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 PayPal.me. 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.

You need to confirm your bank account so you can move money into your PayPal account. With a confirmed bank account, you are able to withdraw money to a bank account or a debit card, pay anyone with a debit/credit card, and receive money.

Here’s how to initiate the confirmation:
  1. Click Money on the top of the page.
  2. Click on the bank account to confirm.
  3. Click Confirm.
We’ll send 2 small deposits (each between $0.01 and $0.99 USD) to the bank account you want to confirm.

After 2 to 3 business days, review your bank statement or contact your bank to find out the exact amounts of these deposits. With this information, you can complete the confirmation process online.

Here’s how to complete the confirmation process online:
  1. Click Money on the top of the page.
  2. Click on the bank account to confirm, and click Confirm.
  3. Enter the exact amounts of the 2 deposits made to your account, then click Confirm.
Note: These random deposits are temporary and will eventually be debited from your bank account. If you don't see them in your bank statement, go to your Money page and PayPal will resend them to you.
Not all merchants are eligible to accept American Express credit card payments. You must meet these criteria:
  • Process less than $1 million annually in American Express charge volume. (If you process more than $1 million annually in American Express volume, you must split dial the Amex.)
  • Be located in the U.S. only (excluding Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or any other U.S. territory)
  • Transact in U.S. Dollars only
If you meet these requirements but don’t have a direct relationship with American Express, you must contact American Express directly.

You’re ineligible for American Express credit card processing if:
  • You participate in a franchise, or
  • Your business falls into one of the following categories or is engaged in one of the following industries.
    • 900 phone numbers
    • Adult entertainment (digital content)
    • Airlines and air carriers (including charter airlines)
    • Auction sales (internet or onsite)
    • Automobile rentals
    • Betting and gambling
    • Branded lodging
    • Cash advances
    • Cheque cashing or guarantee
    • Child pornography
    • Debt collection
    • Digital goods
    • Direct marketing (inbound teleservices, insurance services, or outbound telemarketing)
    • Door-to-door sales
    • Escort services (or other sexually related services)
    • Financial institutions (merchandise and services, automated or manual cash disbursement)
    • Foreign exchange currency purchasing
    • Future services (providing investment on future maturity goods or services)
    • Government-owned lotteries
    • Government-licensed online casinos or horse/dog racing
    • Illegal drug paraphernalia
    • Local and commuter passenger transportation
    • Marijuana dispensaries
    • Monthly summary telephone charges
    • Mortgage payments 
    • Multi-level pyramid sales
    • Non-financial institutions (foreign currency, money orders, script, travelers’ cheques)
    • Passenger railways
    • Payday lenders
    • Petroleum and petroleum products
    • Postal services (government)
    • Precious metals (except for collectable coins and jewelry)
    • Prostitution
    • Railroads (freight)
    • Real estate down payments
    • Securities brokers and dealers
    • Steamships and cruise lines
    • Telecommunications services
    • Telemarketing (travel-related arrangement services)
    • Timeshares
    • Travel tour operators
    • Unregulated charities
    • Virtual currency
    • Wire transfers and money orders

What do you need to do?

If you initially selected “No” on the American Express card acceptance agreement screen, but want to accept American Express card payments, contact PayPal and ask us to activate American Express card payments for you. To do so, call 1-855-TAKE-AXP or 1-855-825-3297 between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time. You’ll need to provide the following information about yourself and your business:
  • Banking and routing information
  • Social Security Number and date of birth
  • Business address
  • Email address
  • Federal tax ID
  • Average transaction size
  • Annual credit card sales
  • Industry type
  • Your “doing business as” name
  • Consent for a credit bureau identity check
Here’s how to link a bank account to your PayPal account:
  1. Click Money on the top of the page.
  2. Click Link new bank.
  3. If you don't see your bank listed, click I have a different bank at the bottom right.
  4. Select what kind of account it is (Checking or Savings).
  5. Enter the bank's routing number, your account number, and then click Continue.
We’ll confirm your bank account by sending 2 small deposits (each between $0.01 and $0.99 USD) to the bank account you want to confirm.

After 2 to 3 business days, review your bank statement or contact your bank to find out the exact amounts of these deposits. With this information, you can complete the confirmation process online.

Here’s how to complete the confirmation process online:
  1. Click Money on the top of the page.
  2. Click the bank account you want to confirm, and click Confirm.
  3. Enter the exact amounts of the 2 deposits made to your account, then click Submit.
View this video for steps on adding a bank account to your PayPal Business account.

Important: The random deposits are temporary and will eventually be debited from your bank account. You’ll need to confirm your bank account before you can move money from your bank account to your PayPal account.

Note:

  • Your routing number is the first set of numbers at the bottom of your check. The routing number usually has 9 digits.
  • Your bank account number is the second set of numbers at the bottom of your check.
  • If you receive the message "Check and Try again," you may have typed the wrong number, or we may not accept your bank. Click here for common issues you might encounter when linking a bank account.
Please keep in mind that this is only available for U.S. and Canadian banks.

Learn how to link a debit or credit card to your PayPal account.
 
Since you receive payments for goods or services through PayPal, we are required to submit a tax Form 1099-K to the IRS when the payments you receive meet the reporting thresholds set by the IRS. Recently, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified a mismatch between your legal name and taxpayer identification number (TIN) in the IRS's records.  As a result of this mismatch, you received a B-Notice.

Because we complete the required information on the Form 1099-K using the information that you supply to us through your PayPal account, we need you to take action on your account.

The B-Notice we sent provides the additional information we need from you. You have received either a 1st B-Notice or a 2nd B-Notice.
  • If you received a 1st B-Notice (which happens the first year that the IRS identifies a mismatch in tax identification number/legal name), log in to your PayPal account and follow the Alert Notification (bell icon) to provide the necessary information. Note: You may be required to download and fill out a tax Form W-9.
  • If you received a 2nd B-Notice (which happens the second consecutive year that the IRS identifies a mismatch in tax identification number/legal name), please  provide either a copy of your Social Security Card (individuals or sole proprietors) or a US IRS tax Letter 147C (entities). Log in to your PayPal account, and go to the Resolution Center to upload the document.
Note: The IRS does not have an online solution for requesting a tax Letter 147C; the IRS will mail or fax the letter to you. To contact the IRS for a Letter 147C you should call the IRS's Business and specialty Tax line at 1-800-829-4933 between 7am and 7pm, local time, Monday through Friday. Requesting a faxed copy may be the quickest manner to get a copy of the tax Letter 147C. You can visit our tax information site for more information.

Please note that the information or relevant tax Form needs to be processed by PayPal before the deadline mentioned on the B-Notice in order to prevent your account from becoming further limited.  

Note:
  • If you have multiple PayPal accounts, you may need to verify that your tax identification number is accurate for each account.
  • Please make sure all pages of the document are included and signed if applicable prior to logging in to your PayPal account and uploading the document. You may also send documents to:
Tax Operations
PayPal
PO Box 45950
Omaha, NE 68145