What a journey this have been so far for me! But I'm there now

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Excursionist
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Hi all, 

 

I decided to write down some of my experiences of the past months with ya. When I knew many of these stuff, it could have saved me lots of time. Anyway it is what it is, I'm ready with my dropshipping store after many hours of work.

 

https://www.sevenedge.com 

 

I'm 44 btw and I have +25 years of internet experience -> my Linkedin  but I had zero e-commerce and advertising experience. So I decided I wanted to learn to skillset.  I'm aware that my past experiences gave me some advantages.

 

E-commerce was holding me back because I'm too busy with my other jobs to buy product stocks and do packaging and shipment. 

So dropshipping was the way to go for me! To be honest, I didn't find many good examples of starting dropshipping stores. Many of the merchants are just too lazy to polish their webshop. They have no clue about customer journeys and they don't understand the value of good SEO.

 

Anyway, I was mostly on my own watching webinars and courses about dropshipping, How does this thing work, what are the advantages and disadvantages of it etc? 

I first started looking for a brand and logo etc. That's the easy part up until you start searching for a cool, short and easy to remember .com domain.... I didn't find any that suited my needs. Until my wife remembered me that I'm still owner of the www.sevenedge.com domain. Sevenedga was my previous internet agency, but that didn't matter anymore I found a great domain. 1 step further in the process! 

 

How can I find the best products? Which products do I want to sell? Which sellers on Aliexpress are reliable? etc etc I had like 100 unanswered questions every day. 

Up until the final value propositions of the store, I changed my inventory 3 times! 

 

After looking into 1000s of products I had a benchmark for myself : 

- Top brand on Aliexpress

- Good reputation +97.5%

- Existence of the brand for + 3 years

 

I had to come up with some requirements for myself cause their are millions of products on Aliexpress... 

These 3 requirements helped me a lot to find good sellers with good products.

Keep in mind I launched my store with around 350 products, all-around 2K product variants included.

I started to create private boards on Pinterest to have some inspiration...

To be honest, the process of selecting my products took me a few months...

Yeah and then you have a selection of 500 products in Oberlo, jeuj start importing them! I removed 150 products during the process of importing because they were not perfect for me. 

But damn the copy description of the products on Aliexpress looks very bad, you cannot use this in your store when you take your store serious imo.

But I cannot write any commercial SEO copy :( So I had a problem and a budget issue... Because here in Europe you pay around 50 euro to 100 euro for 1 perfect product description.

350 products X 100 euro = 35.000 euro, I you can negotiate well, you might get all your copy for around 20K. Still, my total budget for this webstore was 5000 euros. So I had a big problem and I was not 1 step further yet.

Then I discovered Shopify Experts! I posted a job on the platform and within a few hours I got 10 replies from copywriters who wanted to help me out for 3 to 5USD per product description...

I was laughing hard when I heard those prices, I could this would result in very bad copy in broken English :(

But no, that's not true. The people who helped me out for 3USD/per description wrote excellent commercial and SEO copy. I was very impressed by the quality these people from India could deliver...

Ok we have imported 350 products and we could start polishing them while the copywriters were writing all the copy for my products in the background.

Importing the products meant for me removing ALL logos from all images, re-ordering the images, adding the correct tags, vendor and type, removing ugly images with ugly backgrounds etc. This process again took me many many hours to finalize... 

While I was importing products I was taking a break from time to time to choose my skin.

I tried around 10 premium skins before I decided which one fitted me the best. I'm extremely happy with the current theme I bought. 200 USD for a quality theme is an acceptable price.

When the importing was done I started playing around with the 1000s of available apps in the Shopify App Store.

I was so happy to see so many apps with great features. I was impressed again.

But not for long, after installing and testing a few apps, the loading time from my webstore went from 3 seconds to 11 seconds etc. :(

I know the value of SEO and loading times etc, so I knew I had a problem.

Ok no other choice then restarting the process. My theme was f*cked with leftovers of scripts of the removed apps, scripts that slowed down my store while they were of no high value etc etc. 

