Small business tips for getting more visibility online.

Feb 14 2019 | PayPal editorial staff

Even though you may be running your small business on the side, after work, or over the weekends, you want to make sure your marketing efforts are working full-time. This starts with your online visibility.
Whether you're looking to grow your side hustle into a full-time revenue generator or you're happy to keep it as your part-time passion project, there are unlimited resources and tools to help your small business be more visible online.

A functional website.
The first step in attracting online traffic is to set up a functional website. As a small business owner, a strong website won’t require a lot of maintenance on your part and can boost your online visibility.

A great way to bring your brand to life online is with stunning photography, well-crafted text, a suitable color scheme, visual assets like your logo, and a smart navigation structure.

But your website should be more than just a fancy online brochure. It should have an overarching purpose—be it attracting more clients or selling more products.

If you are selling products directly from your online store, decide what kind of e-commerce or payment integrations you might need before your site launches. Plan on including pages that outline your terms of service, shipping methods, and customer support process.

If you’re going to be processing payments online, you also want to make sure your website is secure for the shopping cart and checkout process.

Most websites use something called SSL encryption to protect a user’s private payment data. This type of encryption uses a secure form of communication between a website and a user known as HTTPS.

Whether you DIY your site or outsource it to a professional, you need make security a priority. It's as important that your customers view your website as a trusted and secure online platform as it is that the recognize your brand.

Social media conversations.
Aside from having a functional website, it's crucial for side-business owners to get social.

Social media can be used to funnel traffic back to your website - you can use it to promote your brand, expertise, or thought-leadership. You can even generate sales directly on some social media platforms. A handy tool for selling on social platforms that don’t have that kind of feature built in is You can create a customized, shareable link to send to customers who can use the link to complete their purchase in a couple of clicks.

When using social media to increase your online visibility, keep in a mind a few pointers:
  • Focus on the social media channels that you've identified as channels your customers are regularly engaged on. If your customers aren't there, your business doesn't have to be there either.
  • Utilize as many social media channels as you can reasonably manage. Since you have a full-time job, other life responsibilities, and a growing side-hustle, your time during the day is most likely already occupied. If you’re not sure what you can handle, start with just three social media channels. You can add from there.
  • Join in social conversations. The thing about social media is, well, it's social. That means chiming in during online chats, tagging people in your posts, and using relevant hashtags to connect with users who are talking about topics that are related to your business. If you’re scrolling through your feed see that someone has posted a question that you’ve got the expertise to answer, do it! You've just solved a problem and perhaps even started a new relationship that could lead to future business.
  • Be consistent. No matter the size of your business or the number of social media channels that you're on, it's important to maintain consistency with your social media efforts. Your followers needs to develop trust in your brand—trust that you know what you're doing, that your business is legit, and that you're going to stick around.
Stepping into the world of social media can be a little daunting. What networks and channels do you use? What do you say? How does this make sense for your bottom line? But as a small business owner, you know it's a crucial component of how you market your business online.

A well-written blog.
In the current marketing landscape, promoting your business and increasing your online visibility includes publishing content that is helpful and informative for your target customer-base.

Although blogging requires some skill as a writer, readers are likely to forgive less-than-perfect sentence structure when you’re providing them with quality information. Blogging is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to enhance your online visibility and attract more customers for your side business.

The key thing with blogging is that you'll want to create and publish content that demonstrates your expertise and how your services or products can help potential clients. Effective blogging isn't about pushing your products, it's more about being helpful and resourceful.

A big factor that contributes to online visibility is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines, like Google, love fresh content. By blogging consistently, you give Google and other search engines new content to index. This tells search engines that your site is active, relevant, and should be ranked highly in search results.

When you create a company blog that provides value, you can increase brand awareness, establish your expertise, share your knowledge, and build a community. Plus, blogging is a great way to connect with potential customers on a more personal level, which can help get more people interested in what you have to offer.

