10 key things I would tell those just starting in 2022 after +7

16:19
2022 Jul 04

 

This October 2022 will officially be my 8th year. I started like you would imagine an average broke university student would. I googled, and googled, then youtubed and youtubed and took so much advice in a pill that I was stuck in what a coding terminology calls "tutorial hell". There's just so much free information out there, and 90% of it is surface-level content. The whole point is to make you say, "I want to learn more"..."...and more..." ...more please" until they can make their unique offer (usually in the form of a "limited" time offer).

 

1. Try to Self-learn; Take a course; Get a mentor - The journey into the unknown and things that we don't know we don't know.

 

Trying to self-learn is an important part. You will(should) get a foundational understanding and quickly become aware of your shortcomings from your self-learning, googling & youtube rabbit holing. At this point, you have a clear idea of what you truly want to push forward with this.

 

If you're stuck for cash, then taking a course may seem out of the question, let alone a mentor, but a course comes into play as a 2nd viable option. Courses (should) offer structured learning and a framework approach and in my experience, I find that after courses, people generally can start getting sales (myself included).

 

The mentoring part for me came after an inability to overcome and essentially break through the next barrier. At this point, you may be getting sales but still, feel you have some shortcomings. Most paid courses have private groups that you can get into.

 

Unless you pirated the course when you're not getting the true full value. A huge part of the course is the private groups where everyone works and roots for each other's success. Especially seeing successful members share their stories and help ask questions.  

 

2. Your first store doesn't have to be a winner.

 

I have failed many times and will likely fail many more, but each failure had a takeaway that was applied to my next venture. When I first started, my first 3 stores failed. I thought I had it all figured out until I didn't. And when I ran out of creative solutions, that looked bad.

 

I approached many aspects like advertising, for example, with a "Google will make sure I get sales" type mentality. Not realizing that Google is just a business-only offering you a tool that YOU need to know how to use.

 

3. You don't have to rely on China & Facebook, and you can have backups.

 

The only reason I can imagine is that a majority of people think dropshipping is chalked up to China (AliExpress or another) and FB ads are because of Oberlo. I remember when they first popped up and they were pushing hard for people to dropship through their app. They get an affiliate commission whenever you're clicking from their app to take you AliExpress to finish the purchase. They even said something along the lines of super long shipping times don't stop customers from buying. But what does it start to encourage desperate eCommerce merchants to do? No shipping information, phone numbers, or emails. Poor FAQs, missing terms of use, or privacy policy. I am not saying it doesn't work because I've done it, and I have a friend who is still doing it. Even more so, as the field became more competitive, more solutions arose, such as shipping companies and private agents, which are great. You don't have to think, "well I'm gonna dropship, so let me make an AliExpress & Fb ads account...."

 

4. Varify your website ≠ beautiful website ≠ sales.

 

A beautiful website does not equal sales. A beautiful website does not mean that people will go "well this website does have aesthetic qualities that tickle my impulse buying urges". A great design helps, yes, but two bigger factors stand in the way: 1, the product you are selling, and 2, the quality of traffic you are driving to your pages. I have seen those +$200 premium Shopify theme stores selling generic headphones flop like pancakes while, on the other hand, free starter Shopify themes sell gas grills and crush it. Designing your website is fun, but after that, other factors will ultimately affect your conversions. Sometimes it can come down to bad marketing, or it can just be a shitty product to sell whether it's competition, seasonality, or lack of demand.

 

5. If it was easy then 99% wouldn't fail/leave - Self-explanatory.

 

Anyone who says this is easy is just clout-chasing in my eyes. Like I said earlier, it's fun, exciting, and challenging at times. And it's a great feeling to know you're investing your time into something you hope will return much much more. But the end of the movie isn't usually a happy one. If you have some time just do a google for a 1-year life span, then a 5-year life span. I guess we all have our definition of "success" and "fail", but the test of time suggests that most eventually move on to other things. How many times have you seen that I got $xx,xxx in 1,2,3, heck even 4 months and now they are positioning themselves as a mentor? Do you ever get the feeling that they are eager to ditch drop shipping and pick up the mentoring? Any thoughts on why class...?

 

6. Learn complex ad strategy for each ad platform you plan to use - They are out there.

 

I did a post sharing Query-Level Bidding for Google Shopping with a Scholarly article link attached. You can find stuff just like this on Google Scholar for social media advertising strategies and more so. Don't just rely on Google's consumer search engine. An example for myself would be using this strategy for both Google & Microsoft Ads while using Facebook & Pinterest solely for remarketing purposes.

 

This is The Strategy that I've found best for niche & target demographics. The more platforms you advertise on, the more your strategy should be aimed at figuring out how each platform will play its part, how much of a part it will play, and when it will play it.

 

7. Never outsource core parts of your business that YOU don't personally understand yet.

 

This rule is so underrated, keep your outsourcing and learning completely separated.

 

It can be tempting to feel like someone can come in and save the day. Sure, it's possible, but what I'm saying is you should have a clear understanding of what this person is going to do before giving them that role. I would never outsource my ads without knowing how I want them managed or understanding the changes the person taking over is going to make. I wouldn't hire a VA to handle customer service inquiries without experiencing that process first myself.

 

8. Trust indicators > stylish obscurity

 

Your website should have the same basics things you would expect from any other established website.

 

There is no good reason to leave out the shipping page. In fact, it's a good sign of a bad store and shit shipping times. I think some people get caught up in the look so much and can't understand why their super cool-looking store isn't getting sales. If it's my first time buying from you, I am looking for shipping, returns, FAQs, and reviews and if you have a live chat I can see if anyone responds. Again, this opinion is my own, but I have my reasons.

 

9. Learn HTML & CSS - just do it.

 

Need a simple edit to make your website? Oh, so you're going to take it UpWork? That's cool, but to be honest, HTML & CSS aren't so overly complicated that you can't do it yourself. I'm not saying take a coding course and become a full-stack developer. I personally got tired of outsourcing simple design tasks because I was scared to break the code.

 

10. Chargebacks, returns, and bad reviews are a part of the game.

 

As the title says. It's just like that sometimes. The longer you stay in business, the more likely you'll come across this one day. The first time I got a chargeback it was for $1499. My heart dropped and I realized that wiped out about 2-3 sales of profit. I've had customers buy and wait until the 29th day on a 30-day return period to say they want to return and refuse to pay restocking fees. If the customer goes full Karen or Keith and leaves a bad review, it can ruin your day because you know it will affect sales. My first bad review made me think of quitting. Spoke with them on live chat, and every email was responded to within minutes, gave them a special discount, and still get a 2 -star review.

 

Hope this helps. Of course, this is not the magic pill of advice that will shift you from $0 to $100k, but these are more lessons of wisdom that I personally would have found helpful starting out.

 

Good luck on your Journey!