Launching a new website takes a lot of preparation and planning. I first addressed my new ecommerce business, My Wedding Decor, back in February, in “Launching my third website business in 15 years.”
This is what I’ve been working on in the last six weeks.
Two weeks ago, I hired an oDesk social media specialist contractor to source additional wedding-related pins for My Wedding Decor Pinterest board, which I began last year. Unfortunately she accidentally added all new pins — which I hadn’t seen, approved, or written relevant comments and hashtag phrases for — onto on my live board, effectively spamming my followers! These were swiftly removed and relocated to my draft (secret) board for private editing.
It was only yesterday I felt I had enough pins overall to separate them into specific, SEO-friendly boards, such as wedding decor, wedding food, outdoor weddings, and so on.
Despite my friends’ support, and active liking, commenting on and sharing other wedding business pages, my 11-month-old page numbered only about 250 Likes. Paying Facebook to boost posts hadn’t resulted in new page likes, so I bought some royalty-free photos from iStock and created a series of Facebook ads targeting Melbourne brides (recently expanded to brides in other Australian cities) to like my page, which has added about 900 new fans in the last 10 days. I’d like to reach 2,000 or more by launch date.
With the launch deadline looming, I have written and scheduled four weeks’ worth of posts and am experimenting with the best time of day to post for likes, comments, and shares, as well as which type of content gets the most responses. To date, the most popular content is a recipe for making watermelon “slice” vodka jelly shots, which may reveal the drinking preferences of Australian brides-to-be.
Ebooks can be a wonderful way to grow your customer list. I bought a website domain five months ago — TipsForBrides.com.au — on which my wedding decor ebooks would exist. But it has taken longer than I planned (a) to provide callouts, (b) to compile and edit tips, (c) for the oDesk graphic design contractor to create the ebooks, and (d) for me to create the landing page.
Several weeks ago, I attempted to create a landing page on Unbounce but was frustrated with its non-intuitive interface and its non-responsive design. When the first desktop version I labored over was lost and the second attempt rendered hopeless on the mobile version, I gave up on Unbounce and sought a designer through Shopify, which will host my website. The ebook will be ready to launch soon.
My newsletters will include specific wedding information to help brides reach certain milestones towards their wedding day. After my designer created the template on MailChimp, I wrote nearly a year’s worth of material. Unfortunately none of it is complete because the real task has been dealing with suppliers.
As all online retailers know, you have to get very clear about what and why you’re selling, to whom, and for what margin.
I have sourced over 300 personalized, unique, and unusual wedding decor products since September 2014. This has been the most fun — and definitely the most time-consuming — task to date.
The time prior to your online store launch is a little like the chicken-and-egg scenario. You need products for your store, but you don’t have a store to show potential suppliers. So they don’t know if your store is right for them. And you can’t contact them until you have the most complete list of products you’d like to sell.
This is where creating a healthy social media presence certainly helps potential suppliers feel more confident in working with you, which is why I’ve been working on building up my Pinterest and Facebook accounts. But when does your Facebook page look substantial enough for suppliers to work with you?
I began contacting suppliers six weeks ago. Of the 90 or so I contacted, 28 have agreed to sell their products through My Wedding Decor, 20 said no, and 23 have not responded at all. I am waiting to hear back from a further 20 that have my proposal. Six potential suppliers are waiting to see my website once it’s launched, while there are another half-dozen or so who require a trade account, which I cannot apply for until the Australian Securities and Investments Commission updates my company name. So it could be a modest start with, perhaps, 80 to 100 products.
There are over 900 free and paid apps at the Shopify store. The first few I chose to use are for accounting, customization options, live chat, SEO improvements, and cart abandonment. But I start my free 14-day Shopify trial soon, when I start loading products, copy, and images on a theme template. Before I load anything, however, I must finalize the product categories and names and check I have all information to hand.
This could be the fastest-moving, most challenging two weeks I’ve had in business to date.