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Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

1 year ago

How to properly price SaaS

More on Marketing

Joseph Mavericks

Joseph Mavericks

1 year ago

You Don't Have to Spend $250 on TikTok Ads Because I Did

900K impressions, 8K clicks, and $$$ orders…

Photo by Eyestetix Studio on Unsplash

I recently started dropshipping. Now that I own my business and can charge it as a business expense, it feels less like money wasted if it doesn't work. I also made t-shirts to sell. I intended to open a t-shirt store and had many designs on a hard drive. I read that Tiktok advertising had a high conversion rate and low cost because they were new. According to many, the advertising' cost/efficiency ratio would plummet and become as bad as Google or Facebook Ads. Now felt like the moment to try Tiktok marketing and dropshipping. I work in marketing for a SaaS firm and have seen how poorly ads perform. I wanted to try it alone.

I set up $250 and ran advertising for a week. Before that, I made my own products, store, and marketing. In this post, I'll show you my process and results.

Setting up the store

Dropshipping is a sort of retail business in which the manufacturer ships the product directly to the client through an online platform maintained by a seller. The seller takes orders but has no stock. The manufacturer handles all orders. This no-stock concept increases profitability and flexibility.

In my situation, I used previous t-shirt designs to make my own product. I didn't want to handle order fulfillment logistics, so I looked for a way to print my designs on demand, ship them, and handle order tracking/returns automatically. So I found Printful.

Source

I needed to connect my backend and supplier to a storefront so visitors could buy. 99% of dropshippers use Shopify, but I didn't want to master the difficult application. I wanted a one-day project. I'd previously worked with Big Cartel, so I chose them.

Source

Big Cartel doesn't collect commissions on sales, simply a monthly flat price ($9.99 to $19.99 depending on your plan).

After opening a Big Cartel account, I uploaded 21 designs and product shots, then synced each product with Printful.

Source (the store is down to 5 products because I switched back to the free plan)

Developing the ads

I mocked up my designs on cool people photographs from placeit.net, a great tool for creating product visuals when you don't have a studio, camera gear, or models to wear your t-shirts.

I opened an account on the website and had advertising visuals within 2 hours.

Source

Because my designs are simple (black design on white t-shirt), I chose happy, stylish people on plain-colored backdrops. After that, I had to develop an animated slideshow.

Because I'm a graphic designer, I chose to use Adobe Premiere to create animated Tiktok advertising.

Premiere is a fancy video editing application used for more than advertisements. Premiere is used to edit movies, not social media marketing. I wanted this experiment to be quick, so I got 3 social media ad templates from motionarray.com and threw my visuals in. All the transitions and animations were pre-made in the files, so it only took a few hours to compile. The result:

I downloaded 3 different soundtracks for the videos to determine which would convert best.

After that, I opened a Tiktok business account, uploaded my films, and inserted ad info. They went live within one hour.

The (poor) outcomes

Image by author

As a European company, I couldn't deliver ads in the US. All of my advertisements' material (title, description, and call to action) was in English, hence they continued getting rejected in Europe for countries that didn't speak English. There are a lot of them:

I lost a lot of quality traffic, but I felt that if the images were engaging, people would check out the store and buy my t-shirts. I was wrong.

  • 51,071 impressions on Day 1. 0 orders after 411 clicks

  • 114,053 impressions on Day 2. 1.004 clicks and no orders

  • Day 3: 987 clicks, 103,685 impressions, and 0 orders

  • 101,437 impressions on Day 4. 0 orders after 963 clicks

  • 115,053 impressions on Day 5. 1,050 clicks and no purchases

  • 125,799 impressions on day 6. 1,184 clicks, no purchases

  • 115,547 impressions on Day 7. 1,050 clicks and no purchases

  • 121,456 impressions on day 8. 1,083 clicks, no purchases

  • 47,586 impressions on Day 9. 419 Clicks. No orders

My overall conversion rate for video advertisements was 0.9%. TikTok's paid ad formats all result in strong engagement rates (ads average 3% to 12% CTR to site), therefore a 1 to 2% CTR should have been doable.

