Starting an Ecommerce Website in 2011
Back in 2008, as with many other Bloggers, I used to reveal some of the ways that I make money online.
Today, most Bloggers – myself included – don’t reveal their sources of income or how they go about generating it as so many lazy, unethical and unoriginal copy-cats rip off your ideas and destroy them.
In the past I actually really enjoyed doing my monthly income report posts as I received some really positive feedback from other like-minded entrepreneurs who were trying to get started online.
By sharing what worked, and what didn’t for me, they were able to learn from that and try some of the strategies out for themselves.
However, at some point, as the word spread that people were making money online Blogging and Affiliate Marketing, hoards of so called “entrepreneurs” rushed to try to cash in on the gold mine.
Unwilling to put in any actual work or creativity to build projects that actually produced some sort of value for the world, they instead just focused on trying to find the fastest, shortest, easiest way to rip off someone else and to make a quick buck.
Of course, as any real-world entrepreneur will tell you – that never works long term.
The principles which make you successful as an online entrepreneur, are identical to the principles that make you successful in the “real” world.
Integrity, intuition, creativity, perseverance, belief in yourself and your ideas, and your ability to execute on those ideas are all a part of what it takes to succeed online and offline.
Unfortunately, most people are not willing to put that kind of effort in so instead they are always chasing the next quick buck.
Because of this, as I mentioned above, I don’t really like to reveal a lot of my projects anymore. Some of the top Bloggers in the MMO niche I have spoken to have also expressed the same sentiment.
Some of them have been ripped off much worse than I have in the past because they have a much bigger profile and shared a lot more details about their projects.
The truth is that unfortunately I have had to hold back a lot of information on my projects from my Blog audience, which I think is a shame as I think it would help a lot of other people get started.
I do share a lot more details about how I make money online with my one-on-one mentoring clients as well as my Paulymath Mentorship Club students, because there I have a much better handle on who everyone is and I would know if someone is ripping me off.
For the Ethical Entrepreneurs
Having said all that, I do want to give offering more transparency on some of my projects another try.
The reason for this is because I believe the “Make Money Online” niche has matured a bit more now, and a lot of the unethical rip-offtreneurs have left in the last year or so in a mass exodus to find their next “get rich quick” schemes. Not sure what the flavor of the year is for them now – back to MLM’s? flipping real estate? penny stocks? forex? online poker? Who knows.
Either way, good riddance to them.
Once again I’m seeing a lot more people who do exhibit some of the qualities I mentioned before coming into the market and they genuinely want to learn how to make money online without being stupid about it and ruining it for everyone.
The biggest challenge I see with such entrepreneurs who are just starting out with making money online is that they have no inspiration or examples of some of the things that you can do online in 2011 to produce results.
The Internet is littered with all kinds of examples of what worked in 2006-2009, but after that it’s mostly a black hole as most people went underground with their projects.
So, in hopes that this project might inspire someone like that out there, I have decided to share a new project I’ve just launched.
I don’t know if this project will work.
I don’t know if it will be ultra successful, a complete flop, or somewhere in between.
But, either way, I figure if I share it maybe some of you can learn something from it.
Even if the project completely flops at least you can learn from what doesn’t work.
And if after sharing this project, I don’t see some of the downsides that I’ve seen in the past, maybe I’ll share more of my projects in the future.
Helping people like that is one of my passions, so I really enjoy doing that.
Anyway, let’s get to my new project.
My New Project
My new project is an Ecommerce website.
I’ve talked about building Blogs and Affiliate Marketing websites in the past, but I haven’t really publicly talked about building Ecommerce sites.
Back in the early 2000′s I actually used to run a web development firm that built Ecommerce and auction based websites for companies, and up until about 5 years ago I actually ran my own Ecommerce website.
To this day I still do a lot of consulting and helping retail businesses develop Ecommerce strategies for their online store.
The Ecommerce model of making money online is actually a great model if you can get everything aligned and working properly.
Five to seven years ago my Ecommerce site was actually starting to really take off, but the challenge I had back then was that there were too many responsibilities I had on my plate to make it work – not to mention the fact that I was also working full time managing a corporation.
You see, back then in order to run my Ecommerce site I had to:
- Be the creative director who came up with ideas for how to make the site successful
- Be the programmer who developed the eCommerce shopping cart platform / website myself
- Do the day-to-day administrative tasks associated with running an Ecommerce site
- Stock inventory, package and ship it out when items sold
- Generate traffic to my site pages
Of those three things, the biggest time drain for me was the programming / development of my website / shopping cart and all the administrative tasks.
The great thing now is that today in 2011, there are much better options for running an Ecommerce site.
I no longer have to develop my own shopping cart to run the website. I can now simply purchase a shopping cart solution and have someone else take care of that part of things for me.
Sure there were shopping cart solutions available 5-7 years ago as well, but most of them were crap. They were slow, crashed all the time and had very limited features. The ones that were half decent cost tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars for a license.
Today, things are much different.
Today I can purchase a license of Interspire Shopping Cart and get the benefit of an entire team of programmers working to constantly improve my website/shopping cart for a price that would have been impossible 7 years ago.
Secondly, the administrative tasks that I always dreaded doing such as uploading products and descriptions and answering support questions can be easily outsourced to a virtual assistant today.
Essentially what this means is that if I outsource that development by purchasing a shopping cart license, and I outsource administrative tasks, then all I’m left having to do myself is to be the creative/idea person, stock the inventory, sell it and focus on building traffic to my site.
Even traffic building / SEO can be outsourced to companies like Rankpay if I wanted to. Of course there is always other traffic sources like AdWords and Facebook as well.
Overall, I think that today in 2011 it is a lot easier to run a small-sized Ecommerce site than it was 5-7 years ago.
However, as with anything there is always a flip side to it as well.
Because the cost of entry to run an online store is much lower today than it was 5-7 years ago, there is naturally more competition. Also, industry giants like Amazon are also in the picture offering stiff competition with their low prices.
What this means is that I will definitely need to learn and adjust my strategy to fit in with what works today in 2011. Times have changed, so I have to adjust and change with them, but I’m really curious to see how I can fare in running a part-time Ecommerce site today in 2011.
Either way I’m sure I’ll learn something.
Wish me luck.
After making the decision to try my hand at an Ecommerce project again, I was thinking about the type of products that I would want to carry.
My first thought was to try to run an online Warhammer 40k store, but my research showed that Games Workshop is not currently very friendly with their online distributors. Their business model is still very much based on selling their product at their bricks-n-mortar shops and from what I’ve researched, they seem to treat their online distributors like the ugly step-sister.
This is too bad as I love Warhammer 40k stuff, so I think it would be fun to run a store selling that.
I actually still have a lot of inventory left over from when I ran that store, so I figured what better way to start then by liquidating that inventory on my new site.
For a shopping cart platform, I looked at a lot of different shopping cart solutions such as Magento and other WordPress Based shopping carts, but I finally settled on what I believe to be the best shopping cart platform on the market at it’s price level – Interspire Shopping Cart.
Interspire Shopping cart is the self-hosted version of BigCommerce shopping cart. They are the pretty much the same identical shopping cart solution except that BigCommerce is a monthly subscription service while Interspire is a one-time license you purchase.
I still have a lot of work to do on prettying up the design, implementing a newsletter, building traffic, and of course putting up a lot more inventory for sale, but that’s all in the works.