Welcome to week one. Well, I’m really behind so we’ll call this week one for conversations sake.
I hoped you’ve had a chance to read the Brand, Build & Launch: Introduction post. It will give you background on where I began and a short list on what you need to get started.
I’ll go into detail on the steps listed below, but I need to let you know something if you’re just joining us in this challenge.
Initially, I will NOT be sharing the name of the eCommerce site I’ll be building. The name of the site will be revealed at the end of the challenge. During the challenge I’ll be only showing screenshots of stats.
I want to preserve the integrity of the online shop while in building mode. I can’t have my stats compromised because people want to check it out. To be clear about what I’m doing, I’ll need to start from zero, find a new audience and grow a brand with no help from my followers. However, I will be detailing every step along the way. I hope you guys understand!
To keep this challenge simple and easy to understand I won’t be using many buzz words like research and development, sales funnels, market insights or catchy phrases the guru’s use to sound fancy. We’re starting with the basics.
I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.
Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. Thank you, in advance for your support!
I’m a designer by trade. I’ve been designing websites for 20 years now. I usually design all of my own graphics, shirt designs (unless complicated), ads, website elements, etc.. It’s the part I love the most, so this is not an expense for me. You don’t need to hire a professional designer to do any of this. I’ll give you tips and resources so that you can do this BY YOURSELF.
By now you should have completed these 8 steps.
- Check NameCheckr to make sure your domain and social media pages aren’t taken for the domain you want to buy. I HATE when I find the most perfect domain name, then discover the Twitter username has been taken. By someone who hasn’t sent one tweet. Since 2009. Not. One. Tweet. Save yourself the frustration.
- Next, do a quick Google search to see if anyone else is using that brand name or something similar. It’s also a good idea to conduct a search on the USPTO website for any similar trademarks and/or contact a trademark attorney. If you’re short on funds, UpWork (formerly Elance) has trademarl attorneys looking for work daily and will complete a search for a fraction of the cost. Because lawyers are not cheap.
- Purchase a domain. I suggest Namecheap. They offer private registrations and have a nice iPhone app to manage your account on the go. I love the app and the purchasing process. No upsells and offers for products you don’t need and won’t ever use. *I’m looking at you GoDaddy*
- Open a free Gmail account with firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll show you a neat workaround to get a free email@example.com email address. But this will work for now. We’ll also need this for our Google Analytics account.
- Claim all associated social media pages. I typically create a Facebook page, then setup Instagram and Twitter. If the niche is for fashion I’ll also setup Polyvore and Pinterest. Don’t give someone else the chance to hold your social media username hostage. Sign up for the Gmail account first, then use that email address to get the social media accounts started. Services like Claim.io can do this for you.
- Open a MailChimp account. MailChimp is free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers. It’s an excellent option when getting started and you have little to no budget. If you already have an account, create a new list and title it the name of your new brand.
- Open a Shopify store. Start with the free trial. The basic plan is $29. You’ll need to make at least one payment before you launch the shop. So keep that in mind. Alternatively, WooThemes is a great option if you don’t have the budget and Square Space is goo, but will cost $30 per month. However, I will not be giving specific direction on either service.
- Setup a shop on The Printful. They will be our fulfillment company for products. Don’t get overwhelmed. We’ll get setup together. However, it’s possible I may print my products in-house. I’ll figure that out later.
Those are just the basics.
Now lets get started.
1. Determine Your Niche
Yes, do this first. I create in my head the person or group that I want to target. Who are you trying to reach? What do they like to buy? Are they male, female or both? What are their ages? Where do they hangout online? Where do they shop? What Facebook pages do they follow? How old are they? And lastly, what us their pain point? What urges them to buy?
All of these questions and more need to be answered BEFORE you begin. Each decision you make will be determined by the niche you choose. I prefer to document these details in Evernote.
2. The Logo
I don’t like to spend much time on the logo. It frustrates me to work on a logo for along period of time and still hate it. So I limit myself to work on a logo for one day, before I give up.
This time I bought a logo set from Creative Market. I played around with a logo option for a few hours then said eff it and picked one of my designs. I hate it. But whatever. I can change it later.
As soon as I design the logo I create versions that can be used on the website and social media. I create one logo for my site that’s 250px wide and 100px high. I make another profile logo that’s 600px square for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter and Google+.
3. Landing Page
Next up I create a landing page to collect emails using WordPress. Yes, that’s correct. I DO NOT setup a Shopify site first. I create a simple page on WordPress that has nothing but a newsletter sign up form and the ability to collect data from Facebook.
Why do I use WordPress? I already pay for a hosting, so it’s free to create another account using a new domain.
Currently I have the following theme/plugins/ installed:
- LaunchEffect Theme (FREE version)
- Tracking Code Manager plugin
- WordFence plugin
I purchased these graphics:
- A background image from Creative Market
You will need to setup a MailChimp list to collect emails. You do not need a plugin for this, the integration is built into LaunchEffect.
4. Product Ideas
Wow! We got to the products fairly quickly! You’re correct. I do not want to spend time designing and entire store of products for a store that has not launched and has no audience. I need to create a small collection of products immediately so that I’ll be able to run Facebook ads and gain insight on my audience.
