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What's So Special
About Digital Cameras

Digital cameras are a fast, fun and relatively inexpensive way to get real-life images into your computer.  Then you can immediately attach them to emails, include them in in greeting cards and integrate them into your website.  You don't have to pay outrageous costs for photo shoots for your website products - take  your own photos!

Unlike a conventional camera - digitals capture pictures in memory - no more buying film or paying for development and processing.

Auto Everything -  Like35mm pint and shoot film cameras, most digitals come with automatic exposure control, autoflash and autofocus or a fixed-focus lens.  Most have a small liquid crystal screen or LCD, on the back that allows you to see the pictures you've already taken.

Pixels - The more dots , or pixels - your camera captures, the sharper your pictures will be.  If you plan to print snapshots using your color printer, purchase a mega pixel digital camera as these give you at least one million pixels per picture..

Film - Most digitals capture your pictures on removable memory cards.  The larger the memory card in your camera - the more photos you can snap before you need to download them to your computer.  Don't buy less than a 4mb memory card.

Transfer - Most digitals use a serial cable to transfer your pictures from your camera to your computer.   For the ultimate in ease of use, get a camera that uses a USB connection to transfer your images.  [make sure your computer also has a compatible USB port]

Power - Digitals drain batteries quickly.  You'll want to invest in rechargeable batteries or an optional AC adapter.

--a new look at "web marketing"

The first thought that comes to mind when you hear the term "web marketing" is selling goods and services online.  There are tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs on the Internet, and no shortage of gurus to tell you how its done--for a modest fee, of course.  But today I'd like to point out another type of "web" marketing: developing a "web" of markets for your product in 3 easy steps. 

Step 1 is to choose your product and make sure you'll be able to fill orders. Don't neglect this step--For a small business, especially, credibility is a must.   DON"T PREPARE EXCUSES FOR LATE DELIVERY--prepare plans to assure IMMEDIATE delivery. "Web" marketing can give you explosive growth in a very short time. Here's why . . .

First of all, traditional marketing is "linear:"  Your product travels in a straight line to your market.  One example would be crocheted angel  Christmas tree ornaments.  Product: angel ornament.  Market: People  decorating Christmas trees. One market at a time.  Bound by the limitations of that defined market. Who decorates Christmas trees in February? An eager marketer may eventually realize that "angel collectors" could be an even better (but still "linear") market.  After all, collectors buy year-round... 

But why stop there?    Take the next step. Get a blank sheet of paper.   In the center of the page, write a brief description of your product.  (Or better yet, glue a picture of your product).  Draw a series of 10 or so lines radiating out from the "product"--like the spokes of a wheel.  Take your time and begin listing potential markets for your product.

For the angel ornaments, the spokes might include:

1) Christmas tree ornament
2) Angel collectors
3) General craft and gift shops
4) Specialty gift shops--museum, etc.
5) Package ties
6) Suncatchers
7) Crochet shops
8) Bible bookmarks
9) "White Christmas"
10) Party favors
11)Angel letter gifts
12) angel wind chimes (add bells for sound)
13) angel mobiles for babies (guardian angels)
14) angels with flowered edgings on their robes "garden angels"
15)hey, I live on a busy street..  I could get some free advertising by hanging some larger garden angels in my trees--plant all white flowers on the West side of the house--place an angel statue--have an "angel garden".  Maybe even design some angels with "pockets" for bird seed. . . . (and when that's done, send a press release to the local paper . . .)

Look at every aspect of the product--color, size, possible uses. Take your time on this step.  Think about it.  Don't limit yourself to the Internet. Now, to finish the "web" motif, begin making connections--both on and offline. Both online and offline yellow pages can lead you to hundreds of wholesale buyers--and some retail buyers, too. (It's just easier and faster to connect online.)

Let one aspect "feed" to another. When the reporter shows up to take pictures of the angel garden, give him the URL of your website.  And after the article appears, scan it and get permission from the paper to post it on the website.

Focus on one "spoke" at a time. Exchange links.  Don't stop with websites. Look for e-zines, discussion lists, chats, and forums.  A custom sig file for each spoke--or group of spokes--can pique interest.  If your ISP allows different screen names, try varying that, too.  Be creative, but be aware of your market, too.   ("The Happy Hooker" might attract some attention from fellow crafters and party favor sites, while drawing flames from the Bible bookmark set). Consider starting your own webring--the list above suggests several themes, like "White Christmas". or "angel garden" or even "Christmas in February"..   Take notes on the sites you visit.   If you find an obscure little "snowflake" site, drop the webmaster an email with the URL of the "White Christmas" site you visited last week. 

The same procedure can apply to services.  "Office Support" services are a hot home business--but the best clients go to the entrepreneur who has taken the time and care to approach them with more than a "dear sir" form letter.  Targeting realtors? (I have this great direct mailer that takes a lighthearted look at FSBO's)   Designing web sites for attorneys?  Take a crash course in your state's attorney advertising restrictions--most people aren't aware such regulations exist.   A telemarketer with "taps" has a lot more than a friendly voice.   What inside information do you possess that can multiply the value of your services?  The jargon of the market--the unique problems of the market--the uncommon "extras" of the market.

The same "night person" tendencies that drove you away from "8 to 5"  can bring you premium pricing if you market "moonlight secretarial services" and target business travelers . . .(or partner with a morning person and have "the only 24-hour secretarial service in town".) Once again, write down everything that  pops into your head--you can edit it later.   Instead of targeting a single "general" market, target several "special" markets--one at a time, but always looking for potential "connections".

As you move through your "web"  one idea will lead to another.  New spokes will appear, new connections.  You can make money.  You can make friends.   You can sell Christmas ornaments in February.