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EXECUTION Going from Freelance to E-Commerce

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by The Racing Driver, May 6, 2018.

  1. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Hi everyone,

    It's been a few years since I've read TMF and joined this forum.

    I've been doing freelance writing for a certain niche, earning few hundred dollars a month on average. I'm getting clients coming to me but have to turn away work as I'm very busy with my racing career.

    My goal is to be a professional racing driver and my awesome parents are helping fund my season in Formula 4 right now, which I'm incredibly grateful for.

    However it's really a stretch for them and mysself. Racing involves tons of travelling, training and intense focus. Meaning that some days after racing on track, it's close to impossible to have any time or energy leftover to do any business work.

    Freelancing only scales with time, which I don't have much of leftover. So I've got to focus my energy on building something that can work without me.

    My Dad has a clothing brand and his products are selling pretty well. We're not selling online, but our simple 3 page website gets a few emails every month from people asking if they can see our catalogue or order online.

    With a NEED discovered, I'm going to start working on channel expansion by adding e-commerce on top of our wholesale operation and two retail stores.

    I know very little about this business and the fashion industry, but I see potential ways to help. Will be documenting my process of launching and growing this business .....
     
  2. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Progress so far:

    - I'm building the e-commerce store on top of the WordPress site I've set up already by using the Woocommerce plugin.

    - I've set up stripe for the payment gateway, but to accept credit card payments on the website I've needed to install an EV SSL certificate. Having that green lock next to your URL is a must have these days. It took much longer than I anticipated to get it, as I needed to get my business verified with a DUNS number. Which is recommended to have and free in any trading business :)

    Next Steps:

    I've decided to use Hong Kong Speedpost to ship our products. They've posted a table on their website with their rates for different weight categories like <1kg, 1 to 1.5kg, 1.5 to 2kg and so on....

    Every country has different shipping rates and our products weigh a bit different depending on their size. So it seems like table rate shipping is the way to go. I don't know much about how to set up table rate shipping, so I'm looking on Fiverr to find a freelancer who can help me with this.

    There's well over a 100 countries I can ship to. How would you guys recommend I decide which countries to sell to and NOT sell to when shipping internationally?
     
    Andy Black and Midas like this.
  3. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Last few weeks have been a bit challenging. I’ve been feeling very low on energy and things are not happening as fast as I’d like. But I’m pushing on....

    E-Commerce Site Progress:

    - Need product photography, but the photographer I’ve used stop responding because he left the country :( I’ve posted a job looking for another one.

    - In the meantime, I’ve found a freelancer who could help me set up table rate shipping. I’m researching the customs duties and policies of different countries and am planning to add countries one at a time.


    B2B Sales:

    Currently my Dad’s fashion brand brings in most of its revenue through wholesale.

    I noticed we get emails like this on average once per week. This is with zero marketing, advertising or SEO whatsoever. Just through referrals or from someone looking up our brand on Google. (Seems like this could become a productocracy :) )

    Screen Shot 2018-06-02 at 11.18.24 AM.png



    We get asked for a catalogue quite often, but my Dad has never made one as our stock doesn’t remain for more than a few days. However, since the market is asking for it. It seems like it’s time to make one.

    Even if we’re out of stock, past styles can be produced again for a retailer who can meet our MOQ. Once the catalogue is produced, I can look into creating a B2B sales system to get our products into more retail shops.
     
    Roz and Andy Black like this.
  4. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    E-Commerce Site Progress:

    - Table rate shipping settings have been set up. I will start adding countries to our shipping countries.

    - A few photographers have replied my job post. Planning to hire one of them. The product photos taken with an iPhone 8 seem to look alright. Will upload them first and see the response.

    - The website's privacy policy needs work to conform to GPDR, and I plan to hire a web developer to do this.

    - Waiting to get the product titles, descriptions and other info from my Dad before the online store goes live.


    B2B:

    After reading @Scot ’s thread on wholesaling. I’m really grateful that most of our sales come through wholesale, because of the sheer volume involved.

    Margins may be low and that's very tough on cashflow sometimes, but tens of thousands of our clothes end up in consumers hands every year, which has really boosted our brand presence. Most of our new clients, come from word of mouth referrals by independent retailers who order from us.

