E-commerce Beginner's Guide: Create Your First E-commerce Strategy

Learn to create your first e-commerce strategy, based on your offer: physical products, digital products, online services, or a hybrid.
E-commerce Beginner's Guide: Create Your First E-commerce Strategy
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E-commerce Beginner’s Guide

Every business is starting to sell online. With the e-commerce market growing at a fast pace, there is every reason to set up your own online shop.

However, running an e-commerce business is not as easy as it looks. To succeed you will need to constantly adjust your strategy to meet the needs of your customers.

In this episode, we show you how to create your first e-commerce strategy, based on your offer: physical products, digital products, online services, or a hybrid.

We also explain how to do a SWOT analysis of your business to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

E-commerce beginners guide ©Foster Growth LLC

Words of Wisdom

Customers are a lot less loyal than they used to be. Loyalty is dead unless you have a lot of personalization. Concierge level services are the type of services that you need to be offering. You need to be hands on. It needs to be personable and personal, and you need to have things in place to touch base with your people. That's how you ‌build loyalty. — Jen
It could take you six months to a year to figure out what it is you're going to be offering, and how you're going to be presenting that to people. Honing in on exactly what ‌people want and naming your unique mechanism in a way that attracts the target audience that you're looking for takes time and tweaking. Lots of tweaking. — Shelley

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Podcast Transcript: E-commerce Beginner's Guide

E-commerce Beginner's Guide

[00:00:00] Jen McFarland: The Women Conquer Business show is an educational, how to, women in business podcast that features stories, marketing news and real-life experiences from fun and friendly hosts, Jen McFarland and Shelley Carney. Join us as we dive into the details so you can slay marketing overwhelm, streamline processes and amplify your impact.

[00:00:22] You'll learn strategies and tactics, leadership skills, and practical advice from successful women entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture, and sustain your business.

[00:00:38] Shelley Carney: Well,

[00:00:40] Jen McFarland: hello, welcome to women conquer business. I'm Jen McFarland. Yes.

[00:00:46] Shelley Carney: And I'm Shelley Carney.

[00:00:49] Jen McFarland: yeah. Did I thought maybe you forgot who you were for just a second.

[00:00:52] Shelley Carney: Oh, I don’t know. I knew you were Jen.

[00:00:56] Jen McFarland: So today we're going to talk about eCommerce. We're going to do an eCommerce beginners guide to help you create your first eCommerce strategy.

[00:01:05] Every business is starting to sell online. We're going to talk about why it with eCommerce. The eCommerce market is growing and exploding at an extremely fast pace. There's every reason to set up your own online shop. However, running an eCommerce business is not as easy as it looks. We're also going to talk about that to succeed.

[00:01:24] You need to constantly adjust your strategy to meet the needs of your customer. Guess what hint, you have to talk to your customers. Oh, in this episode, we're going to show you how to create your first e-commerce strategy based on your offer, whether it is physical products, digital products, online services, or of a hybrid mix of both, which is honestly what most of the people listening to this show are probably going to be doing.

[00:01:51] We also explain how to do a SWOT analysis, that strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and that how that can help your business and your e-commerce strategy overall. That's a lot. How are you feeling about this Shelley?

[00:02:05] Shelley Carney: That's two shows in one!

[00:02:06] Jen McFarland: people it's so 75. Yeah, no, I have a lot of value and information packed the value in backed into one show.

[00:02:14] That's right. What are you up to?

[00:02:16] Shelley Carney: What am I up to? Last Friday I did a podcast interview, but it was more like a coaching session. And not that he was trying to sell me anything because he will turn it into a podcast episode.

[00:02:27] Jen McFarland: Oh, this is the marketing therapy guy. Isn't it?

[00:02:29] Shelley Carney: No. This guy is Michael Sharkey, and his podcast is called Your Podcast Coach. And basically, he's trying to help podcasters grow their podcast and figure out ways to do that. And so, through the conversation he asks questions to get at where you're trying to get to, what's working for you, what's not, and then he'll make suggestions.

[00:02:48] And his suggestions for me was to reach out to more podcasts who serve the elder audience. Yeah. People 55 and older who are interested in content creation or even just are older. And that's it. So, we talked about that that strategy and then I thought about it for a while and came up with all the things that had been going on in my life. With Toby and I trying to do a, we have our channel news and views where we're exploring how to serve that demographic, the older generation with content that they enjoy.

[00:03:24] And we've come up with travel videos and stories and news where we just chat about the news of the day and people show up for that and they talk to each other and it's very much a, we don't go to the bar, we hang out in the chat room and we talk about the news and we give our opinions and, it's a great place to gather.

[00:03:42] So from that, we have that sub subsection of those older generation people who are also content creators. So, we're trying to, Bridge that gap. And he suggested I'll go on other podcasts that serve that community to grow that audience. And then eventually to create this this community, this community of older content creators, we all get together.

[00:04:08] We all talk, we all have the same issues. We can all work on solutions together. And so, I wrote an a LinkedIn article about it. And if you're interested it's on LinkedIn and I called it content creator, content curator, or curated community leader.

[00:04:25] Jen McFarland: Wow. Yeah. That's cool. I think I read that. Yeah.

[00:04:29] Shelley Carney: Yeah. You're in there.

[00:04:29] Jen McFarland: I think I'm in it. So every

[00:04:30] Shelley Carney: that's right. you are in there. Even though you're not quite that age level yet. You're getting there.

[00:04:36] Jen McFarland: Yeah. Not in that age group. Hey, I'll get there.

[00:04:38] Shelley Carney: Eventually. We all will.

[00:04:40] Jen McFarland: eventually. So I love that your chat is all about work, cuz mine is absolutely positively not at all about work.

[00:04:47] Shelley Carney: that's okay. What's going on with you?

[00:04:48] Jen McFarland: And I don't think I've told Shelley about this at all. If I have just listen again. We didn't talk so no at Christmas time for Christmas okay. Let me back up. Just we'll just way back up in the way back machine. As a kid, my favorite video games were always driver games, like sitting in the car and like racing games, Mario cart, pole position.

[00:05:09] The one where you're the, the arcade and you sit in the chair and you're like driving, like all of that. Okay. Yeah. So we had a Chevy volt. And we loved that car had some nice pickup and stuff, but the battery's $8,000 to replace it. Then we had a Toyota Prius and one day, if you've listened to this show for a long time, I had an interview with Jennifer, Elaine.