Email marketing.
Stay connected with your customers or side business clients by encouraging them to sign up for emails.
Although we focus a lot on social media, email marketing is one of the least expensive marketing tools and can have one of the highest returns. You can use email marketing to communicate new product launches, sales, promotions, service updates, and anything else that you might be planning for your side business.

Email is also a great way to share your blog posts and other valuable content that will benefit your customers. Track things like your open rate, number of clicks, and any sales generated to help inform your next email campaign.

Another benefit of email marketing is that you have full control over it. Social media platforms can change their privacy or user settings. They can also change their algorithms so that your social media followers might start seeing less of the content that you post.

When it comes to email marketing, your goal should be to include information that's useful. Don't spam your customers. Provide them with value and they'll begin to trust you.

Online marketing made easy.
If you’re holding down a full-time job while growing your side business, you probably have a million things going on. But being a business owner means you’re more than just the CEO – you’re also the product manager, the customer service rep, and the Director of Marketing.

But it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Plan your weeks out ahead of time, do your research, be clear on your business goals, be true to your business values, and be true to yourself. Your side business is your passion, keep it as such.
About PayPal for small businesses.
For nearly 20 years, PayPal has been a proud partner and platform for over 19 million merchants as they launch, scale, and grow. From access to fast funding to getting paid online, learn how our payment solutions can also help your business.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

Frequently asked questions.

We first use a National Database to confirm your personal information or your business entity. However, sometimes finding your information using the National Database doesn't work because the information is either unavailable, or your name or address has changed.

If we can't verify your personal information, we will ask you to send us documents which confirm your identity via your PayPal account. Please see the guide below explaining what documents we can or cannot accept.

Personal Information Verification​
Proof of Identity
Documents must include information such as first and last name, date of birth, issuance and expiry date, as well as the document ID number. The name on this document must match the name you've registered on your PayPal account.
Acceptable Proof of Identity documents are:
  • Driver’s license
  • Passport or passport card
  • State or Government Issue ID
Unacceptable documents:
  • Military IDs
  • State medical cards, student cards
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Note:  If you've recently changed your name and the information on your identity document doesn't match the information on your account, you may have to provide additional documentation to show the name has changed.
Proof of Address
A proof of residence document that confirms where you live. This document must show both your full name and residential address. We can only verify physical addresses, not PO Box addresses. 
Acceptable Proof of Address documents are:
  • Utility bill (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Cell or landline phone bill (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Motor vehicle registration (Dated within last 12 months)
  • 401k/Brokerage Statement (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Copy of Grant Deed on Home or Lease Agreement for Home
  • Bank or credit card statement (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Identity card or driver’s license with physical address listed (must be current)
Unacceptable documents:
  • Envelopes
  • Military IDs
  • Invoices, receipts, all waybills
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Proof of SSN/ITIN
A document that confirms your 9-digit SSN/ITIN, assigned by the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration.
Acceptable Proof of SSN/ITIN documents include:
  • Social Security Number card
  • Letter from IRS assigning SSN or ITIN
  • 1099 Form (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Employer-issued W2 (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Paystub with complete SSN (Dated within last 12 months)
  • 3rd party prepared tax documents (Dated within last 12 months, and signed by 3rd party preparer)
Unacceptable documents:
  • Envelopes
  • Self-completed applications
  • Self-prepared tax documents
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Note If you don't have access to any of these documents, you can go to your local Social Security Office and request a letter which will verify your Social Security Number.

