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EXECUTION I built a 2-figure eCommerce business, AmA!

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by GreasyGinger, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. GreasyGinger
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    GreasyGinger Contributor

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    Well I've been a lurker/member of this forum for awhile now and have been trying to find my place in the entrepreneurship world.

    I have a couple one off side hustles for some extra cash when I need it. I flip the odd car. I offer a mobile auto repair service in the summer time. I like to buy and sell on kijiji (Canadian craigslist, my favourite recent flip was a pool table, so much profit).

    I built an app connecting auto shops with customers. This idea is still a work in progress, I built the app and corresponding web app for the businesses but getting shops to buy in proved an obstacle. Then life happens, wife pregnant, new more stable job, project is on hold for now but I WILL go back to it.

    I needed something to cure my entrepreneurial appetite, and I'm fascinated with making money online lately. I came across a blog about a t-shirt shop and also read the story on here of the guy who made t-shirt designs and then hyper targeted his facebook ads to sell them. I am also a big customer of stupid online t-shirts, most recently those about being a dad.

    Now I know this breaks all the rules of CENTS but I felt like it could at least be a learning experience. So I set up a shopify store linked with a print on demand service and ordered some sample shirts. Picked a shirt I liked and I was off to the races.

    My first goal was to sell one shirt while spending zero dollars on marketing. I created a personal facebook (I know, late to the party), a facebook page and an instagram. I thought I would post funny parenting memes along with ads for my shirts to get people to visit my instagram and then of course they would click the link in my profile and spend loads of money on my shirts, I was wrong.

    After a couple of days I had 50 followers, my wife was impressed, but knew I would need more. I kept posting 3 times a day, one being an ad, the other 2 being funny memes. I might have gotten 2 clicks through my instagram account and only 10 of my facebook friends had liked and followed the facebook page. Then I found an article about automating instagram likes, I got the free chrome extension Everliker and set that up to run day and night on my works laptop. I was getting over 100 visits to my profile everyday and every time I opened the app I would have more followers. Untill I didn't.

    I guess instagram didn't like what I was doing, so I made a post and used the usual hashtags, except I went from 30+ likes to zero. What was happening? So a frantic search ended in me reading about shadow bans and how instagram will stop listing your posts under your hashtags. This is what was happening. So I killed the automation and wondered what I was to do next.

    Discouraged I took a break from the whole thing. I had advertised the majority of my designs on the gram and my wife went into labor. Then came the shopify invoice and I was officially $105 in the hole without even the hope of a sale, which got me back into it. So next was to make some facebook ads, and then Lambo. (I'm more partial to Aston's myself, my desktop is a DB11).

    I made 4 different ads with different images hoping to appeal to different parts of the world. Facebook makes you pay for impressions for your first ad spend on a new account, they say $13 but in reality you must wait for the first automatic cycle of $30, even if you pay them manually.

    The ads went live, I got 30 clicks over $30 of ad spend. Zero sales and not enough data to really do much with. I decided to focus on one country, Canada, and put up 4 ads with different copy and different limited time offers. Another $20 of ad spend and found that 1 ad had 7 of the 9 clicks, I went all in on that one ad.

    Then, it happened. I was watching the Santa Claus parade with my daughter and eating kettle corn on the sofa. My phone made a notification sound I hadn't heard before. I made a sale. I have gone from nobody to eCommerce maven while stuffing my face with sugary popcorn. I was high. Like over the moon high, I was drafting up my resignation letter.

    I let the ads run, and run and run. Facebook had finally given me a relevance score of 3.0, which I understand is bad. I turned the ads off for now, I can finally run PPC on facebook now and will maybe try another part of the world, who knows. Maybe try some local promotion of my dad shirts. I know that a customer acquisition of $65 for $31 in revenue is not sustainable haha

    Next step is to wait for my one sale to be delivered and give that customer a call and thank her for her order in person, over the phone, in hopes she might tell a friend who tells a friend who tells a friend about this website that actually has a person behind it.

    I'm not sure there is much of value to this post, but for me writing it all out has really gotten me to sum up the experience in my head.
     
  2. sparechange
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    sparechange Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Did you vote yes, or no on the olympic bid?
     