    I’m hoping that by improving our website and implementing e-commerce (B2C), we can improve our credibility and attract more retailers to stock our products.
     
    Andy Black and Scot like this.
  5. Longinus
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    Longinus Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Roz, Andy Black and The Racing Driver like this.
  6. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Thanks for the help @Longinus ! I'll check out what you've mentioned. I'm planning to get the web designer to improve some things on the site. Thought he could do the privacy policy, but I ought to know what it should cover tbh.
     
    Longinus likes this.
  7. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    E-Commerce Site Progress:

    Just (soft) launched the online shop.

    To conform the privacy policy/tools to GPDR, I did what I could. I don't think it's perfect yet, so will get it checked out. For now, I've not included the EU in the countries we ship to, but thank you for the resources @Longinus. They helped a lot.

    All along I was trying to set up weight based shipping for all the different products and countries we want to sell to. Until I discovered the Easyship plugin, which works with shipping couriers here in Hong Kong to give automatic rates at checkout inclusive of taxes and duties. Thank god I found that sooner rather than later.

    What I was doing earlier now seems so stupid, but as MJ said in Unscripted: You don’t know what you need to know until you know.
     
    Andy Black and Longinus like this.
  8. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    E-Commerce Progress:

    I’ve been responding to past emails and facebook messages from prospects who’ve asked if we had an online shop or could buy online. I've let them know our store is up and have gotten responses like:

    “Will check it out thanks”

    “I saw not more than 7 items, is this all you have?”

    “i need a white dress with coat, and found this on your site. Do you have one with a long coat?”


    I haven't got any sales yet. But in all honesty, no real marketing has been done, and the sample size is far too small to draw any conclusions.

    Yesterday I added 8 new products to the store and today started setting up a giveaway to get some exposure, email sign-ups and ideally sales as a by-product.

    I'm planning to give away one of our products to attract the right kind of audience and am using Kingsumo to run the giveaway contest.

    Let's see how this goes...
     
    lowtek, Andy Black and Lex DeVille like this.
  9. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    It's time to see what the marketmind says

    Things are getting real now, I'm getting feedback but was expecting better results as I'm literally giving away a free product.

    Giveaway Contest

    Last Saturday, I got KingSumo up and running properly, connected it with Mailchimp and put the giveaway form on my website. Also added a Facebook pixel to the website. Overnight 4 people signed up and some shared it from the looks of it.

    Yesterday, I ran two Facebook ads for the giveaway. One targeting our existing fans and the second targeting a custom audience.

    After around one day of running the ads, these are the results :

    Ad spend - ~$13
    Reach - 4500 people
    Link Clicks - 67
    Sign ups to giveaway - 8
    Cost per click - ~$0.2

    Not sure why the spend is so little, or why there are so few link clicks from the total reach (1.5%). I was honestly expecting more sign-ups, but am quite a novice when it comes paid advertising. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be glad to hear.

    Around three and a half days remain for this giveaway. I've got a few ideas to get some more traction. Will start emailing everyone who's been in touch with us, and let them know about this giveaway. I'll also look for ways to optimise these ads.
     
  10. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Over the last few days, I’ve been non-stop checking the ad results and how many people have signed up to the giveaway. On top of that, I've also been devouring threads on this forum on e-commerce and marketing which has been extremely valuable.

    As of writing this, I’ve got 124 sign-ups. I've spent around $55 running ads to the giveaway page. I was expecting to spend more, but Facebook didn’t spend all the budget I set. In the future, I’ll be targeting more countries. Right now, I just mainly targeted one country where our B2B clients are already selling lots of our products.

    Running Ads promoting the giveaway has shown me which target demographic is working best. People have messaged us saying they already wear our clothes, shared the post with their friends and commented saying how much they like our products. Which is quite satisfying.

    I'm using this giveaway as a lead magnet, which captures email addresses and turns cold prospects into warm leads. We’ll be giving away a free product from our store and I also plan to send a time-sensitive discount code to everyone who signed up.

    Thanks to @JasonR for sharing this article on customer value optimization. It has given me more confidence that my strategy can really work.


