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Here at Pisgah Peaks Ventures, we understand, now more than ever, that having an income is not a choice, it is a necessity. Times are tough. To counter this feeling, we felt a blog on how to make money online would be helpful to some folks out there. If you’re reading this and struggling with the loss of a job, but have an amazing talent or business idea that you want to see manifest itself to reality, keep reading!
Just this week we started the build-out of 2 new online stores. We know the headaches and challenges with not only getting an online store listed. With COVID-19 interrupting our daily lives and drastically affecting the economy , we wanted to lay out the critical steps in launching your business into the online marketplace.
If you do not already have a product or an online store, we will be putting out another blog in the near future that focuses on this process. While the internet may have made it easier to get your product in front of a wide audience, it is highly competitive. It requires a daily drive to succeed. If you don’t have a clear plan to success, I would reconsider. If you need some more support on this, check out our services page!
Alright, now let’s discuss 4 critical things you need to consider before you can make money online!
# 1: “Where do I build my online store?”
There are dozens of options to build an e-commerce platform. Frankly, it is not as simple as saying “I want to build a website” anymore. You have websites with robust CM systems, e-commerce sites, click funnels, etc. all which can invariably lead a customer to conversion.
When you’re trying to decide which choice will allow you make the most money online, think about the type of data a customer will need to make an informed purchasing decision. Is the product something simple, like a pair of shoes? Or is the product much more complex, say a legal service? Great legal websites have a wide range of data that a concerned client could peruse first, prior to making a decision.
This type of information is great to capture a lead at the top of the sales funnel (general questions). I feel it works so well, is because it doesn’t come off as salesy, but instead builds confidence in the consumer that you’re an expert in your respective space.
The first step to listing your products/services online is to have a website! If you already have a website, say through WordPress, it is very simple to add an online store to your website. These are often referred to as CMS (Content Management Systems)You will want to visit WooCommerce. You will notice our handy arrow pointing you to the WordPress login below! Woo makes it very simple to add/edit your inventory. It also will integrate with your merchant processor, or an option like Stripe is great.
There are several other clean solutions. Shopify is one of the larger ones these days. One of our clients, Crossings on Main, uses Shopify for their online store. Not only were we able to set it up rather quickly, it can integrate directly with their in-store POS system for easier inventory management.
There are several other solutions like BigCommerce or Magento that are becoming very popular. To be honest, if you only plan to sell a product, and don’t need the more robust features that a true website offers, than I highly recommend any of these services. I just helped set up an e-commerce shop and the process was so simple.
Even better, once you have your Shopify store up, you can easily connect to several other key sales channels, like Amazon or Google shopping. This particular store has had some great traction on Google shopping within the first few weeks of listing their product there.
Question # 2 “Do I want to dropship or manage my own inventory?”
This is a major question! Let’s first consider where do your products come from?
If this a set of coasters that you are making yourself and selling online, it only makes sense to do the shipping yourself! If you’re going to be doing all of the packing/fulfillment yourself, I highly encourage you to check out Shipstation. They integrate directly into Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, etc.
You will need to take into consideration time/distance/weight when factoring in shipping costs. Don’t forget the packing/labeling/time required to facilitate a fulfillment business!
However, say you are in the business of selling PPE. You order your product from a company like Medline. They warehouse all of the product. You could certainly choose to have the product come to your home/office for you to manage/ship. This is a very time consuming and capital intensive process. Not only do you have to handle the physical demands of shipping and fulfillment, you must spend the capital to purchase the goods!
What is dropshipping?
A modern, dropshipping solution comes in the form of Ordoro. What is dropshipping you might ask? Dropshipping refers to an arrangement between a retailer and a manufacturer/distributor in which the former transfers customer orders to the latter, who then ships the merchandise directly to the consumer.
In other words, the retailer doesn’t keep products in stock. Instead, it sends orders and shipment information to the manufacturer/distributor and they will be the ones who will ship to the consumer.
I am sharing the below visual from Ordoro’s website. I think it gives you a basic understanding of how they operate and the potential value adds they could present to your business. The pricing of their services really depend on a number of factors, ranging from number of SKUS to the amount of customizations they must do for your particular product.
