Talula’s Barefoot Books Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

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.

Posted in Barefoot Books, Online small business co-op, Small Business, WAHM, WAHM Business Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Talula has a new look!

Posted by Talula on January 26, 2008

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TALULA’S BAREFOOT BLOG HAS A NEW LOOK!  

Was looking for a cleaner look to my site and decided to try this style for a new ‘do! Swing by and tell me what you think!

I want to up my quantity of posts in the start to a new year and felt a makeover was in order to inspire me! I am also considering some collaborations outside this blog to build traffic to my online children’s bookstore and new marketing/advertising situations.

In the spirit of interactive blogging – IF (?) I have any regular readers — I have a question that I would like to have some feedback on.

An issue/discussion has arisen about security banners on a website with e-commerce capablities. My questions is this – Is there anyone out in cyber-world who would or has made a purchase from a website recently which DID NOT have any kind of secure site banner? If so; why?

My query stems from a realization that a vendor’s site which I have been constantly reassured that it is/has a secure ordering system; but which  actally has no banners, buttons, etc. which announces the state of security or anything about when it is updated. It probably does have a secure ordering system still; but would you trust the site enough to purchase from it online, in light of today’s current identity theft mantra? This site has ben receiving tons of great hits all over the country; but has very few actual buyers of the product through their online system. This has been going on for about a year; while a migration to a new server & mgmt. company has been going on.  Could this have been caused by an oversite, maybe?

My sense is in the negative — but I want to be fair and ask John or Jane Q. Public for their input. Am I being unreasonable to expect ANY company I do business with online to at least show the proof in the banners (preferrably with daily dated entries), instead of behaving as if I should just turn over my money and confidential info; because they SAY they run secure systems and servers? Please jump on and leave your comments. As always I will moderate all comments before uploading them — due to the fact that i seem to have a blog name which draws some readers with quite colorful tastes in adult viewing — I smile to think of their shock to find this a tame, quiet little blog about childrens books and small business.

 See Ya later; Talula.

Posted in Barefoot Books, Bookstores, Children & Grandchildren, Children's Books, Early Literacy, Reading, Small Business | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Talula’s “Bookwise” Crash!

Posted by Talula on January 12, 2008

To those folks who have read a little about my blog; and have noticed something amiss on the Bookwise pages and posts: I have to finally speak out about what happened with that part of my site.

I joined Bookwise about 6 months ago and had really felt that I had found a wonderful addition to my children’s bookstore site. However; the beautiful picture that was painted on their virtual canvas turned out to be less than ideal match; at least for me. I have chosen to withdraw my association with BookWise; fully understanding that I may miss a golden opportunity to be in on a revolution in the bookseller and publishing industry. My reasons for many; but I think it really boiled down to 2. These are my own reasons and based on my my experiences with other organizations; both public & private in the business world. 

1) The public launch came before the product offering (The BookWise Bookstores) was ready to begin the fight for market share from Amazon & other big guns.  I firmly believe there should have been a longer development stage, before hitting the ground running against the giants.

2) I found the administrative & mgmt. details to functionally operate the bookstores was quite non-existent. While I did have some experience running an online bookstore with my original company for children’s books; the mktg materials sent to promote the business were unmanageable and security locked (rendering them useless), while the chats intended for training how to run the bookstore site functionality turned into online “getting to know you parties” instead of imparting useable info. Delays on the company blog were many when answering questions sent in by email.

That being said; I still think BookWise bookstores will eventually be a terrific offering to offset the major players on cost points, quantity of inventory and faster shipping. In a year or two, they may be gaining on the big guys and I hope everyone who manages to stay with the company through that time will be totally satisfied in the choice they have made to stick with BookWise. I simply couldn’t afford to financially wait out the lull in income while they prep & and ramp up for that tremendous fight for market share.

Well; that is all I have to say on this issue, at least publicly and I guess when it all comes out in the wash; nobody really cares. I just thought that since this blog is mainly about my journey on this online bookstore venture; John Q. Public should know that not every opportunity is right for you. Trying is what is important and the journey will always have its unforseen events. That does not mean you should give up on your plans, goals or dreams.

