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.
 

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Frequently asked questions.

* The below information applies to Business accounts only.

How do I enable subscriptions for my business? 
Can I temporarily pause an active subscription? 
What changes can customers make to their own subscription plans? 
Can I enable subscriptions on my social media sites?
How do I track overall performance of my subscription business?   
What features are included in a PayPal subscription plan?    
Can I update the price of all active subscriptions in a particular plan at once?  
Does PayPal provide real-time webhooks for payment status? 
Can I modify the PayPal Smart Payment Button layout and color format to match the look of my website? 
Can I enable credit card, bank account and other payment method options for my subscribers?  
Can I generate API credentials for integrating subscriptions? 
Can I create a PayPal Sandbox account to test and integrate subscriptions? 
What happens when a subscription payment fails? 


How do I enable subscriptions for my business?  

You can enable subscriptions using one of 3 methods:  
  1. PayPal Subscription Dashboard and Smart Payment Button (SDK)
  • Go to your Subscriptions.
  • Click Create Plan and enter your subscription details.  
  • When finished, click Save Plan and Turn on Plan.
  • Click Generate Code and Copy Code to copy and paste the Smart Payment Button HTML/JS code to your website.
  1. Subscription REST APIs
  • Generate your API credentials through the PayPal developer portal.
  • Use the create plan API to produce and activate your subscription plan.
  • Use the PayPal JavaScript SDK to add the PayPal subscribe button to your website
  1. Sell on Social subscription weblink
  • Go to your Subscriptions.
  • Click Create Plan and enter your subscription details.  
  • When finished, click Save Plan and Turn on Plan.
  • Click Generate Link and Copy Link to copy and paste the weblink and add it to your social media platform.

Can I temporarily pause an active subscription? 

Yes. To pause a subscription, follow these steps:
  1. Go to your Subscriptions.
  2. Select the subscription profile.   
  3. Select the button next to "Paused".
You can also reactivate a subscription following the steps above and selecting the button next to "Active". 

Note: PayPal doesn't charge customers for subscriptions that are paused.  
 

What changes can customers make to their own subscription plans? 

Customers can modify their existing subscription quantity. The subscription price will be based on the new quantity.
 
Customers can also switch plans for the same product. The billing and pricing terms of the new plan will take effect during the next cycle.
 

Can I enable subscriptions on my social media sites?

Yes. You can enable subscriptions on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram. Here's how:
  1. Go to your Subscriptions.
  2. Click Create Plan and enter your subscription details.  
  3. When finished, click Save Plan and Turn on Plan.
  4. Click Generate Link and Copy Link to copy and paste the weblink and add it to your social media platform.

How do I track overall performance of my subscription business?  

You can track performance through various metrics on the dashboard. Here's how:
  1. Go to your Subscriptions.
  2. Click Overview.
The overview page allows you to view cumulative revenue and total subscriptions count for your business. You can also compare the performance of different subscription plans by churn rate, monthly recurring revenue and customer lifetime value.
 

What features are included in a PayPal subscription plan?    

You can choose from multiple features to customize subscription plans and pricing, including:
 
Cross-border subscriptions. Define subscription plans in different currencies to enable cross-border subscriptions. The customer will be charged in the currency you configure.
 
Promotional trial cycles. Offer free or discounted trial cycles to your subscribers by defining trial periods for subscription plans. You can define up to 2 trial periods and set discounted pricing.
 
Example: A merchant offering video streaming service configures a subscription plan at $0 for the first month, $4.99 per month for the next 2 months and $9.99 per month onward.
 
One-time setup fee. Define a one-time setup fee for any registration or configuration purpose.
 
Example: A merchant charges a $10 registration fee to enroll in gym and yoga classes, normally priced at $50 per month.
 
Negotiated or discounted prices. Customize any subscription at a negotiated or discounted price to certain customers.
 
Example: An educational institute typically offers online tuition classes at $10 per month but offers a discounted price of $8 per month to a specific student.
 

Can I offer tier-based pricing to my subscribers?  

Yes. You can define volume-based and tier-based pricing models for your subscription plans.  
 
Example: A merchant offering helpdesk services and live technician support defines a tier-based plan at $20 per technician for the first 10 technicians, $18 per technician for the next 10 technicians and $15 per technician after that. If a subscriber requires 30 technicians, the subscription price will be: $20x10+$18x10 + $15x10 = $530 per month.
 

Can I update the price of all active subscriptions in a particular plan at once?  

Yes. You can update the price of all active subscriptions by updating the price of the original subscription plan.
 