Business Entity Verification 
Proof of Business Identity
A document that confirms your business entity’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Tax Identification Number (TIN). The business name on this document must match the full business name on your PayPal account.
Acceptable Proof of Business Identity documents include :
  • Copy of IRS Letter assigning EIN/TIN
  • Screen print of EIN/TIN assigned real-time during online application
  • Previous year’s business tax return, prepared and signed by 3rd party preparer
  • Current bank statement displaying truncated EIN/TIN (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Current credit card statement displaying truncated EIN/TIN (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Other government-issued documents displaying full business name and 9-digit EIN/TIN (Dated within last 12 months)
Unacceptable documents:
  • Self-completed applications
  • Self-prepared tax documents
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Proof of Business Address
A proof of address document that confirms your business entity’s correspondence address. We can only verify physical addresses, not PO Box addresses. All documents must be dated within the last 12 months.
Acceptable Proof of Business Address documents include:
  • Current utility or phone bill
  • Current insurance or tax statement
  • Government-issued business license/permit
  • Current Certificate of Good Standing (Active Status)
  • Current bank statement displaying full business name
  • Current credit card statement displaying full business name
  • Other registration document filed with Secretary of State (i.e. Certificate of Incorporation, Partnership Agreement, or comparable business registration document)
Unacceptable documents:
  • Envelopes
  • Invoices, receipts, all waybills
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Proof of Business Existence
A current document issued by the Secretary of State (or equivalent agency) showing that a business entity has complied with the applicable provisions of the laws of the state, is in good standing, and is authorized to transact for business. The business name on this document must match the full business name on your PayPal account.
Acceptable Proof of Business Existence include:
  • Government-issued business license/permit
  • Current Certificate of Good Standing (Active Status)
  • Other registration document filed with Secretary of State (i.e. Certificate of Incorporation, Partnership Agreement, or comparable business registration document)
Note: All documents must be dated within the last 12 months.
Here is how you can view your transactions for your PayPal Business Debit MasterCard:
  1. Select PayPal Business Debit MasterCard on the left hand side of your PayPal account (directly under your balance).
  2. Your recent transaction history will be listed on the right side. Additional details regarding your Business Debit MasterCard transactions are available by selecting a particular transaction.
You can also view details including a running balance by selecting the ‘completed’ option on the right side of the PayPal account.

You can view the last month of debit card activity from your PayPal transaction Summary page. If you’d like to see all your PayPal payments, or more than the last month of activity, you can view those from your PayPal account Activity. You can also print your statements by selecting Reports at the top of the page, then click Statements on the left side of the page.

Withdrawal statuses:
  • Pending - A debit card purchase can be Pending because of these reasons:
    • It takes between 1-5 days for funds to move from your PayPal account to the merchant.
    • The merchant uses the hold as an authorization as is the case when you check into a hotel.
    • The merchant (typically gas stations) will send out a small funds inquiry to make sure that you have the funds available. Check back in a few days as the "Pending" status will likely change to either "expired” or “completed”. See expired and completed status definitions below.
  • Placed - A temporary hold has been placed on the funds in your account for a purchase. This expires when the payment is completed.
  • Completed - Your debit card purchase is completed.
  • Debit Card Credit Received - This means the merchant has issued you a refund. The funds have credited to your PayPal balance.
  • Expired – This appears 5 days after the authorization was initiated. If the merchant has not collected the funds the funds are released back into your PayPal balance. The authorization is still available for the merchant to capture the funds and complete the transaction.
  • Canceled Transfer – This is found in the details of the expired authorization. The merchant did not collect the funds within 4 days. At this time, any money that was placed on hold is credited back to your PayPal account balance. The merchant can still collect those funds at any time.
You can view the details of the purchase, including the purchase and settlement dates, by clicking on the transaction.
Venmo is a social payments service used by millions of people to make and share payments with friends, family, and select approved businesses. It’s similar to PayPal, but is unique in that Venmo allows users to share and like payments and purchases through a social feed. The service is popular with the millennial generation.

● Users can make payments by linking their bank account, debit/credit card or by using their Venmo balance.
● Once a bank account is connected, users can easily transfer their Venmo balance to their bank account.
● Users can transfer money quickly using a friend’s phone number, email address or username. If a recipient doesn’t have a Venmo account and a payment is sent using their email address or phone number, the recipient can create an account in order to receive the funds. If they chose to, users can also find friends automatically by syncing their Facebook account or phonebook.
● Splitting payments with friends and family like a dinner bill, concert tickets or the cost of a road trip is one of the most popular uses of Venmo.
● Many Venmo users like to share their payments and purchases on the Venmo social feed with a fun comment. The actual payment amounts are hidden.
● Find out more about the Venmo checkout experience and additional details.