My one-week experiment yielded 8,151 ad clicks but no sales. Even if 0.1% of those clicks converted, I should have made 8 sales. Even companies with horrible web marketing would get one download or trial sign-up for every 8,151 clicks. I knew that because my advertising were in English, I had no impressions in the main EU markets (France, Spain, Italy, Germany), and that this impacted my conversion potential. I still couldn't believe my numbers.

I dug into the statistics and found that Tiktok's stats didn't match my store traffic data.

Looking more closely at the numbers

My ads were approved on April 26 but didn't appear until April 27. My store dashboard showed 440 visitors but 1,004 clicks on Tiktok. This happens often while tracking campaign results since different platforms handle comparable user activities (click, view) differently. In online marketing, residual data won't always match across tools.

My data gap was too large. Even if half of the 1,004 persons who clicked closed their browser or left before the store site loaded, I would have gained 502 visitors. The significant difference between Tiktok clicks and Big Cartel store visits made me suspicious. It happened all week:

  • Day 1: 440 store visits and 1004 ad clicks

  • Day 2: 482 store visits, 987 ad clicks

  • 3rd day: 963 hits on ads, 452 store visits

  • 443 store visits and 1,050 ad clicks on day 4.

  • Day 5: 459 store visits and 1,184 ad clicks

  • Day 6: 430 store visits and 1,050 ad clicks

  • Day 7: 409 store visits and 1,031 ad clicks

  • Day 8: 166 store visits and 418 ad clicks

The disparity wasn't related to residual data or data processing. The disparity between visits and clicks looked regular, but I couldn't explain it.

After the campaign concluded, I discovered all my creative assets (the videos) had a 0% CTR and a $0 expenditure in a separate dashboard. Whether it's a dashboard reporting issue or a budget allocation bug, online marketers shouldn't see this.

Image by author

Tiktok can present any stats they want on their dashboard, just like any other platform that runs advertisements to promote content to its users. I can't verify that 895,687 individuals saw and clicked on my ad. I invested $200 for what appears to be around 900K impressions, which is an excellent ROI. No one bought a t-shirt, even an unattractive one, out of 900K people?

Would I do it again?

Nope. Whether I didn't make sales because Tiktok inflated the dashboard numbers or because I'm horrible at producing advertising and items that sell, I’ll stick to writing content and making videos. If setting up a business and ads in a few days was all it took to make money online, everyone would do it.

Video advertisements and dropshipping aren't dead. As long as the internet exists, people will click ads and buy stuff. Converting ads and selling stuff takes a lot of work, and I want to focus on other things.

I had always wanted to try dropshipping and I’m happy I did, I just won’t stick to it because that’s not something I’m interested in getting better at.

If I want to sell t-shirts again, I'll avoid Tiktok advertisements and find another route.

Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 year ago

This clever Instagram marketing technique increased my sales to $30,000 per month.

No Paid Ads Required

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

I had an online store. After a year of running the company alongside my 9-to-5, I made enough to resign.

That day was amazing.

This Instagram marketing plan helped the store succeed.

How did I increase my sales to five figures a month without using any paid advertising?

I used customer event marketing.

I'm not sure this term exists. I invented it to describe what I was doing.

Instagram word-of-mouth, fan engagement, and interaction drove sales.

If a customer liked or disliked a product, the buzz would drive attention to the store.

I used customer-based events to increase engagement and store sales.

Success!

Here are the weekly Instagram customer events I coordinated while running my business:

  • Be the Buyer Days

  • Flash sales

  • Mystery boxes

Be the Buyer Days: How do they work?

Be the Buyer Days are exactly that.

You choose a day to share stock selections with social media followers.

This is an easy approach to engaging customers and getting fans enthusiastic about new releases.

First, pick a handful of items you’re considering ordering. I’d usually pick around 3 for Be the Buyer Day.

Then I'd poll the crowd on Instagram to vote on their favorites.

This was before Instagram stories, polls, and all the other cool features Instagram offers today. I think using these tools now would make this event even better.

I'd ask customers their favorite back then.

The growing comments excited customers.