Now, I think most people are saying to themselves, “Hey! Dropshipping sounds like the obvious winner!” Theoretically, it is much easier to complete the initial order via dropshipping. However, once you add a 3rd party into your business ecosystem, you have a whole other array of issues that could potentially come up. The two key ones being:
- Zero control of fulfillment timeframe
- Difficulty managing returns
There are several different ways you could approach these challenges. Some companies, just incorporate a very lax return policy, so customers can send items back without concerns. Certainly, the type of product you’re selling could decide your strategy. For example, if you are selling shoes or clothes, the return rate could be extremely high. This would cause a ton of potential customer service disasters, and could wind up hurting your business more than helping.
# 3 “How do I advertise my online store”?
This is a particularly complex question for someone completely new to running an online business versus a brick and mortar. Before we discuss how to approach this piece of business, let’s review a couple of key terms:
- PPC- this is pay-per-click advertising. It was made famous by Google AdWords. Over the past decade, the amount of money flowing into these PPC campaigns has significantly increased. However, COVID-19 has brought about some interesting changes to the PPC climate.
- CPC- this is your cost-per-click, so essentially what you pay each time clicks a PPC click ad, as mentioned above.
- Keywords- Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear. The keywords you choose are used to show your ads to people. Select high-quality, relevant keywords for your ad campaign to help you reach only the most interested people, who are more likely to become your customers.
Let’s make some ads!
Once you have some of the key jargon down, you can begin approaching your first campaign! There are several key places to consider running your ads. I think it’s important to consider your offering first. I
f you’re selling a business service to C-level executives, I would probably advise staying off Instagram, and focusing on platforms like LinkedIN.
On the contrary, if you’re selling Nora Fleming gift sets, like my client Crossings on Main, platforms like Facebook Marketplace, IG stores, and Google shopping would all be solid plays.
If you’re looking for a more general approach, based on keyword searches, in the world’s # 1 search browser, than the default choice is Google Adwords. However, just when you thought things were simple, remember Google isn’t the only search browser. it is important to note that there are other search engines besides Google!
Look at the breakdown! 12% isn’t nothing!
Once you have made your account, you can start by making a new campaign that will help you make money online. Check out my video below for a bit more in-depth explanation. However, you can run several different ad groups within one campaign. This will allow for you to optimize your ad copy based on user feedback.
From the “New Campaign” button, you will be prompted with a screen (like below). This is where you will frame the purpose/goal of your campaign. For example, we created a video for a SaaS company, TrustEase. We wanted to push the video out to a larger audience, so we used the “Video” ad to market on Youtube. To make money online, however, you must have people convert!
You can see from the above video, that there are a couple of different choices. If this is your first time running a PPC campaign, I would suggest starting with the Smart campaign choice. If you’d like to learn more about how to run a Standard Campaign, with more customizations please email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smart Campaign vs. Custom?
Google Ad Words is a rabbit hole. There are folks who spend their entire professional careers learning the nuances of the system. However, it is also important to know that Google has “Smart Campaigns” for anyone who does not feel confident in the more nuanced pieces of PPC advertising.
I think the different categories speak for themselves, but if you have more questions about this part, check out this blog on the different campaign types. They write dozens of different ads and run advanced analytics on them to determine which has the hight CTR or conversion rate.
Beyond Google PPC, of course Bing and Yahoo run their own search engine campaigns. Depending on the product, you may always want to consider Facebook and Instagram ads. There are tons of case studies out there about the best use case for the types of products that do the best on social media.
# 4 Connecting your domain to Google Search Console
It never ceases to amaze me, the number of business owners who don’t have all of their accounts linked up with GSC. GSC is a powerful, free tool, which provide priceless data about the performance of your website. You can manage multiple domains from the backend. You will have to insert a small snippet of code into your DNS and then verify from GSC to ensure you’re actually the owner, or have permission to be managing the website. If you want to make money online, you need to use GSC!
We hope you can find some useful information in this blog about some of the few critical decisions a business can make money online. However, I think it is important to remember, that I have only glazed the surface of each of these topics. Each topic could certainly be worthy of an individual blog post down the road. We are always here for you! If you think this content would be of interest to someone in your network, please give our humble blog a share using one of the buttons below!