I’ve been a very naughty blogger recently. Not much consistency and definitely neglecting the GeeeksDoingStuff.com audience. Things have been crazy at work and between travel, new team members, getting married and the two bulldogs – this blog somehow got pushed aside. It’s not you, it’s me, I promise!
One of the projects I’ve been so busy on at work has been launching new technology for influencers. I recently wrote about why we built new technology here if you’re interested. If you’re not interested in the why, but more interested in the what, then the research I’ve been doing around ways to monetize your platforms and WordPress plugins available to bloggers, might also interest you too.
Being a WordPress blogger means we have access to all sorts of new technology, mostly for free too. WordPress plugins are by far my favourite things and there are tons to choose from – from tracking, to planning, visualizing and monetizing. All tools to help you do more as a blogger, without having to learn a single line of code. Isn’t technology grand? Many sites post about ways to Monetize your platforms, like
I decided to compile five of my favourite, most useful plugins into an infographic. If you’re a blogger, this content piece is for you. Please feel free to share!
*Disclaimer – I do have an association to Webfluential.com for those who don’t know.
[Sponsored by PayPal]
I read articles every day about millennial entrepreneurs taking over the world. People like Mark Zuckerberg and Brian Chesky who don’t have the qualifications our parents told us we needed to be billionaires, but are doing it anyway. They have managed to achieve in 30 years what some spend a lifetime dreaming of. Not only have they each built empires worth billions (with great support teams) but they have used technology to connect people across the globe in ways that didn’t exist before. And in doing so, changed the traditional way people used to do things.
Don’t get me wrong, they had great ideas. But those great ideas were made possible because of technology. I refer to technology as the superpower of small businesses (or start ups) because it gives ordinary people the opportunity to do extraordinary things. Whether you are Brian Chesky changing the way people book accommodation with AirBNB, or a craft merchant looking to sell your designs online, technology is the superpower you need to help turn those dreams into a reality.
We have the power to research our ideas (Google), easily set up an online presence (WordPress), market your business ideas through social networks, set up an e-store in just a few steps (with WooCommerce or Shopify) and when you’re ready to trade you can offer a secure and trusted payment source to your customers through PayPal.
All the above can be done from behind a computer. If you have an idea and enough drive to bring it to life – the rest is all there for you. The exciting thing for South African entrepreneurs is that PayPal is now available for us to use in South Africa as merchants. When I launched my eStore in early 2015 it was a simple process setting up through FNB.
I had no experience in retail, certainly none in how to securely manage transactions, but I took advantage of the technology superpower available to all of us – PayPal. It wasn’t easy, the logistics behind online retail involves a heavy workload, but the lessons I learned along the way shaped the business decisions I make even today. We sold all our stock over a six-month period, and ensured the happiness of many geeks in 2015.
(The store is still live but we’re looking for a logistics partner to handle the deliveries and orders that became impossible as a sideline business. So if you know any fellow geeks, please SHOUT J)
If you’re looking to do something new in 2016, small or big, arm yourself with the right superpowers and do more than your parents ever dreamed of.
Have any questions? Contact PayPal
As a follow on from my last post I wanted to talk a bit more about WooCommerce. I touched on them in a blog post two weeks ago but I didn’t really get into the detail on why.
Why I think they have built something incredible, why their latest acquisition deal is an inspiration to entrepreneurs across Africa, and how (I think) they managed to achieve all this.
When you’re enabling the not-so-web savvy customers to venture into ecommerce, often for the first time, there are a number of things you need to get right from the start – but keeping their money secure is the first on the list. Thanks to their partnership with PayPal, these guys managed to take the most complex thing on the internet (payments) and make it simple for day-to-day people to process them. There really is no better business model than making something simple, and accessible for everyone to use.
That’s the thing about ecommerce, when moving over to that model your products can become available on an international scale. Naturally that makes payments a little more complicated, which is why using PayPal as a payment method on your e-store is worth a thought. Cross border payments are made simpler with PayPal that fully supports 26 currencies, is active in 203 markets and provide global reach of 173 million active accounts worldwide. In fact, in addition to making it simpler, offering PayPal payments can potentially increase your online sales due to the high usage and preference of PayPal, especially for international transaction. In a 2014 research by PayPal and Ipsos, it was found that on average, 63% of shoppers in 22 markets worldwide, use PayPal for their international transactions, compared to PayPal’s main competitor in the market.