[00:05:34] We can put that in the show note somewhere. And I parked my husband, came home in the middle of the interview and he parked the Prius out on the, out, in front of the house, on the street because Jennifer parked in inside the driveway. So we just left the car there because we were like, it's just overnight, no big deal.

[00:05:51] I'm sitting in my dining room working and I hear this massive crash. Oh. And it was like, yeah. Some dude, like prob likely on drugs. The police spent a lot of time with him trying to figure out if he was on drugs or not smashed into the Prius, totaled it. And we were still paying for it. It was a mess.

[00:06:10] So that is how I ended up getting a Mustang so I got my first little hot rod, even though it's strange, I've had all these eco-friendly cars and then I get hot rod because a Ford Mustang is honestly not that expensive and we needed just a car. I don't drive that much.

[00:06:30] We just needed a car to replace the Prius and it's super fun. And I said, look, we're old enough. Now we need to have some fun. We can't just have all these, like everything can't be responsible. Okay. so I'm like teeing. I am teeing all of this up to tell you what I am doing tomorrow, which I am very excited about.

[00:06:47] So I've really enjoyed driving my Ford Mustang. and at Christmas time my husband gave me a gift. Let me pop it up in the screen here. and it is called it is called the extreme experience. And so I am going to PI R tomorrow, which is the Portland international Raceway to drive on a track in a super fast car.

[00:07:17] oh, which I'm super excited about. So the car I am driving is a Lamborghini Hoon. Wow, which is a really hot car. yeah, I was a little late scheduling this for somebody who's had this thing available since Christmas. I only scheduled it up, I think a week or two ago. And the only car that was left was this Lamborghini hurricane.

[00:07:39] I looked it up. It's really expensive. So I bought the track insurances, but I also bought all of the video and photos. So hopefully next week I'll have something to share about driving a car that can

[00:07:52] go. I can just imagine the new part of the website with all about Jen and this car.

[00:07:57] I know. I, it only goes 200 miles an hour, so we'll just see how I know.

[00:08:02] We'll just see how fast I get to drive

[00:08:04] Shelley Carney: That's how fast an airplane goes.

[00:08:06] Jen McFarland: I'm open to that. so I'm excited to drive this. I have a driving lesson and like track time and like all kinds of stuff. So it'll be taking up about half of the day to be out there doing it. I'm sure I'm like a hundred percent sure it's going to be me and a bunch of dudes.

[00:08:22] Like I have no doubt. No maybe not. You don't know. I don't, could be wrong about this, but I think it's likely people who are like, yeah, I'm going to go to drive a truck for a while. It's probably mostly guys and me. That's okay. But it's fun. And I like to drive fast. And so that is what I have going on.

[00:08:40] Yay. And let's see, can you pop that off there? We, yeah. All right. So are you ready for some marketing? Breaking news, breaking news.

[00:08:53] All right, so I'm going to add this to the stream. Okay. So if you are. In love with Facebook and everything that it's about.

[00:09:04] Shelley Carney: All three of you.

[00:09:06] Jen McFarland: right. You are not a teenager. so right. What we have found is now like conclusive evidence that Facebook has dropped by 30% in terms of being used by people who are, I don't know, not 50 , teenagers. This is not a, this is not a shock or a surprise in any way. However, if you are marketing a business and you are. And I would say even looking at 24, 25 year olds, Facebook is not the place.

[00:09:40] Like we used to say, everybody's on Facebook. But really what we know now and the pew, this is all this is the pew research center. They have done like longitudinal studies on social media for I don't know, since the Dawn of the internet and social media. So what this chart is saying, and we'll put a link to the chart in the show notes.

[00:10:01] For those of you who are listening, is that in 2014 to 2015 teenagers, like 71% of teenagers were on Facebook. That number in 2022 has dropped to 32%. Now YouTube is still up at 95%. And TikTok is at 67%. So when we think about, and this is us, us teens. So when we think about where teens are hanging out, there's a clump here of TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat.

[00:10:33] That's really not shocking or surprising, but it is a death now for Facebook at this point. , if your demographic is under 30, they're probably not on there. We have been covering for weeks now about how people under 30 are not using Google for search. They're more likely to use Reddit and TikTok.

[00:10:54] Now we're seeing that they're not on Facebook. This could be trouble for Facebook. Facebook has been facing a ton of headwinds lately, where they are. Struggling because apple has changed their privacy rules. They're struggling because Google and Facebook have never gotten along. And now it's harder for Facebook to get traction with their ads.

[00:11:14] Now we know that Facebook is aging out. People are not as interested in it. It's interesting because I teach digital marketing all the time and I Al I still have this slide and it's been up there for a long time. And there's a little comment, is Facebook the next MySpace?

[00:11:30] And I've always said, no, it's just what people think, but there's been a lot of flight from Facebook, even among people who are over 30 at least in my circle. So it's an interesting thing to look at. It's an interesting thing that we need to watch and. Seeing the way these trends. So there are fewer people on Twitter who are teenagers.

[00:11:55] There are fewer people on Tumblr who are teenagers. We're starting to see like a real things are really starting to shake out, it is. And then like off the chart, everybody's on YouTube. YouTube, I have long been interested in YouTube. The ads, there are super cheap, for example, , everybody's on YouTube.

[00:12:13] It's just a long game to, to get traction there. And so that's the thing that you have to look at. If you're looking at your digital strategy and you are looking for people who are under 30, you have to start looking at these spaces where they're hanging out and figuring out how you can be there and what you can do to continue to attract those folks.

[00:12:33] And Facebook, isn't it.

[00:12:35] Shelley Carney: that's right. The problem is YouTube, but YouTube is huge. It's oh, like being on TV, it's what part of TV where, what channel should I focus on? What, what time of day should I focus on it's? YouTube is the new television network, bigger than one network.

[00:12:52] It's, it's the thing. And of course, teenagers hang out there. Everybody hangs out on YouTube, but, finding those niches is not always easy. The algorithm can help with that but not always. Absolutely. It's not the easiest

[00:13:07] Jen McFarland: and you know that, and you've successfully grown like multiple channels.

