Businesses on the web live or die because of traffic. Not because of the product, or website, or UI, or purchase process, or choice of credit card processor, or courier company, or a business processes. No, that online business that has been boot-strapped and built during many late nights will die because it cannot generate enough traffic.
This is one of the problems I’m having with HumanWrit.es. We need a little traffic. (No, HumanWrit.es isn’t going anywhere, I’m just sharing some of our challenges!)
We recently attended the Design Indaba at the CTICC as an exhibitor. It’s a 3 day event for creatives to showcase and sell their wares. This was our first expo where we got to tell the story of HumanWrit.es and ultimately sell Writables. And boy did we sell. Not only did we manage to generate a 300% return on our costs, we also made a number of connections with people that have come back to us after the event to purchase notebooks. The concept of exhibitions works really well. We pay to be at the Design Indaba and we setup our shop. The crowds arrive, a percentage of them stop at our stall and a percentage of those people buy Writables.
HumanWrit.es would do over R2 million a year worth of sales if we could continually run at Design Indaba levels of foot traffic. And we know that foot traffic is not scalable. Only people that have heard of Design Indaba, are interested, have a few hours to spare, can afford to pay the entrance fee and who are in Cape Town, attend. However, even with these low numbers, they translate into sales for us and actually make the time, effort and money you spend to be at Indaba, worth it.
On the web, it’s another story all together. You need a lot of time, a wide range of skills and money. And even then, you can’t guarantee traffic or sales.
6 months to wait for your on-going SEO work to kick-in. Skills to implement it along with PPC, UX enhancements, A/B split testing, copywriting, content generation and social media which all cost money. You then also need to focus on running a real world business that has to deal with suppliers, manufacturers, staff and balance sheets.
Running a business that solely relies on web traffic takes balls. You can’t just put up a web shop that guarantees foot traffic from day 1 like putting up a real world shop on Long street does.
I don’t expect the business of selling on the web to be free or easy, I just want the ability to generate targeted traffic to online businesses to be more accessible.