"Finally a way to follow-up, without me."
You can find some interesting articles on Reddit. I’ve personally never been much of a Redditor but I’m beginning to understand why its audience is so feverishly dedicated and passionate.
That reason, in one word, is: authenticity.
The content on Reddit is very REAL in nature. If someone tries to push their own product or agenda without adding value to the community first, other Redditors will let them know.
I swear I didn’t try to selfishly push my crowdfunding video on Reddit only to get lambasted… Ok, I learned my lesson and have since fallen for Reddit.
As a reader of this blog you already know that I’m always on the lookout for a solid story of how someone is hustling or has persisted their way to success.
I was skimming the /r/Entrepreneur section of Reddit the other day and came across something intriguing…
[For those who aren’t big on Reddit yet either - anything after the /r/ is considered a “Sub-Reddit” which is how Reddit organizes their content. For instance: http://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur]
A Redditor has communicated with the Reddit community about his online startup journey.
Salcar is a Redditor and the author of what you’re about to read.
Not only is this an excellent display of hustling online it also highlights the steps that anyone wanting to sell online should understand and be willing to take.
Here is the unedited post by Salcar on Reddit:
It has been an exciting two weeks and I want to share some of the story.
I have found a lot of useful information on Reddit and most important a lot of inspiration. I have read in detail the story of Beardbrand here on Reddit and that of the guy that started the cleaning service.
So, I have decided to also share my e-startup journey with you guys and address any questions that you might have. Maybe you find this post useful or maybe I can get some useful advice from you.
A couple weeks ago I posted in here looking for a product to arbitrage/flip (link to post)
I searched different sites (e.g. ebay) looking for a product below $10 that would be a good conversation starter. So I found a few and started testing different products and different niches.
I tested the products by purchasing Facebook ad and spending anywhere between $15-100 over a 3 day period. I looked for products that had Click-Through-Rate higher than 2% and for products that people tag their friends, liked of shared.
I tried niches that either I was interested or had some experience. I tried around 6 products before I finally got one to work. I tried 1 product per day. Around 80-90% of the sales come from this particular product.
Here are the statistics of the Ad of the product that brought is the most sale: 1. Click Through Rate: 4.8% 2. Total Add spent: $318 3. Cost per click after 4 days: $0.15 4. Cost per website click: $0.37
How did I do it:
Set-up shopify store
Set-up generic facebook page (somethis daily deals)
Look for products and contacted sellers
I spoke with seller and agree on dropship model where they would not include invoice/receipts
Tested 1 product at a time only with news feed ads
Tweaked advertisment, tweaked target audience to see if I could improve ad performace
After 6 hours if the CTR was not improving I would kill the ad.
After 2 days if the CTR was good but no engagement with the add then I would kill the ad.
After I found an add that show promise then I would increase advertisement budget.
Once I found a product that worked then I bought the domain name and rebranded the facebook page. Facebook page has about 700 likes now.
When I make a sale, I pay the supplier and send email with the address where the product needs to be shipped.
Next steps: - Today I have stopped the advertisement to analyze this past two weeks and start thinking of a more long term strategy - I'm looking at increasing the number of products on the store - I'm looking at how to lower the cost of traffic to the site - I'm looking to further automate the process - I'm looking at building a brand for this specific niche
My market is the motorcycle industry and within that I'm targeting a small niche.
I'm open for questions.
If you want to read the long string of comments and responses to the post you can do so here: http://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/comments/21bwvz/from_0_to_1000_in_sales_in_14_days_online_startup/
This is fine example of online e-commerce hustling and persistence.
A story like this may move you to leap into online commerce if you haven’t already and if you already have a business this may be system for developing an additional source of side income.
I also know some who would take this on as a challenge to see if they could return the same, or better, results as Salcar.
More than anything else - let this post be another option for starting an online business through product validation.
Salcar used the dropshipping model to prove his market.
However, dropshipping is an entire post in itself and if you are looking for ideas on products you can dropship, I recommend you read the Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping. Thanks Mark.
Although, Salcar has success with dropshipping you might want to test the market for something else like an ebook you are thinking to write or a product you are thinking of creating.
This formula that I’m about to break down can be used for validating your ebook, webinar class, homemade jewelry - you name it.
The variables of the three-step Product Validation Formula is:
1) Landing Page Platform - For validating your products interest in the market
2) Facebook Page - For allowing you to create FB ads
3) Facebook Ads - For pushing traffic to your Landing Page Platform
Also, I am assuming you know the product you are going to drop ship or sell before reading the next three steps.
1) Decide Your Landing Page Platform
You have two paths when determining what kind of landing page platform you want to use to validate your product idea.
The FIRST PATH are for those who:
plan to dropship a product
plan to sell a product they are creating by hand (i.e. jewelry or other craft)
have available access to an inventory of product (i.e. clothing)
For this group, a landing page that allows you to sell directly to the customer makes the most sense for generating the $1,000 in 14 days.
Some options available to you are:
Opening a Shopify store if you are less technical
Opening a Foxycart store if you are more of a designer / developer
Opening an Etsy store if you have more of a creative product
The pricing structures vary on these storefronts.
For instance, Shopify isn’t free but it does come with a 14 day free trial and doesn’t require a credit card. If you are prepared, fourteen days is all you would need to validate your product idea.
