Steps I Took to Set Up a Virtual Business
Recently, I announced I was putting a shingle to announce my new adventure and business – Tubarks Consulting. Since I do not have a brick and mortar store, I needed to create a virtual business presence. In this post, I am going to tell you what I put together, how I did it, and why.
My virtual business presence has a number of elements that are interconnected. The hub of my presence is my Website. It is where I will provide regular content through blog posts. Because I am involved in a number of other activities, I tried to automate as much as possible to save time.
I believe having a virtual presence is critical even if you have a brick and mortar store.
The World Wide Web is today’s yellow pages, if you are not listed, you really do not exist.
Businesses without a virtual business presence as a minimum are harming their bottom line. Social media provides free advertising if set up properly. More importantly, it allows you to talk with your clients.
This Web site is the hub of the operations. I wanted a permanent location that was mine. For this site, I am hosting it on Webmasters.com using WordPress under my own domain name. Bernadette van der Vliet from BMTdesigns helped select the theme and helped design the logo. We decided to use the Evolve Plus theme.
Once the site was up, we added a number of plug-ins to add different elements we thought necessary.
- Contact Form Builder – We wanted a form that would capture information about people interested in what we had to offer.
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – This plug-in helps us measure interaction with our Web site.
- NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster – On other sites I manage, blog posts automatically post to various social media platforms. This site will allow me to auto post.
- Pinterest Pinboard Widget – Since we are posting a number of recommendations to Pinterest, I wanted a visual means to show those on our site.
- Social Icons Widget – This plug-in displays our social media connections on the top of the site.
- WP Twitter Feeds – This plug-in also shows posts we made to out Twitter feed.
We also use other plug-ins to control for SPAM, send email from WordPress, and control some display features.
When building our site, we wanted to focus on four elements: About Us, Seminars/Workshops, Newsletter, and Contact Us. The About Us page lets you know a little more about our business and intentions. On the Workshop page, we will list event where you can learn more about how to leverage social media in your business. The Newsletter page provides you with an opportunity to sign up for our newsletter. The newsletter will provide free content that we curate or develop on different social media tools as they apply to small businesses. Finally, we have a Contact Us page that we use to start a dialogue with you as we try to help you increase business opportunities.
Our newsletter will run on Mailchimp. We are also using Insight.ly to help better understand your needs. This will allow use to better cater services to you. To manage email, I created a Google Business account and tied my email address to this account.
To start this business venture, I am using four social media platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. With each of them, I leveraged the talents of Bernadette to help with the imagery. Naturally, I tried to interlink them as best possible.
Facebook is an obvious platform to share tips with others. A significant percentage of the world is on Facebook getting their news. I can help others learn about social media by using social media.
While setting up this page, I focused on the imagery. Now I am adding content to the About page along with content for the status area. Based on one of the social media tips I discovered, I created a photo album with my social media sites. The description for the cover photo also includes links to the other social media sites.
Social media is so visual, I had to also go with Pinterest. I was surprised on how useful Pinterest is turning out to be. When I find a useful site about leveraging social media for business, I immediately save it to one of the 16 Pinterest boards I created. I also save the page to Diigo for future reference.
With Pinterest, I am also automatically sending the pin to Twitter.
Here is a list of boards I am currently saving to:
- Advertising on Social Media
- Apps for Biz
- Blogging for Biz
- Email for Biz
- Evernote for Biz
- Facebook for Biz
- Google+ for Biz
- Instagram for Biz
- IFTTT for Biz
- LinkedIn for Biz
- Pinterest for Biz
- Social Media for Biz
- Social Media Marketing for Biz
- Tubarks Consulting Posts
- Twitter for Biz
- Website Tips for Biz
I personally think Twitter is one of the most powerful learning tools created. Again, while setting up Twitter, I used graphics put together by Bernadette. Practically, everything I post also gets posted to Twitter. If I post to the blog, it goes to Twitter. Add something to Pinterest, it automatically goes to Twitter. Understanding advanced Twitter features, you can find out who is in your immediate area. By listening to them, you can find out how to shape your business to serve them.
LinkedIn is a Rolodex on steroids. It is important to have a LinkedIn profile one that points to your business. People go to LinkedIn to see who they are working with. You want to develop a level of trust with those you plan to do business with. Naturally, I have blog posts automatically going to LinkedIn.
Well, this was a brief glimpse into what I did to get my virtual business presence off the ground. I am sure I missed a number of smaller details. If you have questions, please add them to the comments below or contact me directly, and I will see what I can do to help.
My next steps are pretty straightforward. I am going to flesh my site out a bit more, and then I will be using my different social media platforms to invite business owners to follow what I do.