Little Net Big Net

So let’s face it, Fox and Swan Arts is a small business (puny, even), and so it might always be. All the same, we’d like to see it evolve from a nanobusiness to at least a microbusiness someday. To do that, we have to “catch more fish in our net.” How are we going to do that?

Here Fishy Fishy
Here Fishy Fishy

Back in the day before memes were memes, we all remember the iconic catch phrase from the movie Jaws: “… we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Well, the standard advice to small business owners seems to be, “You’re gonna need a bigger net”, meaning, market to a wider audience, especially through social media. There’s lots of YouTube-caliber advice about how to “Get a Million Followers in 30 days“. After all, if Jimmy Fallon (51 million) and Ellen DeGeneres (79 million) can have huge social media followings, why can’t I?

Nobody would ever try to write and sell a book entitled, “How I built a following of 500 customers in three years!” However, I think that’s the path that most of us small business owners are on. And many of us struggle to achieve that goal!


If you know me well, you know that I have a hard time doing what I’m told. That’s why I’m having a hard time investing a ton of advertising money (money I don’t have) in Google or Facebook ads right now, in an attempt to use a big net to catch more fish. I’m taking the little net approach. Here’s what I’m learning.

I’ve built a new web platform for Fox and Swan Arts, and it comes with analytical tools that tell me about visitors to my site. I’m learning to look at “conversion rates”. One such rate is the percentage of people who visit my website and opt to sign up for a newsletter or giveaway offer, in other words “contact conversion”. I’m told to shoot for 5% conversion, meaning, for every 100 people who visit my site for the first time, 5 of them will be inclined to take an action that puts them on my email list. My current stat at the time of this writing is 25.5%. You might say, “Wow, that’s awesome!” Well, is it?

Little Net Tactics
Little Net Tactics

A target of 5% contact conversion indicates big net mentality… get as wide of a net as you can, and maybe five fish out of a hundred will poke at the bait (but not yet bite). My stat reflects a small net approach. I have only been fishing for the few hundred people with whom I am already connected through social media (my Facebook friends, primarily), or have already liked my FB page. I’m  also conducting an art giveaway drawing, and when I do in-person art events, I have a sign-up form ready for visitors who want to enter my drawing. I get five or six people per event, and they are inflating my contact conversion statistic.

A second conversion statistic I follow is Shopping Page Visit conversion, meaning, percentage of people who come to my site and get to a page that is set up for them to place an order of an item. The minimum target is 60%; as of this writing I’m at 52%, so I’m just short. Yet, for as few visitors as I have coming to the site so far (153 web sessions over two weeks), I believe this is pretty good, and it’s because I’ve been using another small net marketing approach. I’m offering a 2020 fundraiser photo calendar featuring images from a recent trip to Kenya, and I’m primarily marketing to a niche audience of persons who have made a similar trip, or who otherwise already have an interest in this particular fundraiser.

At some point, yes, I am going to need a bigger net. All things in their time. I’m going to continue with small net tactics even when I introduce big net tactics later on. I’ll provide some updates on what I learn as a result. Feel free to add a comment about how small net tactics have worked for you.


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