[00:13:11] And that it's a long game that it takes a while to find that niche. We were talking before the show about how we're tweaking some things and looking at how we can do things differently to continue to carve out the niche for this show doing all these AB tests where you use, I use tube buddy.

[00:13:27] Is that, do you use that one or do you,

[00:13:30] Shelley Carney: I just started using different. I pull thumbnails from Canva. I put them on, I create them from Canva. And then the second day I'll change my thumbnail to something that appeal to me. I'll get a whole page of canvas thumbnails and I look and I go, which one appeals, pops out at me? and I just grab it and then I'll just adjust it and make it mine.

[00:13:49] Jen McFarland: But yeah. So what we've been doing is for the women conquer business show, we've been running AB tests on thumbnails on YouTube. Using two buddies. So what it does, what it, what the AB test does is we have two different thumbnail covers, one that has our like cute little phases on it. And then another one that's more jazzy Hey, this is what we're talking about.

[00:14:12] And we're running yeah, pick me. So we're running these AB tests to see if, and as I suspected, unfortunately no one wants to see our faces and , which is fine, but the more. Common YouTube thumbnails so far are testing very well. So we're going to continue to do this. Two buddy is a really neat program because it will run the test for you.

[00:14:37] All you have to do is put like two different covers in there. So like you I've been using Canva and just uploading a second cover. And it's going through and doing its thing. And then at a certain point, it says we have enough data. Now, this is it. And it will set the actual thumbnail to whichever one wins.

[00:14:53] Shelley Carney: Oh, I see.

[00:14:54] Jen McFarland: So we'll see how it ultimately shakes out. But in terms of what all of you out there who are watching or listening can learn from this is you have to give marketing a chance.

[00:15:06] Shelley Carney: All we are saying, give marketing a chance.

[00:15:13] Jen McFarland: so you, a lot of people get really impatient and they're like this didn't work for two weeks.

[00:15:17] We have been, when did we do the, when did we start this show? Shelley? January, February?

[00:15:22] Shelley Carney: January.

[00:15:23] Jen McFarland: Yeah. So it's been eight months of doing this every week. Except for maybe the one concussion week that we took off yeah, I think wet off one or two weeks for,

[00:15:32] Shelley Carney: For health, for various reasons. Yeah.

[00:15:34] Jen McFarland: So we have enough information now to start saying, okay, here's what we think is working. Here's what we can maybe improve. And so we're starting to make some little change. Just to see if we can, tighten down in our niche a little bit more on YouTube, if we can attract more people through different channels.

[00:15:53] So I really encourage you to do the same, but be sure that you give things time and then things like an automated AB test. It takes the emotion out of it. You're like, okay, this is what's going to happen. Yeah. And you make peace with it and you move on. So are you, why are you laughing at me?

[00:16:07] Shelley Carney: All we are saying

[00:16:09] Jen McFarland: It's a really, it's a really big problem. Like people tend to go, oh, that didn't work this week, yeah. And it's really unfortunate. So you have to really give things a chance. Cause that's all we're saying. Did you have any breaking news? No.

[00:16:29] Shelley Carney: I think we should move into the training.

[00:16:34] Jen McFarland: All right. So

[00:16:37] Woohoo, eCommerce, beginners guide

[00:16:39] eCommerce beginners guide

[00:16:40] Strategy, the strategy session,

[00:16:42] The strategy is real S

[00:16:47] Let's see if I can do it this way. Nope Nope. Okay. So yeah, your e-commerce beginners guide create your first e-commerce strategy. So just so we're on the same page about e-commerce. When we're talking about e-commerce, it's the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet, AKA e-business online business.

[00:17:07] That's the first step is understanding what it is that we're talking about. Then we talk about eCommerce marketing. We are driving awareness and action sales and conversions to a business that sells products or services electronically. So part of the complexity of eCommerce is the whole thing isn't marketing.

[00:17:28] That's just one slice of having an online business. So the marketing piece is A. how you get people to a know that you exist, and B. take action. And by action, we mean converting into an online customer. Do you have anything to add to you?

[00:17:48] Shelley Carney: I think as you're doing this, it takes time, it could take you six months to a year to figure out what it is you're going to be offering, how you're going to be presenting that to people.

[00:17:57] Honing in on exactly what it is that people want, naming your unique mechanism in a way that attracts the target audience that you're looking for, all of this takes time and tweaking. Lots of tweaking.

[00:18:12] Jen McFarland: Absolutely. And for those of you who are with us live please send us your questions and comments as we go through this, cuz it's really important to help you process through some of this.

[00:18:25] So the first thing to really consider when we talk about e-commerce is how much things have changed and changed very rapidly. So the first question is how have your personal buying habits changed since the pandemic.

[00:18:42] Shelley Carney: I know a lot of people started buying their groceries online having them delivered, buying pretty much everything online.

[00:18:48] And even if they're not able to have it delivered, say if you wanted to shop at best buy, you can buy it online and then go pick it up. And, they bring it out to your car, things like that. So we're looking for a lot more convenience and time saving and we're willing to spend just a little bit extra, if we have to pay for Amazon prime once a year, or if we have to pay for those delivery charges. Kroger has recently

[00:19:16] Introduced something to try to keep up with Amazon and Walmart. They call it boost where you can sign up and you pay a yearly fee and then all your deliveries are free because people are more and more going towards deliveries. And when you're shopping in the grocery store, like I do you're competing with shoppers in there who work for the store, who are loading up, groceries for those people who order online.

[00:19:41] So you can see it all affecting the way that we shop for food and things that you can get off of Amazon, for instance.

[00:19:49] Jen McFarland: Absolutely. And I would say that my personal buying habits changed and went even more online. We did a lot online before and now it's just gotten more and more.

[00:20:00] More and more online. And so the reason for this question is that as a business owner, you have to look at yourself and your actions, because then it, if you can look through that lens as, what is it that I would want if I was buying X, Y, Z service, or if I was buying my own service, if you look at your products, if you look at your business through a personal lens, then you can really look at it and say, okay, how have my personal buying habits changed?

[00:20:33] And then it shifts you well, it more than shifts you into how have your business offerings changed since the pandemic? So many businesses, we talked about it very early on, on this podcast, right? As the pandemic broke, how some businesses were sitting out COVID and thinking that it would be short, other businesses were immediately flipping their services into a different form of business.