I use the following sites for product inspiration. Notice I said I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N. Use these sites to see what’s selling well and how you can make a spin off. Do NOT copy anyone’s designs. That’s just tacky and unethical. Plus, they can force you to remove your designs if you steal them.
To keep this simple, I’ll be specifically looking for catchy slogans and phrases that can be re-purposed. In Evernote, I make a list of 40+ ideas, while highlighting 8-10 items I feel would resonate very well with my audience. Out of those 8-10 I choose 2 that I want to create mocks for. I also like to take screenshots of designs I particularly love to aide me along in the design process. It helps me with spaces, font choices and overall design.
As we move forward we’ll have plenty of time to add other types of products.
4. Design Two Products
There are tons of different products you can sell. But since we’re going with The Printful, we should start be only making products they sell. For this challenge I’ll start with t-shirts and mugs. I’ll take the two best phrases or slogans that I think will create the most buzz among potential customers.
I love a good font! Who doesn’t? If you’re a non designer or don’t have much time I highly suggest you get a font pack from Creative Market. Why?
- They usually come with commercial licenses.
- The designers will highlight different ways to use them in their graphics.
- They are inexpensive.
- The options are endless.
- It’s easy for non-designers to make professional looking designs.
- They are cheap. (Did I say that already?)
Again, on Creative Market, you’ll need to search for mock ups. They have many available. Find one shirt and one mug. I prefer options that look like real photos graphics since I’ll be using these images to run ads.
Other Sites with Mock Ups
By now you should have your fonts and sample mock products ready to go. It’s time to play around in Photoshop, GIMP or your graphic program of choice. I strongly recommend you do NOT use hosted solutions like Canva.
The goal is to use your inspiration on Evernote to start creating. This process can be a struggle for some who aren’t confident with their design skills. Take your time and don’t rush it.
But don’t take too long. Give yourself 3-5 days to create your first two products. Keep in mind these are mocks. They can be changed later or switched with better ideas later. These are only for proof of concept and to run ads.
4. Setup Social Media Pages
The fun begins. We are going to setup and add content to our social media pages. This is what you’ll need to begin.
- Profile photo
- Header photo
- Two product mocks
- Link to your WordPress landing page
- Three posts from other pages within your niche
- Add content to your bio including the link to your landing page and a short description of your shop. Don’t overthink the bio. It can be updated later.
First, upload the profile and header photo. The profile image should already be done. So we’re going to make a super simple header image. I like to use a commercial free pattern online that matches my logo colors and type the words ‘COMING MID SEPTEMBER’ in the middle. You can also reuse the background image that was purchased for the WordPress landing page.
Easy. right? That should have taken 5 min.
Upload the same content for each social media profile. Keep. It. Simple. Next I want you to make 5 posts.
- Take a square sized screenshot of your landing page with the sign up form. Post this along with a link to the homepage, inviting followers to sign up for your newsletter when you’ve launched.
- The next post will be your first product mock. Write a caption for the product. Keep it simple. The second sentence should be inviting them to sign up for the newsletter to be notified of the launch and to receive an exclusive grand opening discount for subscribers only along with the link to your homepage.
- This should be a repost from a similar pages in your niche. If you are selling dog clothes, repost a funny video from a popular/puppy dog account with funny content. Add a simple caption.
- Add your next product image. Again, write a caption, then link to your landing page encouraging followers to sign up.
- Post a funny meme from Instagram or Facebook that would create engagement.
That’s 5 posts. It’s just enough content to start running ads without your page appearing bare. You need to give the illusion that you are a new company, but that you are sharing more than just sales ads.
You made it!
Week one and you’ve already done a lot. Week two we need to move over to creating advertising.
In the next post, we’ll be discussing how to setup Facebook Ads, Pixels and Custom Audiences. Yay! I may even conduct a free webinar.
How Much I’ve Spent So Far
- Font Bundles (2) – $60
- Mock up templates (2) – $32
- Hosting – No additional cost
- Domain from NameCheap – $10.87
- LaunchEffect App WordPress Theme – Free
- Background Image from Creative Market – $12
Ps. If you don’t have the budget available to purchase graphics, fonts and other resources, don’t hesitate to take your own photos and download free images (commercial use) options.
See you on the next post!
Thanks for these steps! I’m super excited about the challenge. I do have one question: why do you NOT recommend using hosted sites like Canva?
Hi Aisha! Thanks for reading.
From Canva’s website:
If your design uses any elements from our image library (even free elements), it’s either subject to our One Time Use License or Multi-Use License which prohibits printing the design on items for resale, such as postcards and t-shirts (section 4,g,ii). However, you may print your design on items like postcards and t-shirts which are used for promotional or other purposes, as long as those items are not sold.
Read more here.
Now it doesn’t specifically mention font usage, but I like to stay away from complicated licensing situations.
This is brilliant. Thanks for putting this together, sharing and being such a wealth of knowledge.
Thanks for stopping by Toya!
Are you using your domain name as a Shopify Shop or are you solely selling through FB via Shopify. I ask bc I remember you saying something about Shopify being only $10, but the cheapest website plan is $29/mth. Thanks!
This was great! Where can I find the rest of the series?