When I was pregnant with my third child, I wanted to spend more time at home. I’ve always been artistic and crafty and thought maybe I could turn my passion into a nice little business, so I jumped in hopes of the best – and it worked! I worry now because Congress is considering new legislation that could break the digital small business economy that has helped me succeed.
I started selling personalized home décor on Etsy. Working from home in Chisago City has been great, but despite the theoretical reach of millions of people through Etsy, my customers are all locals and friends of friends. It was like
Then, unbeknownst to me, a YouTube influencer from Oklahoma bought one of my creations and featured it in an online video. Orders flooded in at once. Despite promising myself that this would be a part-time family gig, I was busier than ever. I didn’t understand why I jumped. That was my first lesson in the amazing small business power of social media and what it means to “go viral.”
Today, 85% of our customers live outside of Minnesota. But don’t worry. I still love making Minnesota fridge magnets and other home state items, I make all the items myself and do all the marketing myself.
My online success is a great example of how small businesses can benefit from online platforms like Etsy, Facebook, and Google (which owns YouTube). It was great that one online video gave my small business a big boost, but what created the extraordinary trust that kept the business going was customers posting positive product reviews over the years. That’s it. I’m no digital marketing expert, but I’ve noticed my sales skyrocket every time a customer posts another positive review, earning him over 1,000 5-star reviews .
I’m really proud of my success, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the online platform’s extraordinary (and often free) marketing services. I use the free services of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I also run Google Ads on the Etsy platform to ensure that more people see my store and products at the very moment they are looking for the gifts I make. It’s amazing how these giants support millions of small businesses like mine. So I don’t understand why so many lawmakers think big digital companies are bad for America and Minnesota.
In Congress and in St. Paul, legislator and Attorney General Keith Ellison said instead of praising the digital giants for helping me succeed in my business and helping me spend more time at home with my kids, I’m considering punishing the giants as if they were demons. I understand that Facebook and YouTube are very large and difficult to compete with, but these giants offer my promotions, products, and positive reviews to millions of potential customers across the country. I’m here.
Supporting and servicing America’s small businesses has proven to be great business for digital platforms. The Google and Facebook algorithms are a powerful force when it comes to helping small businesses. YouTube is my business breakout hero.
I am a mom of a very small business, and to compete in small businesses in Minnesota and across the country, I know that I need to reach my customers—powerful, affordable digital tools. I know one thing firsthand. Lawmakers in St. Paul and Washington need to push digital platforms, not attack them, and make digital tools and technologies accessible and affordable for small businesses across the state. That’s how lawmakers help our economy and our families.
Nicole Pinski of Chisago, Minnesota is the owner of NicKnackDesignsCo online. etsy.com/shop/NicKnackDesignsCo.