A Beginner’s Guide to Using the Internet for Your Goat Business
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One of the first places people search for information about a product or service is the internet. There is an excellent chance you have already used it in some capacity for goat-related endeavors, be it information, purchasing an animal, finding fellow breeders in your area, or a wealth of other things.
The reality is if you want to be on the other end and offer products, services, or goats from your farm, the internet will be an integral part of maximizing your sales and customer relations. This can seem a bit daunting at first; putting your name and farm or business out there for the world is a big step. The wide variety of websites, hosting platforms, forms of media, and social networks out there may have you not knowing where to start. But getting started isn’t quite so hard as you’d think, and once you’ve found your own little sweet spot on the internet, it comes easier. Here are some basic steps and helpful hints to help you get started.
Identify your goals and needs.
What is the end goal for your farm, herd, or business? It doesn’t have to be overly detailed or elaborate; you need an idea of the big picture. Do you want to sell those boxes of handcrafted goat milk soap? Are you proud of your herd’s show winnings and hope to catch the eye of potential future buyers? Or, maybe you just want to share your farm and be a resource to other goat-hopefuls out there. Your motives don’t necessarily need to be profit-driven, but you need to know what you want to showcase in the online world. This will give you an idea of where you want to concentrate your time and energy.
Find the right platform.
Now that you know your end goal, the next step is to identify what platform is best for you. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having multiple accounts across different sites. In fact, this is recommended to help grow an audience. Having a concrete “homepage” for your internet presence makes you look very professional and makes it easy for your audience to learn more. Here are some especially helpful for farms and small businesses.
Facebook: Facebook is a powerful tool to build an online identity. You can start by creating and sharing your page with friends and family to springboard a following. Like-minded groups provide a great place for you to sell, engage, and network as your business.
Personal blog: Blogs are an excellent free and user-friendly way of storytelling. It’s an optimal way to help people get to know you and keep them up to date on your company’s happenings. Some blogs double as a simplistic website, or a farm website might also have a simple blog.
Personal website: If you are serious about building a profitable goat business, a personal website is an absolute must. If you’re just getting started, there are lots of hosting services that can start you off on a program that is both free and user-friendly.
Etsy: Etsy is one of the most common online store platforms for handmade goods (not animals). This is a great way to get started in online sales, but it can be difficult to get lost in the crowd of other sellers. Etsy works best alongside other platforms to help you grow a following of repeat buyers.
Again, there are many other accounts you can have to aid your main platforms, such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. But these more serve to grow a following and audience which can be directed toward your more professional outlet to conduct business.
Provide the right information.
When establishing any account or webpage, you need to provide exactly what your audience, or customer base, needs to know. These are the basics you’ll want to have covered regardless of which media you are focused on.
Contact: Always provide a way for interested parties to contact you directly and personally. An email should be listed at the very least, and possibly a phone number. In this day and age, there is no real need to post your physical address.
About: An about section can be kept very short and sweet, but you want to make sure you can at least say a few sentences about what you’re about. This section should be relatively short, but you should certainly explain your personal/company values, what you provide, and who you are.
Updates: How much you interact with your audience base is up to you. But to keep things fresh, you do want to do updated posts on a somewhat regular basis. And you don’t have to feel like a sales rep always saying, “look at what we have for sale” — you can keep it fun and share cute goat pictures, showring accomplishments, or just personal reflections.
Brand your farm or business.
Once you’ve become established online, you get to do the fun part — branding! This is the look and feel you want to establish with your business. It could range from a rustic and au naturel vibe to vintage to colorful. You can get as intricate or simple as you like; what’s important is creating familiarity with fonts, color palettes, and types of content.
One of the great things about sharing your business online is the opportunity to network with customers and other like-minded businesses. Don’t be afraid to go out and follow other blogs and social media accounts. Always feel free to write encouraging comments and ask for engagement. One friendly message can open up a door to a wider world of opportunity, so be willing to interact and take those risks. And of course, be sure to direct people to your online presence in real life as well. Make a note of your accounts on business cards or signs at fairs, shows, and other events — there is no better connection than the human one!
Originally published in the January/February 2021 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.