Then I'd declare the winner, acquire the products, and start selling it.

How do flash sales work?

I mostly ran flash sales.

You choose a limited number of itemsdd for a few-hour sale.

We wanted most sales to result in sold-out items.

When an item sells out, it contributes to the sensation of scarcity and can inspire customers to visit your store to buy a comparable product, join your email list, become a fan, etc.

We hoped they'd act quickly.

I'd hold flash deals twice a week, which generated scarcity and boosted sales.

The store had a few thousand Instagram followers when I started flash deals.

Each flash sale item would make $400 to $600.

$400 x 3= $1,200

That's $1,200 on social media!

Twice a week, you'll make roughly $10K a month from Instagram.

$1,200/day x 8 events/month=$9,600

Flash sales did great.

We held weekly flash deals and sent social media and email reminders. That’s about it!

How are mystery boxes put together?

All you do is package a box of store products and sell it as a mystery box on TikTok or retail websites.

A $100 mystery box would cost $30.

You're discounting high-value boxes.

This is a clever approach to get rid of excess inventory and makes customers happy.

It worked!

Be the Buyer Days, flash deals, and mystery boxes helped build my company without paid advertisements.

All companies can use customer event marketing. Involving customers and providing an engaging environment can boost sales.

Try it!

Emma Jade

Emma Jade

1 year ago

6 hacks to create content faster

Content gurus' top time-saving hacks.

6 hacks to create content faster

I'm a content strategist, writer, and graphic designer. Time is more valuable than money.

Money is always available. Even if you're poor. Ways exist.

Time is passing, and one day we'll run out.

Sorry to be morbid.

In today's digital age, you need to optimize how you create content for your organization. Here are six content creation hacks.

1. Use templates

Use templates to streamline your work whether generating video, images, or documents.

Setup can take hours. Using a free resource like Canva, you can create templates for any type of material.

This will save you hours each month.

2. Make a content calendar

You post without a plan? A content calendar solves 50% of these problems.

You can prepare, organize, and plan your material ahead of time so you're not scrambling when you remember, "Shit, it's Mother's Day!"

3. Content Batching

Batching content means creating a lot in one session. This is helpful for video content that requires a lot of setup time.

Batching monthly content saves hours. Time is a valuable resource.

When working on one type of task, it's easy to get into a flow state. This saves time.

4. Write Caption

On social media, we generally choose the image first and then the caption. Writing captions first sometimes work better, though.

Writing the captions first can allow you more creative flexibility and be easier if you're not excellent with language.

Say you want to tell your followers something interesting.

Writing a caption first is easier than choosing an image and then writing a caption to match.

Not everything works. You may have already-created content that needs captioning. When you don't know what to share, think of a concept, write the description, and then produce a video or graphic.

Cats can be skinned in several ways..

5. Repurpose

Reuse content when possible. You don't always require new stuff. In fact, you’re pretty stupid if you do #SorryNotSorry.

Repurpose old content. All those blog entries, videos, and unfinished content on your desk or hard drive.

This blog post can be turned into a social media infographic. Canva's motion graphic function can animate it. I can record a YouTube video regarding this issue for a podcast. I can make a post on each point in this blog post and turn it into an eBook or paid course.

And it doesn’t stop there.

My point is, to think outside the box and really dig deep into ways you can leverage the content you’ve already created.

6. Schedule Them

If you're still manually posting content, get help. When you batch your content, schedule it ahead of time.

Some scheduling apps are free or cheap. No excuses.

Don't publish and ghost.

Scheduling saves time by preventing you from doing it manually. But if you never engage with your audience, the algorithm won't reward your material.

Be online and engage your audience.

Content Machine

Use these six content creation hacks. They help you succeed and save time.

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Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold

1 year ago

Your Ideal Position As a Part-Time Creator

Inspired by someone I never met

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes

Inspiration is good and bad.

Paul Jarvis inspires me. He's a web person and writer who created his own category by being himself.

Paul said no thank you when everyone else was developing, building, and assuming greater responsibilities. This isn't success. He rewrote the rules. Working for himself, expanding at his own speed, and doing what he loves were his definitions of success.

