What we learnt in the first week of launching an online business.
Todd Cresp & Hayley Worley from THE SHEET SOCIETY
Starting an online business is a mixed bag of emotions. If you chose to embark, or you’ve already launched a start-up, you’ll know its full of excitement, anxiety, anger, sadness and joy — many times over. We’ve learnt some invaluable things from reading blogs, forums and through networking with our peers so we thought it was only fair to share back to the community. Here‘s some honest pieces of advice.
Ok so first step — register a domain name. Easy, right? After feeling stoked with ourselves for purchasing the domain for www.thesheetsociety.com and redirecting it to our Shopify site — we thought we were in business. That was until a friend tried to find the site and was greeted with an error message ‘site not found’. Turns out that there’s a few people who have dropped the ‘www’ when visiting a URL. Consider purchasing both your .com and a .com.au domain if its available — and redirect them all to your host. But make sure you purchase both the first time around, if you keep checking if a certain domain is available, the host will think there is demand for that domain and they will jack the price up. Another mistake we made was to launch as a .com site thinking that we appeared ‘international’. We quickly learnt that not only were we more trusted to our Australian customers as a .com.au but our site would rank higher on Australian Google.
Setting up Shop
Bless our parents for always wanting to help out, but we made a quick realisation that the garage at the family home was not going cut it as our warehouse. For The Sheet Society, our product’s are bulky and heavier then your average fashion items. With the arrival of six pallets of stock imminent, we did a bit of research on warehouse options and landed on leasing a small storage unit at a chain self storage facility. The one we chose is conveniently located between home and office making it accessible to dispatch orders daily. When considering this, scope out what else is in the local area. It’s been a godsend having Officeworks adjacent to our warehouse making it easy to print labels and pick up extra supplies. Consider proximity to the local post office, a good coffee shop — and make sure there is plenty of parking nearby. Access hours are important too — if like us you haven’t quit your day job, you will need to be able to get in pretty early and leave pretty late. We negotiated a cost of $160 per month, and for the sake of not filling your house (or your folks’) with stock and constantly being immersed in your product, its been our best investment yet.
Google is life.
Surely if you own the domain name, once you search it in Google you’re the top hit right? … WRONG. After launching The Sheet Society and then confidently typing the words in to Google, we were nowhere to be seen until page 7. Funnily enough, this was also the first time we had visited page 7 of a search engine. There were countless ‘sheets’ from many medical ‘society’ publications and our Facebook page came up before our actual website. We didn’t fully understand the meaning of SEO and thought we could pick up on it along the way but in the end there really wasn’t any point creating hype around our launch if people couldn’t search for our site. Key tips — without registering your pages with Google and using specific key words you are literally not searchable. If you are scared of SEO, don’t ignore it. You may want to use some of your marketing budget to find some help.
Don’t underestimate the power of your network.
We really didn’t expect so many likes, comments, shares and offers to ‘send something around to the guys at the office’ from our friends & family. The response we received from our personal network has been truly overwhelming. Have a special offer or flyer ready for your friends, family and colleagues to share and re-post, and use every medium possible. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, the work newsletter, the gym noticeboard — its all free. Your network will love the opportunity to contribute to your new business’ awareness and in return. you might just get a few sales out of it.
Keep chipping away.
The site has slowed up after launch, and were just ticking along and adding new images to the site and social and playing with our SEO keywords each day. Think differently in everything you do. Talk out loud about what you’re thinking and what you need to do. What are possible solutions for your problems? An example for The Sheet Society, we needed a location to shoot some new content. Studio’s are expensive (and probably don’t have a bed!) and our own bedrooms are far from photoshoot worthy. Enter idea — find a cool looking rental with great natural light on Air BNB and negotiate from there. Solution — Sunday afternoon four-hour rental of an Air BNB between other guests coming and going = endless content for a couple hundred bucks.
Keen to share some advise with us?
The Sheet Society launched at the start of February and is an online merchant selling designer quilt covers, pillowcases and a range of Egyptian Cotton fitted sheets, flat sheets, quilt covers and pillow cases in various on trend colours. Check us out at thesheetsociety.com.au or follow us @thesheetsociety