The Shopify 14 day free trial is perfect for validation as I’m not the most technical guy and its very easy to set up and understand.
If selling your product goes well then you would leave the store open. If not so well, you could cancel the account. When ready with your next product idea create a new account.
Remember, the reason you are opening a Shopify account is not only because of the simplicity but also because of the validation features included like the analytics engine.
For instance, Megan Auman of Designing an MBA goes into detail why it made sense to take her online jewelry business to Shopify.
The second path below will typically not allow you to generate $1,000 in 14 days as the development time is generally longer.
However, it’s included to help articulate how this validation formula will work for any product.
The SECOND PATH is for those who:
Have an idea for a coaching / consulting program
Have an idea for an ebook
Have an idea for a software product
For this group, a landing page that allows you to capture interest makes the most sense.
The main difference between the first and second path is that in the second path the idea that you have will generally require a longer time commitment to build.
Better to gauge your target market demand before investing significant time and money (i.e. using the Lean Startup Methodology)
Some options available to you are:
Opening a free Unbounce account for A/B testing your landing page
Opening a free Launchrock landing page account if you are less technical
Opening a free Kickofflabs landing page account if you are a little more technical
Regardless of what path you choose, the following two steps are the same.
2) Create a Facebook Page
You can create a Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/create/
The important point to remember is that the Facebook (FB) Page doesn’t need to be complete.
Don’t forget - the focus is to validate.
Also, you are creating the FB page for the product itself - not your brand.
Don’t think brand - think validation.
If the product takes off and does well then restructure the page around your brand if necessary.
Consider this - what if you never needed to create an actual website to validate your product?
Well, there are some companies that have built their entire company on a Facebook Page before even considering building a website.
If there is one point you take away from this post it’s this:
Validating a product idea should be SIMPLE! If you stress too much when you’re validating than you’re doing too much. (Tweet This)
For instance, you only really need to have a few of the basics covered in your FB Page:
a) Image of the Product - could be pulled directly from the drop shipper’s website or an image of your digital product, etc.
b) Quick Short Description - include the value proposition for why the reader should care.
c) Posts - some people disagree but I think when you’re in validation mode, be open. I would write a post or two directly on this FB page saying something like:
“Hey thanks for checking out <Name of Page>. We love this product and see you do too. We want to offer it to you but can only do so if there is enough interest. If you want <Name of Product> let us know by clicking here: <URL to Landing Page>”
Another post might say:
“We need help validating. Would you buy <Name of Product>? Why or why now? Let us know!”
Next you simply need to have a FB page in order to run your FB ads.
3) Create a Facebook Ad
Creating a Facebook ad for the first time is really like swallowing the red pill. You can’t believe the world of ad targeting magic before your eyes and at your fingertips.
With FB Ads you can narrow down to your specific target market. For instance, here is an example of what a past PolitePersistence FB ad criteria looked like:
Location: New Jersey, United States
Age: 25 - 35
Interests: Gmail or Email
Behaviors: Small business page owners, Event creators, Technology early adopters or Business marketing
Education Level: College grad
Income: Income ($50,000 - $75,000), Income ($75,000 - $100,000), Income ($100,000 - $125,000) or Income (over $125,000)
Language: English (UK) or English (US)
on News Feed on desktop computers
With FB ads it’s super easy to create A/B tests. I’ve tested variables like targeting males vs. females - which I found had few significant differences.
An excellent post that describes how to spend your first $100 on FB ads can be found here. It’s written by one of my favorite bloggers and entrepreneurs, Noah Kagan.
To keep the Product Validation Formula extremely simple consider this back-of-the-napkin math when building your campaign:
What is the profit you will make from your product after expenses, cost of goods, refunds, etc.?
Let’s say, for example, I believe that the lifetime value of a PolitePersistence customer is $100 and after expenses my profit is $90. So...
Profit = $90
After running my campaign I realize that I am paying about $3.50 for an email signup.
Email Cost = $3.50
Then $90 / $3.50 = 25.
So if one out of every 25 email signups becomes a customer then…
Facebook ads are profitable and my product is validated.
Of course, if you are bringing leads directly to your checkout page then the Product Validation Formula is even easier as you bypass the step for the contact to supply their email address.
Coming full circle. If you are looking to go from $0 to $1,000 in 14 days you will need to run a scenario that might look like the following:
1) Determine the profit of your product before running FB ads. Let’s say your profit is $50
2) Let’s say you create your FB ads and are making a sale for every $20 you spend.
3) Now your profit after running FB ads is roughly $30 ($50 profit - $20 FB ad spend)
4) How many sales will it take to generate your $1,000 and validate your product? $1,000 goal / $30 profit after ad spend = 33 units you need to sell.
Can you sell 33 units on Shopify within the 14 day free trial? If so, I’d say your product is validated.
Have fun with your Product Validation Formula. Be sure to share your comments or questions with validating your products and ideas in the comments below.
PS: I want to be ‘politely’ upfront with you and say I’m an affiliate for Shopify, meaning if you were to sign up using my referral link above, I’ll get a small commission (which will not increase your cost). I’m only an affiliate because I love Shopify and recommend it to anyone who is considering selling and validating online.
Dig the Product Validation Formula? There's always more to come. Enter your first name and email in the form below and you'll only receive tremendously valuable, motivational or interesting articles from PolitePersistence.