Play with a problem that you have

The biggest problem can be not recognizing a problem.

Acceptance without question is deception. When you don't push limits, you forget how. You start thinking everything must be as it is.

For example: working. Paul worked a 9-5 agency work with little autonomy. He questioned whether the 9-5 was a way to live, not the way.

Another option existed. So he chipped away at how to live in this new environment.

Don't simply jump

Internet writers tell people considering quitting 9-5 to just quit. To throw in the towel. To do what you like.

The advice is harmful, despite the good intentions. People think quitting is hard. Like courage is the issue. Like handing your boss a resignation letter.

Nope. The tough part comes after. It’s easy to jump. Landing is difficult.

The landing

Paul didn't quit. Intelligent individuals don't. Smart folks focus on landing. They imagine life after 9-5.

Paul had been a web developer for a long time, had solid clients, and was respected. Hence if he pushed the limits and discovered another route, he had the potential to execute.

Working on the side

Society loves polarization. It’s left or right. Either way. Or chaos. It's 9-5 or entrepreneurship.

But like Paul, you can stretch polarization's limits. In-between exists.

You can work a 9-5 and side jobs (as I do). A mix of your favorites. The 9-5's stability and creativity. Fire and routine.

Remember you can't have everything but anything. You can create and work part-time.

My hybrid lifestyle

Not selling books doesn't destroy my world. My globe keeps spinning if my new business fails or if people don't like my Tweets. Unhappy algorithm? Cool. I'm not bothered (okay maybe a little).

The mix gives me the best of both worlds. To create, hone my skill, and grasp big-business basics. I like routine, but I also appreciate spending 4 hours on Saturdays writing.

Some days I adore leaving work at 5 pm and disconnecting. Other days, I adore having a place to write if inspiration strikes during a run or a discussion.

I’m a part-time creator

I’m a part-time creator. No, I'm not trying to quit. I don't work 5 pm - 2 am on the side. No, I'm not at $10,000 MRR.

I work part-time but enjoy my 9-5. My 9-5 has goodies. My side job as well.

It combines both to meet my lifestyle. I'm satisfied.

Join the Part-time Creators Club for free here. I’ll send you tips to enhance your creative game.

Aaron Dinin, PhD

Aaron Dinin, PhD

1 year ago

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Having Investors Sign Your NDA

Startup entrepreneurs assume what risks when pitching?

Image courtesy Pexels.com

Last week I signed four NDAs.

Four!

NDA stands for non-disclosure agreement. A legal document given to someone receiving confidential information. By signing, the person pledges not to share the information for a certain time. If they do, they may be in breach of contract and face legal action.

Companies use NDAs to protect trade secrets and confidential internal information from employees and contractors. Appropriate. If you manage a huge, successful firm, you don't want your employees selling their information to your competitors. To be true, business NDAs don't always prevent corporate espionage, but they usually make employees and contractors think twice before sharing.

I understand employee and contractor NDAs, but I wasn't asked to sign one. I counsel entrepreneurs, thus the NDAs I signed last week were from startups that wanted my feedback on their concepts.

I’m not a startup investor. I give startup guidance online. Despite that, four entrepreneurs thought their company ideas were so important they wanted me to sign a generically written legal form they probably acquired from a shady, spam-filled legal templates website before we could chat.

False. One company tried to get me to sign their NDA a few days after our conversation. I gently rejected, but their tenacity encouraged me. I considered sending retroactive NDAs to everyone I've ever talked to about one of my startups in case they establish a successful company based on something I said.

Two of the other three NDAs were from nearly identical companies. Good thing I didn't sign an NDA for the first one, else they may have sued me for talking to the second one as though I control the firms people pitch me.

I wasn't talking to the fourth NDA company. Instead, I received an unsolicited email from someone who wanted comments on their fundraising pitch deck but required me to sign an NDA before sending it.

That's right, before I could read a random Internet stranger's unsolicited pitch deck, I had to sign his NDA, potentially limiting my ability to discuss what was in it.

