Welcome to 30 Days to Start & Grow an Ecommerce Business!
I’m excited to bring this guide to you as there is a mass of information online, much of it absolutely awesome and created & published by super clever people with a wealth of experience, but knowing how to put it all together into a comprehensible step by step plan, is where I come in!
Having been in the Digital Marketing world since 2010 building audiences, courses and 6 figure sales funnels, then building a 7 figure Amazon business from the ground up with my partner, creating a Shopify store to accompany that business back in 2017 and then last year creating my ‘experiment’ store as I write about in ‘How Not To Start & Grow an Ecommerce Business‘ I can assure you I am wholly qualified to guide you step by step through this process. If you’d like to know a bit more about me, you can check out my story here.
However, I am not alone. As you’ll see, as you go through the guide, I have gathered some of the very best experts & resources online to accompany my tips & strategies to help you build your own successful ecommerce business.
Please note! You do not have to complete this in 30 days. It’s an arbitrary number, created just to give some structure to the process.
Whether you go through the steps in 10 days or 10 years is immaterial as long as you continue to move forward and enjoy the process!
Over the next few days you’ll be setting big hairy audacious goals and creating a vision that excites you! But to truly create a lifestyle you love, it’s important to enjoy the journey and celebrate your wins big or small!
Be sure to come and join the Your Lifestyle Business Facebook Community, this is where the magic happens!
Networking & building relationships with like minded entrepreneurs is the secret sauce of success, plus it’s where I hang out and I’d love to meet you!
So without further ado, let’s get started!
Here is a rundown of the 30 Days and you’ll also see the links for each day on the right hand side of this page so you can easily navigate your way through each page.
Please note there is the odd affiliate link scattered about the place, which means I may make a small commission on some of the links you click, although of course it costs you nothing. But 90% of the links are non affiliate. My main goal is to grow my audience and help as many action takers as possible to take control of your destiny and build a lifestyle business that gives you ultimate freedom in life.
30 Days to Start & Grow an Ecommerce Business
Preparing Your Mind & Your Business for Success
Finding Products & Building Your Store
Day 5 – Ecommerce Business Models & Product Selection
Day 6 – Naming Your Business
Day 7 – Creating Your Brand Images
Day 8 – Building Your Store
Day 9 – Adding Your Custom Domain
Day 10 – Customising Shopify Settings
Day 11 – Adding Your Products
Day 12 – Creating Customer Email Flows
Day 13 – Adding Pop Ups
Day 14 – Adding Upsells
Day 15 – Going Live!
Building Your Audience & Growing Your Store
Day 16 – Content Marketing
Day 17 – Your Content Plan
Day 18 – Choosing Your Marketing Channel
Day 19 – Repurposing Content
Day 20 – Email Marketing
Day 21 – Advanced Marketing Strategies
Day 22 – Influencer Marketing
Day 23 – User Generated Content
Day 24 – Attracting Reviews
Day 25 – Your First Sale
Setting Up For Long Term Growth & Ultimate Freedom
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Welcome to Day 4!
Now we have an idea of what business you’re in and who you want to serve, it’s important to have a look at what’s already out there and how you can stand out from the crowd.
I recommend not skipping this part even though it’s a little scary and you may feel you can’t compete.
You absolutely can compete and you may not come up with what makes you unique straight away, but by doing this exercise it will open your eyes to what other people are doing in your niche and give you lots of ideas of how you can emulate / do better!
Take from this the positives and believe in your ideas my friend.
You’re already a legend for getting this far and having such a fabulous dream in the first place.
So don’t make it hard to succeed and start comparing your beginning to someone else’s years of experience.
Soak up their experience and use it to leap frog your own journey.
You can download this as a PDF doc here to print out and work on. Just right click and save as.
1. List your 3 biggest competitors or sites you’d most like to emulate to base this research on.
2. What 3 things catch your eye about their business first?
3. List their key services / products and how much they charge.
4. What 3 things do they do particularly well?
5. What 3 things do they do poorly?
6. List some special offers or unique services they are promoting.
7. Have they got any guarantees? What are they?
8. What can they guarantee that you can’t?
9. What MUST businesses in this niche guarantee?
10. What else catches your eye?
11. Describe your target market (this should be easy after yesterday)
12. List 10 values / services that you think would be most important to your customer – i.e price, customer service, speed, quality etc. Then rank in order of priority 1 – 10.
13. List 10 ways of reaching your target market.
14. Describe your perception of the industry you are in
15. How do you think the industry has changed in the last 5 years?
16. What changes do you expect to see in the next 12 – 18 months?
17. Now take the 5 most important things for your customers and describe what the perceived standards and / or reputation of each value or service is in the industry.
18. How would you like your business to compare to these standards?
Your Customers Opinion
19. What 3 things would you like your customers to say about you?
20. How could you survey the market to find out what customers are saying about your competitors?
21. List 10 ways you could convert competitor customers to your customers.
22. Getting testimonials is always tough at the start of a business. List 10 ways you could get honest and worthy testimonials including who you might get them from.
23. Once you have customers on board, list 5 meaningful ways to retain them.
Your Ideal World
24. List 3 things that you cannot confidently guarantee that you would love to be able to?
25. What is the one thing that if you could guarantee it, would make you the market leader? (Think Big!)
26. In an ideal world, what would you like your customers to see as the main point of difference between you and your competitors?
27. Think of 3 industries completely different from yours and ‘personalise’ an idea that could give your business a real point of difference.
Your USP & Guarantee
28. What unique services or values can you offer your customers?
29. What guarantees can you offer your customers?
30. My USP & Guarantee is;
Don’t worry if you haven’t been able to answer all the questions, this is a working document and it may take you some time to figure out exactly where you can stand out.
However, hopefully by going through this exercise it will have given you some great ideas and made you far more aware of what’s out there and what your customers / competitors might be thinking!
