An Honest Update – For Your Sake Read This!

So it has been six months since we started the businesses, the supplement company, and the t-shirt business on the back of that, so it is high time we injected an honest update into the internet and please for your sake read this, not for my sake as I have already made the best choice I think for myself and my goals.

Supplement Company

As you may or may not recall the business I started was a supplement company, called GFPharma, I found the suppliers and paid the money just before covid struck and we began,

So far the company has cost us more money than it has made, in fact, without going into the actual financials (I am by trade a network security engineer so I am paranoid about what is and isn’t shared) we have lost that much money that if you count the initial purchase as a loss (which it becomes should the company cease) then we have DOUBLED our loss.

Marketing Strategy

A word of mitigation, when we started we both accepted that neither of us were experienced at online marketing so this would be a slow burner, however the actual experience of doing the marketing was as soul destroying as it can possibly get.

Methods we Tried

  1. Facebook Advertising (unpaid)
  2. Facebook Advertising (paid)
  3. Instagram Posts (unpaid)
  4. Instagram promotions (paid)
  5. Contacting “Influencers” on Instagram (more on them later)
  6. Google Advertising (unpaid)
  7. Google pay per click (paid as name suggests)
  8. Traditional Advertising (at local gym)
  9. Product Placement (at local gym)
  10. Merchandise
  11. Free Giveaways
  12. Free Giveaways (to product testers)
  13. Starting a Facebook page for engagement
  14. Creating Fitness Blogs

The Result

More money loss, we increased visits “clicks” to the Shopify shop but no sales, as a result of this we underwent a massive re-design of the site and had it assessed to check that it looked and felt professional, it has to be said at this point that Shopify do a really good job on the whole providing both the shop fronts and help and assistance when it is required.

No sales, No sales, No sales, this is the only message I have from this, the product is good the quality is on point and the website looks good so what was missing?

Before we discuss the truth, a word about my favourite subject, Instagram “Influencers”

Influencers

The news and the media have always buzzed with the downfall of stars from all walks of fame and fortune, from young to old they fall at an alarming rate as the reality that they are no more important than the next agents paycheck and that they are not the people that the admiring public hold on a pedestal.

The human mind craves reassurance, we seek out acceptance and the approval of peers constantly it is the way we are made, and when you “normalize” fame by allowing the greater population to become famous the problem does not dissipate it just gets worse.

When reaching out to these people the response when we got one was lacklustre and non-committal, the sums of money that they wanted based on an amount of people that had the potential to see their post on the feed that they scroll through at the speed of light was annoying to say the very least.

Here is the the thing, these poor pathetic bastards with their meagre following of 14k people or even 100k cannot handle the fact that they are not worth any money at all to advertise with, but they will ask because to them 100k people that have clicked follow seems a lot, as a way of justifying my statement here are some follower counts of actual famous people that can command money for who they are.

  1. Dwayne Johnson 200 Million Followers
  2. Justin Bieber 127 Million Followers
  3. Salma Hayek 14.7 Million Followers
  4. Rihanna 87.6 Million Followers

Our company was not big enough to even be of interest to them on the whole, as you can tell I am bitter but I also find it fascinating that they cannot see the comparison between themselves and their social desperation and the fact that fame and fortune on any platform has the same has it has always been.

Motivational Speakers

If you were to believe all the bullshit on youtube and the internet as a whole you would believe that there is just a method you can follow and that it will make you rich, the fact is that there isn’t, I do not want to destroy any dreams that may be bolstered by these utter pieces of crap, unless you have money you cannot make money that is an evergreen fact.

Awkward Truth

You need money to make money, all these videos and courses will always leave this out, sure you may be able to con people into selling your course for you like Jon Crestani, or try and bore people to death by releasing video after video on youtube telling people that success comes from not masturbating like Project Life Mastery, or even listen to the inane rantings of Alex Becker shouting at you after you have watched the adverts that pay for his very affluent and comfortable lifestyle.

But for the more morally gifted amongst us you still need MONEY FIRST, this is why.

