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.

photo
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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Using Trello for Startup Project Management

I love creating to-do lists. I handwrite one for myself every day with all of the important things I need to get done in my beautiful polka dot notebook.

My fave polka dot notebook that holds my to-dos
My fave polka dot notebook that holds my to-dos

This works great for any short-term tasks that I need to take care of, but doesn’t really give me what I need when it comes to long-term startup planning.

I’ve tried a ton of project management apps and sites and abandon most of them after a couple weeks.

At my former startup we only had three formal employees: my cofounder, our developer and myself (we also worked with some freelancers).  My former cofounder and I had a ton of shared Google Docs and emails that kept us on track, but our tech guy asked us to use Basecamp as a central hub.

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