How Fintechs Fared: Many Small Businesses Got Much-Needed PPP Funding Via Online Lenders

The post How Fintechs Fared: Many Small Businesses Got Much-Needed PPP Funding Via Online Lenders appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

QuickBooks Online Payroll Pricing & Features

The post QuickBooks Online Payroll Pricing & Features appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

How To Get A Business License: Expected Cost, Timeline, & Resources To Get You Started

The post How To Get A Business License: Expected Cost, Timeline, & Resources To Get You Started appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Get Ready To File Your Business Taxes Soon: The July 15 Tax Deadline Is Coming Up Fast

The post Get Ready To File Your Business Taxes Soon: The July 15 Tax Deadline Is Coming Up Fast appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Contact Tracing For Small Businesses: Are You Prepared?

The post Contact Tracing For Small Businesses: Are You Prepared? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Etsy Shop Ideas: 10+ Ways To Generate Hundreds of Profitable Options

This post originally appeared at Etsy Shop Ideas: 10+ Ways To Generate Hundreds of Profitable Options via ShivarWeb

Etsy Shop Ideas

Etsy is an established global marketplace. And it’s a great place for anyone to try out a small online business with zero risk and zero commitment.

But unfortunately, Etsy is also a place where many people fail, get discouraged, or never start in the first place.

Many of those problems come from not having the right, profitable Etsy shop idea. It’s not enough to have a good idea. You have to have a good idea that other people are interested in.

Sure, many people on Etsy are looking for that certain, unique something.

But you are never going to sell them that certain, unique something unless you have a general idea of what people are looking for.

Problems with a List of Etsy Ideas

There are plenty of ideas for what to sell on Etsy. Even Etsy has a guide.

But they all have problems that make them unhelpful. They are all usually –

  • Vague – vague ideas are impossible to execute on.
  • Out-dated – Etsy thrives on trends taht change day to day.
  • Anecdotal – Anecdotes don’t prove anything except the success of a single person.
  • Untrue – Rumor is a great way to get attention, even if it’s untrue.
  • Not complete – The appearance of success is never quite right.
  • Copied to death – No one ever got ahead by copying competitors.

This guide to Etsy shop ideas will show you how to research your own list of Etsy shop ideas.

You’ll pair your experience, skills, and abilities with real data that pops up around the Internet to find an Etsy shop idea that works for you.

Your goal is to find an idea that is pre-qualified by interest so that you know that success is possible if you get the execution right.

Generating Etsy Shop Ideas

Think of these data sources as gold mines. There will be a lot of dirt. There will be a lot of digging. It’s pretty boring. You’ll need to gather a lot of ore to get at the gold.

But if you comb every mine systematically, you will likely find a “seam” of gold that you can focus on. All you need is a single nugget.

Ideas from Etsy Search

This data source is simple. Actual, real-time customer searches power Etsy’s autosuggest feature.

Use the suggestions to gather interesting ideas. Use these tips to systematically harvest ideas –

Go through the entire Alphabet. Type “a” and hit space.

Take the “root” of an interesting idea. Type that in and hit space. If you see COVID masks – try taking just “masks” and seeing what else shows up.

Try the space before and after your root.

Try a space in between a modifier and a root.

Take a common modifier, hit space, and look for interesting roots.

Keep exploring until you get a basket of good ideas.

Ideas from Etsy Categories

The goal here is to find interesting, underserved, or surprisingly popular Etsy categories. Then browse the categories looking for new ideas.

This data source requires a few tools to do right, but you can also do it manually and/or free to quickly check some ideas.

The first way is to browse Etsy’s categories in Google’s index.

Do a search for site:etsy.com/c/ – you’ll get all the category pages that Google has indexed. They are generally listed in order of importance (though not really by popularity). You can also drill down to search subcategories.

The second way is to look through Etsy’s taxonomy sitemaps. Yes, it sounds daunting, but it’s really just a much more efficient way of browsing their categories.

Head over to their taxonomy index. Open up, download, and copy all the listed “node” sitemaps. You’ll find many buried categories that have interesting product ideas.

The third way is to use a tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs to view their top categories. They will show all of the relevant pages plus all the keywords that those pages rank for.

You will absolutely find an interesting idea in this dataset. Ahrefs is $7 for a 7 day free trial. SEMRush has a free 14 day trial, so they’d be best for checking a quick idea. I’ll use both for many examples.

Just drop etsy.com/c/ into the Site Explorer and look at the subfolder.

Then look at all the categories and what keywords they drive.

This data shows two things. First, it shows that people are generally interested in these product ideas. Second, it shows that Etsy itself attracts interested buyers directly to that category – so you will be well-placed to get customers if you can show up in that category.

