you may not realise it (or maybe you do and just need the full story) – the wahm zone was founded on a vision. actually, no, not a vision, every man and his bloody dog has got a damned “vision” these days… let’s start again!
ok… the wahm zone was founded on an unstoppable urge to right a wrong, to solve a problem (that many people didn’t even know could be solved) and to genuinely make a real bloody difference to the endeavours of hobby business owners.
chances are (assuming that YOU are one of these amazing, pioneering, entrepreneurial part-timers) you will know what I’m talking about – the double-edged sword of Facebook, and the sheer bloody pain of trying to get a web site up and running on a miniscule budget.
hey! why you dissing the book of faces?
Awww come one – you know full well what the issues are;
- advertising all over your profile and pages
- unending requests to play Spamville and other shitty “games”
- pathetic begging bowl tactics that snuck in post-stockmarket-floation- e.g. “pay to promote your post”
- more red tape than the government department responsible for red things and tapey stuff
- restriction of movement, loss of business freedom and being held to ransom at the whim of those in charge
In short, third party apps to do ANYTHING meaningful (sell online, run promotions), spammy, shitty game requests, being at the mercy of Facebook and whatever changes they want to roll out next etc. etc. etc.
the fact is, I absolutely do not blame them one tiny iota!
Facebook was never designed to be a commerce platform, it’s sole purpose in life is to be a social site. you’re supposed to use it to catch up with the people who bullied you at school, to communicate with relatives you’d rather message online than actually visit, to post “hilarious” pics that were taken on your best friend’s brother’s bucks night…
so when a bunch of clued-up types decided to teach people how to use Facebook for business purposes, the powers-that-be did the most obvious thing in the world; they kicked back.
I for one am delighted that Facebook are doing their level best to make the user experience as non-business-y as possible. I don’t mind interacting with the people behind brands and businesses, but there really is a time and place for everything.
when I go to the pub with some mates, I don’t expect to be pitched, spammed, sold to and have a bunch of biz cards thrust into my hands.
conversely, when I go to a business networking event, I don’t expect the people I meet to be a bunch of drunks egging me on to take part in a “boat race”.
ok, so that’s one half of the problem – now what about the web site stuff?
the single most critical thing that ANY business owner can do, even if they are only in it for a bit of “pocket money”, is to get themselves a website of some sort.
so what options exists for a part-time hobby business owner to do that? well let’s consider the components they need:
- low cost web hosting – available from a billion different companies these days – check!
- wordpress – simply the most widely used and easiest publishing platform you can use – easily installed – check!
- a little knowledge of how to use those two things to create an effective website – plenty of ebooks and courses out there – check!
cool – so it seems like the necessary bits are out there, so everyone should be able to get a working web site in the space of a couple of evenings, right?
ah, see, now that’s where it all goes a little bit tits-up….
for whatever reason, your average hobby business owner doesn’t have the time, inclination, confidence or some other secret magic ingredient X that will enable them to get a web site up and running.
again, that’s fine, not everyone can do everything – I for one have little interest in or knowledge of car maintenance, for example; I can check water, tyre pressures, oil, change a spark plug even – but don’t ask me to diagnose and rectify a “big end” that’s exhibiting signs of “knocking”…
horses for courses and all that!
the problem is that web “mechanics” (more commonly called web developers, web designers or nerdy, geeky, clever people with huge hourly rates) are not cheap. so when a part-time hobby business owner, like your good self, goes looking at having a website built, they wind up getting palpitations when they see the cost!
that’s why the vast majority of these businesses wind up being operated via Facebook pages, with the business owners spending a lof of time and effort doing things like the following:
- putting items for sale in photo albums
- asking people to comment with “sold” under the picture of the product they want
- following up with the individuals to confirm payment & delivery details
- chasing up tyre kickers who posted a comment but then don’t follow through with payment
and so on and so on… I know it happens, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and it was OBVIOUS that a better solution was needed and could be found.
this is where the wahm zone comes in
they say that behind any great man, thing, idea – anything great at all – is a woman. this is true of the zone. the woman in question is my wife.
my wife faced all the problems that you all face (mostly as outlined above) – where she was more fortunate than most was the fact that she’d had the incredible foresight to marry a professional geek…
I took my (25+ years) experience of building software and web solutions, and created a web site where she could sell her wares. it wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, after all ecommerce / shop sites are two-a-penny these days…
the real magic was in the thought processes that this sparked
you see, it dawned on me that there are THOUSANDS of hobby biz owners out there, and most of you didn’t have the luck (good, bad or otherwise) to be married to ME (or a similarly clever geek).
and so I built the zone. for you. as a sort of next-best-thing to being married to me (or something like that)
in a nutshell, the wahm zone enables you to do the following:
- connect with customers and other business owners – aka networking
- brainstorm business ideas with like-minded people through membership of groups
- set up your own groups – e.g. to connect with your customers and prospects
- create a “mini site” for your business (a web site with all the basic essential features you will need) in seconds
- brand your site by uploading a custom banner graphic and setting web site colours
- load details of your products, including photos, and sell them through a fully-featured shopping cart
- promote business events through an integrated event calendar system – even take bookings!
- showcase your business and put your brand and message out there
- run promotional special offers by using sale prices or discount coupon codes
- take payments manually (e.g. direct deposit) or through PayPal (including credit card payments)
- ask customers for special instructions, or product personalisation (e.g. name to be engraved)
- manage orders online and provide your customers with order tracking (helps build confidence)
if I built this for just one business, they’d be staring at an invoice total that ended in many, many zeroes, but that’s the beauty of the wahm zone; it’s designed to serve a community, the small army of part-time hobby biz owners out there. people like you.
but aren’t we then hostage to YOUR whim??
I can see how that might be a genuine concern, and reality is that I can only point to a handful of key differences that I hope will demonstrate the long term vision (ok, so there was a vision in there after all).
at the core is a vision of a community of hobby biz owners and their customers, using simple, easy to use, low cost tools to make a real difference to their lives. the wahm zone exists to help you all to earn those extra dollars, pounds, yen or rupees that can transform your family life from “getting by” to “having a bit left over at the end of the month”.
at the core is the vision that ordinary people can do extraordinary things, if they are given the chance.
the wahm zone is my way of giving you that chance.