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Welcome to Day 5! You are trucking my friend!
Today we’re going to take a look at the business models so you can decide which one suits your goals the best and hone in on selecting the perfect product!
First check out the post What is Ecommerce and Is It For You? in which I explain in detail the five different ecommerce models;
1. Print on Demand
4. Private Labeling
5. Designing & Manufacturing your own product
For the sake of this 30 day training guide I am really only going to talk about print on demand, a touch of drop-shipping and some private labelling because I have done them myself.
However along the way you can listen to interviews with others who have experienced arbitraging & creating custom built products, so if they are areas that interest you, you can explore those further.
Please note other than the logistical parts of the business like sourcing, setting up your store, shipping, storage etc, all marketing & brand building information remains pretty similar for any of the above models!
Here is an example of how you may start and progress your business depending on your niche of course;
1. Start with print on demand.
It is quick and easy to setup, the line of products offered by these companies has grown significantly now, so you could test something with your own designs and see how it sells.
2. Move into drop-shipping.
It’s much higher profit margins than POD and there are a greater selection of products, but it comes with its own set of risks.
The FB’s & Paypals of the world are not keen on drop-shipping businesses and if you grow too fast you run the risk of getting your ad account shut down or your paypal account limited.
Best to grow very slowly with this one, however it does allow you to test the market before moving into private labelling and ordering big quantities at significant expense.
3. Find suppliers who can make and sell large quantities of your best sellers and move into private labeling & launching your products on Amazon.
Things to consider when deciding what to sell
1. Are you providing what your customer wants & needs. Go back through your work in Days 3 & 4. Who is your customer? What does a typical day in the life look like and how can you enhance it with your products?
2. Explore your competition. Browse though Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and other online stores to see who is selling something similar. What’s their messaging? How are they presenting the product? How can you be different / unique? See Day 4.
3. Beware of trends. By definition, that means something that’s hot right now, but may not be in a few months time. Here’s a great quote from Jeff Bezos of Amazon;
“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”
What’s not going to change in your niche for the next 10 years?
4.Set some criteria for yourself. Questions to consider would be;
- Does this product meet a need my customer has?
- Does this product provide novelty value or inject fun into their day?
- Does this product have a high perceived value?
- Does it meet my quality requirements, will my customer be happy with the quality of the item?
- Does this product represent my brand?
- Is there a good size market for this product?
- Is it light and easy / cheap to ship?
- Can I markup the product by 5 – 10x it’s cost price?
- Is it unique?
- Would I be excited to promote it?
So armed with those considerations and questions let’s explore how you would get started in each area and hone in on exactly what you’re going to sell;
Print on Demand
1. Start by making a list of all the print on demand companies you like the look of.
I’ll help you out with that;
Teelaunch – who I used for Legends not Ladies – products good quality, prices on the cheaper side for POD, delivery a bit slow (but it was coming up to Christmas), but not the best selection of products and the customisation app is super laborious.
Printful – Apparently one of the best in the game, I haven’t tried them yet, but they are a serious contender for my new YLB store, with a much larger product selection than Teelaunch.
Printify – Again a serious contender, these guys use a selection of printers you can choose from. They’re all much of a muchness for me, so it really comes down to product selection, price and ease of customisation.
SPOD – I don’t know much about these guys but it looks like their shipping might be superfast which from a customer service stand point would give you a serious edge. May be worth a serious look at!
Some others I don’t know much about but might be worth a look!
My question is what won’t there be print on demand for soon???
What a business!
2. Go through and look at range of products – who sells what you want?
Don’t go product crazy like I did with Legends, but by now you should have an idea of your top 3 or 4 products you’d love to sell.
For example, lets say you really want to sell, women’s tank tops, leggings, socks and caps.
If you go to teelaunch, you’ll be out of luck as they do neither leggings, socks or caps.
So first thing is to check if one app has everything you want as connecting more than one will start to cause you issues with shipping & fulfillment. It’s doable but more complicated, which you don’t really want when getting started. (Let’s add complications a bit later down the line if we have too!)
3. Now with products in mind and print on demand apps selected, create yourself a little spreadsheet – here’s one I did earlier!
On the left write down the top 3 products you would like to sell under each print on demand company and along the top, the cost price, shipping, proposed retail price etc so you can get an idea of which company is going to be the most profitable for you.
Your sale price is dependent on you and your brand, but a good starting place to see what similar items sell for is of course Amazon. In an ideal world you don’t really want to be selling for much more than what’s on Amazon, but to make a profit in print on demand the likelihood is you’ll have to.
Of course depending on how you position your brand you may end up charging a lot more than Amazon, wouldn’t that be grand!
By the end of this exercise you should have a winner based on profitability.
But do also check the company reviews, shipping times, quality of products etc., as if the difference is $1, but the service / quality is far better from another company, it might not be worth the saving.
Now would be a great time to order a product from each of your potential POD platforms to check shipping times, quality etc. Nothing like experiencing it first hand.
Once you have your winner, you’re up and away!
When we set up the store you’ll add their app to your store and create your products from there. Happy Days!
Now we just need to get your designs done, but let’s leave that for another day. You’ve done quite enough for now. Go get a cuppa! :)
There are many ways to start a drop-shipping business.
As I spoke about in the ‘What is Ecommerce?’ post there are really 2 categories of drop-shipper. The ‘content-driven niche market drop-shipper‘ or the ‘data driven, whatever happens to be trending drop-shipper‘.
In this 30 day course we’re focused on building a long term brand in a niche you’re passionate about or solves a real problem and that you’re invested in. Meaning the niche comes first, the product comes second.
If you’re entire focus is simply to make money and you’re prepared to live and breathe FB Ads, Google ads and are willing to problem solve your way through facebook ad account bans, paypal account limits etc, then I highly recommend two amazing guys I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the last couple of months.
These guys are above board, very ethical ecom experts, but specialise in that more data driven, trending product model that may be more attractive to you.