You should understand. Advisors, mentors, investors, etc. talk to hundreds of businesses each year. They cannot manage all the companies they deal with, thus they cannot risk legal trouble by talking to someone. Well, if I signed NDAs for all the startups I spoke with, half of the 300+ articles I've written on Medium over the past several years could get me sued into the next century because I've undoubtedly addressed topics in my articles that I discussed with them.

The four NDAs I received last week are part of a recent trend of entrepreneurs sending out NDAs before meetings, despite the practical and legal issues. They act like asking someone to sign away their right to talk about all they see and hear in a day is as straightforward as asking for a glass of water.

Given this inflow of NDAs, I wanted to briefly remind entrepreneurs reading this blog about the merits and cons of requesting investors (or others in the startup ecosystem) to sign your NDA.

Benefits of having investors sign your NDA include:

None. Zero. Nothing.

Disadvantages of requesting investor NDAs:

  • You'll come off as an amateur who has no idea what it takes to launch a successful firm.

  • Investors won't trust you with their money since you appear to be a complete amateur.

  • Printing NDAs will be a waste of paper because no genuine entrepreneur will ever sign one.

I apologize for missing any cons. Please leave your remarks.

James White

James White

1 year ago

Ray Dalio suggests reading these three books in 2022.

An inspiring reading list

Wikimedia Commons

I'm no billionaire or hedge-fund manager. My bank account doesn't have millions. Ray Dalio's love of reading motivates me to think differently.

Here are some books recommended by Ray Dalio. Each influenced me. Hope they'll help you.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Page Count: 512
Rating on Goodreads: 4.39

My favorite nonfiction book.

Sapiens explores human evolution. It explains how Homo Sapiens developed from hunter-gatherers to a dominant species. Amazing!

Sapiens will teach you about human history. Yuval Noah Harari has a follow-up book on human evolution.

Goodreads

My favorite book quotes are:

  • The tendency for luxuries to turn into necessities and give rise to new obligations is one of history's few unbreakable laws.

  • Happiness is not dependent on material wealth, physical health, or even community. Instead, it depends on how closely subjective expectations and objective circumstances align.

  • The romantic comparison between today's industry, which obliterates the environment, and our forefathers, who coexisted well with nature, is unfounded. Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for eradicating the most plant and animal species even before the Industrial Revolution. The unfortunate distinction of being the most lethal species in the history of life belongs to us.

The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Page Count: 375
Rating on Goodreads: 4.13

Great book: The Power Of Habit. It illustrates why habits are everything. The book explains how healthier habits can improve your life, career, and society.

The Power of Habit rocks. It's a great book on productivity. Its suggestions helped me build healthier behaviors (and drop bad ones).

Read ASAP!

Goodreads

My favorite book quotes are:

  • Change may not occur quickly or without difficulty. However, almost any behavior may be changed with enough time and effort.

  • People who exercise begin to eat better and produce more at work. They are less smokers and are more patient with friends and family. They claim to feel less anxious and use their credit cards less frequently. A fundamental habit that sparks broad change is exercise.

  • Habits are strong but also delicate. They may develop independently of our awareness or may be purposefully created. They frequently happen without our consent, but they can be altered by changing their constituent pieces. They have a much greater influence on how we live than we realize; in fact, they are so powerful that they cause our brains to adhere to them above all else, including common sense.

Tribe Of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

Page Count: 561
Rating on Goodreads: 4.06

Unusual book structure. It's worth reading if you want to learn from successful people.

The book is Q&A-style. Tim questions everyone. Each chapter features a different person's life-changing advice. In the book, Pressfield, Willink, Grylls, and Ravikant are interviewed.

Amazing!

Goodreads

My favorite book quotes are:

  • According to one's courage, life can either get smaller or bigger.

  • Don't engage in actions that you are aware are immoral. The reputation you have with yourself is all that constitutes self-esteem. Always be aware.

  • People mistakenly believe that focusing means accepting the task at hand. However, that is in no way what it represents. It entails rejecting the numerous other worthwhile suggestions that exist. You must choose wisely. Actually, I'm just as proud of the things we haven't accomplished as I am of what I have. Saying no to 1,000 things is what innovation is.