    Other Potential Channels:

    - Right now I only have an e-commerce store on our website. I’m considering selling on marketplaces such as Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon to expand our reach.

    - As we build more credibility. I’m confident that we can reach out to fashion boutiques and send them a free sample. The potential LTV of getting a brick-and-mortar store to sell our products totally justifies making the investment.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  11. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Marketing Update:

    I've collected around 130 new email sign-ups from running the giveaway. I messaged the winners last week, but none of them have even claimed their prize. Which is quite surprising.

    For the others who signed up, I sent them all a discount code. 45 opened the email, 5 people clicked to visit the shop, but none of them bought.

    Just another white gumball.... diffusion. I’ve been feeling pretty down about the results I’ve got, but this is just the start. In response to no sales, I’m going to adjust my approach by the following methods.


    1. Checklist Channel

    Try a different audience. I mainly targeted South Africa with my FB ads. It’s a country where we know we have demand for our products. But maybe for e-commerce, I ought to target different countries where there are already a lot of women buying fashion online, like Australia or the UK for example.

    2. Checklist Reach

    Since stopping the ads the website traffic has plummeted. The ads only directed people to a landing page to sign up for the giveaway. Not many people viewed our online shop however. I need to run new ads that direct more people to the shop page where they can directly purchase.

    3. Checklist Messaging

    I’ve gotten feedback from an experienced e-commerce seller saying that we need to invest heavily in the design, photography and copywriting. Especially as we’re a fashion brand. The design has to be improved, so I’m talking to a web developer and fashion photographer who I plan to work with on that.

    We’re providing free returns, so that needs to be part of our copy somewhere. Free shipping to certain countries is something we can add too. I need to showcase all the value attributes I can think of on the website.


    To Dos:

    - Improve the existing product photos by giving them a clean background. (I’m so glad I discovered fotofuze.com to help with this)

    - Create and add a sizing guide page to the website. This is an absolute must for selling clothes.

    - Write a better story for our About page. Like why are we in business, explain the benefits and add social proof/testimonials like the reviews on our Facebook page.

    - Create new Facebook ads to run this week

    - Do whatever it takes to get that first sale
     
    MikeS and lowtek like this.
  12. MikeS
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    MikeS Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    If I had a fashion brand and I needed some exposure, I'd try to get my product to someone who has a decent amount of followers on Instagram. If you are targeting a certain niche, find someone in that niche who has at least 20 000 naturally gained followers and a good engagement rate.

    I found a service that checks the profile for you if there isn't something suspicious. (Comments from bots, spikes in follower count, low engagement rate...) I will DM it to you because I don't want anyone to think that I am advertising something here. I want to help you.
     
    Roz and The Racing Driver like this.
  13. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    It’s been a busy few weeks travelling through the desert of desertion.

    Earlier this month I ran Facebook retargeting ads. Around 400 people visited the site, but I haven't got a single sale yet. After looking into it further, only 3 people added to cart. I don’t know if that really was an intent to purchase or something else.

    However, I did gather a few hundred likes to our Facebook page, and people have been liking our ad, and sending us messages too.

    The biggest issue I feel is the cost of shipping to South Africa. That’s a major market for us, but the import duty on fashion products is a whopping 45%. When I put myself in the customer’s shoes, and see that the only decent shipping option costs more than the product. I’d be hesitant to go ahead and purchase unless I absolutely need that product.


    I’m going adjust my strategy and start targeting audiences in other countries with Adwords. Why not show up in front of those already looking for our products? I rather attract them to our website instead of push our average-looking ads on them. So after a little research and learning, I started my first proper Adwords campaign today targeting people here in Hong Kong. (Thank you @eliquid and @Andy Black for your killer resources, they gave me so much clarity)

    Also since Amazon already has our customers, tons of traffic, and credibility. I feel I need to add it as another sales channel. We already have good products and our brand is developing too. I see other sellers with poor grammar, average photos on their listings, so we could surely fill a gap here.

    I don’t know all the exact steps and best practices, but I'll just listen to my gut and learn as I go along. I’m thinking of using Viral Launch to give away some products because the cost of doing that isn’t too much to us, and once people get to feel and wear our clothes we can get their feedback and nice reviews hopefully.