Please note, I am not saying that model is wrong and the content driven niche model is right, they’re just different and suit different personalities.
Unfortunately for the super hard workers amongst us, the data driven, trending products model does tend to attract opportunists who will and do resort to some shady marketing techniques, meaning the rest of the honest folk suffer with platforms like FB & Paypal tarnishing everyone with the same brush.
So, it is not an easy path by any means. However, if you’re tenacious enough it is highly lucrative and there are ways to do it ethically and honestly if you learn from the right people.
So go and see Nick Peroni at Ecom Empires – a completely free absolutely excellent drop-shipping training resource by the way.
I also got Nick on a podcast which you can listen to here – Nick Peroni.
And someone who Nick works with from time to time is the extremely talented and generous Justin Woll.
Extremely switched on, super fast thinker and just such a nice guy. Justin runs the FB group – Beyond Six Figures.
I would say he’s got more drop-shipping success stories than anyone in the business and I dare you not to be inspired by the guys & gals crushing it in his group.
Even if you’re going the longer, slower, build a brand, build an audience, sell niche products route, it’s worth checking out these guys anyway, they have some excellent free trainings you may benefit from in the future.
In the meantime, by now you probably have an idea of the kind of products you want to sell, so you need to start looking for who sells them at what price.
The easiest place to start is of course aliexpress.com
However you don’t just have to look to china any longer. There are companies popping up all over the world geared to service this new demand in people building their own micro stores.
Here’s a great list of apps that connect with Shopify making your life whole lot easier when you create your store;
Just spend a couple of hours having a look through, seeing what’s on offer in your niche and which products you’d love to sell.
Here would be a great time to utilise Richard Lazazzera’s 17 point product selection criteria.
Also you could use this fabulous little Product Validation Spreadsheet created by Tim Kock for the folks over at Oberlo, to grade your product based on demand.
I know it looks a little complicated but he explains how to do it in his blog post where you can also download the spreadsheet.
This could be a bit of a job so be prepared to spend some time finding the right products and don’t be afraid to let some products go if they don’t meet the criteria, no matter how excited you get about them.
Once you have selected your potential winners, see if you can order one for yourself.
Check out the quality, how they’re shipped, packaged, the shipping time etc. Also why not send a couple to friends or family to get their opinion also? It’s always good to get some objective feedback before we get too emotionally invested!
Well done my friend, this is hard work but I’m hoping by now you’re starting to get excited and can see the products coming to life on your site! :)
3. Own products
Clearly if you’re making or sourcing your own products locally then you are super clear on what products you want to sell.
However it would still be worth checking demand for similar types of products, looking at where they’re selling, how much they’re selling for etc.
You want to see where your products fit into the marketplace ideally and how you’re going to compete.
Profit & Loss
Once you have checked out your products demand and decided if it’s a good fit for your target market, meets a need, there’s a solid market size etc., it would be a good idea to do a very simple profit & loss exercise just to be sure there is room for profit.
Quite simply, take your proposed selling price, minus any costs associated with getting that product into the hands of your customer and what’s left is your potential profit before tax.
So for example, let’s say you’re going to sell a great quality t-shirt at $29.99. Your P & L calc might look something like;
Selling price – $29.99
Product Cost – $10.49
Shipping – $5.00
Payment Fees – Shopify / Paypal – 2.9% + $0.30 – $1.17
Advertising per unit (approx) – $5.00
Overheads – staff / time etc – $5.00
Costs = $26.66
Profit = $3.33
This is fairly typical for a print on demand product, (but don’t despair my print on demand friend, this is why in the marketing section we encourage multiple sales and upsells! This is what increases your profit significantly), but for drop-shipping and your own products the potential for higher profits is far greater, but this is offset by the amount of work involved.
It’s always tit for tat right!
The greater the elbow grease, the higher the reward!
By end of this exercise you should have a clear idea of how you want to start and progress your store and a list of 1 – 5 products you’re feeling pretty confident about.
Great job my hustling hero! Today is a tough day, we’re really starting to get into the nitty gritty now!
Tomorrow we’re going to look at what to call your store / business and I have some great little naming resources for you!
Have a great day! :)
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How is your store looking?
Are you proud? Is it exciting?
Don’t worry if the logo isn’t quite right or you don’t have all the images you need.
A mentor of mine always used to say – Get it Done, Then Get it Right (thank you Jason)
So it’s far more important you just get the store done as best you can, go live and tweak and improve as you go.
I know you might want everything perfect but I can guarantee, no-one is watching you. Sorry to burst that bubble.
Once you click ‘Go Live’, there will be no champagne corks popping, rapturous applause and a sudden rush of emails from fans.
It’ll probably be a bit of an anticlimax to be honest, but hey, at least that gives you permission to go live without striving for perfection!
So today is setting up all the admin stuff. Booo.
Yep I know, but it’s gotta be done.
So let’s walk through it step by step;
Add in the email you want Shopify to contact you on and the email you’ll use for Customer Service enquiries.
Make sure your address details are correct, the timezone is good for you and the currency is what you want to trade in.
I choose USD because even though I’m a Brit living in Thailand, the bulk of my customers will be from the US.
2. Payment providers
Here’s where you’ll setup Shopify Payments, PayPal, Stripe and whatever else you want to setup.
It’s super easy to connect your PayPal account (you’ll need to set one up if you don’t have one already).
Here’s a fab article all about Shopify payments
And here’s a video walking you through how to choose and setup the various payment providers;
A lot of these buttons will be left as they are but you may want to do some minimal customization.
Because I use a theme with a great checkout page, I don’t need to customize the checkout here, but you may want to.
I tend to not use accounts at this stage mainly because I’m just keeping it simple, although here is an article about using customer accounts.
Other than that just read all the options and check your preferred one.
Here’s some screenshots of my options so you can see what I have chosen for my store settings.