Example: If you update the price of a 'standard' plan from $20 per month to $25 per month, then all existing and new subscriptions under the 'standard' plan will be charged $25 per month from the next effective billing cycle.
 

Does PayPal provide real-time webhooks for payment status? 

Yes. PayPal provides webhooks for all payment and lifecycle activities. To track payment status, your platform must be set up to listen to the webhooks.
 

Can I modify the PayPal Smart Payment Button layout and color format to match the look of my website? 

Yes. To change the look of the PayPal Smart Payment Button, follow these steps:
  1. Go to your Subscriptions.
  2. Click Subscription plans.
  3. Click the 3 dots to the right of the plan you want to update and select "Copy code".
  4. Click Copy Code to copy and paste the button code into any editor and make your changes. 

Can I enable credit card, bank account and other payment method options for my subscribers?  

Yes. PayPal supports full stack payments capabilities including:
  • PayPal
  • Credit/debit card and bank account via the guest flow for non-PayPal customers
  • Unbranded or white-labeled card support (via API only)

Can I generate API credentials for integrating subscriptions? 

Yes. You can generate API credentials through the PayPal developer portal.
 

Can I create a PayPal Sandbox account to test and integrate subscriptions? 

Yes. You can create a PayPal Sandbox account through the PayPal developer portal.  
 

What happens when a subscription payment fails? 

If a subscription payment fails at the start of the billing cycle, we'll try the payment again every 5 days for a maximum of two retries until the next billing cycle.
 
If the second payment attempt fails, we'll increment the failed payment count by 1, place the failed payment amount in the customer's outstanding balance and add the amount owed to the next billing cycle.
 
You can also set a failure threshold for subscription plans. We'll pause the subscription if the customer exceeds the failure threshold.
 
You can capture an outstanding balance at any time. You might want to do this if the failure threshold is met and the subscription is suspended.
PayPal and Facebook make it easy for people to support your eligible business with donations. You’ll get the benefits of secure and fast payments by PayPal, along with the power of Facebook to generate awareness. You can include an optional gift voucher as a token of your appreciation, too.
 
How do I get started?
First, set up your personalized donation link which will be hosted by PayPal, so you don’t need a website or do any coding. You can share your unique link by email, text, social media, chat, and more.
 
How does the optional gift voucher work?
You can include a gift voucher for a discount on a future purchase, a complimentary product or a gift with purchase. Your gift voucher will be described in your donation link and donors can redeem it when they next make a purchase. If you choose to include a gift voucher, your donation link will be eligible for Facebook programs to support local businesses.
 
How are gift vouchers redeemed?
You can decide how redemption will work best for your business. For example, they could show their donation receipt or reference the PayPal transaction ID with their next order. When you set up your gift voucher, you’ll include instructions for how donors can redeem their gift voucher.
 
How do I include my donation link in Facebook programs to support local businesses?
If you include the optional gift voucher in your donation link, we’ll automatically submit it to Facebook. Allow 48 hours for the donation link to be available in Facebook. The inclusion and presentation of the gift voucher is subject to Facebook policies.
 
What information do you share with Facebook?
We share your business name, location, and logo with Facebook.
 
Mine is a for-profit business. Can I accept donations?
Donations may be treated as income. Reporting requirements vary by location, so be sure to check with your tax authority for more details. You’ll want to consult with an accounting professional for specific guidance.
 
How do I know if I receive a donation?
The donations will be processed by PayPal and typically show up in your account within minutes. Sometimes, to make sure transactions are secure, it may take longer to get your money and you can read more about why this may happen. You’ll receive the normal transaction notice by email and you’ll see the details in your account with PayPal.
 
Will I know who has made a donation?
The names and email addresses of your donors will be part of the transaction details.
 
Are the donations subject to PayPal transaction fees?
Yes, you’ll pay your normal transaction fees on donations. Read more about fees.
 
What if I don’t have a logo to use in my donation link?
If you don’t have a logo, you can use a photo of a featured product or of an employee or business site that donors would recognize. The key is to use an image that will help your donors recognize your business.
PayPal Gift Cards lets you design and sell your own digital gift cards on PayPal Gifts and on our participating partner marketplaces.

Here are some common questions and answers about the PayPal Gift Cards.

Who can use PayPal Gift Cards?
They’re ideal for a business that doesn’t have its own digital gift card program. PayPal Gift Cards are a great alternative to paper gift certificates or unbranded gift cards. Your digital gift card will be listed in PayPal Gifts, our online store for digital gift cards, and in our partner marketplaces, like Facebook. You’ll also get a link to your gift card listing that you can easily share on social media, the web, email and chat.

