Building a website is just the first step. In order to keep customers (and the Google search engine) coming back you must constantly update the content.
The most important element of any fashion website is good photography. Put clothes on a model or at least a mannequin. Shoot in natural light so the colors are as true as possible. Photography each piece from a variety of angles and include close-ups of details.
Use photos in your ecommerce store, as part of your portfolio and as images in blog posts.
Photos are for your human visitors, for the search engine bots you need lots of text. Update your blog at least once a week. Write about the business and write about your personal life – to a point. Customers will enjoy reading about your trip to Italy but they don’t want to hear about your troubled love life. . . unless that’s what your brand is all about.
Make full use of any SEO tools that come with your hosting plan; image alt tags, meta titles, keywords, etc.
Tip: if Google can’t find you, potential customers can’t find you. Install Google Webmaster Tools and make sure your site is being indexed and searched on a regular basis.
Text, images, now how about video?
A third of all online activity is spent watching videos and 50% of viewers watch a business-related video at least once a week, according to Digital Sherpa. Some of the most watched channels on YouTube are devoted to fashion and beauty. Bethany Mota started out as a bullied teen making videos in her bedroom and now she has more than 6 million YouTube subscribers and her own clothing line.
If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, consider enlisting the aid of one of the thousands of popular haul video stars on YouTube. These vidders invite viewers on a virtual shopping spree as they show off all their purchases from the week. According to a Google report, four out of 10 people who watch a haul video end up virtually or physically visiting whatever store is mentioned.
That store could be your online shop. All you need to do is contact YouTubers that sell to your demographic and offer to send them free items to try.
Tip: How-to videos are extremely popular. How to up-style a plain sweater. How to customize their jeans. How to properly pack for vacation. What can you teach your customers in under five minutes?"Haul videos are big and they are growing. We saw more than 34,000 uploads happen just last month, and we've been seeing an increase in viewers on haul channels over time." -- Lisa Green, head of industry, fashion and luxury brands at Google.
A website is just one piece of the large brand puzzle. In order to drive traffic to the site, you’ll need the help of social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Twitter is the best choice for quick bites of information such as sale and new product announcements. It’s also the easiest place to start a conversation. Reply to tweets from potential customers and share helpful information from others via a retweet. Follow people and many will follow you back.
Facebook is a good place to build a community if you’re willing to pay for it. In recent months, Facebook has cut down on the number of branded posts that show up in the news feed, even for people who “liked” your page. Because of this, just posting regularly won’t help you grow your audience. To reach new customers, you’ll have to pay to “boost” your posts. The upside is you can reach a few thousand, highly targeted people for just a few dollars.
Pinterest is a must for any fashion designer. 68% of the users are women, mostly 25-44, well educated and more affluent on average than other social media networks. Pinterest traffic also converts 22% more often than Facebook traffic. Those same users also spent 60% more than shoppers coming in from Facebook.
The one caution about social media accounts is that they can be a terrible time suck. You can use tool such as HootSuite to pre-schedule your posts but don’t forget to check you channels for replies, mentions and questions. Remember, social media is about two-way conversation.
Creativity Means Business
The British Fashion Council says that in order for a fashion designer to survive, she has to figure out how to balance creativity with business.
“Designers starting their own brands are entrepreneurs. Embarking on an entrepreneurial venture requires self-motivation and self-propulsion, a mix of ambition, passion, hunger, perseverance and dedication.”
Keeping a website up while you’re designing clothes and running a business isn’t easy but there’s nothing worse than a website that hasn’t been updated in months. If the front page of your site is still displaying the 2013 Spring Collection in 2014, visitors will leave and they won’t come back.
Use all the tools at your disposal to keep your blog fresh and in-line with the season. You can hire a virtual assistant to load new images and schedule social media posts, just remember that in the end, this is your business and your reputation. At the very least, make it a point to write a quick blog post on a weekly basis. A few paragraphs about what you’re working on or thinking about is all it takes to tell customers that you’re open for business.