Talula’s Barefoot Books Blog

A running commentary on life as an online bookstore owner after 25 years in Early Childhood Education.

Creating A Small Business Online Co-op

Posted by Talula on January 30, 2008

BFB red girlI have spent the last week working on a co-op idea for our company’s Indpendent Consultants. Here at Barefoot Books, we call them Stallholders (for the  gorgeous little bookstalls in Paris, along the River Seine).   I guess I should first explain that Barefoot has Stallholders all over the place, on both sides of the “pond” and even in some really far off countries.

The point is that for many of us in the Southwest area of the U.S.; there are issues which are a little different than in other parts of the country, or even the world (except maybe for Australia – yes – we are there, too!). In our geographical area — towns are far between and sometimes sparsely populated; making it hard to advertise, market community events, drive (fuel expenses are killing us) to hold bookfairs or deliver easily. Add that to the high cost of advertising on our tiny WAHM budgets; and you will begin to get the picture of our unique issues.

To remedy those problems; a colleague and I are starting a private blog for our group and we are creating our own website to bring more internet traffic directly to our group, to share local training & workshops, to communicate more locally within our states/region; plus, use co-op advertising to share the burden of costs for our small businesses.  

Of course; as with any business tool: the blog and website will evolve with how the group uses it. I would be interested on feedback about your use as a WAHM (or WAH-DAD) with similar tools or ideas. Have you found any great ways to advertise with a co-op (not a corporate-linked site – we have those)? Or do you have any other tips? Please post here if you do. Thanks!

Edit: For those Barefoot consultants who are trying to find the SW sites – they are now listed in my blogroll! 

2nd Edit: 2/17/08 Well Game On! We have sent the co-op information out to our home office managers to see how it is received! Will report the next stage as we get the info! I have to say that our new co-op website looks crisp, clean and professional.

3rd Edit: 4/11/08 I just realized that I had never updated the news on the co-op and am here to remedy that. It took a little tweaking and re-arranging content to satisfy the home office and the Regional Mgrs. but I am happy to announce our co-op site is going over wonderfully. It is constantly evolving with fresh content, and we are adding several new members to the group listings weekly.

We have added lots of customer friendly content first and foremost, since it is mainly for exposure to help our group who can’t afford their own websites. So, of course; we have member links for Barefoot Stallholders in geographical lists, by state. We have links to help parents and teachers find great information, and lots of fun ways to show our newest products and most recent breaking news. That is just on the public side.

On the password-protected side we have tons of content to cover business tips, product reviews, training, marketing, web-function info, literacy links, colleague site samples, company trivia, message boards, and a private Stallholder group blog.  Check us out at www.BFBSW.com I would love to hear some feedback if you would like to send me comments about the public content.

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