Ideas from Etsy Shops

This source is very similar to Etsy categories…but with individual shops. You are trying to reverse engineer successful shops to see if you can get in on the action – maybe they are attracting customers, but aren’t selling the right items.

Since there are so many shops, you will be forced to use SEMRush / Ahrefs for this tactic. You can absolutely browse their shop sitemap, or check out popular shops – but there’s too many of them.

Instead, just drop etsy.com/shop/ into the subfolder search.

You’ll see the top performing shops in Google Search (not Etsy search) plus what keywords they are getting traffic with.

Click over on the Shop’s “Sold” page and see what they are doing right.

Take those ideas and add them to your collection.

Ideas from Google Autosuggest

Google Autosuggest is a go-to source for website keywords. But it can also work for your Etsy shop.

Remember, your goal is to find interest in a product or product line that you can create and work on. Google will have general interest, so you have to coach it with specific roots and modifiers.

Start the same way that you did with Etsy Search. But instead of doing the Alphabet first, start with broad modifiers so that you can find interesting roots.

The best place to start is with “etsy”.

Start typing “etsy” and hit space. Redo it again, but hit space before “etsy”.

Then process with the Alphabet to find more.

You can then repeat this process with common Etsy modifiers like –

  • handmade
  • custom
  • vintage
  • supplies
  • for crafts
  • for home
  • unique
  • artisan

You’ll likely find a whole range of ideas to store.

Ideas from Pinterest Search

Pinterest is one of the largest (if not the largest) source of traffic for Etsy shops. Many prospective customers will find you via Pinterest.

Think of Pinterest Search as a blend between Etsy Search and Google Search. It’s more focused than Google, but has less “intent” than Etsy (ie, searchers aren’t in buying mode).

You’ll have to toy around with the roots and modifiers, but the process is the same. Use a series of “Etsy-likely” modifiers to find roots, and then drill down.

If you see “salt shakers etsy”, then you know that the root is interesting. Then take the “salt shakers” root and look for different modifiers. You’ll see options like “wood salt shakers”, etc.

You can then assume that people would find “wood salt shakers” to be an interesting find on Etsy. Take those ideas and run with them.

Ideas from Pinterest Boards

Pinterest has thousands of public collaboration boards around topics. They are a great place to find unique ideas within a certain topic.

For example, suppose you know you want to make some lunch bags, but have no idea what pieces to make. Find a bunch of Pinterest boards dedicated to lunch bags. Browse for unique ideas that people have pinned, which shows direct interest.

Ideas from Social Shares

Take the general approach from Pinterest boards and apply it to social media. Explore Twitter and Facebook for ideas.

But also look at visual networks like Imgur and Reddit for interesting DIY items.

Ideas from Etsy Competitors

You can also simply go browsing Etsy shops for top selling items within a niche that you are interested in. Every shop has a link to shop top selling items.

Remember the rule of thumb that competition equals demand. If there is little competition, there is likely low demand. Lots of competition means there is a lot of demand. Browse top selling items, check reviews, and see if there is a unique angle that you can put on a top selling item.

Additionally, you can use a marketing tool like SEMRush (mentioned earlier) to see what Etsy shops get traffic from Google in addition to Etsy. Take their Etsy shop URL and drop it into this tool –

You’ll be able to see what keywords are driving sales for them. It’s safe to say that if they get traffic from Google, there is plenty of demand to support another Etsy shop with similar products.

What’s Worth It To Sell on Etsy?

So you have a ton of Etsy shop ideas, but what’s actually worth it to sell on Etsy?

Well – that’s a very personal question that all depends on your goals, resources, expertise, time, and budget.

The short version is that it depends on what will make enough money to be worth your time & effort. But here are a few rules of thumb that I’ve gathered from my clients.

  • Etsy is not a volume retail marketplace. If you are trying to make money selling lots of units, then you are in a losing game.
  • Each product needs to “pay for itself.” In other words, each unit needs to have enough margin to pay for its labor, materials, and profit. Use back-of-the-napkin math to estimate your own numbers.
  • The only way to “scale” Etsy is with product templates and bulk purchasing. Products that you can prep pre-orders and purchase materials in bulk will give you profit wiggle room.
  • Never try to beat direct competitors on price. Try to beat them on marketing and value.
  • Like most businesses, Etsy shops usually fail from a lack of attention. Be sure to build in enough profit margin to allow yourself to get more attention than your competitors. You will never lose on price if you have a customer’s attention, and your cheap competition does not.
  • Products that you are familiar with and use regularly will give you an advantage that can make it worthwhile. In other words, don’t sell dog collars if you don’t own a bunch of dogs.