-> my store is now also a bit slow but that's because I'm running a hotjar script in the background to have recordings of my visitors and heatmaps. But that script slows down your store also... 

I'm not a scripter nor a coder so I found a way to integrate Google Tag Manager in my Shopify store and i was able to play around with all kind of scripts and tags without any knowledge of coding.

 

Please, only take the apps that you REALLY need. There is no need to install 50 apps that you will never use...

I won't promote any apps, but I'll give a heads-up of the current apps I'm using.

Most app are for the backend and don't really slow down my loading times anymore.

We talk about :

- bulk edit products

- bulk image edits (all my images are now the same resolution, the file name is the product title, alt tag is product title, ..)

- currency converter (you need this as a dropshipper and you need a good one that you can count on, i prefer one with statistics etc)

- email marketing program

- FB marketing & FB shop

- Instagram 

- auto image SEO tool (auto ads alt tags to newly added products)

- Tracking service (as a dropshipper, a real must have!!)

- tools to create invoices etc

- 1 fancy app is to create fomo with sales popups (i know this slows down my store a bit)

 

Once the copywriters were done I decided to finally review my store and silent launch it without lots of advertising behind it (cause of covid19).

 

I am very proud of my store because I looked into every detail of it. I took me a few hours to realize my first conversion without a big budget.

The store is now live for a few weeks and I decided to speed up the advertising a bit.

I have video ads, carousel ads, Dynamic Created Facebook ads (linked to your catalog that you have to import in Facebook first) and many other formats of advertising up & running.

This advertising costed me some unnecessary euros in the beginning because I had no clue about a Facebook pixel, retargeting, audiences, .... 

Ok here we go again with the webinars and online courses....

I took me some days before I know how to target people with the right demographics with the right copy and emojis etc.

But all are going fine now, my cost per click for my ads on Facebook are between 0.02 and 0.06 euro per click. Which is quite cheap because you can target almost into your potential customer's living room :D 

I've tested Google Search Ads, Google Shopping ads, Pinterest ads, Snapchat ads but those costs were higher and/or the targeting was too vague. 

So what's the cost of creating a webstore like www.sevenedge.com keeping in mind I did this on my own and 1 have zero knowledge of copywriting and/or coding.

My cost so far is :

- Shopify Theme : 200 euro

- Custom Development (via Shopify  experts) : 500 euro

- Copywriting : 1.500 euro

- one-shot costs (annual canva.com, email templates for notifications, invoice templates, retouches of pictures, ...) 500 euro

- waste of money to learn advertising 250 euro

- all my legal policies handwritten by a lawyer (better safe than sorry imo?) 250 euro

So the total cost for my store is around 3250 euro which leaves me another 1750 euro leftover for advertising.

The recurring cost of my webstore (payment gateway, Shopify and a few necessary apps) = +/- 100 euro/month

I think this is the way to go to have a successful webstore. Nothing comes for free, you will not have a successful store if you don't look into every detail of your site. 

- Logo

- Favicon

- When you have (like me) a lot of products, make sure you tag them so you can create filters afterwards

- Value Proposition (important!)

- About Us Story (come up with a nice story, people love to read these kind of stories)

- Policies (let them check by a lawyer before you launch your store)

- Look into the smallest details (for example I created 250 color swatches etc)

 

People were asking to write down my story cause It was one hell of a journey with a lot of falling and getting back up and don't losing my motivation.

 

I'm fully aware that I'm still a big noob when it comes to e-commerce so when you see any bugs or when you have any other suggestions about my store, please post them below. I love to receive more tips.

 

Anyway to all the people who want to create a dropshipping store that converts, you need to put a lot of time in it. We are 2020 and people don't fall for store with copy pasted copy of aliexpress with the default pictures ;-) 

 

I wish you most of luck in your journey!  (don't forget to take a break from time to time, i worked 15 hours in a row on my store during weekends ;-)  I really hope you find some tips and motivation in my post. 

 

Regards,

Frederiek

Proud Owner of Sevenedge Perfect Gifts

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