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Online business and marketing on a budget

'Social media has so many ways to connect with other like minded businesses and customers. You can basically network now from your living room.'
Emma Morris, Round She Goes

Top tips

  • Get it right before getting overly ambitious
  • Take criticism constructively but accept that you can't be everything to everyone
  • Follow similar businesses and industry connections on social media
  • Use good quality photos

The business

Round She Goes is an award-winning event for women that has 100 different stalls of pre-loved designer fashion and quality vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories. Emma Morris takes the market around the country and shares some of the tools and tips that have helped make her business such a success.

Social media and advertising

'Facebook was instrumental to our early success. I've heard of other business talk about how effective this was for them too.'

Emma built up several thousand followers to her Facebook group (before Like pages existed) by using Facebook advertising. It's perfect because you can set your budget and it's measurable by clicks and followers.

'Facebook advertising is so targeted (ages, cities, gender, for example), that you may want to consider it over your existing traditional advertising. It has so many ways to connect with other like-minded businesses and customers. You can basically network from your living room.'

Emma also suggests following people on Twitter that are within your industry. 'It's free and easy to do.'

Use photos to give your business character

A major part of this successful online advertising, Emma says, is to have great photos. 'Get some professional photos taken to promote your business. This will pay dividends through the course of your business. We booked in with a local studio called Jungle Jim Photography.'

'You'll receive a disc of photos to use for publicity, your website and any marketing opportunities that come along. It's good to have a photo or two of the business owner so that when someone asks for a head shot you've got one ready to go.'

Use the business resources available to you

'Take full advantage of the existing resources that are available to small businesses,' says Emma. 'Make a list of all your questions and have them answered at a free mentoring session offered by Business Victoria. Even if you just get reassurance that you're on the right track, this is worth doing.'

Networking has also been an important guide for Emma, who says, 'The Business Victoria Facebook group allows you to connect with other Victorian business owners and hear about what other people are doing, ask for advice, and get the word out about your business.'

'I'd recommend subscribing to Business Victoria's newsletter too, that way you’ll hear about new grants or events.'

Build and run your own website

Emma set up her site to facilitate her market, rather than for eCommerce, so her needs were fairly simple.

'It's very easy to set up your own website these days, and when you are just starting up, a DIY site is a good way to save some cash. If you just need something basic, then perhaps try iweb or WordPress.

'If it's an eCommerce site you need, there are some ready-to-go sites you can get now (like Shopify), for a monthly fee. I also think it is important to try and understand how web stuff works. It's a bit like not being a car person but at least knowing how to check the oil.

'It's better to understand how your website's back-end works so you can do things yourself and only have to outsource the complicated stuff. But get lots of feedback from friends and family on your DIY site to make sure links work and it is user-friendly. When your business is up and running and has some cash flow, that's probably a good time to bring in the experts to design you a fancy site.'

The result

Although it seems cheap, social media marketing takes time. Emma Morris put in a lot of work to build her brand through sites including Twitter and Facebook. Her hard work is paying off and she has thousands of followers staying up-to-date with Round She Goes news and upcoming events.