BDSM Architecture: Taking Back Taboos

For couple Edgaras and Sally, what started as an underground passion project on Etsy has turned into a groundbreaking small business. With customer obsession at the focal point, the Lithuanian-based entrepreneurs are providing a much-needed space in the market for adults to purchase high-quality fetish furniture. At the same time, they’re trying to reach like-minded communities while breaking down the stigma attached to BDSM culture.

Sally and Edgaras began their passion project in 2016 on Etsy, selling fetish furniture and accessories to like-minded couples wanting to bring safe and sophisticated BDSM items into their homes without stigma. After identifying the need to increase brand representation and more easily connect with the international clientele, they launched BDSM Architecture – an online store Hostinger is proud to have hosted from day one.

Sally and Edgaras are now on their way to becoming guiding voices in Lithuania’s BDSM scene, while offering high-class goods worldwide via their website.

At the time of conception, there was a gap in the market for affordable, high-quality fetish furniture. Most of the available equipment the couple found was made in China, prone to breaking, and didn’t look nice. “It’s ironic when something that should restrain you breaks after the first try,” Sally laughs.

Added to this, the social taboo surrounding BDSM in the couple’s native Lithuania, where they are based, is still strong. So they decided to try for themselves and built their first bench and cross to use and enjoy.

Ideas Flourishing

A St.  Andrew's Cross by BDSM Architecture.

Those initial pieces of furniture led to the couple pitching the concept to the wider BDSM community – through this organic dialogue emerged BDSM Architecture. Now the couple’s passion has become a viable, successful business and their main source of income.

The concept of BDSM Architecture perfectly balances the couple’s skillset: Edgaras has a background in engineering, so he comes up with the blueprints and initial designs, and Sally used to work in entertainment and event organization, so at the right moment she can jump on board with a precise marketing plan.

Representation and Recognition

In 2018, representation became fundamental for BDSM Architecture’s positioning and business development. As a Lithuanian company moving in global spheres – most of BDSM Architecture’s clients are foreign, they needed servers that would make geographical sense – Hostinger was the obvious choice from the beginning..

Edgar and Sally are the sole employees of BDSM Architecture. Sally runs a tailor-made style of communication with clients predominantly through email. This allows the intimate subject matter to be handled with delicacy and sensitivity. Trusted freelancers collaborate with the couple’s versatile operations depending on the project.

In six years, things have moved from strength to strength. BDSM Architecture is now focusing on building a factory locally in Lithuania where they are located. This has been made possible through the awarding of an EU grant.

Historically, gaining EU or government funding for a BDSM business in a socially (and sexually) conservative part of the world would be seen as unfounded. That said, the couple were honest about what the business represented and didn’t refuse. “We didn’t hide anything and even sent the pictures of our products. It’s a big achievement that our business was treated like any other,” Sally says.

The grant is a huge step forward, both for BDSM Architecture as a business and for the important educational and community-based work surrounding BDSM awareness that the couple is actively involved in within Lithuania.

Art in The Architecture

The production of each item has several stages – it starts with the initial idea for the project (this can be the couple’s original concept or a client request). The designer then prepares the blueprints and a prototype is welded. Production then begins followed by testing and distribution.

This bespoke process is a part of BDSM Architecture’s fantasy fulfillment ethos. To provide a high-end product, the customer’s psychology has to be understood. For people who may have felt misunderstood and on the outside of society at one point, BDSM Architecture enables their right to empowerment.

The audience is key to BDSM Architecture’s operation. It’s made up of self-assured, sophisticated adults confident in their sexuality. Sally reveals that 60% of their customers are from the USA and Canada, and the rest come from Western Europe.

There’s also a supply and demand from sex shops, party organizers, and nightclub owners. BDSM Architecture has even participated in set design, supplying cages for FBI: Most Wanted, a CBS series.

Education, Collaboration, Release

A Tantra Sofa by BDSM Architecture.

For Sally, BDSM is a way to spice up life. For others, it might be the main basis for a personal relationship.

“Fetishes are extremely intimate and individual, so every piece of our furniture can be customized. It happens that we don’t have the specific fetish that a customer does, but at all times we try to find a way to produce a product that matches their needs as long as it’s safe and comfortable.”

The social demonization of fetishes changes dramatically depending on location. Currently, BDSM Architecture is contributing to the Lithuanian market by providing educational sessions and seminars to eradicate the social stigma associated with BDSM, helping people become unafraid and open to nonconforming sexualities.

This approach is not only a strong position allowing a small business like BDSM Architecture to flourish through connections, community, and conversation, but it also shows the true passion and understanding the couple has in the engagement and dialogue of BDSM as an important social discussion.

Movers and Shakers

The couple stands as a new generation unafraid to have difficult conversations that are uncomfortable and push boundaries never before broken. It’s hard to stress what a task the couple had on them when pushing BDSM Architecture out into the market and holding the social dialogue in Lithuania.

And they’ve been busy extending the message of BDSM Architecture and sexual freedom outwards: they’ve done educational workshops at Yaga Gathering and have partnered with Aktő Galerija, where the couple organizes monthly BDSM workshops.

BDSM culture has a long history with the underground dance music culture moving back to the gay rights movement, and its party scene is gaining traction in Lithuania. BDSM Architecture has partnered with the parties Pakilimas, a rave held at secret locations, and Elastica, another under-the-radar destination.

Having closely linked their business to different aspects of the arts and educational sectors, BDSM Architecture is participating in an exciting cross-pollination of underground social and sexual ideas in Lithuania. They’re making space for these important conversations to become normalized and visible.

Moving Forward, Freely For All

In 2022 the BDSM topic is still outwardly taboo in Lithuania, but in 2016, it was even more difficult to talk about. The couple looks back at the time of their business’ origins: “If we were starting over, we’d know to doubt less and to go for quicker solutions. We would be braver going after our goals.”

Looking outwards, BDSM Architecture is developing both their business and the market, continuing the stride for home growth and invention – inspiring a new generation of the BDSM community to connect and create.

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wpadmin August 11, 2022 0 Comments

Is Google losing younger audiences to TikTok?

Move over, Google.

TikTok is challenging the tech giant in discovery search and video entertainment, thanks to users’ likes, comments, and shares.

If you’re looking to promote products or services, TikTok might be your dream ticket, especially as younger audiences are now using it for information and advice instead of Google.

TikTok is no longer just a dancing and lip-syncing app. But how can you be sure its content is trustworthy? Also, what are the security implications of using the Chinese-owned app, given its less than stellar reputation for privacy?

Let’s dive in.

Why would you Google something when you can go to TikTok and watch a 15 second video, which gives you the full lowdown on how to make something, whether it’s good, and how to use it?

You can share knowledge, advice, and opinions on the app, with its videos ranging from cookery recipes, cryptocurrency tips, travel reviews, and much more.

Younger generations want transparency and authenticity, which is difficult to find on Google, as search results are difficult to connect with and often boring to read.

Everyone knows that businesses pay to get on Google’s first page, meaning they’re not necessarily the best answers.

“Best things to do in Paris” search results are usually ticket sale ads and affiliate links that cater to whoever pays the most.

This leads to a poor user experience and erodes users’ trust in Google’s search engine.

Younger generations are catching on and want socially validated content instead.

TikTok’s algorithm combines useful content that you ‘like’ with what’s viral, making it more unpredictable than Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Its “For You” has a similar search algorithm to Google, but the user experience is visually entertaining and authentic. That makes it more attractive for younger audiences that use the Internet primarily on their phones.

Gen Z craves community and connection online, so personalized video answers that you would typically receive from a friend, neighbor, or colleague are a key reason for the app’s success.

Google is responding by indexing TikTok and Instagram videos on its mobile search app, which hopes to improve its user experience.

user holding mobile phone with TikTok

TikTok’s popularity also stems from visual learning preferences. Many people absorb information better in a visual way. While users can get video content on Google, this often requires scanning pages of search results to find what you need.

TikTok gives you a video explainer in less than 60 seconds, breaking everything down, while Google can lead you down a black hole of SEO-sponsored links.

A Microsoft study revealed that human attention spans have dropped to eight seconds, which as a result, has affected many business models, with Netflix introducing “90-minute movies.”

TikTok is leading the way in the attention economy, creating buzzy one-to-one content that entertains and educates.

TikTok is also winning the battle for discovery, as new brands, products, and experiences go viral on the app before anywhere else.

With one successful TikTok video, your business can potentially gain hundreds, if not thousands of new customers.

The #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag has received over 3.1 billion views, giving creators and businesses a golden opportunity to make their mark.

London-based blogger Jodie Marriott-Baker, Carb Club, took TikTok by storm in 2021, dazzling audiences with colorful pasta bowls.

So by hopping on small business trends, you can build an online community and potentially convert your TikTok views into dollars.

In early 2022, TikTok had over 1 billion monthly active users, with 1.5 billion predicted by the end of the year.

Like other social media companies, TikTok makes money through in-app ads requiring vast volumes of data. So what does the app know about you, and do you have any control over your privacy?

As TikTok doesn’t just see you lip-syncing to Dua Lipa or Lizzo.

Once you’ve signed up, TikTok collects data on you based on the videos you watch, which it uses to deliver target-based ads.

It also stands accused by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr of being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that collects your search and browsing histories, keystroke patterns, biometric identifiers, draft SMS messages, plus the text, images, and videos on your device’s clipboard.

Shield over TikTok on phone

A VPN (or a “virtual private network”) provides users with an additional layer of security. It routes your Internet traffic through an encrypted server, making it more difficult for third parties, including social networks, to see what you’re doing.

It also hides your IP address, granting you anonymity online, which makes it harder for social media companies to track your data and monitor what you watch.

A VPN can also protect your Internet freedom and grant you access to TikTok in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, where it’s currently banned.

TikTok’s popularity is challenging Google and other social media giants.

In late 2021, TikTok overtook Google as the most popular domain, while in early 2022, the social network was the most downloaded app worldwide across all categories.

Regardless of its security issues, younger audiences are now searching for content on TikTok, and some are even using it instead of Google.

So if that’s where your audience is going, that’s where your business needs to be.

If you want to protect your online privacy, you can use FastVPN for $0.99 for 1 month. We accept Bitcoin, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and American Express.

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wpadmin August 9, 2022 0 Comments

6 core elements for a perfect website that converts

Business owners and marketers across all industries want better website conversion. Conversions are one of the very few factors that determine the success of your online store. You could have 10,000 visitors, but if none of those visitors become customers, you’re in the same position you were when you started.

But if 500 people visit your website and half of them sign up or buy something, it could change the trajectory of your business forever. This one small example demonstrates the importance of conversions, but knowing that you need sales and engagement is not enough to succeed.

You have to position your website and marketing channels in a way that helps you reach more potential customers and grow your brand. Today, I’m going to share six core elements you can use to meet your website conversion goals and build rapport with first-time visitors.

Let’s get started!

1. Prioritize speed and performance

The speed and performance of your website can have a massive impact on your conversions. If your website takes too long to load or doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, most people will leave before they ever get a chance to engage with your brand.

According to Google, the best page load time is 2 seconds or less. For context, research shows that a one-second delay beyond that point results in a 7% loss in conversions. In other words, if your WordPress website takes 5-6 seconds to load, more than half of your visitors will likely leave before the page finally loads.

Obviously, this isn’t an ideal situation. There are a few quick and easy ways to optimize loading times and improve the performance of your website.

Common strategies include:

  • Use an image optimizer to compress images and reduce bandwidth
  • Install a caching plugin so your site will run faster for return visitors
  • Choose a minimalistic theme and design
  • Split comments and long blog posts into multiple pages
  • Upload your videos off-site (YouTube is a great option)

2. Optimize for mobile users

Did you know that by the end of the year, it’s estimated that 6.5 billion people will own smartphones? This startling statistic shows the power of optimizing your site for mobile. On average, people spend close to four hours on their smartphones every day. Often, these people look at products to buy or engage with brands.

If your online store isn’t ready for mobile users, most users will bounce from your website before they get a chance to convert. In some cases, you could be missing out on over 50% of all conversions!

Optimizing your site for mobile is quick, easy, and certainly worth your time. You can use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to check the status of your site. This tool can help you identify opportunities to improve and create a better experience for mobile users.

Check for mobile optimization

I also suggest choosing WordPress themes and plugins that work well with mobile. Some plugins are great, but they only help with desktop users. If you want to improve your mobile website conversion rate, you need tools catered to these visitors.

You’ll also want to test your site on a range of mobile devices when you make an update or introduce a new feature. Real devices work best here because you can see how your site looks on your customers’ devices.

3. Publish helpful content

Publishing blog content is one of the best ways to improve your website conversion rate. Most of the people who make it to your site are there because they want to read about a specific topic or learn about one of your products.

You can anticipate these needs by creating content based on your target audience’s goals and pain points. The more you know about your visitors’ interests, the better. I like to find clever ways to bridge the gap between our blog posts and our product.

For instance, the product I sell is lead generation software. So, a lot of our content is about growing email lists, engaging with subscribers, and sending valuable content. These various topics come back to one premise: you should work to get more email leads.

The content you create for your blog will vary based on your industry and product selection. Ask your existing visitors for feedback if you’re unsure where to begin. Find out what type of content they would like to see in the future and publish it on your website.

Surveys show that blogs are the 5th most trusted source of information online. So if you’re looking to keep on-site visitors engaged and turn them into customers, a top-notch content marketing strategy is the way to go.

Speaking of user engagement, let’s talk about social media and your website. Social platforms like Twitter, Tik Tok, YouTube, and Instagram are more popular than ever before. Research shows that over 4.5 billion people use these platforms, and that number is growing.

There are a few smart ways to tie your social media and website together.

From your site, include social share buttons on your blog posts and landing pages. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your work with their friends, family, and peers. You may also want to consider the benefits of adding a social wall plugin to your site.

A social wall will allow site visitors to see what’s happening on your social media in real-time. This strategy is an excellent way to convince first-time visitors to follow your social channels and engage with your brand. You can show your wall as a small feed on the sidebar of your website or on a standalone page. For example:

WP Beginner social wall

On the flip side, you should share all of the helpful content you’re writing across your social media accounts. When it comes to visual content, turn to platforms like YouTube and Instagram, which are based on visual media. It’s also worth asking your audience to share their thoughts. I like to pose industry-specific questions and then read and respond to the responses throughout the day.

I also suggest you incentivize users to go to your WordPress site from your social media. You can do this by announcing limited-time promotions or events that require users to sign up on-site. If you’re persistent, you will get more sales from this strategy. We found that 59% of people turn to social media sites when they want to buy something online but need a little inspiration first.

Ask for email signups

Another element that can help you create a website that converts is email marketing. When a user completes your signup form and joins your list, they are showing interest in your product or service. The thing is, 96% of people who make it to your website are not quite ready to make a purchase.

Email gives you a chance to build rapport with new visitors and show them why your product and brand are superior to the competition. You can send newsletters featuring your top posts, personalized discounts on future orders, questionnaires, and more.

These engagement opportunities will help you learn about your customers and build robust buyer personas, which makes connecting with your audience across all platforms easier.

The key to growing your lead list is actively asking customers to subscribe. For instance, you could use an opt-in pop-up to ask users to join your list before they leave your site. You can also create promotional pop-ups where visitors can get an exclusive discount or gift with their purchase. These incentives are an excellent way to get visitors to become subscribers and, eventually, customers.

Use multi-channel customer support

Did you know that 63% of online shoppers say they are more willing to return to a website if it features live chat? This startling statistic shows why investing in a strong, multi-channel customer support system is crucial.

If someone has a question on our site, they can talk to a live agent or our self-help portal. Our social media team is always available to help users with industry-specific problems. If users prefer to drop us a line through email, they can do that too.

Example of live chat bubble

I believe that giving consumers these options means we have a style of customer support for everyone. Including these additional options means we are more likely to connect with visitors who would otherwise have forgotten about our brand without a second thought.

The best way to maximize conversions through your customer service channel is to anticipate what kind of problems or questions might arise for your visitors. If your team is ready to tackle these issues and guide users down the right path, many will decide to buy a product from your website.

Final thoughts

There you have it! The following core elements will help you improve website conversions on your site and build a stronger brand. It’s worth mentioning that significant changes do not occur overnight. You have to work hard and track the progress of your changes. With plenty of time, energy, and patience, you, too, can create a perfect website that converts.

For more on this topic, check out our articles on converting leads into paying clients and making a killer home page that converts.

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wpadmin August 4, 2022 0 Comments