I highly recommend Free Shipping worldwide and adding in the cost of shipping to the product price.
In the world of Amazon, free shipping is almost a given now and if we want to give ourselves a fighting chance, especially when we’re just starting out…
It also makes the shipping settings super easy!
Here’s how to setup the shipping whether you decide to go free worldwide or to add a rate.
I make it a habit never to comment on taxes.
The reason being it’s a minefield for which I have absolutely no qualifications.
Add to that I’m a Brit, married to an Aussie, living in Thailand. There are very few people who would have a tax profile in common with mine.
Probably the best in the business for tax advice for ecommerce sellers is Tax Jar, here’s an article all about sales tax for Shopify sellers
Also Shopify has an entire manual on taxes to help get your head around it all, but my advice is to get a good accountant involved as soon as you can to guide you at to your individual situation.
Does that mean you now need to wait, speak to an accountant and get all your ducks in a row before you start selling?
Just skip it, make a note to speak to someone and crack on. It’s going to take a while for the momentum of sales to build so you have time!
I haven’t ever used locations and see no reason to do so with an online store, however if you’d like to know more here is a help article about locations from Shopify.
For now, this will simply be the main address you entered into the system.
So this is all the Shopify email settings.
We will go into email & the Shopify notifications in far more detail on Day 12, so for now just click the main ‘customize’ button on the left and add your logo and change the color of the buttons, so the emails are representative of your brand.
This is where you’ll find all uploaded media. So any logos, banners, images etc you upload on the site will all be found here.
9. Sales Channels
Here is where you can add Facebook & Instagram and any other sales channels you’d like to sell through.
10. Plans & Permissions
Here’s where you’ll go to check which plan you’re on and also to give any staff members access. On the $29 / month plan you’re only allowed 2 staff accounts which is a bit of a pain, but best to give them their own login where you can.
11. Store Languages
Does what it says on the Tin! Manage your store language from here.
Manage your Shopify account payment method here and see all bills.
This is important as if you use Shopify payments, their fees will show here. If you sign up to any apps, they’ll be detailed on the bills in here.
So you’ll probably find yourself checking the bill quite regularly. Just click on ‘Recent Bills’ to get a full cost breakdown.
13. Legal Pages
Last but not least, the legal stuff!
You can use your own or if you notice Shopify has kindly provided templates. Thank you Shopify!
Personally for now I would add the templates as is, make some minor amendments to ensure it’s personal to your company and you can always come back and tweak later when you’re making money!
You will need to add your own Shipping Policy as that’s personal to your store and whether you’re charging for shipping, how long you expect the items to take etc.
Here is a nifty little tool to help you generate your shipping policy – https://www.easyship.com/shipping-policy-generator
Just be sure to amend shipping times, prices etc so they are personal & relevant to your store.
So there you have it!
The bulk of your settings done.
You’re so close to going live, its crazy!!!
Tomorrow, we’re going to start adding all your products so get some rest, it’s going to be a long one! :)
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1. What is eCommerce
So as I said in ‘How Not To Start & Grow an Ecommerce Business‘, ecommerce can literally be used to describe any kind of business transaction online.
E-commerce (electronic commerce) is the activity of electronically buying or selling of products on online services or over the Internet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-commerce
So technically every single post I write on this blog about starting a lifestyle business could be lumped under the ‘ecommerce’ banner, but for the sake of this article I am specifically talking about the sale of physical products vs digital products or services.
I’m going to niche it down even further for you, I’m not even going to discuss Amazon in this guide. (I’ll do a separate guide for Amazon FBA)
I’m talking very specifically about you setting up your very own online shop and selling tangible items of your choice which get shipped out to buyers. (Exciting!)
If it’s Amazon you’re looking for, you can read about our Amazon journey here.
2. Is ecommerce for you?
Of course I can’t answer this for you, but I can talk a little about the pros and cons and the type of personality required to run an ecommerce business.
The awesome things about this business model which are really the same for any lifestyle business model out there are;
- You get to create something from your passions if that’s what turns you on.
- You get to work from anywhere in the world (my entire brand motto)
- You get to sell to a global marketplace (although be careful with this one because of shipping costs – I cover that in the shipping module) – but literally from day one you are an ‘international’ brand.
- You can get started without even seeing what you’re selling (although I don’t advise it). Seriously! You don’t have to have any inventory to hand, you don’t have to store anything and you don’t even have to be responsible for shipping et al!
- You can also get started with relatively low up front investment. You will need a few quid to get your platform setup, get some designs done for your site etc, but you don’t need to layout $$$ up front to buy stock (the downside of Amazon)
- Depending on the ‘type’ of entrepreneur you are (as discussed below), potentially you could have multiple stores in differing niches all earning you a pretty penny.
If you’ve just called your entire family into the room to read out how exciting this venture is and ‘someone pop the champers, this time next year we’ll be millionaires’, just hold your horses! (Brits will get that, everyone else google it). 😉
There is some downside.
Firstly its bloody hard work. Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say and neither will your store be. (Well technically that’s not true, you could actually have a store up and running in a day). But….
Once your store is live then the hard work really starts.
There are a lot of stores out there including of course the big hairy monster Amazon all vying for the attention of your potential audience.
So standing out in a crowded marketplace is going to be tough.
In my experience there are really two main types of ecommerce business builders;
Type 1 is the ‘content driven, invested in the brand’ entrepreneur.
This person loves their brand, wants to be able to offer top quality products. Lives and breathes their message and is impassioned by the idea that they can spend their days talking about their brand, showcasing their products, adding value, solving problems, and growing something with meaning for them and their audience and customers.
This my friend is me. This blog you’re reading, my articles, videos, podcasts, the FB Community, is all born out of my passion for freedom, for travel and for building lifestyle businesses that give us that choice.