[00:21:00] Others were trying to, split the baby , which never really works out well when you're kinda like I'm going to have one leg here and one leg there. What we found because COVID ended up lasting so long. And in fact, there's still more variance out there is still continuing that this has really been a tremendous shift.

[00:21:17] So the next question to ask is how have your business offerings changed since the pandemic? I'll go first. This time for me, everything went. Yeah. I used to give a ton of presentations in person. Those are all online. Now those are continuing to be online. Now people can buy and book time with me straight from my website, because I've always been an online entrepreneur.

[00:21:40] And now I've leaned more teaching, into audio lessons. This is licensed IP that gets sold on another person's website. It's completely passive income. I just recorded once somebody else sells it. I have leaned into the things that seem to be more resilient to a crazy economy. and I have paid attention to my own buying habits and shifted into that.

[00:22:10] Now your business is newer than mine. So how have you shifted since the pandemic? And you've been pretty much online the whole time, right? Yeah.

[00:22:22] Shelley Carney: Yeah. We, at one point we did do a lot of going to trade shows, which we don't do anymore. There aren't the trade shows that there used to be to just appear at. Although we are going to one at the end of the month and we're taking our A Gypsy's Kiss book with us to show it off because it's a film and television trade show. And they call it film and media day and they used to do it at the Santa Fe capital in February. Now they're bringing it to Albuquerque and they're doing it in August outdoors. And it's going to be so hot, but anyway, we're going to go to that. And but that is, is few and far between most of this stuff that we do is online.

[00:22:57] And of course, the way to really capitalize on that is to have your automations set up to where if people want to work with you, it's very frictionless. All they have to do is go make an appointment for a free consultation. And then you take them from that free consultation you make those offers, and then you send them a proposal and it's all online. But it's still face to face in that we do video calls, and we speak to them so that they can see us.

[00:23:23] I think one of the things that we're seeing a desire for, with everybody buying things online is assurance. We want assurance, we want security that if I buy something from this coach, I want to get coaching and if their coaching sucks. And I didn't like it. Can I get my money back? What is my, what is my avenue to recoup any kind of loss? I don't want to take a loss. So there's that, you have to have some guarantees in place as a business owner. I believe if you're offering an online product like a course and say, here's the course, go take it.

[00:23:55] And then you keep will keep in touch with you throughout and that at the end, we'll have a conference with you and see how you liked it and what you still need. And at that point, if they went through and they're like, this was not what I wanted. It was no use to me. They should be able to get their money back at that point. I agree.

[00:24:12] Guarantees help a lot.

[00:24:14] Jen McFarland: Guarantees help a lot. And you know why? Because, and the research bears this out. I don't have a slide in here about this. I don't have any of my proof that I usually put in here. Customers are way more savvy than they were before the pandemic. Yeah. So people not just you business owner are buying more stuff online and it's not just Shelley and I buying more stuff online.

[00:24:36] Everybody is. So now everybody knows. They're going to track down. If you have fake reviews, they're going to look for things like 30-day guarantees. They are going to be looking for ways to make sure that you are for real, you're actually offering it. And you're going to stand behind your word. Because for the last two plus years, people have been sitting on the couch buying stuff.

[00:24:59] That's just what people have been doing. And it goes, it goes into everything. We also know that customers are a lot less loyal than they used to be. Loyalty is dead unless you have a lot of personalization. So all of the things that Shelley was just talking about that's concierge level services and as a small business, That's the type of services that you all need to be offering.

[00:25:24] You need to be hands on. It needs to be personable and personal, and you need to have things in place to have touch marks, touch bases with your people. And that's how you start to build loyalty. It's a whole new wild west ball game out there right now.

[00:25:40] Shelley Carney: Yeah. Which is why I think as content creators, we're being told, build your audience first, get that loyalty first, and then they will buy from you.

[00:25:49] Jen McFarland: And I've been working on my content and getting it reinforced and selling it on other platforms. I have a lot out there that I know works and helps people. So there are a lot of ways to build that audience, reinforce that message, find out how people respond to that. But you absolutely have to do that.

[00:26:09] Whoa. I went back,

[00:26:10] Back, and forward. There we are.

[00:26:11] Okay. All of this that we're talking about is really how marketing and eCommerce just created this digital disruption, right? It was like pandemic. Pandemonium is what I call it. it was like, everything came together. That's everything that we just described is really what's going on out there.

[00:26:31] A lot less loyalty. Everybody has expectations about everything being online. Everybody has expectations about how quickly they can buy from you. So it's not just enough to have products online. They also have to be able to buy it quickly and then move on to the next thing and hear from you. And those are the high points of the pandemic pandemonium.

[00:26:50] So that's why it's important to look at how you buy products and then see if you were providing that experience that you look for from other people when you are offering products.

[00:27:04] Oh, I didn't know. This was the next slide. Even my own deck is a surprise to me.

[00:27:09] Shelley Carney: what's this is new.

[00:27:10] Jen McFarland: So I was really hoping that it was this one. Okay. Okay. So part of the complexity as we look into, and we'll go back and we'll talk about the eCommerce strategy in just a second, but the complexity of an eCommerce business is that it's not just marketing.

[00:27:32] We talked about that at the beginning, but I want you to see it in real life and you'll understand the complexity of, for most people of having a small business. That is, e-commerce a lot of marketing coaches. A lot of people make it sound like the entire business is online and you don't have to deal with people in real life.

[00:27:56] And that's false.

[00:27:58] The complexity around e-commerce is that the entirety of your business is online. So products and services, you have to handle things like operations, sales, finance, and then marketing, which is a small slice of that. There's also all of the techy bits that make all of this magic happen, right?

[00:28:19] Plus you are still a human in the real world. and you are still navigating the real world. You're still marketing with people. And a lot of times the most successful e-commerce businesses start as small local businesses that are operating online, but making hay in their local community, a lot of people try to go big at the beginning and be like, I'm just going to advertise everywhere.

[00:28:44] And the truth is you want your real true fans to be in your local community. And then that helps you become known. I've spent a lot of time training people in Portland, Oregon and throughout the state of Oregon. That's how you begin to get word of mouth. That's how you begin to get additional clients.