    Next Steps:

    - Find some good models and a professional photographer. Arrange a photo shoot ASAP.
    - Do a little more research and decide on what product(s) we could send to Amazon FBA.
    - Post pictures of our new products on social media several times a week. Seek out influencers who align well with our audience to do a promotion.
    - Keep monitoring and tweaking that Adwords campaign
     
    Andy Black and eliquid like this.
  14. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Progress update:

    Damn it's been nearly a month since I posted here last. This is what I intended to do (and their respective outcomes).

    - Find some good models and a professional photographer. Arrange a photo shoot ASAP. (The photoshoot hasn't been fixed yet. But I've found a suitable model, studio and photographer. Need the go ahead from my Dad to arrange this)

    - Do a little more research and decide on what product(s) we could send to Amazon FBA. (I did some research and believe one of our products can sell well. I need to get good photography and descriptions, as well as enough stock of the product to ship)

    - Post pictures of our new products on social media several times a week. Seek out influencers who align well with our audience to do a promotion. (I have not been posting that frequently I admit, as I think our photos suck. I have found a few potential influencers who I need to contact)

    - Keep monitoring and tweaking that Adwords campaign (I wasn't getting any real traction and I stopped it for a number of reasons as I'll explain)


    In these last few weeks, I've decided to get a website redesign done. The new site is looking much better and just requires some good photos to go with it.

    I've been feeling slightly down about the cooperation I'm getting from my Dad. After editing the product photos, writing product titles and descriptions, and uploading the products. He ends up entirely selling some of the products. I feel it would be a waste of money to run ads without knowing which products are actually in stock, so I stopped running the ads.

    I've also been waiting for weeks to get the sizing charts from him. Without knowing how the product may fit, it's difficult for the customer to know if they're getting the right size.

    On the bright side here's what's gone well:

    I got a new B2B customer for my Dad from an email enquiry. He doesn't check the website emails, I have no idea why. However, that customer has ordered over 30 pieces of our product.

    Got a new freelancing client. I've been not making money from the ecommerce site yet. I figured freelancing can at least put control of my income into my own hands for some time. Long term, a business is what I want to create. So I've been writing down ways I can add value to other people's lives. Through this, I aspire to find another idea that can truly satisfy CENTS.
     
    Lex DeVille likes this.
  15. The Racing Driver
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    The Racing Driver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Ecommerce Site Progress:

    - Still waiting for the new ecommerce site to get ready. Taking much longer than expected :( But I really feel I need to be prepared with more inventory and professional photography, which I'm not.

    - I feel it's going to take some time and money before I have a website with products that are worth marketing. Comparatively, it's much quicker and costs far less to list one product at a time on Amazon and to get seen by potentially thousands of people every week.

    Amazon FBA:

    - Decided on a product to sell through Amazon FBA, which has gotten great feedback from my Dad's client.
    - Sent one unit to the US to get product photography done from a pretty well-known company in the Amazon Marketing space. The photos on a real model came out great.
    - Right now I'm waiting for the first batch of inventory to arrive from the supplier.


    Freelancing: Applied to a few interesting writing jobs on Upwork in October. Got hired on the first proposal I recall. Earned $100 after fees with a couple hours of easy work in an industry I'm very familiar with. It's embarrassingly little and not as much as I wanted. However, I'm happy that I've helped someone, and have started getting invited by clients who look legit.

    While building the ecommerce business, expenses like business renewal fees and other stuff don't stop. I don't have a job and am living at home with my parents. They're supporting me financially and I help my Dad with stuff in his business.

    I do want to become more independent and build my savings though. I've been looking at picking up a part-time job. In Hong Kong the average pay for these jobs are like $8-10/hour. If I freelance with the right clients, I can make $30+/hour, because I've done it. I just need more clients and sales.


    TL;DR: Building an ecommerce site selling fashion products my Dad makes. It's really taking time and not making money yet. Working on sending one of the products to Amazon FBA. Started freelancing on the side again. Made $100 for a little writing work. Working to get bigger freelance jobs.
     
    Longinus likes this.

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