Running an online business with my kids

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

As a Dad of 4 young girls (yes, 4 girls!, that’s 5 in the house with Mom!) it amazes me to watch them grow up in this electronic age. Surely watching any kid grow up in any generation is equally amazing, just different. I’m constantly comparing them to the way I grew up. I’m 46 now but I have to say that I started programming since the age of 10 so I tend to view myself as someone with more experience than most my age (as my kids run circles around me with their iPhones and Social Media posts which is just weird to me :).

With the exception of a relatively short period of time (1998-2007) computers have been my life. After High school (which I graduated in 1998) I decided to pursue an Electrical Engineering degree. 20/20 vision of history tells me that I probably would have done much better if I pursued a Computer Science degree, none the less I finally got my Masters in Computer Engineering and I was fairly successful on Wall Street which I don’t think I would have had a shot without my degrees. I still feel that by chance I could have been “more successful” if I stuck with computers during the birth of the internet. And by “more successful” I don’t mean money, successful to me mean being happy and having a fruitful family life.

With my experiences I’m constantly looking at my daughters lives to see if there is a “better path” for them or maybe I’m just being a paranoid Dad who wants the best for my girls.My oldest is just 10 years old so I recognize how crucial this period in their life is. In general, all of my kids are “connected” to the internet and after several minor issues (random posts of images, random people “friending” them on their Social Media)  it struck me like a bat in the head, I need to educate my girls on social media to ensure that they grow up as responsible teens and eventually adults so that they don’t “ruin their careers” or draw unfavorable attention to themselves via social media.

I’ve had online storefronts for 10+ years now that have been fairly successful (extra cash for the weekends at best), as a result I recently realized an opportunity that I thought could put my daughters on the right track. Being in the “Anniversary Gift” industry for some time now I decided to pick a category that would be interesting to them. If I could find an “interesting” category or product then I could use that to keep them motivated and eventually educate them on every level of social media. I quickly determined that “Bracelets” might be the answer.

To shorten an already long story, we opened TheBraceletShoppe.com late 2016. I made sure that my 4 girls weighed in on the domain name and that they would all pick the products to be made available on the site, and Yes, this includes my 4 year old! Don’t worry, we have a voting process that ensures each product has a majority vote between us to ensure that the quality is good. I also made sure that they were actively involved every step of the way, I made them enter product SKU’s, prices, brochure pages and comments in a spreadsheet (how many 10 year olds and younger do you know that have managed a spreadsheet?). It hasn’t been easy but I’m able to constantly motivate them to find new products and post social media by informing them that they can have any new bracelet that they find as long as they put the effort in to managing the process.

My kids are slowly being introduced to the concepts of procuring products, sales, shipping, spreadsheets, communications, entrepreneurship, marketing, advertising and more while putting the concept of “Social Media” into perspective. More importantly, I get to do this with them on a daily basis! I couldn’t ask for a better life experience and Yes, I have thought about offering this to other parents as a Parent/Kid activity “Class” but we’ll see how this works out over the coming months first.

For more info see our about us page.

 

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Tasklists! What’s the best app across Platforms?

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

Now that I have more time on my hand as a self employed Technologist and online retailer (ie. I sell products online while exploiting SEO) I’m constantly trying to improve my discipline. It’s funny that this article popped up in my news feed but it hits home in many ways, definitely worth the read: How the Most Insanely Self-Disciplined People Create Shocking Results in Life.

Since being able to focus on my online stores I quickly realized that I need an app to track my Goals to make sure that I’m making progress and to see how much or how little progress I make over a period of time. I thought I’d fairly easily be able to find a Tasklist or To-do app to manage this aspect of my life but to my surprise I haven’t found the right app. My requirements are simple:

  1. Record a start date
  2. Describe the goal at hand
  3. Record an expected completion date
  4. Report on progress
  5. Alert me of expected completion dates as they near or overdue dates
  6. Allow for extensions of expected completion dates (ie. record reason for delays)
  7. Report on overall Tasks (# of Tasks completed by dates, %complete of open tasks etc.)

After downloading 15 or so Tasklist and ToDo apps (and re-entering my tasks each time!) I am convinced that the exact solution doesn’t exist for my requirements. Perhaps a Project management solution exists that satisfies my requirements but I still haven’t come across a ‘simple’ app that works across platforms (ie. cell phone, pc, laptop etc.) so I’m seriously considering building this simple app myself.

Does this type of app with the requirements provided interest anyone? Has anyone found a solution that fulfills most of these requirements or are you managing your own cumbersome spreadsheets to fulfill these requirements? Comments and Feedback  in the comments sections is appreciated. “Like” this article if you’re in the same boat as me and I’ll be sure to provide regular updates until I find the right solution or develop one that works for both of us!

Outsourcing with China – Good or Bad?

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

It’s been a while but my recent experiences leads me to comment on the success and failures with dealing with companies in China. To be successful online today there is a good chance that you’ll be dealing with companies in China if you are in Retail. Let’s face it, 90%+ products available on Amazon, Ebay and the likes are sourced from China.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a good amount of organic traffic from Google where I’ve been able to make supplemental income via affiliate programs, primarily Google Adsense and Amazon affiliates. I’ve recently tried to dropship the top products to increase my profits (from ~8% to %50+). Part of my efforts have been spent on alibaba.com and aliexpress.com. I was extremely hesistant in sourcing from China because there are definitely more complicated logistics that I could have imagined.

My first experience with companies in China was around a Gold dipped Flower which was selling 4 or 5 a week via my Amazon affiliate account. After speaking with 3 companies in China I thought that I had nailed down the right company for the product I was looking for so I ordered $75 worth of product. When the product arrived I was embarrassed that I didn’t figure out sooner that I was a Golden rose made in plastic! Nothing about it was authentic or real so needless to say I dropped that opportunity!