[00:29:05] That's how SEO the ball starts rolling all of those types of things. So the complexity, honestly, for me around e-commerce is it is online and in real life to at least some extent.

[00:29:22] Shelley Carney: yeah. Operations, it will, would include things like managing your time and slotting in time for all of these things. So that you're having time to work on your products and services. You're having time to work on marketing and sales. You're having time to work on delivery of your products and dealing with your finances, your income and your payments, monthly payments.

[00:29:44] Yeah. All the things that you need for your business to work, even just an online business, you have to have Streamyard, you have to have Descript. You have to have all these things just to do content marketing and that's out, outgo. So you gotta have some income to balance that up.

[00:30:00] And your operations, I think, is your overall handling of all of those pieces.

[00:30:06] Jen McFarland: Yeah. It's how everything connects. It's like managing, if you have people, operations comes under managing people and sometimes that is self leadership as well. It's not. If you don't have a staff, you still have to have operations.

[00:30:19] I would put a lot of your SOPs in operations as well. These are your standard operating procedures. If you're a content creator straight up, a lot of that tends to get mixed up into marketing. But some of those SOPs are separate and those again are standard operating procedures. These are like checklists so that you can move through things quickly.

[00:30:37] I know Shelley, you have all these like weekly tasks that you do. Yeah.

[00:30:42] Shelley Carney: Oh yeah. Definitely. You want to know what your bare minimums are. I stress that a lot. What are your bare minimums in order to maintain your level of content creation in my case and plug those into your calendar.

[00:30:54] And those are non-negotiable you must get those done or if you're in the hospital or whatever, somebody's got to take over on those little bare minimums in order to keep going.

[00:31:03] Jen McFarland: Yeah, somebody has to help.

[00:31:04] Who's going to cover it. These are all things that have to be written down and thought about. And this is why I have so many issues with the whole one funnel away stuff.

[00:31:11] It doesn't really cover it doesn't really cover all of this, and it also doesn't cover all of the in person in real life stuff, because the biggest challenge for an e-commerce business honestly, is if I meet you in real life and you tell me what you do. If I go online, is it going to tell me the same thing?

[00:31:28] Am I going to be confused? Is all of this going to actually work? If you're selling something that requires taxes is your finance setup setting. That is, is it handling that, how much data entry are you having to do to, for this super easy passive income online business? So a lot of this, you have to be thinking about in advance.

[00:31:49] So now let's back up to the eCommerce strategy. So BA

[00:31:57] you'll notice that some of these items have we are, I'm calling out on here, drop shipping, eBooks, courses. I could be wrong about other things that we have on our roadmap. So we are. An e-commerce series, I believe at this point, is that fair to say, Shelley yeah, this is the first episode.

[00:32:18] Shelley Carney: Last week we hinted at it and it was the overview and now we're diving more deeply into the e-commerce series.

[00:32:24] Jen McFarland: Yeah. So today is the e-commerce strategy. I believe it's next week we talk about drop shipping and I've been writing all this stuff that I can't remember. I'll take your word for it.

[00:32:34] Cause I remember it. So I've been doing a lot of writing and about this. So I know that we have a drop shipping episode. I know that we have a course showdown episode and I'm sure that some of these other aspects are going to fall into place and will be talking about some of the different ways that you can be selling services online, whether it's your entire business or not.

[00:32:55] So when I think about an e-commerce strategy. It's really important to be clear about what it is that we're selling. Now, you can say that's true of anything. But it's also especially important when you think about e-commerce. So the way I have broken this down for today is in four main categories, one physical products.

[00:33:18] So when we're talking about physical products, this is, are you making something and then shipping it out because then you have to deal with things like manufacturing, inventory, shipping, logistics, all of that, or are you creating something that someone else is going to produce and ship for you, which is drop shipping and drop shipping is very popular.

[00:33:38] Very it's promoted a lot in the online e-commerce space shell. And I both have experience with this. I talk to a lot of business owners about this, that, especially when you're getting started with things like. Designing t-shirts I'm like, you don't want to have a garage full of t-shirts that you may or may not be able to sell and drop shipping is one way to do that.

[00:34:03] So you can be selling things online, somebody else makes it somebody else ships it, and it's a way to get your feet wet before you go all in, on creating physical products. There's another way of doing drop shipping through things like Amazon, which Shelley has a lot more experience with Amazon than I do.

[00:34:22] And we're going to have a whole episode about that. Yeah.

[00:34:25] Shelley Carney: Including writing and publishing a book on Amazon can have your digital version, your Kindle, and you can have a paperback version that you can sell there. And then if you are really ambitious, like Jen, you can create an audio book to go with it.

[00:34:42] Jen McFarland: That's right. I do have an audio book out there. Yeah. Which I would consider that bumps into Digital products. So digital products are so let's just back up for a second. So if you have physical products and you're dealing with things like inventory, shipping logistics, probably the backbone of that business is going to be something like Shopify, unless you're doing drop shipping through Amazon.

[00:35:04] In which case it could be a little bit different, but if you are creating products, you may or may not have a hybrid, meaning that you have a physical brick and mortar location and you are manufacturing and selling and shipping, you need something like a Shopify, big commerce, something that can handle that type of workload period.

[00:35:26] Otherwise you're go crazy. Trying to, and

[00:35:28] Shelley Carney: I understand Shopify is in starting to really integrate well with youTube.

[00:35:33] Jen McFarland: Yes. They're starting to integrate well with everything. Yes, they do have new YouTube stuff. They've bolstered their integrations with MailChimp. They're really trying to become the place for small business or small business owners who want to create.

[00:35:51] I have also heard about restaurants creating Shopify websites, which I don't really recommend, but they're trying to be like everything. So you have to be careful about Shopify. Their best thing is helping people manage inventory, helping with things like they also came out recently with an email.

[00:36:11] I think they have a partnership now with Clavio, which is one of the email marketing providers for Shopify. It's a really good platform. It's great. When you're getting started, not super expensive. Now Shopify also does digital products. Now, when people talk about online businesses, a lot of times they're talking about digital products.

[00:36:30] So these can be your opt-ins. These can be your eBooks courses, a membership audio like I do. I have licensed IP, so that's licensed intellectual property. That's a fully passive income stream that I have when we talked about income streams. Last week, we talked about that a little bit, so you can be creating products and selling them online.