What’s Easy To Sell on Etsy?

Any product that has paying, discerning customers with mediocre competition can be easy to sell on Etsy. There are plenty of predictable categories with high customer demand – masks, pillowcases, custom name tags, etc. But those also can be commodity items where there’s no real difference between you and competition.

Your goal with an Etsy shop is to find a product line with enough competition to show interest. But where the competition is so poor that you can easily beat them with a better product and better marketing.

Next Steps

Starting an Etsy store can be daunting. Even setting Etsy up correctly can be confusing.

But it’s also a growing marketplace running multi-million dollar TV ads bringing customers directly to your store. You just need to be positioned to capture those buyers. A lot of effective research before setting up can set you up for success.

“”

What Is BigCommerce?

The post What Is BigCommerce? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Don’t Want (Or Were Denied) An EIDL Or PPP Loan? Here Are Your Best Small Business Loan Alternatives

The post Don’t Want (Or Were Denied) An EIDL Or PPP Loan? Here Are Your Best Small Business Loan Alternatives appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

14+ Unconventional Ways To Find New Keywords To Outsmart Your Competition

This post originally appeared at 14+ Unconventional Ways To Find New Keywords To Outsmart Your Competition via ShivarWeb

find new keywords

Traditional keyword research has a tragedy of the commons problem. The more people that use a common keyword research sources, the less valuable those sources become.

When everyone is using Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Google Autosuggest – the keywords from those sources will become either too difficult or will lose their intent. Big players, or Google itself, will show up and rank for those keywords.

As a small to mid-size publisher – you have to either become more creative, become more “long-tail,” or seek out more sources to find new keywords.

I’ve written before about “pre-qualifying content.” That process used different sources to confirm your own keyword ideas.

Finding new keywords from new sources is the reverse. It’s finding keywords that you have literally never heard of.

You would never know the root, modifier, or topic. It’s doesn’t show up in Google Suggest, and you’d never know how to search for it in traditional keyword tools.

Here’s where I’ve been looking lately.

Bing / DuckDuckGo Search

Bing and DuckDuckGo are usually seen as Google alternatives. But they have audiences in their own right.

And those audiences are different enough from Google that you can usually find new, interesting, and different keywords there that you won’t find on Google.

Head over to Bing / DuckDuckGo and try out their autosuggest with broad modifiers (how to, what is, etc).

Search within a broad topic that you are looking at and explore their related searches.

Lookalike Online Publishers

You might be familiar with the idea of a lookalike from Facebook Ads. They take a person that you want to target and tries to find other people who share that person’s characteristics. It’s a powerful idea.

And it’s an idea that you can use to find keyword ideas.

Many SEOs know to look at the big industry publisher for keyword ideas, but never think to find “lookalikes” of their big industry publisher…in an adjacent industry.

And adjacent industries can be a goldmine for both keyword roots and modifiers.

For example, imagine that you own a small fishing website. You probably know the trick for mining Field & Stream for content ideas.

But what about looking at the Field & Stream equivalent in the backpacking, boating, or wildlife magazine segments?

If you had a Venn diagram, you’d see that they all have an audience overlap, even if they don’t have a keyword overlap. And that represents an opportunity.

Remember, the best keyword research understands the question behind the keyword. Explore those publishers to find content strategies and audience questions that you could use.

Look at their top performing content and think about what you could swap in that would fit your website.

If Backpacker magazine did a profile on the top trails in the Southeast US, why wouldn’t a profile on the top rivers in the Southeast US work for your fishing website?

I would argue that it would. And best of all, any new keywords, headlines or modifiers that you find function as pre-qualified content, since you know it has already worked for someone else.

Wikipedia Analysis

I’ve written an entire post about using Wikipedia for SEO & Content Marketing. But Wikipedia is an especially good place to find keyword ideas because it is structured.

The process is to pick a category and systematically explore all the entries along with how they are related.

Read entries with an eye for keywords and concepts that need further exploration.

YouTube Search

YouTube is a popular place for How To’s, tutorials, and visual content. You can (and should) use YouTube autosuggest to mine for keywords. They’ll have a different dataset from Google search.

But I recommend that you go a step further. Look at (or scrape!) top ranking videos. Read their transcripts, tags, comments, and descriptions with an eye for new keywords and concepts.

If the video narrator uses a term that needs context or further explanation, note it. Look for how the narrator and video presents information.

Even the best YouTube videos leave gaps that need to be filled. And those gaps usually produce Google Searches.

It’s a great way to find high-volume, long-tail keywords.

I wrote an extended guide to use YouTube for SEO & content here.

