One ending, and one new beginning.

In June of 2013 I launched my candle shop, Lilypad Candles.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 5.25.54 PM

 

Today I officially closed the shop’s online doors.

My goal when starting to sell my hand-crafted candles was never really to build a big business, my goal was to gain experience in the world of e-commerce. I wanted to test out new marketing tactics I had been playing around with mentally and I wanted to see what it was like to build an e-commerce business from the ground up.

I truly believe there is no better way to learn than to experience something first hand WITH skin in the game. By putting my own money on the line I knew I wanted to at least break-even on this experiment. If I made a little bit of money on top, that would be great too. And I did make a little bit of money (a very little bit) so that’s nice!

While building up Lilypad Candles I continued to work my normal full-time job at an advertising agency while maintaing my other hobbies (chiefly training for a couple of half marathons and a full marathon).

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A Strategy for Growing Your E-Commerce Startup Email List

As a new e-commerce store owner I knew that I needed to grow my email list with prospective customers that I could market to … especially with the holiday season fast approaching.

I could type out a lot of reasons why email marketing is important for online stores, but I’ll let this chart speak for itself:

email customer aquisition

 

(Source: Custora study)

As a bootstrapped startup I don’t exactly have thousands laying around to assist in my list building efforts so I had to get creative.

I started with an email list size of 0 (well 1 if you count when I added myself to my list to make sure it was working). I now have an email list size of a few hundred and have even made money off of my list building efforts (yay!).

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The Story of My First E-Commerce Sale

WOW! It’s been a long time since my last post. Let me catch you up very quickly:

1. I launched my candle store (the site is my minimal viable product at this time).

2. I started my marketing campaigns and they are doing their job! Blogger relations is where I am slacking the most. Not because I don’t have interest, but because I don’t have time to manage the relationships. I just brought on a new team member/consultant to help me with this. Remember what I said before, time is money so pay to speed things up! I knew I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to blogger relations on my own, so it made sense to find someone to help.

3. I have started making sales through my e-commerce store which is setup using Shopify. (I do plan to move off of Shopify at some point but right now it made the most sense for me pre-launch and it still makes the most sense for me right now.)

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Time is Money, So Pay to Speed Things Up

Phew. In my estimation I am now about two weeks away from launch!

In all honestly, I could have already launched if I hadn’t been relying on some free product photography from a friend.

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Great product photography is worth paying for.

Having a tight group of talented, helpful friends is one of the best assets an entrepreneur can have, and it’s always much appreciated when said talented friends offer their services for free.

However, you get what you pay for, and sometimes that can backfire.

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Why You Should Craft a Persona for Your Startup

No doubt you are building your startup for a certain type of person.

Whether it’s a software company or an e-commerce business, there are specific and general attributes that the average person who uses your product will possess.

persona based marketing
Every startup should craft a persona document.

You should write those attributes down and create a persona document. A persona is a character that you create that embodies your average/ideal customer.

Writing down the basics about his or her life will help guide not only your product features but every aspect of your marketing.

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