[00:36:54] So de depending on the type of online digital product that you are selling or in the case of an opt-in, you might be giving it away. How you build that. Really depends on the rest of your services. If it's only digital products, that could be one, one way of doing it. But if you also have online services like Shelley and I do, where we help people online with paid services, in addition to digital products, then you have to be looking at ways that you can both be offering things like eBooks and courses, and then moving into online services like workshops, webinars, group programs, taking appointments online is just not optional anymore.

[00:37:40] you have to be able to take all of that. Maybe you're going to do quotes. Maybe you have a customer portal and building out a community. So you need to have platforms that can handle the full scope of what it is that you're offering online.

[00:37:58] Shelley Carney: That's right. And then of course, the hybrid, which just combines all of the, all of these products. Online services, the digital and the physical products.

[00:38:09] Jen McFarland: Yeah. Would you say that you're a hybrid?

[00:38:10] Shelley Carney: We don't do that much with physical products. So I would say we're mostly digital and online services digital products and online services,

[00:38:19] Jen McFarland: except for the physical products are the books, but then, but that's dropshipping, so

[00:38:22] Shelley Carney: that's drop shipping.

[00:38:23] So it comes from our brains. It goes up in, into the cloud on Amazon. And then if you want a paperback, then you buy the paperback, and they'll send it to you. So it can become, a 3d product, but you could also just buy the Kindle and it's still digital. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:38:39] Jen McFarland: So this is where your entire e-commerce strategy starts from.

[00:38:43] You have to be clear about. What it is you're selling. If it falls into one of these categories before you even get started building out like, oh, and I'm going to have this website and I'm going to build this sales funnel, and I'm going to, this is the beginning of the whole thing. What are you offering?

[00:39:00] because then the whole rest of your strategy, because as we've talked about, the whole rest of the strategy is tech. So there are different tech tools that are created based on what it is you are trying to sell. You don't want a Shopify website, unless you're selling physical products and having to track inventory, you might need a WordPress website.

[00:39:23] If you're doing a ton of content, like I moved to ghost, it's also a content heavy website. If you are selling digital products only, then you might have, there's so many different ways that you can do that you could do. You could do things through things like send Fox or you could use like I think there's so many, my brain just exploded with options for like how you could build out a digital, only service.

[00:39:50] If you want to have a courses and a community and some online services. One of the easiest platforms for people to get into right now is Squarespace. They have done a tremendous amount to make it easy, to be an online creator and have all of your things, including group programs and communities all on one platform.

[00:40:11] So you need to be aware and clear about what it is that you're doing so that you can build out the business side of your eCommerce strategy in a way that's easy for you to manage. That's the number one thing I.

[00:40:29] But you also have to think about the budget yes, because eCommerce isn't free. There. I know there are a lot of people out there who say eCommerce is free. Like you can do this for free, get your free WordPress website. There's no such thing as a free WordPress website. There's no such thing as a free eCommerce site.

[00:40:47] Like you are paying fees, whether you're using shop Stripe or PayPal, you have to have some way of getting you through your support around like tech apps, admin, marketing, sales, product development, and product development is not just for physical products. You have to have some sort of product development strategy, because even if you're downloading it from your brain and selling it online, you have to start thinking about how much time that's going to take, how hard it is for you to put those products online.

[00:41:18] What's the sales and marketing strategy behind that. And then if you're shipping,

[00:41:23] Shelley Carney: If it's easy for the customer to find, purchase and use. Yeah.

[00:41:29] Jen McFarland: Yeah. So I'm not sharing this to be discouraging. That's absolutely not. It I'm trying to set you up for success. And I think that's what Shelley is all about too.

[00:41:41] Shelley Carney: That's right. Yeah. And we're trying to give you some, we've done this ourselves so we know how difficult it can be and how alone you can feel when you're in the middle of trying to choose platforms and trying to decide what, how much money to spend on those platforms and then going back and forth.

[00:41:58] And no, I have my course on here. No, I don't like it anymore. I want to move it over here. And there's it's such a heavy lift sometimes to move things so we want to get it right the first time, whenever possible.

[00:42:10] Jen McFarland: Absolutely. And I say that as someone who's had, I think four different domains and three different platforms and yeah, we've all kind of been through it.

[00:42:17] I had my WordPress website for years and then I was like, this is not giving me joy anymore. I do not enjoy updating WordPress. I don't like having all that. So I found what was easiest for me. And you need to find what's easiest for you. Yeah. Because it has to be tools, especially if you're online only, you have to have tools that are easy for you to use and that work with other things.

[00:42:41] Like in eCommerce, it's absolutely essential. Everything has to be integrated. You do not have time for when orders start coming in and clients and all the things you don't have time for. Oh, somebody signed up now I need to like, go do the thing. Like it has to , some automation is good and you have to build that in.

[00:43:00] And the, and what I always say is you automate, so you can be more human in your business. Yes. So you automate, you have to think about it, like what has to be automated and then the rest of it, like I said, as a small businesses, you have to think of it as a concierge type service. So set up a whole budget and understand too.

[00:43:21] I think Shelley will agree with me on this that you can have, like my good enough, I work on with clients on this all the time start good enough. And then you can branch into what. What the next 2.0 is

[00:43:37] Shelley Carney: That's right. Don't wait. Don't put it off. Don't procrastinate because it's not good enough. It is good enough. Get started and then you can make it better.

[00:43:48] Jen McFarland: Yeah. Get it out there. And then you can make it better for sure. One of the things that we said we would talk about is when you're talking about one of the things that's really important to think about as you embark on any project in your business, but especially e-commerce because there's so many moving parts is something that we call a SWOT analysis.

[00:44:07] And I have written about marketing SWOT analysis. That's it? Women Conquer biz.com/swot that's S W O T. You have to plan, define success, work on where your blind spots are and then seize the opportunities. So what SWOT means are strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. So when you look at this, the top part, the strengths and weaknesses are within your own organization.

[00:44:34] What is it that you are really good at? That you are a hundred percent always going to do every time. And then under weaknesses, it's what is it that doesn't bring me joy? What is it that I don't enjoy doing? What is it that I'm never going to do when you have that little honest conversation with yourself, these are likely things that you need to hire for, you need to plan for.