Some other awesome examples of this kind of entrepreneur include;
Rachel Hollis is an author, a speaker, an entrepreneur, a Mum, a TV Host, a cook, a podcast host, you name it! Just your all round average superwoman! You can find out more about her through her Instagram profile – https://www.instagram.com/msrachelhollis/
Jenna Kutcher is a photographer, entrepreneur, podcast host, influencer and a huge advocate for female empowerment! You can find out more about her also on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/goaldiggerpodcast/
Ladyboss aka, Kaelin Tuell Poulin is an author, entrepreneur, weight loss specialist, coach, and speaker amongst her many talents. You can find her here – https://www.instagram.com/ladyboss/
Very sadly Cindy Joseph herself passed away in 2018, but the brand which is owned and managed by probably the best in the business Ezra Firestone is set to generate over $20 million in revenues this year (as explained by Ezra himself in a recent podcast with Michael Stelzner creator of Social Media Examiner)
I’ll be referencing and linking through to some awesome resources from Ezra more through the next 30 days :)
This is a long term, brand building strategy that will not happen overnight. It’s going to take some time to grow your audience and your brand unless you’re adding a store to an already well known brand and if that’s the case you’re on a winner my friend!
Type 2 is the ‘data driven’ entrepreneur.
This person is all about the numbers. They wake in the morning just to flick open the FB Ads Manager page to see which ads are winners or losers. What they don’t know about ad objectives, conversions vs page post engagement, lookalike audiences, custom audiences, video watch times and cpc’s isn’t worth knowing.
I’m using FB Ads as the example here, but I could just as easily be talking about Google PPC, Amazon Ads, YT Ads.
They are less concerned with the niche they’re in, or their brand. In fact they probably picked the products based on what’s popular right now.
This my friend is certainly not me and is in fact more like my hubby to be. He couldn’t care less about content marketing or being the face of a brand etc. Are the dollars rolling in? That’s his only thought each and every day. Hence why he’s quite good at Amazon and it bores me to tears. (A match made in heaven you might say.)
You may have noticed that many of the groups and forums dedicated to building ecommerce businesses online are more for data driven entrepreneurs. They have enthralling conversations spouting numbers and acronyms which are well above my non linear mind!
This route is typically the ‘faster’ route to sales as you’re buying attention and getting your products straight out in front of your potential audience, however the ‘content driven’ route will likely stand the test of time far more robustly.
The obvious choice would be to utilise both methods, and for this particular guide we will be focusing on the ‘brand driven’ model first, followed by paid advertising and some more ‘data driven’ methods.
If this is currently all like reading Chinese to you, then unless you are indeed Chinese, fear not, I will clarify all of this through the 30 days ahead and by the end you’ll be totally fluent!
I honestly believe ecommerce is for anyone who has a desire to sell an actual tangible item and who is willing to undergo a steep learning curve (and steep it is) and work their buns off.
If that sounds like you, consider me your female (and considerably better looking if I do say so myself) version of Yoda and continue will we!
3. The Different Ecommerce Models
Print on Demand
So I talked a bit about print on demand, in ‘How Not To Start & Grow an Ecommerce Business‘.
But just in case you didn’t read that, (although I recommend you do), Print on Demand is basically what it says on the tin.
Rather than selling bulk items, you’re selling an item that is then printed on demand. So if someone purchases just one of your items, just one product is printed and sold.
Over the years various companies have sprung up that offer a range of products including t-shirts, mugs, socks, shoes, iPhone cases, wall art and all sorts.
All of these products are left completely blank for you to add your own design.
Case in point;
They all have a cool backend allowing you to select the product, add your design and then add the designed product to your store so it looks like a ready made product.
Here’s a great example of how to create a product using Printify;
Then when someone comes and decides to buy it, the order goes to the print on demand company who print your design on said item and send it out!
It’s a great model, but the downside is the cost price of the items from these platforms is high. So you need to add a pretty big markup to see any profit and you could end up pricing yourself out of the market.
We’ll discuss that later in the 30 days but other than that I would say it’s the fastest way to launch a brand and a store quickly with minimal setup.
Here is a great roundup post from Shopify comparing 10 Shopify Compatible Print on Demand Companies by ‘shipping, printing options, unique features, recommended for, and product catalogue overview’.
But Print on Demand is only one of several types of ecommerce business. Here are some of the other most popular models;
Also fairly quick & easy depending on where you source products & potentially higher profit margins.
With dropshipping you source products that other people manufacture. You promote those products on your site and when the customer buys, you then order the product on behalf of the buyer and the product gets shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer, meaning that once again you don’t have to invest in up front inventory.
This is a great model, but the bulk of your success will be based on the quality of the product, so you need to be spending some time sourcing quality products.
But it does have its downsides and it’s not as easy as many of the articles and ‘gurus’s’ selling drop shipping courses would have you believe.
I will dedicate some time to this model in the next 30 days so you’re clear about the ups and the downs.
So the word arbitrage means;
‘Arbitrage in online selling means sourcing products online with the specific aim of exploiting a price mismatch between two marketplaces, so you can resell them at a profit.’ SRC – https://www.currenciesdirect.com/en/news/online-seller/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-online-arbitrage
In the ecommerce world this is basically translated as heading out to a car boot or garage sale, buying stuff cheaply and then listing and selling for a higher price typically on eBay / Amazon.
I personally haven’t done this myself, but there is an excellent site called The Selling Family. These guys specialize in this strategy and have some great stories so go check them out if you fancy this model!
Not yet though! I still have more to share with you!
This is the model most popular with Amazon FBA Sellers. (And how we’ve supported our lifestyle over the last few years).
You create your own brand. You find a product that’s already selling well on Amazon, then head to a site like Alibaba to find someone who supplies that product. You then negotiate a minimum order of said product and add your own branding to the product and / or packaging. Usually upward of a few thousand units.
You ship your order to wherever you’re going to be storing your stock (if selling on Amazon to their warehouses) and away you go.