  1. Advertising Costs – A lot, and when I say a lot I mean it, the internet is a numbers game and a budget of 1k just won’t cut it, bank on spending a lot more.
  2. Adverts Cost – Different from above because unless you are in advertising you will not be able to put together anything that is remotely enticing, I spent hours and hours and it still looked shit.
  3. Algorithms – You will always be at the mercy of algorithms unless you more than satisfy point one.
  4. Products – We started with a physical product, and that is why we failed, we did not have the money to buy in enough quantity to compete with the prices and insane discounts that the industry leaders employ to keep small companies down.

You Can Make Money

But do your due diligence first, market research is easy, just google whatever you are going to sell and look at your competition, that will give you an idea of what you need to do to compete.

And there is a really nasty home truth that is sometimes the business you want to do just won’t work it is as simple as that, with the majority of people getting their information and advertising from the internet these days you have to have enough money to convince the social media companies, which let’s face it is really only one company Facebook, you will not get any customers.

I will give you what I have learned so far absolutely free.

  1. Save Money First – Sort out your personal finances before beginning, you will need a lot more money than you think.
  2. Don’t think that you can have a side hustle that will make you rich – listen closely to all these people that make these videos, they all started with nothing, no distractions which means no side hustle, they could focus, and a lot of them had nothing to lose.
  3. Focus – as above if you do have distractions, you can still make it but it will take much much longer, and cost a lot more money in the long run.
  4. Learn Social Media – not hoe to take the best picture of your arse, or “accidently” show to much cleavage to get likes, but understand how they manipulate your posts and your exposure.
  5. Remember that Money Talks – Always has and always will.

Conclusion

I hope this has been helpful and I also hope that you succeed where I so far have failed, and that I can at some point in the future add some content to this blog that indicates I have cracked the code, I apologise if you have found any of this controversial but the fact is that the truth is often controversial and all this is purely my own opinion any way.

If I could go back to the beginning, so read this and do this first.

As we have made further and further changes to our business model and website we have started to feel like we are just getting closer and closer to where we should have started from.

What I mean by this is that the branding we have adopted and the changes that were made would have been better at the beginning as opposed to now where it could just lead to brand confusion.

Our pricing structure was way off as I said in my previous post earlier today.

What has this lead to?

The truth is that it has become so twisted that I have to actually take the website down tomorrow night to make the changes such is the scale of the difference.

This as I am sure you can imagine is not ideal and is completely our fault for not planning well enough, this is a little bit of a rehash of the earlier post but I feel it is of major importance.

  1. DO YOUR RESEARCH WHEN IT DOESNT COST MONEY, when it is done after it can cost money at best and possibly your business through loss of confidence at worst
  2. MARKETING BUDGETS ARE A LOT HIGHER THAN YOI IMAGINE, you cannot operate a significant marketing campaign with less than a couple of k at least.
  3. ONLY LAUNCH WHEN YOU ARE READY, we tell children to not rush across a road when crossing as there is more chance they will trip, same here you are walking into a crowded motorway (highway) and if you rush you will stumble and if you dont get up quick enough you will get squashed.

That really is it for now, please plan before you start losing money, plan now and succeed tomorrow.

Everything we have had to change and still no sales!!!!!

As we go further and further into the rabbit hole I am starting to wonder if we are cursed or did we really just get it this wrong? you see we have had to change so many things after a rethink so here is everything we have had to change as we have had zero sales.

Paid Ads

This is the AD that was run.

OK, so paid AD’s the holy grail right ? no not if you get it wrong it would seem, this ad cost us £100 for a week and reached over 200k people, all within our target range and all with fitness as an interest one way or another, and the store sessions increased exponentially, but no sales.

Personally I do not see what is really wrong with the advert, it has the products prominent it has a logo that is memorable and it is all very in keeping with the style of business, but still nothing.

The lesson here is not clear, after all was the advert bad? or simply is the web page unable to convert visitors into buyers?

Sales Funnel

So the conventional wisdom is that when they get to the landing page it should entice them to move further down the sales funnel and buy, but this just did no happen, the bounce rate initially was bloody terrible, it did improve with the re-design of the site but still not much, and obviously not enough to garner any sales.

Lesson here really is, if you are going to pay for advertising then you have to make sure that everything, and I do mean everything is ready for the customer at the other end because if you don’t then you are simply giving money to Zuckerberg and he has enough.

Thinking you have enough money.