[00:44:57] We all have things that we don't like.

[00:45:00] Shelley Carney: Yes, exactly. Yeah, Toby always takes care of the taxes and the finances and because that's his thing. He's like I got this, he's been, a small business owner since 1979. He went through the small business administration to learn all about it. And he's always had an accountant and a lawyer and an insurance agent that he worked with.

[00:45:21] So he knows what needs to be done and when it needs to be done and he takes care of all of that. And I take care of the things that I'm good at, which is the content creation and the outreach and things like that. So it works really well. When you have a partner who compliments your style.

[00:45:38] If you don't have a partner, you can either find one or work with a mentor. Or as Jen said, you can hire out or Toby used to do, he had an insurance agent, an accountant and a lawyer that he always worked with when he needed that. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:45:53] Jen McFarland: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. So that is the strengths and weaknesses.

[00:45:59] We've got half the SWOT, the bottom of the SWOT are opportunities and threats. These are things outside of your organization that can either help you or hinder your success. And it's really important to think about these. I think that a lot of times we think I'm just going to do it all. It's all going to be great.

[00:46:22] We don't think about things like strategic partnerships. That's something we talked. Last week, we were talking about additional revenue streams and how to build out and make your business more resilient. Who are the people who can help you? Those are opportunities. Where are the people who are your biggest fans?

[00:46:40] Are you paying attention to what is going on outside of your business that can really help you, for example, starting this show that had not been going for a while with Shelley was an opportunity. And we saw it as a way to help both of us.

[00:46:57] Shelley Carney: That's right.

[00:46:59] Jen McFarland: And it has we've had,

[00:47:00] Shelley Carney: and it has. And then again, it's a partnership where Jen's good at things that I'm not, and I'm good at things that she's a hundred percent she could be better at if she had the time to spend on it.

[00:47:10] I will put it that way. It's not that she's not good at it is that she doesn't have the time for it.

[00:47:14] Jen McFarland: I think there are things that you're good at that I'm not, I'm not a hundred percent

[00:47:19] Shelley Carney: There are things that I like to do that you don't like to do. So a hundred percent, it's a complimentary partnership and those are ideal.

[00:47:26] Jen McFarland: Absolutely. Yeah. Threats are things that can upset your apple cart. These are forces outside of your control outside of your organization that can make things go haywire. Okay. So one of the things that everybody should have on their SWAT right now is, economic disruptions can happen. There could be a recession COVID could come back hard.

[00:47:53] Hardcore monkeypox could be another global pandemic. Like you have to think about the forces outside of your control. And the reason that you do that isn't to freak yourself out so you can handle. Other examples of threats that could be happening that could make it harder for you to succeed are what are going on, what's going on in your industry?

[00:48:15] What's going on in like direct competition. Yeah. Okay. So these are all just things to think about and they can help you really find success because in order to succeed, you have to clearly define what success looks like, so that you can figure out what your business needs when you've been successful.

[00:48:38] what it is that you're trying to do. And one of the ways that we do that is through strategy, thinking about what it is that we're selling, figuring out who can help us, what forces can make it more difficult, what we're never going to do. And then that clearly defines for us a path ahead so we can achieve our goals.

[00:48:59] Shelley Carney: That's right. And I don't think they can always be focused on money because you can't control money as much as you can control some other things. You can say as a coach, my idea of success is that I help somebody to improve their lives by using my methods. And that is, that's always going to be a winner for you if you're a coach, because , then you're always looking out for the other person and their wellbeing and in, and that's just going to pay dividends for you.

[00:49:27] Jen McFarland: Absolutely. Yeah. A hundred percent agree if you enjoyed this training. Look at that. My shiny little face. If you enjoyed this training I encourage you to do the marketing self-assessment checklist. It's helping you close the gaps on some of the things that you have out there. You can go to send fox.com/ WCB like it's for like Women Conquer Business, send fox.com/wcb. Get your marketing self-assessment what do you have Shelley for your call to action today? Oh,

[00:50:02] Shelley Carney: I'm going to encourage people to go check out my LinkedIn article and subscribe to my LinkedIn newsletter. I put out a LinkedIn newsletter every Monday.

[00:50:10] I let you know what's going on in my life and how that affects my business. And it's really good if you are a content creator or a small business person and you're feeling alone and you're feeling like I'm the only one this ever happens to, you can go read my LinkedIn newsletter and say, oh, okay, maybe I'm not alone after all.

[00:50:27] And if you go to L I, which is LinkedIn, L I dot Shelley carney.com, it'll take you right to my newsletter. And then you can subscribe.

[00:50:38] Jen McFarland: Look at you in fancy little,

[00:50:39] Shelley Carney: Otherwise, the link is like a mile long.

[00:50:42] Jen McFarland: it is a mile long. Yeah. And we'll put a link to the article in the show notes. Yeah. We only have five minutes left because once again, I talk too long and I do that.

[00:50:49] Shelley Carney: Let's tweak of the week, man.

[00:50:50] Jen McFarland: But the tweak... Do you want to do the tweak of the week? I can. . So the tweak of the week Shelley, do you want to talk for a second about what happened this week with your email newsletter?

[00:51:02] Shelley Carney: Yeah, so I think I made a mistake and somehow, I screwed up my email letter to where it was delivering it to people's spam boxes, including my own spam box and Toby's spam box.

[00:51:15] So we knew that

[00:51:16] Jen McFarland: and my spam box, I checked last night. Yeah. And

[00:51:18] Shelley Carney: we are active subscribers, so that's wrong. So I thought maybe it was the title because I had originally had the title as Are you a content creator? We want you! And I thought, oh they thought it was something sexual because it said we want you or something.

[00:51:33] So they put it in spam and then I resent it and I think it still went to spam. So maybe it was too many pictures, or I don't know exactly what was wrong.

[00:51:43] Jen McFarland: So there are a couple, so that brings me to the other one. So

[00:51:47] Shelley Carney: if you're on my email list, please check your spam box.

[00:51:49] Jen McFarland: Check your spam box. So there are a couple things I'm going to use.

[00:51:52] I'm going to do this for my newsletter this week. I usually tackle one big marketing problem every week. So if you are I have been dealing with this too. So emails landing in the spam box. One of the things that you can do that I think is really cool is you can warm up your inbox. That's what this is called.