The upside to this is it can be very profitable. The downside is you need some money to invest in stock to get started & the risk levels are higher.
As I said above, we have run our own brand on Amazon for a few years now, having built it quickly up to 7 figures in our first year.
I will be publishing a 30 Days to Start & Grow Your Amazon FBA Business guide in the not too distant future, but for now if you’d like to read the story of how we got started on Amazon here are the most relevant posts.
Designing & manufacturing your own products.
This is the next step up from private labelling & we’re now getting into the big bucks, both in spend and potential profits.
Quite simply you would create your own patented designs of products and have them made bespoke for your brand. Not something I’ll be covering in this article!
4. The Different Ecommerce Platforms
Let’s start with the behemoth in the industry – Shopify.
As I said in my experiment post, Shopify is for ecommerce what WordPress is for blogging.
It’s a complete bespoke website with most of your bells and whistles built in, like product pages, cart page, checkout page, shipping settings, payment settings etc. It even has pre written emails for product sales, abandoned carts, shipping etc.
It connects to social media, and integrates with a gazillion cool apps connecting you to email platforms, upsell software, FB ads etc.
Like WordPress, clever techie people have come along and built awesome themes and apps that enhance it’s features and functionality but to be honest you can get started with just the basic features.
Here is a blueprint to starting your ecommerce business with Shopify, by Shopify. It’s a great resource to have to hand, but like so many it’s a mass of information, hence why I’ve tried to break the journey up into a 30 day structure which you can take a step at a time!
But Shopify is not the only ecommerce guy in town.
You have options!
I’ll link to a great comparison site below, but the top 3 I know of other than Shopify are;
I haven’t used any of them so can’t comment from personal experience therefore I won’t!
Here is a superb roundup of 10 of the Best Ecommerce Platforms Compared & Rated for 2020 by Darren DeMatas over at Ecommerceceo.com
Initially it looks like it’s just an Infographic, but scroll down a bit and there is a full run down of each platform.
For the sake of this 30 day training guide I will be focusing my info on Shopify, because it’s the one I use and in an already steep learning curve it’s the fastest, the easiest and the most user friendly option in my opinion!
So are you ready my awesome action taker?
OK then lets get started! 😎
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Ok strange request, but I want you to move your cursor as if you’re going to leave the blog.
Just move as if you’re going to open a new tab or look at something else on your screen. (If nothing happens, leave it a minute and try again shortly).
See what I did there?
If you’re viewing this page on desktop a pop up should have ‘popped up’ right in the middle of the screen with my 6 ways ebook free offer.
If you’re viewing this on mobile it may not have worked aswell, as pop ups are wont to do on mobile, so here’s what it looked like;
So this is what I mean by pop up on your store.
Here is the one I use for Legends Not Ladies.
Please note you don’t have to include a place for people to leave their email address.
This fab example from Printfuls article – 40 Website Popup Ideas to Steal For Your Online Store shows how Dodo case gives you an option to use a discount code within 30 minutes (in which case you’d get the persons email address anyway as they will buy something), or get a code emailed to you for later use.
So how do we go about setting one of these things up Jo?
Well it’s actually surprisingly easy, once again made so by people far cleverer than I, who sit about all day dreaming up amazing apps that make our lives so much easier!
What pop up app should we use?
Here’s a fab comparison Wisepops did in their article – The Best Shopify Pop Up Apps
I have to be honest, I’m a simplicity girl, I don’t like stuff with too many bells and whistles, it makes life so complicated, so for Legends I used Privy. Free, quick & easy!
Now we’re talking!
So as per with all Shopify apps, you’ll need to install the Privy App to your site. (See Adding the App section in Day 11).
Once installed, you’ll create an account on Privy and be taken to the Privy dashboard.
From there you will create your popup.
Here’s a quick & informative video showing you how to setup a basic popup campaign using Privy;
If you want to create something a bit fancier however, you can add a spinning wheel as your pop up of choice.
I used to have one of these for our first store and it converted pretty well from memory, although they’ve been a bit overused now.
But if you want something fun, then why not!
Here’s a video showing you just how to create one of these in Privy;
Coupon Codes & Connecting to Your Email Provider
So these are great videos but they do seem to have left out how you create coupon codes & connect to your main email account.
It’s actually super simple in the Privy app for the basic pop up.
You simply click on ‘Coupons’ at the top of the dashboard. Click ‘Shopify Create coupons that sync with your store’ & ‘Master Coupon’ and add in the name of your coupon.
Then set your coupon rules, i.e., ‘percentage, fixed amount etc’ and add in your value and the coupon schedule.
This will automatically sync with your Shopify store and create the discount code within the ‘Discount Codes’ section of your Shopify store.
For the spinning wheel, my advice would be to go into the discount codes section of Shopify first and create the relevant codes for each spin, then use the hard coded version as he shows in the video using the same names as the codes you created in Shopify.
Here’s how to create discount codes inside of Shopify, which is a good to know anyway as you can use them all over the place not just inside Privy! 😁
If the spinning wheel option is a bit too much to take in right now, just start with a basic pop up and put a note somewhere to come back to it at another time (or rope in a more techie type friend to give you a hand).
I strongly recommend when faced with tough techie type jobs, invite a good buddy over for a few glasses of wine one night and try to figure it out together. At the very least the task will become a source of great laughs! 😂
Connecting to Email Provider
The first video above does actually show how to do this but I did just want to make it clear so you understand.
You should by now have your email provider account and your first flows setup including your discount code flow. (If you don’t have this particular flow setup yet, don’t worry too much as the first email with the code comes from Privy anyway!)
So you’ll want to make sure the app is connected to your email provider so at the very least any visitors are signed up to the correct list for you to nurture and send information too when you’re ready.
To do this you’ll need to have your email provider setup in the backend of your apps section of your Shopify account.