Is there an extra fee to use PayPal Gift Cards?
There’s no extra fee. You’ll still pay the standard PayPal transaction fees; there’s no additional charge for designing and listing your gift cards on PayPal Gifts and our partner marketplaces.

How are PayPal Gift Cards redeemed?
You’ll use the PayPal Here app to accept gift cards as payment by scanning the QR code we send to the gift card buyer. If you’re not yet set up with PayPal Here, we’ll help you do that when you get started with PayPal Gift Cards.
 
PayPal Here lets you accept payments in-person and on the go. With our PayPal Here app or free card reader, you can also accept debit and credit cards in person. While there are no extra fees to use PayPal Here, the standard PayPal transaction fees will apply.

How much can I customize my gift card?
You can use your own image on the card or choose one of our designs. You can define up to four preset values (at least one preset value is required).
 
What accounts are eligible to use PayPal Gifts?
PayPal Gift Cards is brand new and in Beta right now. So, during this Beta period, some business categories aren’t eligible to use gift cards. We’ll let you know if your business category isn’t eligible when you get started with PayPal Gift Cards.
 
Also, your business will need to be signed up for PayPal Here, which has some requirements. When you get started with PayPal Gifts, we’ll let you know if there’s any more info or documents we need to sign up your business for PayPal Here.

How do I manage my gift card?
You’ll  be able manage your gift card listing status, and track sales and redemptions in your PayPal account. You can also decide when you want to hide your gift card listing or when you want to change the card design and preset values.

Are there any limitations?
PayPal Gift Cards is brand new and in beta right now. So, during the beta period, some business categories aren’t supported in PayPal Gift Cards and the total gift card sales for each seller is limited to $2,000. When the value of gift cards you’ve sold reaches $2,000, we’ll hide your gift card listing in PayPal Gifts and in our partner marketplaces. If we do hide your listing, we’ll let you know by email and you’ll see it in the gift card status.
How can I raise financial support for my business?
Whether it’s a non-profit or for-profit, we make it easy for people to support your business with donations. You just need to set up a shareable donation link that’s hosted by PayPal, so you don’t need a website or do any coding.

How do I get started?
To get started, set up your donation link. If you want to, you can customize your landing page to include a personal message and a thank you gift voucher. You’ll get a link and a QR code that you can share by email, text, social media, chat, and more.

If you’ve got a website, you can also set up a donation button that you can customize and easily add to your website.

What’s required?
You must have a business account with PayPal to set up a donation link. This isn’t available in all markets and some business categories are not eligible. 
 
Mine is a for-profit business. Can I accept donations?
Donations may be treated as income. Reporting requirements vary by location, so be sure to check with your tax authority for more details. You’ll want to consult with an accounting professional for specific guidance.

How do I know if I receive a donation?
The donations will be processed by PayPal and typically show up in your account within minutes. Sometimes, to make sure transactions are secure, it may take longer to get your money and you can read more about why this may happen. You’ll receive the normal transaction notice by email and you’ll see the details in your account with PayPal. 

Will I know who has made a donation?
The names and email addresses of your donors will be part of the transaction details.

Are the donations subject to PayPal transaction fees?
Yes, you’ll pay your normal transaction fees on donations. Read more about fees.

How can I change the logo that’s displayed in my donation link?
Log in to PayPal and go to Settings. You can change or edit your logo image in Business information.

How does the optional gift voucher work?
When you set up a donation link, you can include a gift voucher for a discount on a future purchase, a complimentary product or a gift with purchase. Your gift voucher will be described in your donation link and donors can redeem it when they next make a purchase. 

How are gift vouchers redeemed?
You can decide how redemption will work best for your business. For example, they could show their donation receipt or reference the PayPal transaction ID with their next order. When you set up your gift voucher, you’ll include instructions for how donors can redeem their gift voucher.

How does donate with PayPal work with Google?
If you have a claimed Google Business profile, you can add the donation link to help generate awareness. If you don’t have an account with Google My Business, you can sign up at https://business.google.com. There are some eligibility criteria for participation in Google My Business.

How do I add a link to my Google Business profile?
Go to Google My Business and paste your link in the section named “Your donation link”. The link will automatically appear in your business profile Google Search and Google Maps.

How can I change my donation link?
Log in to Google My Business and click the link to PayPal to create a new or update an existing donation link.

What info do you share with Google?
To help us ensure that things are working as well as possible, we share with Google the aggregated performance of the donation links we host. You can read more about how Google protects your info and how you can manage your privacy in the Google privacy policy.

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