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.

Your Generosity Network fundraiser page includes multiple sharing options. You can share your fundraiser via email, text, and social media. You can also copy and paste the link directly.
"Sell on Social" lets casual sellers create ready-to-use product links and start selling and getting paid easily on social media. The feature doesn’t require owning a website or running product integration.

To get started, all you need to do is to generate a link for your item instantly from your PayPal account, and share the link across your preferred social media platform or via email/SMS. Your customers can simply click Buy Now in your product ad, and then pay with their PayPal account or directly with a credit/debit card. Once received, their payments will appear on your Activity page.

Here’s how to set up a "Sell on Social" link for your product:
  1. Go to Tools.
  2. Click Open under "PayPal buttons."
  3. Click Sell on Social.
  4. Click Add product.
  5. Add an image, and fill out the product name, description, price, and shipping cost. Then click Create.
  6. Click the Facebook icon to post your product on Facebook, or click Get link and share it on any social media platform or by email/SMS.
You also can view, edit or delete your existing product links anytime on your product dashboard.
* The below information applies to Business accounts only.

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.

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