came to be. Use videos and photos to create a more engaging narrative.

  1. Make your customers feel special.

Buyers love it when they feel appreciated for their purchase. You should always strive to add a personal touch to each of your shipments. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy – a simple thank-you note or a small accessory will do.

  1. Tap into the pulse of your market and get to know your buyers.

Companies that are able to form personal connections with their customers are more likely to succeed on online marketplaces. With social media, you have a platform to interact with your buyers on a more personal level. If your customers post photos of themselves using your products on Instagram, reach out to them and comment on their photos. If you find someone tweeting about your products, engage them in conversation. Communicate with influential people in your market and ask them to promote your products.

  1. Give your customers a solid guarantee.

Your customers need to know that they are in safe hands if they buy from you. On your product listing, mention the details of your shipping and return policies. Let your customers know where they can reach if you if they have any issues with their purchase. If you are perceived as a company with integrity, your sales will be much higher.

In summation, getting yourself noticed on Amazon, eBay or other online marketplaces can be tough. But if you follow the tips outlined above, you will have a much greater chance of success.

Etsy Shop

Five Tips For Running A Successful Etsy Shop

If you love vintage items or if you are a crafter, then the online store concept that Etsy offers might be an opportunity for you to sell your items.  Etsy is a website that helps you open your own “shop” and sell what you make or vintage items that you collect.  Etsy charges a small fee for each item you list and then another fee for when you sell an item.  If you are interested in opening your own shop, you should thoroughly explore the Etsy website and decide if you want to jump in and become a shop owner.  If you do decide to take that plunge, this article is intended to provide you with five initial tips that can help make your venture successful.

1)      Take the time to determine if the items you want to sell are unique or if hundreds of other Etsy shops are selling the same things you plan on offering.  It is better to compete with just a few stores than with hundreds who are all selling the same thing.  Keep in mind that you want to make an item that has your personal touch and does not look like it was mass produced.  If you are going to sell vintage items, make sure they are of  good quality and in very good to excellent condition.

2)      Select a name for your store that is original and that shows a side of your personality.  As you set up your store, there is a page for you to create your profile, and you should use that opportunity to tell your story and explain the name of your shop.  Buyers want a connection with the seller, and they will read your profile with interest.  Etsy also provides you with an “About” section where you can write a more in-depth description of yourself, your store and how you make or find your items; plus, you can include photos of yourself and your work areas.  People truly want to see the person who is behind the store and you will be more successful if you introduce yourself in a friendly, informative manner.

3)      You must take clear, well composed and engaging photographs of your items.  This is extremely important because people simply will not buy from your store if the photos are poorly presented and look amateurish.  There is too much competition on Etsy for you to skimp on this step.  Your photos are all the potential buyers have to go on as they can’t pick up and examine your items the way they would in a brick and mortar store.  However, if you aren’t a professional photographer, don’t despair.  Etsy provides many tutorials on how to compose and take good quality photos, and you simply need to set aside the time to study and practice the techniques.  Some people even take classes to learn the tricks of the trade, so that they can learn lighting and composition.  It is well worth the time.

4)      Describe your items by using accurate, lively nouns and adjectives and provide product details with accurate measurements.  Brainstorm and don’t leave out information.  Tell them what materials you used to make the product.  Again, people can’t actually touch and look at your items, so you have to give them the information they need to buy your creation.  For each item you list,  Etsy gives you thirteen “tags” to use to describe your item.  Make good use of those tags, as that is how the search engines direct searches to your shop.  Spend time looking at items in other stores that are of the same general type as your items and see what tags they are using.  Do not skimp on the time it takes to think up tags, and never leave a tag unused.

5)      Work up to having at least 100 items in your store.  This doesn’t mean that you have to start with 100 items, but it is the lowest goal that you should strive for and always remember that more is better.  Your shop will get more hits as you add items, and more hits means more sales.  Many of the successful shops often have well over 200 items on display.

These are five beginner, but very important, steps to take towards making your Etsy shop a success.  What starts out as a hobby or a part-time venture on Etsy can turn into a full-time business if you are passionate and serious about making it work.  Just think, you could work full-time at doing something you love in the comfort of your own home.

Small Business Owners: 5 Ways to Build an Effective Network

When you work for a large business or organization, networking opportunities can be very common. With so many people working together, opportunities to reach out through different events and meetings can frequently come along. For small business owners, however, it can be a different matter. With very few employees, small business owners may find that they spend all day, every day running the business and can find little time to develop a good network. If you own or manage a small business, follow these simple tips to grow an effective network.

Volunteer in your community

Small businesses are vital to the local community. They can build lasting customer relationships where larger, faceless corporations really struggle. Undertaking volunteer work is a great way to grow your network. You will meet potential customers and clients. You will probably meet other small business owners. You may also meet local officials and other important authority figures. By freely giving up your time, you can build meaningful relationships with all of these people and make a difference along the way.

Develop a local partnership

Small businesses can develop a stronger market presence by working together. Where larger businesses would see no value in partnerships, small businesses and stores can benefit greatly. A ‘shop local’ campaign, for example, can help small businesses in one area to attract and retain more customers. These schemes also encourage small business owners to share thinking and new ideas. A local partnership can be very easy to set up and can offer long-term benefits.

Join or set up an online forum

Small businesses can network very effectively through an online forum. These websites can link businesses by size, location, type or any combination of those things. For example, if you run a design business, then a forum dedicated to design issues for small businesses can quickly help you reach out to new contacts. Actively participate in forums where the content is professional and where there are plenty of active users. If you cannot find one that meets your business need, set up a new one. There are plenty of free forum software providers online. You could be up and running in minutes.

Attend trade shows and conferences

Conferences and trade shows need not only attract large businesses and corporations. Indeed, for small businesses, these events are a great opportunity to differentiate what they do and can offer. They are also a great way to link in with managers and leaders at larger organizations. For small business owners, a network of people from businesses of all sizes can significantly increase future opportunities. You should also aim to attend small business conferences and events, where the agenda may relate more closely to what you do.

Join local associations and organizations

There is likely a number of different organizations in your area that could be a useful way to grow your network. A local chamber of commerce may have a large number of members. Find out about any local (or even national) associations, where you can apply for membership and connect with fellow small business owners. Less formal organizations could include cultural or social groups and community groups.  All of these organizations can offer different benefits. Interacting with a diverse mixture of people can introduce new opportunities that you may not even be aware of.

Small business owners often struggle to identify ways to grow their network. They may feel that networking is something that only people working for larger organizations engage in. In fact, networking is a critical marketing activity for small businesses, and it can be a very effective way to drive sustainable growth.