Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Birth of My Website

Pittsburgh Three Rivers Finds was born due to my need to be able to have some control over my costs. But it has grown to a fun adventure that I am loving to learn about.

I have been selling antiques, collectibles and everything in between online for almost 12 years. I started out on eBay in December 1998. For almost 10 of those years we sold strictly on eBay. Though, when Meg Whitman left as CEO and John Donahoe entered as CEO, myself and many sellers have seen a huge drop in views of our products and especially sales. Along with fees steadily rising.

Last year I tried out Ruby Plaza for about year, while I did okay, it wasn’t what some others do on that site. Whether, I didn’t keep enough stock or didn’t pay to get seen, I don’t really know. Getting to the first few pages on that site was very tough. If my items made the monthly finds newsletters, I did okay. I was exclusive(not being able to sell on any other site that is fixed price) the first time around with Ruby Lane. Last year, I ended up closing my shop because things had slowed down. They had so many factors on getting your items high in the rankings, I couldn’t pin anything down to get my stuff seen.

This year I reopened and again was doing okay even though I wasn’t exclusive. I had also opened a store on eBay and on Bonanazle. Bonanzle for me as a bust, but the site if fun, so as a buyer I am always looking for stuff to buy. My eBay store was okay but I really wanted Ruby Lane to take off so I closed it and went back to exclusive. I also opened a Ruby Plaza shop in April. It is a Ruby Lane sister site and I wanted to get in as a flagship shop. In the 3 months I was on it, I had very little views and no sales. About the time of that the Ruby Plaza shop opened, Google changed an algorithm that they use to search, and all traffic to Ruby Lane & Plaza seemed to have slowed down. As I was not the only one that went months without a sale. My last sale on Ruby Lane was in April, I closed it June 29th.

But before deciding to close it, a couple of friends were talking about the one’s website. The other friend said she wanted to do it, I mentioned I did not think I could do a website. Well with a little information and my friend Donnah offering to help, I jumped in with both feet!

Hence, my website Pittsburgh Three Rivers Finds.

Donnah is basically my webmaster she does the real behind the scenes code changes and is my teacher. I use the Zencart software. First, I picked out my template, well, I did pick more than one, so I can probably change it up once in a while.

I’ve learned to use a FTP program so I do not have to use Photobucket.  I really must say I like this better! The only thing with this kind of program is that I had to rename all my photos, it was time consuming but fun.

So far I have 55 items, including some of my hand painted items(hoping to get added), added favorite sellers links, a photography site link for when my photography site gets done, our craft shows page, a favorite links page and I can add all kinds of stuff. Along with my Blog page.

Next I have been worrying about marketing it and getting it higher in Googles rankings, meaning getting the website on the first page! So Donnah has added the RSS feeds to the page. The more subscribers I get, it’s supposed to help the ranking, the more searches of my stuff on Google and clicked through on Google helps the ranking.

I’ve made business cards and am sending out postcards to past eBay and Ruby Lane customers for my “Grand Opening” with a 20% off coupon. I want to see how that goes and if it does well, I will do a few mailing through out the year or I will do email coupons.

We started working on it in June and had it live by the beginning of July. We are still tweaking it here and there. I will admit it has not been easy, so much to learn, it is time consuming, but it has been lot of fun learning it!   Come watch us grow!