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How It All Began….

Good evening folks!

I thought I would bring you up to date on my entrepreneurial journey so far.

After reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss (TFHWW), I decided to dive head first, take the leap and just try it!

TFHWW talks about different ways to come up with a product – create one or resell one. Since I wanted to get started quickly and most of my frustrations with the everyday items I used can usually be solved with patience (and often reading the instructions), I decided that being a reseller was the way forward for me.

So I came up with a few product ideas (or muses) that I personally would either buy or struggle to get. I then found one of those sites that promises it’s very easy to build a website for free and picked my theme. At the same time I started looking for potential products to resell.

All of this was with testing the product idea in mind. TFHWW talks about doing this, setting up a site, adding products and then when the thousands* of people want to actually buy it, they get a ‘sorry out of stock’ or something similar message. That way you have an actual indication of actual sales, which then informs if your product idea is good or not.

*this demonstrates my naivety, high hopes and ambition.

Onto sourcing my products! TFHWW talks about Alibaba as a good site that has thousands of products created by manufacturers, predominately in China. After chuckling about the name Alibaba, I visited the site and it genuinely is an Aladdin’s cave of treasures. I found it very overwhelming and had to go away for a quick brew before venturing further than a couple of clicks.

Once I’d found a couple of products that matched my ideas, and inspired a few others, I began the laborious task of copying the product descriptions, copying the photos, editing some of the photos (in Paint I might add) so that I could add them to my site.

This took a long time. And then the photos were grainy when I uploaded with them. So far I only had around 5 products, which I knew was not enough to make it look like I was legit. Also my web design skills were seriously lacking and I found the website design site I used particularly difficult to engineer to test my product idea without actually having to add payment details, sign up to PayPal etc. I found the customisations limited and frustrating (I probably should have watched a How To video) and was constrained by the theme I’d picked.

After reading further in TFHWW and more of the resources, I searched for a site called Shopify.

Well oh my god, that was a revelation and continues to be. I signed up for a 14-day free trial, and with its partner site Oberlo and their affiliated site AliExpress (sister site to Alibaba – it’s all very incestuous). This introduced me to the concept of dropshipping. I watched the intro videos by Tomas at Oberlo and signed up for the free dropshipping seminar by Corey Ferreira and away I went. I haven’t been back to that original site I created/butchered since.

And so began the next phase of my adventure!

Favourite Resource

This is just a short post in case anyone is wondering how to wade through the wealth of information on dropshipping.

 

The single best thing I did was listen to this podcast – https://www.envision.io/blogs/ecommerce-pulse/tagged/Podcast

 

Leighton, the guy who does it, is an ecommerce entrepreneur, and has not only a lot of sage advice, but he’s also very humble. He hasn’t made his fortune via dropshopping, he just wants the freedom to go where he wants and live the life he wants and he uses ecommerce to do that. He’s just like us, trying, failing, succeeding, trying, failing succeeding. The guests he has on his show and the resources he puts in the show notes are fantastic, they open up a whole new layer of rich content and knowledge and most importantly, advice.

 

Anyway, if you’ve signed up for a million email series or blogs like I have and then just ignore the 50 notifications/emails you get in an hour – this podcast really boils things down in a gentle and easy to digest way – https://www.envision.io/blogs/ecommerce-pulse/tagged/Podcast.

 

The Journey Continues…

I’ve set up my Shopify store, I’ve watched all the videos from Oberlo and the seminar from Shopify. I’ve created an account for AliExpress and downloaded what feels like a hundred Chrome extensions to make them all work together.

Now to find and add products to my store. Using all the Google Chrome plugins, this is ridiculously easy compared to what I was doing before. After scrolling through AliExpress for a while and adding products to Oberlo I’ve got about a dozen things I want to sell on my site. I then added them to my Shopify store.

After pootling around on Shopify looking at my products I realise I didn’t set any prices to sell at, so everything is coming up at the price I would pay on AliExpress!!

Several panicked moments later and I manually changed the product prices as quick as I could in case the swathes* of people visiting my site added a product for the actual cost price and not retail price. Phew! Panic over. Now I realise I have more work to do in creating product types, collections, descriptions and I should create a price list somewhere to keep track of it all.

*this demonstrates my naivety, high hopes and ambition.

Eventually, I’ve got my store to a point where it looks slightly more legit than the previous site I’d set up but there’s still a lot missing. I decided to wait before adding it in case the thousands* of people coming to my store to buy my product don’t care about those things.

*this demonstrates my naivety, high hopes and ambition. (You’ll start to see a common theme)

My next task was to set up some Google Ads. This is an important part of testing my product (from TFHWW) and relatively inexpensive. You create 2 or 3 adds with different wording, select search phrases that apply and the countries you want the add to be shown in and away you go. You also set a budget which you can’t exceed so you don’t end up maxing out your credit card. I also set up Google Analytics on my Shopify site so I could track each breath every visitor to my store made.

Then I waited. And checked how my ads were doing every 5 minutes, and how my site was doing every 6 minutes. I also set up email notifications and phone notifications so that I’d know instantly when someone submitted and order and I could celebrate the beginning of my successful entrepreneur lifestyle.

Then I waited some more. I decided to take action after about a day of obsessing over the analytics, what people were looking at (all 50 visitors that I got), searching for etc and reading another chapter of TFHWW. So I created another add with a more targeted audience in mind. It’s also worth saying at this point that I was on day 5 of this journey but it felt like I’d been doing it for a lot longer.

When the swathes didn’t flock to my store, I added the extras to make my site looks more realistic. It now has a page with the  product guarantees and returns policy on it, although Shopify does most of this for you, I wanted to add the specific guarantees from the sellers on AliExpress. It has a sizing guide (my product is clothing related) as sizes differ all over the world and I put a more personal touch on it with an ‘About Us’ page.

After that, I waited some more, but still they didn’t flock. I messaged a friend and asked her some out of the blue questions about what sort of thing she’d be looking for in a certain product or website and one thing she mentioned was a lot of choice. I looked at my products, and whilst I had around a dozen or so, they had a lot of different variants, both in colour and style that were all bundled into one product. I began the arduous task of effectively re-adding everything from AliExpress into Oberlo and splitting them all out so it appeared like I had more products. I got to about 40 products that way.

There were also some odd behaviours on my site that I obsessed over, like someone added something to the cart and didn’t buy it. And one person even got as far as the checkout page and didn’t buy it. I looked on my site and those pages seemed to be ok and I figured if it starts happening a few times, it’s worth having a look at. By this point I was obsessing over the behaviour of every single visitor and Google Analytics became a huge enabler for this. I could see what pages they looked at, what page they were on when they left, their basic demographics, the country they were in and even their internet provider. The one interesting was that most of my adds had the majority of traffic through a smartphone (70%-90%) but one add had 65% from a desktop computer!

The realisation had come that I’d probably tested my product enough and whilst I was getting between 80-150 visitors a day, none of those were converting into orders. Also by this time, I’d got 4 Google Ads working away, and whilst each individual one had a budget, collectively, I’d spent more money than I intended.

After an incredibly enthusiastic start and a rush of activity, I was now starting to lose steam a little bit, and my product wasn’t as successfully as I’d hoped**.

**the hope being that I could quit my job within two weeks of opening my store*
               *this demonstrates my naivety, high hopes and ambition.

 

It was now crunch time, give up and try a new product or try different things with this one?