Last year I tried my first attempt in the world of online business.
I created sketches on my iPad and tried to sell them online.
The Idea was simple: my “One Sketch” Shop was supposed to become a resource page where people could download hand drawn sketches to tell better stories in their presentations.
During my professional career I’ve noticed that many people are struggling with creating visually appealing presentations and telling compelling stories.
I just got sick of the heavy use of stock images and bland icons everywhere and wanted to provide sketches that can give an emotional and personal touch.
After talking to friends, everyone kinda agreed that it would be a great idea and that I should try to give it a shot.
Two months later, after creating the sketches and setting up the system, I went online with about 40 sketches.
Fast forward, 3 months later I took down my online shop and here are my learnings I took from it:
1. If your heart is not into it, don’t do it!
After a while I’ve noticed that I got annoyed creating sketches every day. At this time I was travelling quite a lot and it was a pain in the butt to do sketches in the hotel after a long day of work.
A resource page lives from content and continuous updates, and I just couldn’t keep my energy high enough to create content every day (sketching and post processing took me up to 2h/day).
I was just not passionate enough to keep going, but I would have never known without starting. You can read everywhere that you have to find your passion and should do what you love.
Then people are waiting for the right time until they finally find their passion in order to get started. Unfortunately timing will never be right and if you don’t start you will never know if it’s your passion, because if you are passionate about something you want to do it for the rest of your life and no only part time.
2. Loosing money is not investing money
The second biggest pain was loing money each month through Shopify, because I wanted to save time and not programming everything myself.
This is why these kind of ready-to-go e-commerce systems are so successful right now. You can start immediately without the need of any technical knowledge. Some people may call it investing money into your business and to a certain level I do agree.
You cannot expect success over night and building a business just takes a lot of time. But somehow it felt to me more like I made Shopify more rich and the value I got in return was little to nothing.
This is especially painful if you don’t make a single dime at all. This doesn’t necessarily mean Shopify is bad, but for my specific business it just didn’t make any sense. In order to make reasonable profit I had to sell a shitload of images that I didn’t see happening in the near future or even at all.
I didn’t quit Shopify just because I lost money, but because losing money and not having the passion for the business, is just a deadly combination and not the smartest thing to do.
3. Traffic is key
This is an interesting one. 3 Months, no visits, no sells. Of course I made use of the usual Social Media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
But nevertheless it didn’t really help. At first I thought the main reason was the pricing of 0.99 – 1.99 per sketch and that it was too high and people didn’t buy it.
Looking at the statistics I realized that the problem was lying somewhere else. The traffic to my shop was just horrible and I didn’t know how to improve it (me not knowing anything about marketing also contributed a big chunk to it).
Key take away
So even though it was a fail, the process of going through it was by far more valuable than the time and money I lost in the process. For my next business I will go in a little bit smarter and pay more attention to marketing and building an audience first, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you have the best product in the world if know one knows about it.