eCommerce

The 100K Factory Revolution Course is now in week 10. I, however, am stuck at week 5’s training…

After doing my research, I identified a niche I thought would be good and built and stocked a Shopify store with products to sell. That’s the relatively easy part.

The hard part, as it is for every website on the planet, is driving traffic to that site.

Bypassing Google

Google doesn’t factor into that equation here. Besides, I’m fed up with relying on them to rank my sites and pages. The traffic method suggested by this course is to use Facebook ads. From what I can see, every course that’s come and gone that teaches the Shopify ecommerce model relies on using Facebook ads for traffic.

The idea is that you run a paid ad for a few days, assess its performance, and then either dump it or start scaling it up.

Some on the course have been very successful out of the gate and are turning over about $10,000 per month now with profit margins in the 30-40% range.

Many others, myself included, have not had a winning ad to ignite our stores.

I ran ads for several products to test how they’d perform. I got 3 sales in total, but none were winners, consistently bringing in sales. And those 3 sales I did get barely covered the cost of running just one ad.

A Realization

How to target an audience of buyers became clearer during the training and I realized that my niche was simply too broad, covering a range of sub-niches that might have been better targets. My sales were in 3 different sub-niches and a sample size of 3 is too small to indicate which sub-niche to focus on.

Besides, the sub-niches where those sales came in, were not things I was interested in.

Further research led me to conclude that there were very few higher-priced products I could sell in my broad niche.

So I came to the reluctant conclusion that I needed to pick a different niche where there were likely to be more buyers than in my original niche, and start again.

Turns out that quite a few people on the course had come to the same conclusions themselves and also switched niches.

Switching Niche

That switch required the purchase of a new domain name, another Shopify subscription (each store requires its own subscription), and building and stocking a store from scratch. And integrating PayPal as a payment processor. I already detailed how I was unable to complete the setup of a PayPal Business Account in my previous post.

Then there was the creation of a new Facebook page, finding and posting content to that and setting up new ads for products on the new store.

I’ve added some widgets to the store to assist people in becoming buyers – a banner strip across the top of the site, countdown timers on some of the store pages and an email sequence to try to prompt people who abandoned carts to complete their orders.

Results

I’ve run ads for 3 products now. No sales whatsoever. We’ve been advised that we may need to test 20-30 products before something appeals to the Facebook audience and consistent sales start to come in.

It’s starting to become expensive. Each ad has a budget of $12. On almost every ad, you have to write that money off. Some members have already tested 20 products and had no winning ads. One member is up to product 31, still with no sales. That’s $372 spent with nothing to show for it.

The answer to this, of course, is that when you do eventually find a winning product, the profits will easily cover your original ad spend.

The reason I bring this up is that if you’re thinking of following the eCommerce model yourself, you need to set aside a budget of a few hundred dollars purely for running ads as you test things out.

Why I Changed Niche And Changed Focus

I was originally in the Cats niche – you can see that it was far too broad, full of people who love cats but don’t buy much. They love cat photos and cat videos, talk about their cats but aren’t really impulse buyers.

The niche I switched to is Survival/Survivalism. I’m not into the whole Survival thing myself, but I do have a passing interest in it. There’s lots of interesting people in that arena too.

Survivalist Store

Frequently, marketers are advised to pick and promote a niche that they love and know a lot about, because their knowledge and enthusiasm will come across and they’ll connect better with their audience.

But what if your favored niche doesn’t have many buyers in it? Without that demographic, you won’t make much money from your passion.

Other advice suggests that you go where the money is and build a site to carve out your slice of the pie.

I tried the former and had some success with it but Google frequently killed off my sites through their endless algorithm tweaks. I never did anything black hat or underhanded with my sites or their promotion. But yet they seem to be penalised time and again.

Maintaining blogs is hard work. You have to write a lot of content or pay to have it written. You have to continuously promote sites and hope that some competitor doesn’t engage in a negative SEO campaign against you.

And I’m now tired of all the hard work that doesn’t pay off. That’s why I want to cut the Google umbilical cord; why I’m looking at the ecommerce model that’s free of Google’s influence.

There are now almost 2 billion people on Facebook that you can reach directly through ads on that platform. I suspect that a lot of ad business has moved over to Facebook from Google (Adwords) because of audience targeting tools that Facebook provide and it’s cheaper to run ads there.

It’s years since I advertised on Google Adwords. I gave up after getting the Google Slap far too many times – a previously cheap keyword would suddenly cost $5. Google essentially pushed all the small operators off Adwords in favor of companies and corporations with larger budgets.

And, as a consequence, Adsense (the other side of Adwords) has been the poorer for it.

Most of my websites display Adsense. Revenue is a fraction of what it once was. But then, the variety of ads that show up is much smaller. They’re also using ad tracking, so if you visit Amazon, for example, an ad for the product you looked at follows you around the web, appearing on whatever site you visit. And that ad may be for a product totally unrelated to the topic of the site you’re on.

Adsense originally served ads that were relevant to the site and page you were visiting. That’s pretty much gone now. And, as far as I can see, that lack of relevance hits webmasters in the pocket.

So that’s another reason I want to get free of Google.

Perhaps I was overly optimistic in being able to build a profitable store so early in this process. But ecommerce sites are still where I want to go.

So I’ll keep on putting up ads for products until I get those winners and start scaling from there.

Failure is not an option.

I’d welcome any feedback, good or bad, on my Survival store so, if you’ve a mind to, you can check it out here: Survivalist365

The associated Facebook page is here

Survivalist365

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