Posted in Bookstores, Great Books For Grown-Ups, Small Business | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Marketing in new ways?

Posted by Talula on January 3, 2008

I know I haven’t posted much but advertisements here lately, hope to remedy that soon. What can I say–life happens sometimes and it is not always good material for others consumption.

Now to the subject for the day – Marketing in new ways. I have been looking for new ways to promote my sales of children’s books (and my other grown-ups books). I have seen a lot of connections of visitors to this blog that have gone over to my children’s website; however I have seen very little sales of these wonderful books. (I am not just bragging on the product – Barefoot Books has won many, many awards for these books and other book-related products). 

I am considering other options to get more (print) exposure. Perhaps a new website, similar to this blog that combines both stores products? Microsoft has offered me a free site this week — but it does not look like it will be very functional for product purchases without a lot of costly add-ons. Without much recent sales; I cant afford to buy a great site yet which has all the capabilities I need for the merchant accounts, etc. My current site for the children’s books is up for renewal and for the life of me- I cant see what good it is doing if there are no sales from visitors to the site. It looks great but just does not generate sales. Could someone out there take a look and tell me what is wrong and what I could create to turn browsers into sales — maybe it is simply the low exposure to search engine rankings (although our corporate group assures us that they send the info out for that) . Could the Microsoft free site help in that regard? I would think that they (a Microsoft site) would at least get  exposure from the big search engines, right? Or if someone has a better idea; would you please leave a comment to steer me in  a better direction – since i am so new to this online media format? It would be greatly appreciated, if someone would take pity on me and send me some info. In the meantime- I will be searching the net!  

 also looking for great avatar sites –haven’t been happy with what I have found out there and now really need to find one that “fits” since it will travel through-out the web-world thanks to our very own “Gravatars”. Please advise in comments!

Posted in Bookstores, Small Business, WAHM, WAHM Business Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Grown-Up’s Bookstore Is A Week Old!

Posted by Talula on December 8, 2007

 Hello Again! I am finally back to discuss the ins and outs of the new bookstore so far. I love the graphics of the template, its got a feel of an old world type corner bookstore circa early 1900’s. The inventory is being stocked rapidly and should be complete in weeks around the end of January/first of February. About 93 % of the Books, Movies and Music catagories are in stock now, and games will be in place by February.  One thing I immediately felt was missing were the item descriptions and 2 days ago, we were assured that descriptions would be available and in place sometime before the end of December. The next thing that bothered me was the blank landing page when you clicked on department headers; but that was explained to be an issue of the customizable format (where we will eventually be able to present our choices for hot buys/ reviews/ or just our own faves).  It is still being formulated for customization.

Several of the initial glitches have already been repaired; like titles text cut-off, Preferred Customer registration issues, Bonus Classic log-in confusion, etc. However, there are still a few that corporate is trying to work out with the distributer and the software folks. All in all, it looks like the corporate offices are keeping in touch and responding to issues as rapidly as possible, which is a very good thing being that it is critical to have bookstores that are competitive to the big boys in every regard.  Why else would Bookwise get into this if they were not planning on “topping” the competition in the first place! But this is all new ground for them, in  a sense. Doing retail in a huge way; that is!

Ok; more on this subject later. I have to let someone else on the computer for a few minutes. AAAhhh, the joys of working from home!!!

Posted in Bookstores, Small Business, WAHM | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Talula’s BookWise Bookstore is NO LONGER “OPEN FOR BUSINESS!”

Posted by Talula on December 1, 2007

It is official — “Talula’s BookWise Bookstore” is —-“OPEN”  CLOSED-NO LONGER IN BUSINESS!

This venture did not work out for me; I felt it was not in my best interests to continue.

Thank you for your interest.

*You can find more info about “BOOKWISE” by searching on the web.

Talula

Posted in Small Business, WAHM, WAHM Business Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »