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GOLD! Escape the Borg! - My Journey to Freedom, Ecommerce

amp0193

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  • Random American manufacture reached out to me out of the blue. Offered products I could private label. Didnt want to private label. Wanted my own designs. Got samples and asked if they could send me blank CADs. They did.
This is new to me. What is a "blank CAD"? Did they basically send you the template for a product, you friend made some changes to it for your new design, and then you sent them the new design and they made you some samples?

Cool updates man, you've come a long way!
 

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This is new to me. What is a "blank CAD"? Did they basically send you the template for a product, you friend made some changes to it for your new design, and then you sent them the new design and they made you some samples?

Cool updates man, you've come a long way!
A template is a good way to put it. Basically they sent me a featureless design that we could use as a canvas.

Then I got my brother who knows a little about CAD design to add extra features for added functionality as well as some aesthetic improvements to make it uniquely ours. We had designs already in mind and we were able to merge the two into a working product. The manufacture then went in and made edits to make sure that the part we sent them was machinable.

The next thing I need to do is to get it written by the manufacture that we have full control over the designs and that he can't sell it to his other customers.

I initially got him to sign an NDA but I feel more comfortable clarifying that we have exclusive rights to our designs even though they helped get the designs ready for machining.
 
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Update:
  • Launched new product and subsequently removed all my old products despite the fact that many of them had over 60+ reviews - mostly 5 star.
  • Changed website URL for new branding.
Effects of these changes:
  • Lost nearly all search rankings in google. Organic traffic is nearly non existent now.
  • My website doesn't even show up first for the new word i'm branding my business as. I also no longer have any site links.
  • Because my products dont have many or any reviews now, sales have been absolutely terrible. Probably due to loss of trust and loss of google rankings.
Despite this, the people that have received the new product this far absolutely love it. I already have 3 new 5 star reviews since launch.

I know my products are incredible and that people will love them. I wasnt anticipating to take this large of a sales hit but you live and learn.

What I need to do now is:
  • Re-rank in search
  • Get more people to see the incredible value i'm offering
  • Get more reviews
Once I do that I know this thing will explode. It may be 1-2 months, it may be 6+ months. As soon as people start finding me, it will be a snowball effect.
 
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Long Update Ahead - The Bad And The Good.

There's no way around it. Sales this month suck. Its my lowest month in a long time and super disheartening. Literally looking at my stats I had a .47% purchase rate today and a 1% purchase rate yesterday. Pitiful.

Looking at my analytics sales were going well until I released my new products and wiped my reviews. Then I basically hit a wall. Had a couple good days where things were looking up but those dwindled down.

To make matters worse, the past few days have seen a rise in a lot of people adding to the cart/get to check out, only to leave. Its not like I changed anything on my website because I had a pretty good day about 6 days ago, and an ok almost good day 4 days ago.

Its frustrating because I know my products are amazing, its just a matter of people getting them in their hands. Slowly building my reviews. One product is now at 3 5-stars with another at 2 5-stars and 2 more at 1 5-star apiece. Gotta build up from ground zero.

Despite this i'm super excited. Why?

Because my favorite model is about to finish up its production run! :hilarious: The aesthetics on this one are absolute killer and I have all the added features that i've wanted for a long time. I am guaranteed this will be my best seller. The writing is already on the wall for it to be a major success.

I put up a "pre-order" email sign up link where people could put in their email address to be notified when the product is available for sale. So far in the past 3 days I have had over 25+ sign ups for this model (I think this may be why there is a larger than normal cart abandonment rate). Obviously not everyone is going to buy when the time comes, but it is indicative of what is in store for the future.

Significantly stepped up my social media game. Get great engagement on Facebook and decent to not so good engagement on insta. Making social one of my main focuses. Everyone that sees this new product on Instagram and Facebook loves it and are always asking where they can buy it.

I decided to use Instagram influencers as one of my main advertising strategies. I have begun contacting Instagram influencers to see if they would like to rep my products. Almost all of them so far have chosen this model to be sent when it is released instead of the one I have now. Once they start testing this product out and posting pictures, sales will increase. The effect will only compound as I get more and more influencers.

Plan to also send this products to blogs and reviewers once its has a chance to be tested in the market.

My biggest issue right now is patience. I can taste what is coming in the future, but get disheartened by my current day to day sales. I forget that I essentially hit the restart button and that it will take some time to build reviews back up.

What keeps me going is that I know that by essentially "restarting" my company, I have exponentially increased my upside potential down the road. It is about sacrificing the short term for the long term. Once the ball finally starts rolling again, I know its going to be an exciting ride. Its just a matter of waiting it out.

On a side note, I graduate from high school on Saturday!:clench:
 

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Way to go @PTP on the grind so far. With anything in life, you have your ups and downs. Luckily for you, you're executing to get things better. Always good to see, inspiring for others who are in a similar predicament. Congrats on the high school graduation haha. :clap::
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Marked NOTABLE.

On a side note, I graduate from high school on Saturday!
Damn! I had no idea! Your thread read like you were 35.
 

amp0193

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Damn! I had no idea! Your thread read like you were 35.
I met up with @PTP at the end of last semester.

He is young and hungry. He brought a legal pad to our meetup and was taking notes from me.

He's the real deal.
 

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I met up with @PTP at the end of last semester.

He is young and hungry. He brought a legal pad to our meetup and was taking notes from me.

He's the real deal.
Love this.
 
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I met up with @PTP at the end of last semester.

He is young and hungry. He brought a legal pad to our meetup and was taking notes from me.

He's the real deal.
Super grateful to be able to learn from someone who is currently knocking it out of the park! There was one comment you made about my current situation with Amazon that really changed my perspective.
Completely shifted the way I looked at things and helped me form a more positive mindset. Looking forward to our next meet :fistbump:
 
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A more positive Update:

Began taking pre-orders for my new product launch. The only incentive I offered was that those who pre-ordered would have their order shipped to them before the release date.

I sent out an email to my 35+ person list of people who wanted to be notified and..... 2 people bought. Yes, 2.

Wasn't a problem though because since then, around 25 people have pre-ordered. My shipment comes in on Tuesday and I will begin fulfilling. This will also be the product I send out to influencers, youtubers, bloggers etc...

I have a couple influencers lined up that are waiting for me to send them a product to review once I have it available. FINALLY after nearly 1.5 years, I will begin heavily advertising and begin getting the name of my brand out to the public. It's about to get fun:hilarious:

Sales have gone up back to old levels since I set up pre-orders. I'm expecting them to rise more once I have all the variations of this new product in stock and up on the website.

Reviews are finally starting to come in. Of the 6 variations I have available now, I have a total of 21 reviews. 20 5-star and 1 4-star. The funny part of it is that a lot of people thank my company in their reviews for my products. It's a humbling validation for why I run my company.

A helpful tip to getting the first couple of reviews:

A lot of my first reviews came from me going and asking people I interacted with on social media. I would reach out and ask them if the order arrived and if there was anything they needed help with.

The key is to word it so that the customer responds with more than a 1 word answer. Then I would interact with them and answer their questions/help them (aka provide value). After everything had been resolved and all their questions had been answered (it usually took a few days) I would ask them to leave a review.

Nearly everyone I asked said yes. However, not everyone wrote one right away. That's OK. It usually took them a few days to leave one but they eventually did. Its important though not to keep bothering them about it. If they said they would leave a review just trust them that they would leave one.

A couple of people left a review on Facebook (the platform I talked to them on). When this happened I thanked them for the review and asked them if I could copy and paste it to my website. Every time they said yes and I was able to get both a Facebook review AND a website review.

So to sum it up, help answer questions and THEN ask for a review. Not the other way around.

My next steps:

Currently looking for a blogger to write for my blog. This will give me SEO content as well as content for email marketing. There was one guy I reached out to who would have been an amazing fit. However, he said he was too busy to for the job. It will take some time but I will eventually find someone.

Also working on launching my 2nd and 3rd new models. Once I have those launched I will be back up to my full product line up. Then I can focus on more products and different avenues for expansion etc...

Lastly, I recently read this thread by @G_Alexander. Definitely read it if you haven't already. He is KILLING it and his progress really served as motivation to step up my game. There is always going to be someone out there that is doing better than you, and that is a great reminder to stay humble.
 

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Congrats!

Currently looking for a blogger to write for my blog. This will give me SEO content as well as content for email marketing. There was one guy I reached out to who would have been an amazing fit. However, he said he was too busy to for the job. It will take some time but I will eventually find someone.
Have you thought about asking influencers to do guest blogging?

Began taking pre-orders for my new product launch. The only incentive I offered was that those who pre-ordered would have their order shipped to them before the release date.
Did they pay for the preorder? Or have you just collected their email addresses? Did you setup a landing page and drove facebook traffic to it?
 

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Cheers to you, @PTP. You're doing it. I'm sure we'll be sharing a good whiskey in the future... when you're of legal age of course.

Keep hustling. We're all tuned in.
 
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Congrats!
Thank you @Cembo! Although, to be honest I can't say I have accomplished very much. There is still a long way to go before I have done anything that can be considered remotely noteworthy.

Have you thought about asking influencers to do guest blogging?
I definitely have thought about it. However, I first need someone who can create steady content and grow the blog. After that person is in place, I will get guest bloggers to enhance the content and add a new perspectives.

Did they pay for the preorder? Or have you just collected their email addresses? Did you setup a landing page and drove facebook traffic to it?
Yes, all of those people have payed for their pre-orders:playful: When I didn't have an exact ETA on the products I collected email addresses. When it came time to notify these people that the item was available for pre-order, only 2 out of the 35+ people that gave me their emails actually ponyed up the cash.

Really all I did was add the listings to the website. People coming from Google adwords saw it and pre-ordered it. Also, I've been posting pictures of it to Facebook and Instagram and have received a very positive response. That's why I'm excited to see what happens when I begin to really get the word out!
 

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You've got some cojones, love it! Can't wait to see you grow it and maybe sell it.
I appreciate it buddy! :fistbump:

I gotta ask though: are you going to college? :rofl:
For the time being, yes.... but that is subject to change lol The only reason I am going right now is to see what it has to offer. A friend of mine was there this year and he said they have some decent resources for entrepreneurs. If it turns out they do, I may stick around. But classes aren't even in my radar:rofl:
 
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Update:

Been reaching out to a lot of Instagram influencers and YouTubers.

So far, a channel with 30,000 followers and one with 60,000 followers have agreed to make videos reviewing my products. Obviously I don't expect their entire subscriber count to view my video, but even 10% would be awesome!

While there should be a bump in sales when the videos air (if its reviewed in a positive light), my main play is establishing credibility from 3rd parties. There has been chatter on a few forums with people hesitant to buy because they've never heard of me and haven't seen any reviews outside my website.

Seeing a YouTube review of the product from multiple sources that aren't my brand are key to establishing this trust. The first thing I do when looking to buy something is search YouTube for a video of it. I feel like a lot of other people are the same way.

Once I have more videos from these smaller YouTubers, I will then reach out to larger ones with 200,000 - 500,000 to get their reviews as well.

The guy with 60k subs is apparently a blogger also. I'm going to ask him a few questions about SEO and picture taking and maybe give him a trial run. I really want the blogger that said no to me a few weeks ago so i'm doing my best to change his mind (reached out again offering him free stuff. Hopefully he responds and we can start building a relationship).

Website and Facebook review counts are continuing to grow and I added 4 new variations of the products I just launched to my website.

Sales are trending in the right direction. Some days have been really good, others aggressively mediocre and a few doozys. However, overall they seem to be going up albeit slowly.

Also, saw this on the bottom of my Shopify store and thought it was pretty cool!
100000.png
 

AdamMaxum

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Update:
  • Launched new product and subsequently removed all my old products despite the fact that many of them had over 60+ reviews - mostly 5 star.
  • Changed website URL for new branding.
Effects of these changes:
  • Lost nearly all search rankings in google. Organic traffic is nearly non existent now.
  • My website doesn't even show up first for the new word i'm branding my business as. I also no longer have any site links.
  • Because my products dont have many or any reviews now, sales have been absolutely terrible. Probably due to loss of trust and loss of google rankings.
Despite this, the people that have received the new product this far absolutely love it. I already have 3 new 5 star reviews since launch.

I know my products are incredible and that people will love them. I wasnt anticipating to take this large of a sales hit but you live and learn.

What I need to do now is:
  • Re-rank in search
  • Get more people to see the incredible value i'm offering
  • Get more reviews
Once I do that I know this thing will explode. It may be 1-2 months, it may be 6+ months. As soon as people start finding me, it will be a snowball effect.
Yeahh....sounds like you didn't set up 301 redirects or anything. Bad move if organic played any part in sales. Note to anyone changing domain or pages on website, don't do it without a game plan to retain power to new site and not demolish your current exposure in search results.

Are you using schema reviews to populate the review ratings in search results?
 
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Yeahh....sounds like you didn't set up 301 redirects or anything. Bad move if organic played any part in sales. Note to anyone changing domain or pages on website, don't do it without a game plan to retain power to new site and not demolish your current exposure in search results.
Yeah I think you're right... Although lucky for me organic was not a large part of my overall traffic yet...

The bright side is that when I launched my American made products, I changed the name of my brand slightly. I wanted there to be a clean break between when I had Chinese products and when I had USA products.

Any chatter about my old brand and its Chinese products will not cease to exist and won't be linked to my new brand. This is evidently re-enforced by my lack of intelligence to set up 301 redirects. So I guess it works out in the end:)

Are you using schema reviews to populate the review ratings in search results?
Im using an app called Judge.me which automatically includes rich snippets. So to answer your question I believe so:thumbsup:
 
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Promising Update:

So sales have definitely picked up to around past levels. I still only have 2/3 product variations available and 2 of my best sellers are out of stock which is a promising sign!

From past trends of my old products, whenever there were 3 variations available, overall sales increased. However, whenever one of the variations was out of stock, sales suffered. So i'm excited to see where sales go once I give customers all 3 product variations to choose from.

I began running Facebook traffic to my website. Daily visits essentially tippled. However, the frustrating thing to see is that a TON of people are adding the item to their carts, but only a few are converting.

Looking at "Add to cart/Purchase" data before Facebook was around 3.3%/2.2%. After Facebook traffic "Add to cart/Purchase" went to 2.75%/1.35%.

This leads me to believe that the traffic coming from Facebook, although plentiful, is not targeted well enough. These numbers will improve as I begin to figure out the platform. Although, it is extremely frustrating seeing SO many people add to cart and not progress though the conversion funnel.

The low conversion rate data has also led me to take a much more involved approach into analytics and optimization. I always knew it was important, but now I'm really starting to get my hands dirty.

I've installed HotJar and have started creating heatmaps as well as polls asking customer questions about their fears/hesitations about purchasing etc...

I will also begin A/B testing once i've collected enough data back from these heatmaps and customer polls.

Seeing how my sales are almost as good as the pre-USA made days with only 2/3 products and untargeted Facebook traffic, i'm excited for the MASSIVE opportunity that there is to grow this thing! It just requires a lot of work learning new platforms and optimizing which is where it starts to get fun:playful:
 

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I began running Facebook traffic to my website. Daily visits essentially tippled. However, the frustrating thing to see is that a TON of people are adding the item to their carts, but only a few are converting.

Looking at "Add to cart/Purchase" data before Facebook was around 3.3%/2.2%. After Facebook traffic "Add to cart/Purchase" went to 2.75%/1.35%.
Do you use Shopify? And do you give them a discount?
 
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Do you use Shopify? And do you give them a discount?
I am selling on shopify but I don't give anyone a discount.

Personally, I don't believe much in discounts and I think it hurts the brand in the long term.
 

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I am selling on shopify but I don't give anyone a discount.

Personally, I don't believe much in discounts and I think it hurts the brand in the long term.
Yes I agree with you!

I was just wondering because that could have been the problem. It's very hard to notice the discount field on the mobile checkout. It's in the order summary above the input fields and you first have to click to expand it. There's a code you can add to your scripts that automatically expands the order summary in the checkout process. Let me know if you need it :)
 

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