We’re living in a digital world, and selling products online is slowly becoming a necessity for businesses. But ecommerce is not only for the corporate world, you and I can create an
online store on a blog or a fully developed website and sell anything we want to. Whether it be homemade jam, or handmade figurines of your favourite Marvel superheroes. For the big corporates a complicated cross border payment is easier, but for us regular people it can be more challenging.
WooCommerce speaks from experience. In 2014 they suffered a malicious hack that resulted in them moving all their payments to PayPal. They communicated this to their community – announcing their new found strength and security through the partnership, making PayPal not only available for their customers using their plug-ins, but also as their preferred payment method to accept their own payments online.
That brings me to my next point about partnerships. One thing I see most businesses struggling with is the fact they try to own everything. When I look at how WooCommerce expanded globally I wonder if that would be possible without partnerships. Like the PayPal partnership for example. Joel Bronkowski, business development manager at WooThemes (WooCommerce’s parent), said: “In many ways, it’s simply the standard for global electronic payments, if ease of use and quick payments is your thing.”
We live in a world where everything is fast-paced, and we expect everything to happen at the click of a button. If it doesn’t, we simply look for a faster alternative. That’s probably another reason why WooCommerce brought in PayPal for themselves and their customers. With PayPal’s Express Checkout, businesses have the flexibility to accept PayPal payments as well as credit and debit card payments. The product also offers a 3 click checkout experience for customers, significantly shorter than traditional checkouts, helping merchants minimise their churn rate and convert more users into customers.
Launched in 2011, WooCommerce has simply exploded, and there are currently 660,000+ sites around the world powered by WooCommerce, including our very own GeeksDoingStuff.com eStore!
What’s next for WooThemes and PayPal?
“In the same way that PayPal allows us to concentrate on what we are good at by taking care of our payments safely and securely, we want to simplify the process for our merchants to take their business online. We are working more closely than ever with PayPal to make it as easy as possible for our merchants to enable PayPal payments for their customers,” said Mark Forrester, WooThemes co-founder and CEO.
Well played Mark. You did SA proud!
Have questions? Contact PAYPAL
 ‘Ipsos study for PayPal reveals opportunities and best practices for online merchants who want to grow their international business’, in ipsos MORI research publications. Viewed 22 December 2015, https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3486/Ipsos-study-for-PayPal-reveals-opportunities-and-best-practices-for-online-merchants-who-want-to-grow-their-international-business.aspx
[Sponsored by PayPal]
I really love nothing more than a South African success story. We’ve seen the rise (and even fall) of some great South African entrepreneurs. I often feel like we’re tucked away in the far corner of the earth, unnoticed by the hedge funds throwing money around at start-ups in Silicon Valley. But then stories like WooCommerce happen (recently purchased by the WordPress parent company) and it gives me hope. It reminds me that we’re just as smart, have just as much chance and can build companies just as big as the stories we read about in the press.
Part of the reason I’m so passionate about all this is because I’m completely obsessed with the internet, and the fact that it can give your local business the superhero powers it needs to go global. When you can corner a premium global market from the southern tip of Africa, you don’t need much more evidence about the internet’s power to make the world a smaller place.
For instance, did you know that there is a highly lucrative market selling limited edition sneakers around the world? And that one of the few suppliers of the most rare, and most sought after, kicks is Shelf Life, based in Cape Town?
Yep, it’s true. Starting out as a bricks and mortar store in 2006, Shelf Life expanded to reach a global audience via its ecommerce site in 2009. And it introduced PayPal as its payment system in 2012.
When as few as 300 pairs of exclusive collectors’ item brands might be released globally, Shelf Life has real life customers queuing overnight outside its Longmarket Street store to get their hands on the sneakers. Online customers do the same, setting up alerts and automated bots to tell them when gear is launched.
As you can imagine, with such exclusive merchandise, people want to know they are buying the real deal. When I launched the GeeksDoingStuff store last year that was something I had big issues with, buyers feeling secure that what I was selling was legit.
Side joke. If you haven’t seen Hot Rod you won’t get it 😉
This is where PayPal comes in. When the Shelf Life online store was revamped in 2012, they added something that would change their online business as they knew it – PayPal as an additional payment method.