[00:52:11] Something that people don't talk about as much. So the things that Shelley was talking about around like the titles and the content, all of that, that is one way that you can do it. And you can, there's a free email tester on mail genius, and you can test your email before you send it out and it will give you a score to see how well your email is testing.

[00:52:32] And that will help with all the things that Shelley is talking about. If it's likely that, Apple, Google, all of the things are going to say that it's spam and going to end up in the spam box that will tell you that too many pictures, not too many links, not enough written words, all of that is what Mail Genius will do.

[00:52:52] And there are a lot of ways that you can test it. And I can put that was a spur of the moment thing to add in here. So I have a couple of other links for how you can test that, to see how likely it is that it will end up in spam. The other thing that you can do is warm up and inbox. So I was landing in spam because I created two new email addresses to send my newsletters out of when you have a new.

[00:53:23] Or a new email address or a dedicated email address where all it is doing is sending out maybe cold sales, emails, or email marketing. Some of the, one of the things that you need to do is you can run these tests. So warmup inbox.com is one of them. It's the cheapest one, which is why I used it. I think there might be a couple of free ones out there.

[00:53:47] And what it does is it's constantly sending out emails back and forth. It's all filtered. So you don't see it to test where your emails are going. Are they landing in spam? Are they landing in the promotions tab? are they, where are they going? So what this does for you is it can be, it'll be sending it if it lands in a category.

[00:54:09] So by category, it means if it's in the promotions tab, if it's in SP if it's in the promotions tab, what's the other one social tab. Then if that's where these emails go, then it will market as important and put it in the inbox so it can help prevent it from landing in those extra tabs. If it lands in spam Using their automated service, then they do the same thing.

[00:54:32] They move it out of spam, they market as important. And what you can see on this chart here is that in the beginning, when I started using the service, I had a lot of things ending up in spam and it has slowly decreased the use. So you can look and see like your reputation score, and then it goes through all of the different metrics that it's looking at for whether or not it's a viable email service. So there's all these indicators on the back end. They're the techy bits for whether or not it's likely to land in spam because of how it's set up in your techy back end. I'm not going to show all of that because it has some things about my email that I don't want to share publicly, but I will say that warmup inbox has a free seven-day trial and it will display your reputation and a reputation report.

[00:55:29] So it tells you about all of the different key metrics the techy bits, that can mean that your message lands in spam. So you want to look at this from two different angles. One is the technical side and the other one is what are the actual words, pictures, links that you are sending out. And there are a couple of different tools for that.

[00:55:56] The warm up email thing is new to me. I didn't even know about it. That was like, people were talking about it on Twitter. Like they had a new product and they were like, how do I need to warm it up. So this also is very effective if you are sending out a lot of cold emails. So there's limb list.

[00:56:15] There's a few others. I think instantly is another one where if you're sending out cold emails to people like you have a list and you're sending out cold emails, these email warmup inboxes are sometimes built to things like lend list and instantly that will help. You like stay out of the spam inbox.

[00:56:36] If you're sending a lot of cold emails, these are emails to people. You do not know who are not subscribed to your list. So there are a lot of little tricks out there to try to keep you in the inbox. I think it's what everybody wants to do because email marketing is one of the most effective methods of marketing available for small businesses.

[00:56:57] Shelley Carney: Excellent. I'm looking forward to trying those things.

[00:57:03] Jen McFarland: They're fun. Yes. Okay. So are you ready for inspirational nugget?

[00:57:08] Shelley Carney: Let's quickly give you your very quick little inspirational nugget here. Even one minute without playing the blame game is progress in the art of living. And I equate making excuses with blame because you're blaming circumstances or other people for your inability to get something done.

[00:57:28] I do this a lot. I have these wonderful coaches. They put out these great programs and I know they exist and I still don't get myself to go there and watch those courses and take advantage of them, even though I can. And I know I should. And so I come up with all these excuses, why I can't, and that's the same as blaming circumstances or other people. But if you sweep away all of the blame and you look at the real cause, the root cause of why am I not doing this? It's because I'm usually, it's almost always, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that if I go in there and work on this and I try it, it's going to cost me time and money and it still won't work. And so I'm afraid of that. And so I make excuses not to do it. So for the next week, let's try to sweep away all of the excuses and all of the blame and get down to the root cause of why it is we're not doing something that we know we should. What do you think.

[00:58:28] Jen McFarland: That sounds great. Absolutely. Thank you. I needed that. Yeah. Thank you.

[00:58:33] Shelley Carney: I think we all do.

[00:58:35] Jen McFarland: Thank you for watching and listening to the Women Conquer Business show. It was so great to have people on. If you have any questions or comments, you can message us at hello@womenconquerbiz.com.

[00:58:47] I'm a real human, you just saw my inbox warm up, so you know that I will get it and I'll reply to it.

[00:58:53] Shelley Carney: That's right. Thank you all for being here and we'll see you again next week.

[00:59:00] Thank you for joining the Women Conquer Business podcast, hosted by Shelley Carney and Jen McFarland. Please subscribe and leave a comment or question regarding your most challenging content creation or business problem. Then share this podcast with family and friends so they can find the support they need to expand their brand and share their message with the world.

[00:59:21] Check the show notes for links to valuable resources and come back again next week.

Breaking News

Tweaks of the Week

Inspirational Nugget

Even one minute without playing the blame game is progress in the art of living.

Can I go a whole day without blaming others?

When I ask myself, why haven’t I done this yet? I find all kinds of excuses which is the same as blaming.

It all leads to excuses and blaming others and circumstances influenced by them.

It’s time to take full responsibility and answer the questions honestly.

I haven’t done that work because…

  • I put it off. It feels hard.
  • It requires making decisions that might be wrong.
  • It might lead to losing time or money

When we sweep away all the excuses and blame and get down to the things that are truly holding us back, then we can take small steps to move forward past the fears that keep us stuck.

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Jen McFarland

Obsessed with creating solutions that help businesses make exceptional decisions faster. Marketing pro. Leadership nerd. Project innovator. CoFounder, Epiphany Courses. Women Conquer Business Founder.

Shelley Carney

Livestream host, coach, and author. Podcaster and blogger for Messages and Methods and Women Conquer Business.


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