Merchant FAQs

What will my customer see?
If your customer has opted-in to make payments through Venmo, they will be presented with an option to pay with their Venmo account after clicking your PayPal payment button.

Please note: Venmo users will receive a Venmo-branded transaction receipt in addition to any receipt you currently provide.

1. Customer selects the PayPal payment button:

2. Venmo payment option is presented:

3. Venmo payment is made:

4. Return to merchant payment confirmation page:

Will I have to change my integration with PayPal to accept Venmo payments?
What are the costs to accept Venmo payments? 
There is no additional cost to accept Venmo. You will pay the same fees for Venmo payments as you do for PayPal payments.
Will Venmo transactions be covered by PayPal's Seller Protection Policy?
Yes, the PayPal Seller Protection Policy will apply to Venmo-funded transactions received through your PayPal account. To learn more about the PayPal Seller Protection Policy eligibility requirements, click here.
Are payments made by Venmo users through my PayPal account subject to the PayPal Purchase Protection Policy?
Venmo payments are covered by the Venmo Authorized Merchant Payment Protection Policy, which generally mirrors the PayPal Purchase Protection Policy, but varies in some places. To learn more, read the Venmo Authorized Merchant Payment Protection policy.
Can my business be promoted through the Venmo app? 
Yes. Venmo users have the option to share purchases in their Venmo social feed. This could include the purchases they make on your site. Note, purchase price won’t be included in their social posts.
Is this available to merchants or consumers outside of the US? 
Currently, Venmo is only accepted within the US and with US merchants. 
Will Venmo payments be available for desktop transactions?
At launch, Venmo payments will only be available for mobile transactions. Desktop support may be available in the future.  
Will Venmo pass the consumer’s shipping addresses to me? 
If your current PayPal integration is set up to receive shipping address, this will not change with the Venmo option.
For more information on Venmo purchases, visit the Venmo Help Center.
If your payment is on hold or not available right away, we’ll notify you via email or an alert on your Summary page. Here, you’ll be able to view all payment details, including the remaining amount you can receive for the month and the date your funds will be released.

Every 30 days, you’ll be able to appeal your release amount for a higher amount. Here’s how:
  1. Log in to your PayPal account.
  2. Click the Notifications icon at the top of the page.
  3. Review the details about your available funds, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click Request Increase.
  4. Select the reason for your increase request, and click OK.
We’ll review your request and email you within 3 business days.

If you’re offering a business promotion, you are able to request a temporary increase. Here’s how:
  1. Click Settings.
  2. Click Insights and promotions under "Products & Services" on the left of the page.
  3. Click Update next to "PayPal Marketing Solutions."
  4. Fill out the information on upcoming promotions, and click Submit.
In the below example (for illustration purposes only) the release amount is $1,000 USD:
Monthly Received amountReleased
$0 to $1,000 USDAs soon as received
Above $1,000 USD21 days after received

We want both our sellers and our buyers to have a safe place to do business. Holding some money for a specified amount of time is a common industry practice that we implement to help ensure a safe and secure environment for both buyers and sellers. By releasing some money after 21 days, we help reduce any potentially negative impact on our buyers.

Build trust within the community
On a monthly basis, we review your activity, your history, and how quickly complaints are resolved. Providing good customer service in general helps your monthly release amount.
  • List successfully by including clear photos with detailed, accurate descriptions of items
  • Be clear about shipping and handling time, costs and methods
  • Ship promptly
  • Upload tracking
  • Define your return policy upfront
  • Communicate with your buyers and respond to inquiries quickly and in a professional manner
  • Review all communications from PayPal