We’re all a little scared to make that first online payment, but once we jump that hurdle, online shopping becomes more like an addiction, you can tell by the amount of times Shelf Life comes up in my browser history. It’s convenient and you’re always finding unique little items that you’d never find in-store.
Getting back to crossing over that first hurdle, there is often the fear that we’re not going to get what we ordered or that something is going to happen to your money.
“We stake our reputation on the authenticity of our sneakers,” said Nick Herbert, owner of Shelf Life. “PayPal’s Buyer Protection is a way to prove that to our customers: if they don’t get what they ordered, PayPal can help them to get their money back. This gives them the confidence to buy from us.”
That’s the thing with PayPal, it’s safe and secure to use and they are willing to go all out to make sure you get what you asked for. They have systems in place to stop fraudulent activity before criminals make their move – think of it like a chess game, where PayPal is the Global Chess Champion. With PayPal, that’s their winning move, constantly updating their security systems to the best that’s available at the time thereby ensuring that they are always one step ahead.
That’s it though, right? All we want is safety and security when doing online shopping. That’s why Shelf Life probably decided to add PayPal as a payment method, to guarantee their customers safety (as well their own), and ensure their experience is secure. PayPal are recognised as a secure method of payment on a global scale, that’s surely going to boost customers’ buying confidence. With PayPal, the seller, Shelf Life in this case, doesn’t even get to see your payment details.
So, what’s next for Shelf Life? Local business is thriving, thanks to the sneaker culture gaining a foothold in South Africa over the past few years. Online sales still remain strong – this channel is both more profitable and allows Shelf Life to tap into a truly global market.
I think this story is one that will inspire most local entrepreneurs looking to launch online businesses. PayPal with its Buyer Protection, is something I’ll definitely be implementing in my new venture – watch this space in the next few months 😉
There are companies all across South Africa doing amazing things with online partners like PayPal, who knows, yours could be next?
Watch this live action take on Mario Kart. Created by the guys over at Corridor Digital.
Totally should have used Mario but lets not argue over the detail 😉
A guest post by @Mia_Tessy
Let me take you back in time for a little context. During December I did a 35 day tour of Inida and it was amazing and truly an eye opener. India is beautiful, in more ways than you can imagine. The scenery in India is breath-taking, from the famous Taj Mahal to the freezing mountain tops in Kashmir. Then there’s the Indian food, that is literally everywhere you look and has your mouth watering 24/7.
Based on that description, anyone would go to India in a heartbeat. But that’s the thing, no one ever mentions the not so attractive side to India. For starters, there’s the pollution and it’s everywhere! The streets are filled with rubbish, to a degree that leaves you feeling uncomfortable and in desperate need of a shower. Caused by rubbish, I would assume, is a foul smell lurking in the air that makes you not want to take another breath. Then there’s the dogs, millions of abandoned and malnourished dogs that are in every street, of every town I visited. Not only were the dogs homeless, but almost half of them looked sickly.
Dogs. You either love them, or hate them. There’s no in-between, that’s just how it is. I love dogs, and seeing those dogs in India was heartbreaking. There were so many of them, and there was nothing I could do to help, which brings me back to the reason I’m writing this blog post. What if there is something you could do?
Project Juno, a campaign launched by Pedigree is what got my attention. The campaign aims to highlight the importance of food to a dog, more importantly nourishing food. There’re doing this by documenting the the journey of an abandoned and malnourished dog, and showing this to South Africa in hope to make a difference and help the dogs that need it.
Juno was an abandoned and malnourished dog that was brought to the Woodrock Animal Shelter. She probably weighed about 7-8kg, her bones were visible, hair-loss on her ears and tail and most of all, she looked sad. Only the dog lovers out there will understand the last part.
Pedigree then partnered with the Shelter and gave Juno a home, nutritious food and a family. Every week development was seen in Juno, from the way she looked to the way she behaved.
Not only is Juno now deemed as a healthy dog, but she has gained a level of confidence in herself that speaks mountains. But the journey hasn’t ended yet, the shelter not only nourishes the dogs, but also finds them a home and family that will look after them and make sure they live a happy and healthy life.
I could only imagine the difference an initiative like this could make in India. But that’s it right there, it’s something. There’s always something you can do to better a bad situation. All it takes is an idea and of course a little financial back-up wouldn’t hurt. It’s that simple.