  3. GreasyGinger
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    GreasyGinger Contributor

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    I voted no. I feel the money should be put towards a new stadium.

    I know about the arguments for making the Flames pay for it but the revenue we lose to Edmonton on concerts and events because no touring acts will ever come here should be incentive enough to kick start it.
     
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  4. Stridone
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    Stridone New Contributor

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    The problem with your Shopify shop is the low barrier to entry. You will have to excel in something (or preferably multiple things) far beyond most people. You will need to have/develop a very high proficiency in online marketing (which will cost you a lot of money to learn by yourself, I'd advise you to check out the STMforums) as well as having either a unique niche or product design. This market is very saturated and your effort might be better spent elsewhere. This seems like an easy entry but the entry to success is certainly not.
     
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  5. GreasyGinger
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    GreasyGinger Contributor

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    You are 100% correct and I don't disagree with you for one second.

    With the easy entry and the low start up cost I thought it would be a neat little experiment to get my feet wet with digital marketing. You have to start somewhere right? I literally had zero experience but am now comfortable with ad manager and know how the facebook ad process works, even if I have no idea how to make it profitable, yet. Rather then sit around day dreaming of that perfect opportunity, maybe just develop some kind of skill set, take some kind of action.

    I will be checking out that forum though, thank you for the recommendation.
     
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  6. Midas
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    Midas Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I had a very similar experience with my shopify shop, only I never heard the "cha-ching" sound. Never even got an email sign-up. Looking back, its funny how you picture things going and how they actually go. As MJ has previously stated, businesses that do not fulfill an actual need are nothing more than marketing companies.
     
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  7. ericaung
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    ericaung New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Interesting. thanks your sharing!

    Do u also dropship?
     
  8. Roli
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    Roli Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    There is a lot of value in showing your process. For you, and those of us on a similar path.

    Keep grinding.

    :thumbsup:
     
  9. James Cozens
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    James Cozens Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER

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    I started off dropshipping about a year and a half ago and I've found there are two main strategies to be profitable.

    1: The product sells itself (e.g. you have a really hot product)
    2: A person sells the product (e.g. Influencer/celebrity marketing)

    The first option simply involves finding hot, trending products or products that solve a real need and running Facebook ads. To succeed with the first option, you have to be constantly catching trends & finding the latest viral products, either trawling Aliexpress day & night or spying on your competitors ads.

    I get that you're all excited about your first sale, (congratulations by the way) but I warn you: if your Facebook ads are not profitable within 4 days, that product most likely will never be profitable. You will need to move on and try different products. You will lose money at the start.

    Option 2 usually involves paying Instagram influencers money to pose with & promote your product. This can be a great strategy when you don't have a trending product because a decent influencer's followers will often buy just about anything they recommend, provided you're in a relevant niche.

    Like anything, it takes a lot of money to get things up & running. You won't make it big immediately, nomatter what the gurus say. There's so much constant learning and work involved. But keep at it, keep learning and you're bound to make it eventually.

    I actually recommend following some of Fred Lam's content, especially in terms of Facebook ad help. I'm actually on his paid course ZeroUp - you pay once, get lifetime access AND he does livestreams weekly AND updates his content every time there's a major change. Although he does focus mainly on finding hot products & Facebook ads, rather than influencer marketing, I've got nothing bad to say about him & he has a free Facebook group called "starting from zero" which is full of gems. He may also have a free course.

    Good luck!
     
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  10. JLE
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    How do you suggest I find a good product for an e-commerce business?

    I recognize I should follow CENTS and should be PULLING rather than PUSHING. What else? Anything you could advise to help me get an idea? I'd appreciate it!

    Cheers man!
     
  11. GreasyGinger
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    GreasyGinger Contributor

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    No, this was my first attempt at any kind of ecommerce.

    Thanks for the encouragement. Cheers.

    This makes a lot of sense. I've been thinking about going the influencers route and see what comes of that. I think that will be the next course once the excitement of a newborn calms down at home.
     
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  12. Roli
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    Roli Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Some really nice advice here. This will definitely help the OP and anyone else looking to try this route. Wish I'd known some of this myself when trying dropshipping.

    Rep ++
     
    James Cozens likes this.

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