If you have, then this blog is the last thing you would be reading so I am on safe ground, and listen, it is not an insult to say you haven’t got enough money to launch a product the best way, it just is, the best way to launch a product is to throw a lot of money at it, big advert budget, big budget to create the advert in the first place, and endorsements from people that others follow or look up to.

Unknown Brand and Pricing.

Basically we fell into the trap of looking at what competitors were selling their stuff for and thought that as long as we were a little cheaper or the same price that would be enough, it is not,

The Brand is completely unknown, and to be fair the world is a changing place and celebrity now is more about how many followers you have as opposed to how much money your last movie made,

So you need to get the product into the hands of somebody that people listen to, again with the right budget the world is your oyster as social media has meant that people are following and listening to lots and lots of people that otherwise nobody would ever know, and like lemmings they will follow these people and listen to them no matter what.

The Two Ways to Make a Brand Successful, In my Opinion.

Money

You need money, the internet is the place where money for advertising goes a lot further than it used to, what mean by this is that you have to realise every part of your business that a customer sees is advertising, if you have a really good dynamic website that is all part of it, in fact you can build a Knightsbridge storefront with very little money these days as everybody is racing to the bottom as they try and outdo each other on price.

Be Cheaper

Don’t over price your products, I mean you should make sure that you are making a profit, after all if all you make is a loss then the business is not a business it is just a really expensive hobby, that will ultimately fail, aim for around 15% on each item if you are selling in a crowded market.

So the Conclusion

We are literally taking down the site this weekend (time of writing) and re-working prices to try and get some sales, for the record here are some of the things we have tried that have not worked.

  1. Discounts – No matter how much we discounted it didn’t matter, people don’t give a shit about a name they do not know.
  2. Free Postage and Packing – see point 1.
  3. Contacting “Influencers” on Instagram – They don’t even get back to you, this is because (I suspect) they have never heard of the brand, so they will want to be paid.
  4. Getting Followers on Instagram – I only have 250 so that is no good, we will see how that goes if it builds up.

The Plan

So the plan is simple, not to give up, we will make the changes and see where that takes us, the key appears to be brand popularity, and that is what we are going to go for after removing Free P&P, it never worked, dropping prices to lower than big name brands, and attempt to get some involvement from influencers.

But we will keep on going, and I will not stop until I see a six figure income, and at that point I still won’t stop I will just pay somebody else to do the work for me.

Happy Saturday all, and good luck with everything you are pursuing.

Crikey Moses – remember your legal pages !!!!!

I didn’t, and I was sat wondering why the hell Google had an issue with my site, was it personal? I was getting pretty paranoid I can tell you.

No it wasn’t personal it turns out that as part of any theme on shopify there is a section specifically in the site settings that deals with returns policy and terms of service and so on, I thought creating a page with these in would be enough but no, I guess that Google knows where to look and just didn’t want to tell me what was wrong !!!!

Sorry for quick post but thought it might help.

Be Careful What you Wish For…

Odd title I know, but I will explain as quickly as I can, you see I really wanted my own supplement company, and I mean my own brand, I wanted my name and my marketing and it was a vision of success and big cars, but the problem is I got it….

You see before looking into any other option, I simply found a supplier that had a low minimum quantity and purchased from them based on the lack of competition at their quantity level.

OK So How Wrong Was I This Time?

Immeasurably, I was so wrong I could happily hang my own head in shame, what I didn’t think about was the fact that I was starting with an unknown brand, no name no promotion already in place nothing.

The time and resource that is required to move a brand from unknown to big enough to supply the manager at wherever you work the bird and walkout for a better life is massive, and much bigger than I thought.

How I intend to Fix it…

I intend, and in fact have already ordered from a wholesaler that I found so that I can start selling mainstream products, those that people have already spent millions promoting, and I will use the profits from that to build my brand to a point where it can compete, exactly what I should have done in the first place.

Conclusion

I am a TOOL, simple as that, do yourself a favour and if you take no heed of anything I ever say at least follow this bit of advice, make sure that you really want to do what you think you want to do before you do it!!

Maximize Short Term Giveaways and Stay Away from Longterm

Although I have said in the past that the internet provides the ability for the small player, the person without too much money, to compete with the larger companies and the bigger advertisers There are limitations to this,  one of those is offering free postage and packing,  although this may not seem to be a huge issue you have to run the numbers before you start and that is where unfortunately dear readers, I went wrong this time.

