I got lots of emails, pm’s and questions in regards to this post about dropshipping. I’ve tried to reply to everyone, here’s some of the best questions and my reply:
Q: What is your opinion on a niche with 7000+ searches and just a few competitors? Should I go in?
Fiverr is full of interesting deals. This guy has $100 promo coupons for adwords.
A: Go try it, use a shopify free trial, make a site quickly by stealing your competitors pictures and description (Note: dont do this for long or you are going to get sued, just do it to test the market interest) , get a $100 adwords promo code (Check fiverr for this) and start throwing traffic at your site, see what happens. First thing to check is if you can get any traffic with adwords. If you cant get 10 or more click a day you probably have problem: Market to small or USP is not relevant.
If you get decent traffic and CTR, it means there is a market and it likes your USP. Now your job is convert that traffic into sales and email subscribers. If you make a sale, you got something worth doing more work. If you get no sale you will need to further analyse things. Continue reading
(New readers: read how I bought this biz first)
The sale is coming from Facebook. I have been playing with facebook ads because this product is imminently visual and shareable. I think there is a strong viral potential if I can get the right mix of face, painting and pitch. The ad you see on the right is my first try. It has many things wrong, but the core message resonate so well with cat lovers that they cant resist sharing it with their friends, commenting, etc.
The time constraint is weak however, the landing page is not cat themed and requires CRO efforts, the image is not full width. I will have to work on this to get truly profitable stream of sales from Facebook. So far I spent $128 and made less than that on the first sale. Clearly the potential is here for positive ROI.
I’m thinking of doing some kind of “cat of the month” contest for a free painting, to enter you have to share on FB or twitter. I also have to figure out how to market effectively on Pinterest.
I’ve mostly used Godaddy for hosting, domain and SSL certificates in my various projects. Now I tried StartSSL. Their basic level (Which is all you need really) is totally free. Nice! This means if you got geek skills you can register a $10 domain at godaddy, $5 server at Digitalocean, a free cert at StartSSL, and you are ready to start testing a web sales pitch idea.
Some stats to begin
Click is an affiliate network of virtual products. Nice place to find stuff to push to your mailing list
CJ.com is another affiliate network with bigger names and more physical goods
- Design studio: USD $5413 sales, average of $180.43 in sales per day
- Clickbank: $172 on 39 clicks, giving bout $2.24 per click
- Dropshipping: CAD $23890 sales
- CommissionJunction: $40 on also 39 clicks
- Painting sales so far: $0.
Did I achieve my stated November goals?
I did start using some CRM, but so far I did not do any salesforce automation. I find it mentally painful to figure out how to do this correctly. Doing it in an half-assed way seems like a bad idea. I guess I should read a book about this to find the right way.
I did build an upsell package for my design studio. I mailed it to about half my list using mailchimp, sold about $800 worth, many people saying they will buy it the next few weeks. This is the thing I should be working on. It’s not very exciting or cool. It feels like work. I think that with the right upsell/cross sell emails I could sell about $20K because most of my customer would really benefit from buying these services. I should really work on this.
I did not write any “how I did it” post in november. I did write a post about a funny business idea, that led to being offered to buy a related business. I bought it for $1500. The seller made a video in which he explains why he sold it for so cheap (Hint: People like easy things!). Read about it here.
I also sold a dropshipping website for $1150. It turned out to be a lot trouble for so little money. I think I was better off keeping it. It was good experience to acquire however. Down the road I want to sell my bigger dropshipping websites to strategic buyers willing to pay big valuations.
I should work on selling to my existing customers and stop getting involved in side businesses.
I bought 18th.me, a humorous custom portrait painting business that fits your face into classical paintings. I bought it mostly because it’s cool, but it’s also a stepping stone to get my kick-ass, macho painting business idea off the ground.
I’m not yet sure how I’m going to market this. The product is visual, cool and unusual, so it should do well on social media. I have always been involved in “value” businesses where the selling point is pricing and convenience. I’m a bit out of my element. I recently read a very interesting guide to FB marketing. I’ll keep you updated to what I do.
Update: The Need/Want guys made a video about what’s happening to them and they discuss how and why they sold the site (Around the 11:00 mark). They reveal I got the site for quite a steal. Maybe I should just flip the site quickly to some other buyer? I’m not sure I want to be in the painting business. Jon points out that the USP of the site is really unclear. It’s about hand-made real oil paintings but most people see it as a photoshop thing. I think I’ll change the main landing page to something much clearer.
Not a t-rex, not my face
A few months ago I was drinking beer with a friend discussing the idea of getting a custom oil painting made in Asia with my face in it to hang in my living room. There are great artist in Indonesia, Vietnam, etc, that will do great oil painting based on your pictures for ridiculously low sums of money. I thought I should try it once for myself, and then build a business making ironic or plain kick-ass painting based on people’s picture. He showed me this artist gallery featuring american presidents doing badass things: Riding dinosaurs, bears, etc. I was extremely interested in getting a painting done of me riding a t-rex gun blazing! Unfortunately I got busy with other stuff and never went thru with this idea. Did not make the painting or start the business. So please steal my idea and make it happen because the world needs more oil paintings of dinosaurs.
The business model
Select a dozen of cool or ironic paintings, make website explaining that you can get this painting with your face on it for $199. Total cost to produce would probably be around $30 for the artist, $20 for the shipping. This leaves about $150 of margin. I would hire painters using odesk, elance, etc.
How I would market this business
This business has a big viral potential. People will want to share their cool t-rex-riding-gun-shooting painting on facebook, instagram, twitter, etc. I would start by offering surprise paintings to popular bloggers. Odds are they’ll be all too pleased to post about it on their blog. This should give a ton of free exposure and get some sales rolling. Once sales roll in I would make sure customers get a good quality picture of their painting with social sharing buttons to make it easy for them to broadcast their awesome painting.
Edit: turns out someone is doing something very similar!