Pinterest Search

I would argue that Pinterest is one of the top search engines on the Internet, even though it is thought of as a social network.

Millions of people use it to start their search and bookmark their favorite answers.

While it does work better for some segments than others, I think it’s worth checking out for nearly every industry.

Like YouTube, you should look at both their autosuggest and their suggested topics. But go a step further and look at top performing pins & boards.

Note any unique keyword angles, audience questions, etc. Usually, they have a completely different angle from Google that will provide a window into an audience’s true intent – which, again, will help you answer the “question behind the keyword.”

I wrote an entire guide to use Pinterest for SEO & Content here.

Instagram Search

Unlike Pinterest, Instagram is a pure-play social network. But it still throws off a lot of keyword data, especially for consumer industry segments.

Use the autosuggest on Instagram for modifiers, but also check out the Explore to find trending hashtags.

Take those hashtags and use them to understand trending topics, angles on existing keywords, and to find new, trending ideas.

Twitter Search

Using Twitter search for keyword research is a bit like using Instagram, except that it’s heavily biased towards right now.

Twitter doesn’t have the same breadth that any other tool has. But Twitter’s speed and recency and analytics can help you keep your content up to date and cutting edge.

Quora Search

I’ve written a full guide to use Quora for SEO & content. But the short version is that Quora has a bunch of experts answering specific questions with plain, human language.

You should mine both the topics and the keywords that contributors use in their answers.

Quora Drip Tray

As a bonus, if you sign up for Quora Ads, you can see the exact search interest that a question has.

Reddit Analysis

You can use Reddit with a similar process as Quora. I’ve written a guide to use Reddit for SEO & Content here.

But the short version is to find one or several subreddits that your target audience is interested in. Sort by Top or Hot and start mining both titles and responses.

Everything is written in plain language, so you’ll find plenty of keywords that your audience uses, but that might not show up in a keyword research tool.

Content Ideas from Reddit
Some noise, but also some great ideas

There are also plenty of automated Reddit research tools like Keyworddit.

Amazon Reviews

Next to Wikipedia, Amazon probably has the largest repository of user-generated content on the Internet.

Their reviews are a goldmine for finding keywords that your audience uses while searching for products. In other words, they have the intent to purchase, which is critical for many publishers.

Amazon Read Reviews

I’ve written a full guide to using Amazon for SEO & content here. I recommend starting with the Bestsellers in your category, and then manually looking through the user reviews and their questions.

There are a few tools that can automate parts of this research, but it does not work as well as manually read reviews & questions.

Google Scholar Autosuggest

Google Scholar is one of Google’s most powerful, but least understood products. It searches the universe of scholarly journals, magazines, patents, and more.

9 Google Scholar

In other words, it searches content that is actually rigorous and right. It’s a huge opportunity to find academic jargon, theories, data, and more.

Podcast Directories

There is a universe of podcasts that cover every niche, market segment, and industry. But episodes are not indexed or analyzed in any systematic way.

Head over to any of the big podcast directories including Apple, Google, Spotify, and Stitcher. Look for podcasts in your industry. Look through top episodes, reviews, and descriptions. Listen to episodes that catch your eye.

Harvest & use any new keywords that you find.

Physical Books & Magazines

I cannot stress how underestimated physical books and magazines are for keyword research. They are structured, comprehensive, edited, fact-checked, and exist in every industry for every market segment.

The problem is that they are inaccessible for quick research. You have to, you know, read them? But that’s your competitive advantage over big publishers working at scale.

Buy some physical books and magazines specifically for keywords and topics that are not coming up in your traditional keyword research.

There are a couple of ways to speed this process up. One way is to use ebooks. Convert them to HTML or text. Search them quickly, or use an algorithm to parse it.

Another way is to use Google Books. I wrote a guide to using it for SEO & content research here.

Customer Surveys

Google Surveys and Survey Monkey both make customer surveys much more accessible than ever in the past. They are still fairly costly, but can be a good value when planning an expensive content or ad campaign.

One idea here to ask open-ended questions and word association type questions to help trigger unique, qualitative keywords from real people.

Next Steps To Find New Keywords

There are a million variations of the cliche that “if you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll get what everyone else has.” Keyword research is no different. It takes work to find new keywords.

If all you do is go to SEMRush or Ahrefs, drop in a big keyword and sort by keyword difficulty…then you’ll never get ahead. Same with Google Autosuggest or Keyword Planner.

But searching out new sources to find keywords that your audience is using, but that you don’t see will help you get ahead.

“”

What Is Square Marketing & Is It Right For My Business?

The post What Is Square Marketing & Is It Right For My Business? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”