Learning is Painful – Really it is!

 you see your product isn’t worth anything if you don’t make any money for it simple as that, that’s what we’re all here for and whilst we want to entice people to buy our products giving stuff away in the short term is a one-off cost let’s say,  providing a service however such as free postage and packing is a much longer term commitment and consideration.

If I listened to myself all would be well 🙂

 so let’s take a look at just how badly I screwed the Pooch this time, the sale totalled £33,  the profit on those two products  was a roundabout £11,  but because we have decided to run before we could walk and have therefore offered free postage and packing we lost the vast majority of that profit due to the £8.99 postage and packing cost.

 as the free postage and packing was my idea you can imagine that my business partner was not that pleased with me,  and so lesson learned,  fortunately for us this time,  the damage is actually fairly easy to the limit, we are experiencing some footfall  if you can call it that in a virtual world,  but not enough, and not enough engagement with advertising to mean that withdrawing free postage and packing would cause any kind of damage to the brand.

 where I went wrong in this particular instance (and it was me that went wrong)  was I got carried away with the idea of simply shifting products,  and that is the fundamental mistake that I made and the fundamental mistake that I don’t want you to make,  remember why you started this,  you started to make money that is your primary Motivator,  your primary Motivator is not to shift products,  and whilst that sounds screwy let me explain.

 if somebody right now said I will give you £200 a day to do absolutely nothing,  you don’t have to sell,  work or suffer,  you simply need to sit on your backside and earn the money and that is literally it,  I would imagine that the vast majority of people reading this would jump at the chance and all be earning their £200 a day before finishing the end of this post (if anybody ever does).

 and that actually is entirely the point the fact is you are not trying to move your products the only thing you are interested in is getting the money, and money lost is money lost,  the idea of a “ loss leader”  a concept that is employed by the vast majority of supermarkets,  is that one loses money on a product to entice a customer further into the shop where they will then see more expensive products at a higher profit margin and the money will be returned and increased,

 however as in my case,  you simply make a situation whereby your paying customers to take your products that is not a loss leader that is simply a loss.

Conclusion

 the moral of this particular sad Tale,  is simply that you need to do complete research and by complete research I mean you need to look at what you are going to sell why you are going to sell it and what you’re looking to get out of it,  if what you are looking to do is make money,  then you need to run the numbers accurately,  the numbers are the most important part of this you need to run them and you need to know them,  business has always moved quickly,  people that are able to move quickly and are versatile make money in business and those that take forever to shift or to move to a new product ultimately will always fail,  this can be seen with the recent events and the fact that the high street is dying as a result,

 it could be argued the High Street was already dying, I get that,  but certainly because shops and bricks-and-mortar unable to move quickly to respond to buyers trends they are stuck and their costs are still fixed so basically on a huge scale they are doing exactly what I’ve just done.

  good luck all remember to run the numbers and hopefully I’ll be back with some more more positive news in the very near future (tomorrow).

You are everything at first !!

I wanted to point out some of things that are missed by the Guru’s, you are everything at first, and what I mean by that is that you are marketing, sales, picking/packing customer relations, social media, and purchasing, the buck really does stop with you.

You are probably thinking YAWN I know!

But unless you are doing it you don’t know, listen the fact of the matter is, unless you can have all your products sold through Amazon Fulfillment Which cost a fortune in stock initially,

You will have to be the person that is responsible for purchasing marketing picking packing and selling,  the problem this presents is never addressed in any of these marketing Guru videos, these millionaires telling you how they did it and how you should be doing it, and the people that are apparently making $10,000 a second from selling rubber dog poop,

My working days have extended from the 10 hours daytime working, to around 18 hours on an average day and that’s 7 days a week,  this is because there is no start your site and become a millionaire, there is no no fast track to getting your goods to the top of the Google search engine,  and although shopify YouTube all these are brilliant places to sell Amazon is fantastic you’ve got to bear in mind that you are there with hundreds of thousands of others all trying to do exactly the same thing.

