Business > Merchant Voice

Launching my third website business in 15 years

The countdown has begun: I launch my Australian wedding decorations website, my third ecommerce venture in 15 years, in eight weeks. And like many online retailers who sell items with relevance to their lives, so will My Wedding Decor.

My first website, from 2000 to 2003, was a communication industry booking service called CommunicationGame. I created this after being a writer and editor at Australian architectural and consumer home magazines, where I sourced freelance writers, graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, and stylists. Those who lived in Australia mailed me their portfolios, which I posted online.

By showcasing their portfolio in this manner, it was easier for companies to hire pre-qualified professionals. CommunicationGame was coded from scratch using Microsoft SQL — shopping carts didn’t exist in the same way then. This website was a wonderful exercise in obtaining new business and creating publicity for clients and my company.

Around this time, many friends became engaged and I enjoyed discovering how they selected wedding decor.

From an outdoor country wedding where Sally hand painted the wooden planter boxes in hot pink and orange to match her gerbera bouquets, and Jacqui’s sophisticated, seaside affair at a cliff top restaurant in Capri, Italy, to the New Age elopement of my sister Kirsten at home in Melbourne, Australia, these weddings and decor were true to these women’s sense of themselves.

I had given my friends 30-page astrology relationship reports for their engagements or weddings, and they urged me to follow my hobby for astrology, which I’d studied since I was 12. This led me to set up It’s In The Stars, which I launched in 2006.

I had seven attempts to find a developer who could engineer the customers’ birthdates, the astrological software, and my freshly-written astrology report material to a completed, formatted PDF ready for download or printing as a bound report. The first developer used a proprietary system costing me hundreds of dollars a month. Changes took time and too much money. My next developer in 2010 re-launched it on WordPress, which made it easier to make changes yet it had limited cart flexibility. He couldn’t meet a single deadline.

A year before closing down, my website was re-launched by my third developer on ProductCart, a U.S. shopping cart, to give me more customization options. But Google updates and poor SEO work decimated my traffic. Closing down in mid-2014 really was in the stars.

Eighteen months prior, my now husband, who is from England and who I met on a plane flying to London on an auspiciously-chosen astrological date for my holiday, proposed.

I soon discovered how time-consuming sourcing wedding items could be for brides-to-be. Many wedding-hire companies don’t list the price, the quantity, or the availability online. Just organizing a set of mirror plates and cylindrical vases per table required me to contact five websites.

As my wedding plans came together, so did my idea for My Wedding Decor, which, based on the best astrological date to launch the site, will be April 23, 2015.

The insightful articles on Practical Ecommerce proved helpful in determining the best shopping cart, which for me is Shopify. I like its inexpensive pricing ($29 per month), responsive designs, range of template themes, 80,000-strong retailer community, its Build-a-Business competition, and over 900 useful apps (paid and free) that range from social media competitions to customization.

Recently I hired three oDesk contractors in the Philippines to design my logo and newsletter, undertake research, provide data entry, and rewrite wedding-related blog posts from my old website.

Meanwhile, I have been writing my business plan, building My Wedding Decor social media presence, undertaking SEO research, creating an ebook landing page, and compiling a spreadsheet of more than 200 unique wedding decoration items worldwide.

My tasks next month are to secure relationships with the suppliers, finalize product copy for the spreadsheet, create draft press releases, write the newsletter, and launch the landing page.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Bio   •   RSS Feed