Please see the section on adding your email app & connecting your email provider with Shopify in Days 11 & 12 and be sure to get this setup first.
Then as you create your form in Privy, when you get to the section ‘Automation’, click ‘+ New Rule’.
Then sync to your email provider on Shopify and select the list you want people who sign up for a discount code to be added to.
Whoohooo! That’s your pop up setup!
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So there you have it my friend, your 30 Day Guide to Starting and Growing Your Ecommerce Lifestyle Business.
I do hope this has been useful and has given you some solid insights into what you need to do to get your fabulous ecom store off the ground.
So what now?
You’ve built your store, it’s making regular sales, you have a solid content & promotion strategy in place, an Operations Manager making life easy for you and you find yourself with more time, more money & more freedom of choice than you’ve ever had before!
Well firstly, Congratulations!
You’re awesome for making it happen!
Now if you haven’t already go and create a bucket list.
Make a big list of everything you’d love to do in the next few years with your new found freedom and start to tick them off!
Always remember when working on your business, this is all about building a lifestyle you love.
Lifestyle First! That’s our motto here at Your Lifestyle Business.
Freedom is doing what you love, when & where you love to do it.
So enjoy your business and enjoy the lifestyle it brings.
And if you want a bit more freedom & money I would highly recommend you go and read Nomad Capitalist: How to Reclaim Your Freedom with Offshore Bank Accounts, Dual Citizenship, Foreign Companies, and Overseas Investments by Andrew Henderson.
Be sure to come and join the YLB Facebook Group to meet and network with lots of other amazing lifestyle entrepreneurs on a similar journey to you and to ask me direct questions about growing your business.
In the meantime, thanks for reading, take action, live life on purpose & of course…
Make It Happen!
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I know, I know!
Ugh. This is the part I dislike intensely about business.
Outsource, outsource, outsource that is my motto!
But unfortunately, this is also the part which ensures the business runs like a well oiled machine and will save you hours & hours and $$$ in the future!
1. Get a VA or even a fixed term contractor to start creating workflows for every task;
Sourcing products, working with suppliers, adding products to site, promo material, creating ad videos, shipping process, emails, customer service etc.
They don’t need to be huge complicated corporate operations manuals that are super wordy for wordy’s sake. (Way too many fat cats with too much time and money on their hands).
A one page workflow with bullet points & pictures explaining how each process works, so that as you hire people, or people leave and others step in, it’s super easy to train them up and they can step into any role!
2. Create a video training hub!
If you’re not into documents and work flows, create a private playlist on YouTube and get someone to record all the different processes, so a new employee can simply watch a video and get to work!
3. Get an accountant
I make it an absolute rule never to give advice about company structures, taxes etc.
That is because I am not legally qualified and everyone’s situation is different.
I’m sorry but I have no idea how Kenyan law works or how the state vs federal taxes work in your part of the world or whether you should have an LLC or an LTD or be a sole trader.
It totally depends on who you are, where you live, what your objective is, what the company and tax laws of that country are etc.
So please don’t ask me… ask an accountant! (Get the impression I’ve been asked a few times!)
That’s what an accountant does. They are legally qualified and have the experience and know how to give you personal guidance on the absolute best company structure for you, your business and your tax situation.
So get an accountant.
4. Start thinking about a Lawyer
It would also be a good idea to make contact with the local solicitors / lawyers firms in your area and check what kind of insurances you need, plus just to have someone on hand in case you need them for anything in the future. (You do not need to retain their services, simply have connected, so you know who to call).
5. Get the correct insurances.
Let’s say you’re selling candles and one happens to explode and burn someone’s hand, you want to be covered for that.
Ensure you have all the correct insurances in place for your type of business which a lawyer can help you with.
This is a pretty brief overview of systems & operations, but that is because primarily I want to work with you to get your business up, running and making sales. I am not an operational details person, nor do I pretend to be, so find the relevant lawyers, accountants, human resources info, insurance agents and all that jazz to help you with all the details of running the legal & operational side of the business.
However, if there is an absolute glaring issue I have missed that you’d like me to cover do let me know! At the very least I can point you in the right direction.
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Wowee have you come a long way since Day 1!
Of course it might not be Day 28, the journey may have taken a little longer and now you’re making consistent sales and the business is growing you’ve come back to this post to see what to do next.
Or perhaps you have worked methodically through each day and you’ve taken off so super fast you need help, now!
Either way, it is inevitable in any business, big or small, that you will need to build a team.
You are not an Island my friend and if you want to be able to spend some of your time doing other things you love to do then you’re going to need to give some tasks to other more than capable hands.
This doesn’t have to be a big team, in fact you may only ever end up hiring one other person, only you will know who you need and where you’ll need them.
So start with the end in mind!
1. Make a big list of low value tasks / tasks you don’t enjoy doing
Low value tasks are the admin type tasks that aren’t direct money spinners. You could argue that all jobs contribute to the money making part and of course they do, but adding images to pictures on placeit.net as an example is not a high value task.
Laying out blog posts, filling in product descriptions, organizing shipping, customer service, amending discount codes in emails etc etc. These are all jobs that can be handled by a perfectly capable VA of which there are many available.
Be sure to include jobs you dislike. If you hate to write content, find a writer, if you hate to post on social media, find a social media manager, if you hate FB Ads, find an FB Ads Specialist.
Some roles may cost you more than others and you might have to just suck up some of the stuff you don’t enjoy until you can afford someone, but at this stage just make the list.
2. Create an organizational chart
With your list in hand create yourself a little organizational chart of who you need to do what.
Don’t spend hours on draw.io or something similar (although it is a nifty little app).
Just get a pen & paper out and draw out all the different roles you would ideally love to employ to help you run your empire!
This is going to help you calculate at what stage you can afford to hire the team members you want.
3. Write out job descriptions
Next, one by one write a basic job description.
Unless you’re at the stage of employing the whole team right now, this is more for you than anyone else at the moment.