The history of life has always been written by the winners,  and ultimately the winners in life have always been the people that have got the largest amount of resource,  as much as nobody wants to hear it and as much as it would be lovely if it wasn’t the case, the fact is that resource equals directly the amount of money you have to spend, this isn’t a myth this isn’t me being all upset and sad and bitter that I haven’t sold a million protein powders and now I’ve got a Bentley in a big house and we never have to worry about money again, it’s literally a fact, when you look into the background of a lot of these gurus (as I have said before), normally it is the case that “when I started this business all I had was a dream and 3 million dollars”..

YOU CAN MAKE IT!

But you can make it, the internet as I’ve said many times before, is still a very very fertile Goldmine,  the only reason I have made this particular post, is because it has come as a huge shock to me just how much time this is taking, unless you have a lot of money to invest, the best thing you can do is just accept that for the next 12 to 18 months you’re going to see hardly anything of anybody.

The one comfort you can take is the fact that the vast majority of people that started at the same time as you, will give up before that time, they just will the amount of times I have sat here and so I can’t be bothered if this is literally going nowhere, and nearly given up, is difficult to count, just do what I do always remind yourself why you started in the first place, and actually the further into it you go the further into that reason you wonder, what I mean by this is that you will start to distance yourself from the people around you, they normally the people that you started doing this for, financial freedom is generally to benefit our family,  and these are the ones you’re going to miss during this 12 to 18 months.

So as a final reminder, Work hard realised that it’s going to be hard work but keep going because the rewards are going to be there, this is the only place where the little guy or girl can compete with the big guys and girls with the big budgets we just need a little more patience.

Hey Hey Progress update – read all about what I screwed up this time!

So I have sold something, no not my soul, although if there are any takers (Mega Lolz).

No I actually sold a product, 2 to be precise, and have learned a lot since I last posted, these were hard lessons for me and to be fair they probably won’t be that easy to hear, but if successful you can drown your sorrows in piles of cash!

Harsh Lessons In List Form.

  1. You are not the magical marketer you think you are, unless you are selling products so quick you can’t pack them, something is wrong, I didn’t know S**t as it turned out and that is why my marketing sucked, stop, take a good look at the competition and work out what they are doing.
  2. Just because you would buy product from yourself doesn’t mean anybody else will, this little fact was very harsh, I thought I was great but no, I had to spend time learning what people actually wanted.
  3. Nobody is going to help you unless there is something in it for them, OK not everybody but most, after all every post I do provides a linkback to my shop so even I am not doing this for free!
  4. There are a million ways to skin a cat, but only one way to get noticed in a sea of people all trying to make money online, shout louder than them, but don’t spam as it will damage you beyond recognition.
  5. Instagram is good, but you need numbers, sorry but the 500 followers you have don’t mean s**t, take a moment to look up Gary Vee on the subject, I did and followed his advice and started growing users exponentially, still not rich though! bummer hey?
  6. Don’t whatever you do give up, I work 18 to 20 hours a day and haven’t made a cent, but I have hope and with hope anything is possible.

Conclusion

So there it is, all I have learned in the past week, harsh lessons but valuable, keep trying, don’t lean on anybody cos they will buckle, and make your business a success!

Progress at last!

Ok so finally things are moving, the new ad is running and the focus groups are working well, our store session rate has gone up 400 percent!

That actually sounds better than it is because of the low number to begin with but I’ll take the glory for now.

So are you rich now?

Hell no! Still not sold a single thing so now we need to address two possibilities

  • The store sucks ass, as uncomfortable as it may be to think this, it is a real possibility that your idea of a store, or mine in this case, just isn’t good enough so we will be looking at that to see if we can get a conversion rate at all!
  • It could just be in the numbers, the reason people can make so much money on the internet is because of the sheer size of the customer base, we are only selling in England so we have a smaller base than others but still, a good conversion rate is 1.5 to 2 percent so the more customers the more conversions! I hope so anyway.

So that’s it for this rant, hope your business is doing better than mine and that I catch up to you soon if it is !

Shopify channel or straight through facebook? You tell me!

So after the major schoolboy error of not adding my target audience to the campaign I fixed it and wouldn’t you know it hits again!

Shock horror, advertise to the right people and bam you get a result.

However my question to anybody who has an opinion is, is it worth using the shopify channel api? After all direct through Facebook is much more flexible and the analytics are more complete.

I am going to try and run some different campaigns direct for the next couple of days and see how it goes, but I would live to hear from anybody with more experience than me (which will be the vast majority of you) if you have an opinion either way.