Be careful, be aware and be conscious when sourcing products from China!

Always have a Cause for Success!

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

It might sound crazy but ALOT of people like to support a cause vs. just buying a product online. Whether it’s a Health Issue or Social Cause that caused you to sell online to begin with, make sure that your intended audience knows that!

I recently opened an E-commerce site called TheBraceletShoppe.com and although we haven’t received many orders (yet) we have a really positive outlook on our About Us page. We have no doubt that this our cause will be a wave (small or big) that we can ride over time. People are more inclined nowadays to support a good cause and they are willing to pay a couple of extra dollars knowing that their money is going to a Good cause then just ordering online.

Another good example of a cause that people will support is ‘Made in the USA’. For lack of a greater cause, it’s a ‘feel good’ cause which is an entire Market in itself. When talking ‘socially’, people are generally looking for ‘good’ reasons why they should purchase an item online so don’t underestimate the power of the ‘Cause’!

Facebook Advertising – is it worth it for small to medium size Businesses?

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

Well it really depends!

Facebook itself isn’t going to be much help to you. Facebook is a collection of people and interests.. The first thing you need to do is figure out your audience and the relevant “keywords” or “interests” to capture that audience. More important than this is the ability to figure out how much it costs to connect with that audience.

In my experience it costs on average around $0.10 per click per Ad. So for example, if it takes 50 clicks per Ad before someone makes a purchase then you need to make sure that your profit per sale is more than $5.00. In most cases (in my experience) it closer to $10 per sale (if not much more) so if you’re selling something that yields $$5.00 to $20.00 in profit then you really need to be cautious when using Facebook Ads.

If you’re selling Mortgages than you probably don’t care if you spend $1,000.00 per Ad because as long as you make 1 sale you’re going to make a small fortune if not more. The problem is really highlighted when you’re dealing with a product that costs less then say $200 when the profit is in the range of $50 or less. Don’t succumb to the idea that online advertising is where you need to excel! If this is your Market then you need to seriously consider SEO. Make sure that you’re content is being updated on a regular basis (preferably daily but minimally monthly or weekly).

For the Small Business market you need to have an edge on your competitors, make sure you know who your competitors are and how they are drawing traffic. Social Media is probably their success! Make sure that you post on a regular basis and that you’re website has no errors or outdated links. Probably the most important factor are links back to your site, if you don’t have links back to your site then you’re a ‘nobody’ and you can expect minimal referrals or traffic.

“Follow” us and stay tuned for our next post..

My site receives alot of hits, how do I make money?

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

 

My website gets alot of hits but I haven’t made much money, what’s wrong? Well, this is the key to everything – if there was an answer for everyone then everyone would make alot of money! .. Here are some tips:

If you receive let’s say 100 visitors per day then you should be able to make a couple of dollars per day, depending on your industry you should be able to make $10 per day ($300/month) and if you’re not then perhaps you haven’t hooked up with the best affiliate service or maybe you’re not advertising the best products for your web site.

First, you should explore our SEO Tips article, second you need to make sure that your hosting provider provides the necessary tools for you to be successful, check out shopify, the best storefront shop that we’ve found so far.

Anywho, if you’re making over $275 per month it may make sense to build your own website and focus on SEO. There is no reason to sell you’re ad space for %4 up to %7 when you can earn up to %20 using an affiliate program or earn even more by selling product directly either by dropshipping or wholesaling to your visitors!

I’ve been able to quadruple my profits simply by drop shipping 3 products. If you have a ‘hot seller’ then you need to search amazon.com for someone who sells it cheaper (more sales) with a higher referral fee (profit)!

More experiences coming soon!

Facebook is a scam for businesses!

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

So I’ve decided to open up several social media accounts from Facebook to Instagram to Tumbler, Pinterest, Twitter and a few others.. basically to “figure them out” and see how I can use them to my advantage. I’m not saying that most social networks are “good” for marketing or for a local business or fortune 500 company but this review is focused on Facebook and the pros and cons that I have come across.

It was a slow start, I first created a business page and posted several posts without any followers .. very frustrating at the least.. but I quickly ‘Boosted’ my posts with varying degrees of success. I finally figured out my audience and I was  being rated at “10” by Facebook for ‘quality of Ad & targeting’ .. I forgot the buzzwords they used but they basically said that I was in the top percentage of ads vs. cost of advertising (ie. maximizing the number of Likes I was getting per Ad). I was on top of the world! Holy cr@p, I figured something out!

Low and behold, a few weeks goes by and I figured that I would try to take advantage of my new found audience by posting a new article from my site.. 2 days goes by and I check my stats only to see that it had only reached 14 people (remember, I’ve just spent a few hundred dollars to “buy” 1,500 likes)… surely something must be wrong or broken with my account.. After all, why would I pay to build an audience that I cannot reach?

So it ends up, the audience that I “purchased” – I can “reach” if I pay the same amount to contact them.. .what does this mean? I’m paying at least double to communicate to the members that liked me. Think of it this way, your friends on facebook are “Free”.. but your clients or audience will cost you a few hundred dollars to gain BUT in order to communicate to them you will have to pay again – or 2x the cost of acquistion.. I called Google out on this 5+ years ago (Google Adwords) but Facebook is 2x worse, they make you pay to acquire connections and then again to communicate to those very same connection.. WTF?

I will make a prediction that Facebook will either get busted for misrepresentation of services OR their advertising clients will catch on enough at some point where their stock takes a significant hit, regardless – I promise you that their Advertising services are not much more than a scam that will be exposed.

Bottom line, do lots of controlled testing without letting the Big Guys eat you up.. at this point using Facebook for business purposes feels like dealing with someone from someone in Nigeria! Stay away!