This is so you can be clear on precisely how you want to grow your business and who will do what.
This will give you so much clarity, you’ll be super self aware of when it is you absolutely need to hire the role in question. When you realize all your time is being taken up doing the tasks you have clearly identified in the job description, you’ll know it’s time to recruit!
It will also make the hiring phase less overwhelming as you’ll already know exactly the type of person you’re looking for.
Here’s an example job description I used for a VA position.
Fully committed, extraordinarily hard working and dynamic Virtual Assistant Required
I’m looking for someone with EXCELLENT English written skills to work alongside me as my Virtual Assistant.
WARNING – This job is NOT for the faint hearted.
You will work hard and be asked to complete some written tasks before even getting to interview stage, so only apply if you’re prepared to jump hoops to get an interview.
For the right person this is a fantastic and long term opportunity.
I want someone who can make decisions based on their own judgement, is easy to work with and who is absolutely excellent at customer service.
You will also be the type of person who’s willing to give anything a go and has the ability to learn and act fast.
Your jobs will include;
Responding to emails
Assisting customers on the helpdesk
Responding to blog & social media comments
Running social media ad campaigns
Laying out blog posts
Transcribing voice recordings for blog posts etc
Tagging & Uploading Podcasts
Creating email campaigns in Infusionsoft
Working with pages / docs to help create ebooks & PDF’s etc
and lots more varied jobs
Anything you don’t currently know will be taught.
The most important thing is that you’re hard working, committed, willing to learn, flexible, and excited to be a part of a growing and dynamic online company.
Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, preferably in marketing, communications, journalism, English, public relations, advertising or related field.
One year of professional virtual assistant experience with web content maintenance, email management, helpdesk support & marketing responsibilities.
Exceptional grammar, spelling and proofreading skills.
Demonstrated ability to combine strategic thinking with creative and effective tactical execution in communicating what is at times complex information.
Excellent organizational, interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills with strong attention to detail.
Experience working with Paid Media i.e. FB Ads etc
Experience working with WordPress (non technical)
Experience working with Infusionsoft
Excellent Fluent English Written & Communication skills
Social Media communication
As soon as you apply I will send out a video and PDF with instructions for the tasks you must complete to get to interview stage.
Please respond telling me why you’re a great fit for the role.
Read my full post on How to Hire an Awesome VA, which includes the PDF I use to pre select VA’s prior to interview.
4. Gradually begin to hire as your business grows
You’ll know who you need and when from your list, your chart and your job descriptions.
You’ll have even system and role laid out with who you want to do what, so the hiring becomes the easy part! (She says optimistically!)
It’s a fine balance however. Hire too early and you’ll eat up all your cashflow making it tougher to reinvest in the business which means you’ll slow growth.
Hire too late and you’ll be burning the candle at both ends, unable to meet the demands of your business, potentially letting customers down and slowing down growth.
So my recommendation is as soon as possible…
5. ASAP – Hire an awesome VA or an Ops Manager.
So this will be open for debate depending on who you are and what your goals are.
My recommendation is that you want to work very hard to hire an exceptional VA who will over time turn into your Operations Manager, or just outright hire an Ops Manager if you have the budget.
The reason being, you could go very quickly from spending all your time running all of the operations of the business to simply spending all of your time managing the team who are running all the operations of the business.
You save no time, simply moving from Operator to Manager, rather than owner.
Now that might be fine for you, at least for a time and if that’s the case, great!
But if your objective is to reduce the time you spend in the business and give yourself more time freedom to pursue other hobbies or spend time with family, travel, start another business etc, then the quicker you can not only hand over the operations but the management of the operations, the better!
Start with the end in mind, hire that VA / Ops Manager as soon as you can and you’ll be on a winning journey my friend!
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You are rocking and rolling my friend!
By now you should either have a nice slow but steady drip of sales coming in or perhaps the faucet opened wide and they’re flowing in thick & fast!
Either way, once you feel comfortable with your content efforts, your review system is all setup, you have ad campaigns running and things are moving along ticketyboo, it might be time to add in some further streams of income to make your store even more profitable.
Income stream 1
You of course have your store. That’s where the bulk of your sales will come from.
Income stream 2
Can you add a digital product to complement your physical products?
For example, let’s say you sell golf equipment. Can you create a video series and interview / video golf pros on perfecting your swing?
Or perhaps you sell pet products, can you also sell pet training or grooming video training or an ebook?
As per my gardening example, not only do we sell gardening tools, but ebooks & videos on different elements of gardening.
There are a multitude of ways you might be able to add a digital product to your arsenal and be able to offer it out to all your current and new customers visiting your store!
Income Stream 3
Much like No 2, but taking it a step forward, can you offer a coaching or consulting service to your store.
For example a friend of mine recently asked for advice on selling her skin care products and something she wants to do is charge for one to one online facial training services.
Back to my pretend gardening site, if you remember one of my income streams was a done for you service to design your garden.
Maybe you sell jewelry that you make yourself can you charge an hourly fee for someone to get lessons directly from you for them to start making their own?
Perhaps you sell female empowerment t-shirts & products because you’re passionate about women stepping up. Can you sell hour long empowerment coaching sessions for ladies who need a bit of support and encouragement?
Income Stream 4
Now you have a bit of traffic coming to your site, can you attract sponsorship or advertising deals for well placed and relevant products or services complimentary to yours?
Income Stream 5
Perhaps there are lots of products on Amazon that compliment but don’t compete with yours. Can you become an Amazon Associate and affiliate for those products, by adding them to your site?
Using Ladyboss as an example again, she sells supplements, merchandise, coaching programs, digital programs and a book. She pretty much does it all!
You don’t have to go this far, but you can see the potential to diversifying into lots of streams of income.
Please note though….
Start with one! Focus in, make it work and then add in others as you grow.
Get big doing one thing, stay big by diversifying!