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How I Built My Shopify Store from $0 to almost Half a Million in Revenue over 18 months

Before we get started, let’s get some proof out of the way.

Here are my lifetime Facebook Ads metrics for the store. Here are the Shopify metrics, which I can verify live for a mod if needed. I can also privately share the escrow payment for the sale of the store.

I'm not allowed to share the exact profit margin, but it was pretty typical for ecommerce standards.

Pre-Launch

First, some background on where I was before creating this store. Towards the end of 2018, I was in the midst of a plan to do anything I could to escape working a full time job. At the time, I was an Aerospace engineer but had already decided even a year prior that I wanted to leave and work for myself. I was flipping stuff on eBay and making a good amount of money but really wanted to take my experience in online sales to the next level. I had also built a solid foundation in the Esports industry as a journalist, but felt if I could take on the extra challenge.

Having already dabbled in dropshipping as far back as 2015, I wanted to do something similar but separate myself from the crowd. Dropshipping is simply a fulfillment method, so I knew the differentiator would be in the store design and more importantly the product selection. I paid for a premium theme and spent nearly a month fine tuning it.

When choosing the product, I wanted to reduce competition and make the barrier to entry much higher. Therefore, I browsed the internet until I could find product(s) manufactured within the United States but didn’t have a ton of attention. I did this for one main reason: shipping speed. If I could offer quick shipping, that would give me a leg up.

I looked every single day for weeks, searching with U.S. suppliers, on ETSY, and for other niche websites that came up when searching for American made products. Eventually I landed on a group of cool products that had hardly any attention and had a small personal store. I contacted them and asked if they would drop-ship orders for me and/or provide items at a bulk discount. To my surprise, they agreed to both!

One additional reason I was optimistic about the product line I had found was that the suppliers social media presence was small and they weren’t running ads. For those who aren’t aware, you can go to any Facebook page and look at the Page Transparency section. If the page is running ads, it will show them to you.

This effort and correspondence is what separated me from the crowd and is absolutely the route I would go if I were to create another store. It takes more effort to do this than browse AliExpress.

Launch

Almost immediately, the store was profitable when advertising with Facebook. I had previous experience here, which goes a long way. I got permission to use the suppliers’ photos originally but once I knew it was a hit, I ordered the products for myself to have photographed in a lifestyle setting. I also added Google Ads to the mix, but those only accounted for about ~5% of the sales. Another big part of the business was adding the three most popular products to Amazon FBA. That accounted for about ~7% of the total sales.

To top things off, in April of 2019 I found a perfect complimenting product that would be fantastic for upselling. I had it photographed with the other products and started advertising with it, which caused things to really pop. I fulfilled that item from my own office before I realized I could have just asked the supplier to do it. Lo and behold, they were willing to supply it and it only cost me pennies to have them do it once you factored in the savings in postage on my end. It was going so well and I had hit some personal finance benchmarks that left me feeling comfortable enough to leave my job in July.

Pre-Sale

After a fantastic holiday season, I decided I wanted to move on and sell the store despite its success. This was always an inevitability because while I am passionate about building businesses, I wasn’t passionate about the niche. To me, the payout was worth freeing up time for future projects.

In January, I began the process of having Empire Flippers vet the business to list it for sale. Long story short, it sold in March and I recently received a payout for a majority of the sale price. The rest is contingent on the transition of Amazon FBA listings here soon.

Summary

Overall, I think my success hinged on a few things that I highlighted throughout this but will list again and add a couple.

  • Product Selection
  • Shipping Speed
  • Prompt Customer Service
  • Unique Advertising Photos
  • Email and Text Marketing
  • Clean and Professional Looking Website
  • Working Phone Number Displayed on Website

Don’t let this story fool you into thinking there weren’t challenges and failures with this store in particular or ventures I’ve had in the past. You will fail, but you will also learn.

I’d be happy to answer any questions people have about my journey or about their personal situations.

Extra help

I have published an eBook to help you guys build successful businesses! The download of this eBook also includes a FREE copy of software designed to optimize the traffic to your site!

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